Afterpains and bleeding
Most mums feel what are called 'afterpains' as the uterus begins to contract back to its original size (which takes around six weeks). If you're breastfeeding then you'll probably feel these pains more strongly as you feed your baby as breastfeeding prompts the uterus to contract. Afterpains can vary considerably in intensity, from very mild to quite painful, and are usually stronger for women who've had more than one child.
You'll also experience vaginal bleeding after the birth as your uterus heals, this is called lochia and is usually quite heavy and dark red in the first 48 hours: You'll want to use special heavy-duty maternity pads (not tampons) to absorb the flow and it also makes sense to use either disposable or your washday knickers for the first few days as you'l probably want to change them every time you use the bathroom. Lochia usually continues for between two and twelve weeks and the flow may vary but will lighten off towards the end, it's nothing at all to worry about but if you should speak to your doctor right away if there are any clots in the blood.
If you've had a caesarian, the abdominal is usually at its worst for the first two days but you will be given some very effective pain killers to help you cope. You might find it strange to have to ask for your baby to be passed to you when you want to hold her and you will need a lot of help and support, particularly in these first couple of days.
Make sure you read our tips for recovering after your c-section.