I Just Had A Baby… What Is My Body Doing Now?

Disclaimer: ALWAYS consult with your doctor during pregnancy and after giving birth before proceeding with ANY physcical activity or muscle activation.


There you are, holding your newborn baby… Your eyes are locked on to this new human in your arms. Your mind is filling with emotions and questions and concerns and love and all the things!!!

It might not be in your consciousness immediately… but soon after you are holding your baby and getting caught up in all that is around you… you finally notice: Your body – that was once home to that little person you are now looking at – feels different… Emptier. Lighter. Sore. Squishy. (Also… Hungry. Nursing mama’s can attest!!)

You might then start to think, what is happening inside me now? What comes next for me?

What Happens Immediately After Delivery?

Well, let’s start with the most obvious… Apart from holding your newborn, you’ll encounter either of the following:

Vaginal Bleeding:

If the baby was delivered vaginally… there will be blood. Lots of it. (Hello, heavy-duty pads, giant underwear, and ice packs!)



If the baby was delivered via C-Section, then your OB or doctor will have to stitch up the incision in your abdominal area… A C-Section is a major abdominal surgery.

You might even receive stitches if you delivered vaginally and had tearing.


Both come with their own set of clean up and care instructions… All the while, you’re learning how to care for a newborn. Talk about going zero to sixty, especially if you are a first-time mom. 

Physiological Changes

Your breasts already began working on producing breast milk during your pregnancy… but now it’s go-time!

Your baby’s first meal from the breast will be a golden substance called “Colostrum” (aka liquid gold). It’s full of important nutrients for your baby! Colostrum will stay on the menu until your milk comes in.

Approximately 2-3 days after delivery,  your gonna feel those boobs fill up with milk… 

If you plan on breastfeeding, you’re going need to become aware of the extra calories you need to consume, extra water you need to drink, and, of course, when and how to feed your baby. 

If you choose not to breastfeed… your are still going to have to care for your breasts in the days after delivery and signal them to stop producing milk.

Regardless, breast or bottle – say hello to your new fulltime job! Feeding your baby! Of course, those who opt for bottle feeding – be it, breastmilk or formula – you’ll have the luxury of having a partner help with feedings sooner than those deciding to strictly nurse for a period of time. 

And if you plan to exclusively bottle feed your breast milk, you will quickly become an expert at pumping. 

Breastfeeding Journey

If you’re breastfeeding. Both you and your new baby will quickly need to learn to navigate this new journey together… 

Conversations about latching, remembering which side baby last fed on (there are some great apps for that!), feeding yourself enough food to produce adequate milk, feeding yourself the best foods to produce efficient milk, and drinking enough water to produce efficient milk AND to keep yourself hydrated… will soon take up a lot of your time.

And for some, breastfeeding might be easy and come naturally. For others, it might become a challenging and exhausting journey that doesn’t come so easily. 

Despite all of the above mentioned, this is your journey and you should be the one making the decisions that are best for you, your baby, and your family. If you need any help with breastfeeding, message me and I can provide you with some good resources and consultants to guide you on this journey.

So It Begins…

This is just the tip of the postpartum iceberg! 

With all of the above in mind… it’s good to be aware that, all while this stuff is going on in your external view… there are things happening at a much deeper level… Things that we need to let happen to bring ourselves back together. 

Hormones Go For A Ride


Almost immediately, hormones start shifting – for breastmilk production, maternal bonding, and to bring the physical body back to a semi-close pre-pregnancy state.

Some may experience a change in thyroid which can mess with a whole slew of things (appetite, weight loss, weight gain, mood swings, etc…)

As your hormones shift, you might notice your emotions are high, you might have headaches, feel extra tired (lack of sleep also contributes to this!), and find that you’re dealing with a bunch of new feelings you might not be used to… all at once! 

Some women experience shaking or the chills in the days postpartum (I had a personal experience with this). This is usually due your hormones shifting, but it can also be a sign of illness or infection, so be sure to contact your OB, doctor, or midwife if this occurs in the following days or weeks after delivery.

If something feels off, be sure to talk to your care provider about it. Usually, they provide an at-home care kit that can answer some of your questions or they’ll provide a hotline you can call if a need arises.

Organs Shifting… Plus More Contractions?

Organs that were moved and pushed around due to a growing uterus need to shift back. 

And speaking of your uterus… Pre-pregnancy, it was about the size of a ping-pong ball… As it becomes a 9-month living facility for a growing baby, it gets much, much bigger!

After the baby says goodbye to it’s former home, the uterus needs to contract itself back to pre-pregnancy size – that itself takes about 4 to 6 weeks. 

Many women experience mild contractions in the hours and days after delivery. These are especially felt when you nurse. Breastfeeding your baby gives your body a signal to return the body to pre-pregnancy status, therefore, causing your uterus to contract.


