Post-delivery symptoms: what to expect?

Pregnant women receive regular medical check-ups during their pregnancy. But when they leave the maternity ward, women return home and sometimes find themselves confronted with symptoms and situations they didn't know existed, and never thought could happen.

What is the post-partum period?

Postpartum is the period between the end of childbirth and the return from childbirth. During this period, many symptoms appear... It's also known as the puerperium. During the post-partum period, the uterus takes the time it needs to return to its normal size and position.

For some women, it's a period that can be described as an "emotional tsunami". Postpartum is characterized by both physical and psychological symptoms.

What causes post-partum symptoms?

Post-partum symptoms have several origins:

Falling hormones

Hormone depletion in the post-partum period occurs as hormones are suddenly eliminated. This is, of course, a natural process, but it does cause fatigue. For some women, the drop in hormones can be difficult to cope with, as it has a profound effect on their psychological and physiological state.

Baby-blues or post-partum depression

Baby blues are a very common and normal phenomenon. The baby blues are due to the drop in hormones and the upheaval caused by childbirth. It occurs in just a few days and is characterized by crying, depression, anxiety, doubts about one's ability to be a mother, etc. Unlike post-partum depression, baby blues do not last. Post-partum depression requires treatment, because it's a real depression that lasts over time. It can have consequences for the mother and her bond with her child.

It's very important for mothers to feel supported and to seek help if they feel overwhelmed and exhausted.

What are the physical symptoms of childbirth?

There are many physical symptoms. They include


The famous lochia, the bleeding that occurs after every birth. This is a perfectly normal phenomenon.

After childbirth, a woman loses an average of 500ml of blood. This bleeding lasts on average from 10 days to 6 weeks.

The composition of this discharge is a mixture of placental membrane debris, blood clots and bleeding from wounds in the vagina and cervix (due to the passage of the baby). The color of this bleeding changes over the weeks, gradually turning from red to brown and then yellow. Their abundance also diminishes from day to day, but they can continue to bleed irregularly for up to 6 weeks post-partum. Some women also lose blood clots. The first post-delivery blood loss is often heavier than menstruation.

To protect your clothes during the lochia period, we recommend wearing external sanitary protection. Avoid external protection at all costs, as it greatly increases the risk of infection during this period.


Another phenomenon that occurs after giving birth is trenches. These are post-delivery contractions of the uterus: they are of course less painful than the contractions that occur during childbirth (labor contractions), but they can still be relieved with painkillers. They allow the uterus to return to its normal size, and help eliminate potential clots and prevent haemorrhaging.

Please note: breast-feeding women are prone to trenches, but in a more painful way due to oxytocin.

Uterine prolapse

Uterine prolapse is detected when a woman complains of a sensation of vaginal heaviness and/or backache. Other symptoms may indicate uterine prolapse, such as urine leakage and constipation. Uterine prolapse is simply the descent of an organ, in this case from the uterus to the vulva.

Uterine prolapse is due to the relaxation of perineal tissues and muscles. Fortunately, it can be easily treated with perineal rehabilitation.

Leakage and urinary infections

Urinary tract infections are common after childbirth. Bacteria may have been present in the bladder during pregnancy, and the infection appears after delivery. Pregnancy hormones also play a role: as they fall, they relax the bladder muscles. This makes it more difficult for the bladder to empty completely. Bacteria accumulate and proliferate.

After childbirth, a slackened perineum often leads to urine leakage. During labor, pushing will stretch the muscles.

Some women also find it difficult to urinate and empty their bladder completely in the days following childbirth, due to the epidural.

Fortunately, bladder weakness disappears over time, and you can also undergo perineal re-education.

Back pain

Back pain is very common after pregnancy. Consult your doctor about a support belt.

Digestive problems: constipation, stomach aches, etc.

After pregnancy, your uterus gradually returns to its normal size, as does your digestive tract. While everything is getting back to normal, it's not unusual to experience digestive problems: your bowel movements may be disrupted.

While some women tend to be constipated during pregnancy, they can still be constipated after giving birth. To counteract these symptoms, it's important to drink enough water and eat foods rich in fiber. Don't force yourself to have a bowel movement: your perineum has already suffered with childbirth, so there's no need to make it suffer even more.

You can also ask for a prescription for suppositories or a laxative to put everything back in order.

Note, however, that it's normal not to have a bowel movement in the days following childbirth.


Hemorrhoids originate from pressure exerted on the veins in the anal region during labor and pushing. Around 20% of women will be prone to post-delivery hemorrhoids.

Milk production after childbirth

The first milk flow generally occurs between 30 and 40 hours after the baby's birth, around the third day. Here are the signs you should look for when your milk comes in:

  • Your breasts are tense;
  • Your breasts feel warm;
  • Or your breasts are swollen.

How do I recover from a Caesarean section or episiotomy?

If you gave birth by Caesarean section or episiotomy, recovery may take a little longer. Even if you don't have a vaginal delivery, you'll experience lochia, trenching and other symptoms such as bladder weakness.

Pain is common in the first few days. They may last for a few weeks before gradually subsiding and disappearing.

Here are a few tips to help you recover after a Caesarean section:

  • Avoid activities such as cycling and running for the first six weeks;
  • Do not lift heavy objects (heavier than your baby) for 6 weeks;
  • Take showers, not baths;
  • Avoid stairs;
  • Do not drive for 1 month;

After a Caesarean section, it's important to ensure that the wound heals properly.

Follow the medical profession's recommendations and don't hesitate to contact your doctor if you notice any redness, if your skin feels hot, if the scar tends to swell and harden, if there's an appearance of pu, if it's painful. Consult your doctor for appropriate treatment.

What about post-partum rehabilitation?

As recently explained, after giving birth, the muscles of the perineum are sometimes relaxed and the nerves numb. Many women go for rehabilitation.

Perineal reeducation

The aim of perineal reeducation is to restore muscle tone. Exercises are based on contraction of the muscles surrounding the vagina and raising the anus.

This helps prevent urine leakage and uterine prolapse.

Abdominal re-education

During childbirth, the abdominal muscles are put under strain. Many women are prescribed abdominal re-education sessions by their health professionals to prevent back and lumbar pain, as well as to tone the abdominal belt.

FAQs on post-delivery symptoms

When do pregnancy symptoms disappear after childbirth?

Post-delivery symptoms last several weeks, depending on the woman. The uterus does not return to its normal shape until 4 to 8 weeks after giving birth.

When does the hormone level drop after childbirth?

Hormone levels fall in the days following childbirth, peaking between the third and tenth days. It all depends on the woman!

Why should I rest after giving birth?

Childbirth is a major upheaval not only for the body, but also for the young mother and her new parents. It's important to rest and take care of your health.