It takes nine months for the female body to grow and nurture a baby. As you prepare for the arrival of your newborn, you may begin to wonder about the hours and days after giving birth and what you can expect after labor.\nHow does the body change from carrying a child to birthing one and back again? Prepping for these changes to your body can make your transition to motherhood a little bit easier.\nFor more information about Labor and Delivery at UPMC, visit UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital or call 1-866-MyMagee (696-2433).\nWhat Can You Expect After Giving Birth? Changes to the Body\nBaby Belly . . . Still\nNew moms often still look pregnant immediately after delivering their new baby. Women lose between 6 – 13 pounds immediately after labor, but the body needs time to lose the remaining weight and regain its pre-baby shape. You may experience swelling in your hands and feet or suffer from night sweats; both indicators of water retention. Don’t focus on celebrities who look perfectly coiffed and camera-ready immediately following labor. Most women still look “pregnant” for a week or two after giving birth.\nContractions After Giving Birth\nYou may have thought contractions were only during labor. One way the body returns to pre-pregnancy shape is with contractions, especially while breastfeeding. The uterus is roughly 2 1\/2 pounds after delivery. The March of Dimes indicates the body uses contractions, and time, to reduce the uterus back to about 2 ounces by six weeks following birth.\nSoreness After Labor\nIf you had a vaginal birth, your vagina stretches to accommodate the birth. More so, you may have had an episiotomy, when the doctor cuts the perineum, the opening between your vagina and anus, to help the baby come out.\nIf this was the case, you also needed stitches. To help the area heal, use a water bottle to squirt warm water on it to keep the area clean. Use ice packs to ease pain and sit on a pillow for extra comfort.\nIf you underwent a C-section, you may experience serious pain in your lower abdomen from the incision. Make sure to adjust your routine post-delivery to accommodate healing. Don’t lift anything heavier than the baby.\nRELATED: What Is Considered Advanced Maternal Age?\nBreast Engorgement\nYour breasts may also become very sore, or engorged, as milk starts to come in during the first few days after labor. Warm compresses and showers can help with breast pain. Make sure to wear breast pads to soak up milk leakage.\nNipple pain and cracking are also common. This happens as the nipples adjust to the rigors of breastfeeding. Use nipple ointment to soothe the cracking and let your breasts air dry after showers.\nBleeding After Labor\nThe Office on Women’s Health, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, warns women will experience discharge after delivery known as lochia. Lochia is the shedding of blood and tissue that lined the uterus during pregnancy. After delivery, the body expels it. It can be rather heavy, lightening over time, and may last a few weeks.\nExhaustion in New Moms\nGiving birth is quite a feat: It can exhaust you from the sheer effort. More so, you lose a lot of blood during delivery and in the first 24 hours after giving birth, which will cause the body to experience fatigue. Make sure to drink plenty of water and eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables.\nHormone Changes\nDespite the many hormone changes and mood swings you may have experienced during pregnancy, many women are surprised to experience mood swings after delivery. A woman’s body will go through many hormone dips and spikes, which can affect her mood. Remember, these mood swings are natural.\nHowever, many women will also experience postpartum depression, or feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion. Pay attention for the following symptoms:\n\nRestlessness\nIrritability\nSleeplessness\nSleeping too much\nUndereating\nOvereating\nTrouble focusing\nNo interest in the baby\nFeelings of guilt or worthlessness\nLack of interest in activities you used to enjoy\nThoughts of harming yourself or the baby\n\nIf you think you may have postpartum depression, consult your doctor. Many women benefit from therapy or medication.\nFor New Moms, Focus on Rest\nRemember, many changes happen to the body after giving birth. Focus on getting as much rest as possible and drinking plenty of fluids. Take it easy whenever possible and if in doubt about any symptoms, contact your doctor immediately. Most of all, be kind to yourself as you move to this new and exciting life phase.\nFor more information about Labor and Delivery at UPMC, visit UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital or call 1-866-MyMagee (696-2433).