Neural Adaptations

Your body needs to reconnect (mind and body)… and it will likely be doing so for your first year postpartum, at least!

If you had tearing during your vaginal delivery, there is a disconnect between your brain and your pelvic floor muscles…

If you had a c-section, similarly, there will be a disconnect between your brain and your abdominal muscles. 

Your body needs to retrain these muscle-firing squad signals to get these parts of the body working again… and it doesn’t happen overnight!

There are ways to reconnect these signals more efficiently, and corrective exercise can help!

Increased Blood Volume

During the first few weeks postpartum, there is a 15 to 30 percent increase in circulating blood volume. This plays a roll in excessive urination and the extra stress some may feel from cardiac output…. And why it is so important to try to limit external stressors during these first few weeks postpartum. 

This increase in blood volume also keeps moms at risk for developing varicose veins both during pregnancy and in the postpartum stage.

While exercise is discouraged the first 6 weeks postpartum, getting up and moving around is strongly encouraged to avoid blood pooling. 

Water, Water, Water!

Not only do you need extra water intake if you are breastfeeding, adequate hydration is key in basic bodily functions (tissue repair, toxin removal, immunity, organ and brain function, etc…).

Drinking enough water can also help a new mom by aiding in the proper utilization of proteins and fats to build stronger tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Without enough water, the body cannot perform these tasks. 


Things You CAN Do Shortly After Labor

Disclaimer: ALWAYS consult with your doctor during pregnancy and after giving birth before proceeding with ANY physcical activity or muscle activation.

Get Up And MOVE!

As soon as your doctor, midwife, or care provider lets you, and as soon as you feel ready… get up and MOVE! If you delivered in the hospital, put your baby in his or her rollaway crib and take a stroll around the halls. (This may have limitations depending on your hospital, especially now as COVID-19 influences care policies and procedures.)

If you had a home birth, it will be easier to get out and get moving. If weather permits, load baby into the stroller or carrier and take a walk in your neighborhood as soon as you feel comfortable.


Marathon Vs. Labor

Your body just went through what’s mentally and physiologically comparable to running a marathon. 

The “runner’s high” endorphins that are circulated when runners are at the point of “hitting the wall” in a big race are the same hormones released during “transition” time in labor. They can help you get to the finish line.

Similarly to running or cycling in an endurance event, laboring is an extreme event that depletes your glycogen stores, dehydrates, and fatigues muscles in your body.

Once the big race is done, marathon runners are encouraged to continue to walk 10-15 minutes after crossing the finish line… and the following week, to lightly run short distances and to perform low impact exercises. 

The reason for this is to boost circulation in the muscles that worked so hard during the marathon, to warm and lengthen the muscles that are tight, and to aid in the healing journey.

The endurance comparison of giving birth vs running a marathon is not far off. Getting up and moving for a short distance 6-8 hours after birth will encourage the same benefits that are seen with marathon recovery movements.

Start EASY

I can’t stress this enough… When you get back at it… Keep things short, simple, and easy. This could be as simple as taking 1-2 minutes to walk back and forth in your recovery room at the hospital or around your house.

Listen to your body. This is most important. Be sure to rest after delivery. Your legs may feel weak and you may be lightheaded the hours after giving birth.

Once you feel stable and strong enough, ask your provider if it is ok to move around. I’m sure they will encourage this before you even get the chance to ask.

Again, if you have a C-Section, the recovery time and care will be different. But the same principles will apply once you are able to start moving around again.

The forgotten muscles…

Something mom’s forget about quickly after labor… is the fact that they just put certain parts of their body through extreme stress. Your uterus, your pelvic floor, and your abdominals just went through a lot.

Even if you didn’t deliver vaginally, your pelvic floor was still feeling the pressures of a growing uterus, particularly in the last few months of pregnancy – causing it to stretch and weaken over time.

The Importance of Activation


Even though you shouldn’t be doing most physical activities or exercise until cleared by your doctor, there are certain things I highly recommend doing… And that is activating the muscles you use throughout your body on a regular basis, especially if any of them were snipped or stitched during labor. 

If you forget about these muscles, you are welcoming postpartum leaking: Sneezes, coughing, and laughing can become a scary thing once you start exercising again!

Ask me about exercises designed for moms in the postpartum recovery phase that specifically target these areas.

Take Time For Yourself

When the days start to blur together and sleep becomes a thing of the past, be sure to take whatever spare minutes you have left to do something for yourself. 

A walk around the block, a nap, a shower… You need to take care of YOU so that you can care for your cute little baby! 

Book a consultation today to learn how you can bring your body back to a strong, functional state in the postpartum stage.

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