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Postpartum Recovery Timeline + Warning Signs

The postpartum recovery period can vary depending on your birth, body, and method of delivery, though it is typically 6 weeks for vaginal deliveries or 8 weeks for c-section deliveries. However, some believe full recovery can take several months. No matter your delivery method, knowing what to anticipate, and taking the time to care for yourself properly during this time, can help make your recovery a smooth one and create a positive postpartum experience.

 

What To Expect:

Postpartum Days 1-10

  • Heavy period-like bleeding (lochia)

  • Afterbirth pain/cramping as uterus shrinks back to original size.  More intense during breastfeeding

  • Breast milk comes in, sometimes causing soreness and engorgement

  • Estrogen level drop, sometimes causing “baby blues”

  • Vaginal and perineal pain, and soreness for vaginal deliveries

  • Pain around incision area for c-section deliveries

  • Stomach still appears pregnant

Postpartum Days 11-21

Postpartum Week 4-6



 

Warning Signs:

If you have any of the following symptoms, seek medical care immediately.


  • Blood clots larger than an egg in your lochia, or bleeding through more than one pad per hour

  • Fever of 100.4 or higher

  • Red or swollen leg that is painful or warm to touch

  • Discharge at c-section incision site

  • Incision site that isn’t healing


  • Extreme abdominal pain or cramps

  • Persistent headache that won’t go away

  • Chest pain or tightness

  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath

  • Thoughts of harming yourself or baby

  • “Baby Blues” that doesn’t go away, or extreme sadness, hopelessness, or worry

  • Seizures


Postpartum Recovery Tips:



  • Ice perineum every hour for first 24 hrs

  • Take a warm sitz bath for 20 minutes

  • Gently clean the c-section incision site with soap and water once a day. Dry completely

  • Take Ibuprofen for aches and pains


  • Stay regular with fiber rich foods and consider a gentle stool softener

  • Practice diaphragmatic breathing

  • Keep moving, though limit exercise in the first few weeks

  • Use a warm compress or nipple cream for sore breasts

 
We've put all of this information into an easy to find, all-in-one free printable. You can find that printable here.


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