At Day 6 you are coming to the end of the first week with your baby. Hopefully, you’re at home, and you and baby are both well. By now, you should have been visited at least once by your midwife and you should have appointments in place for more visits, either at home or at your local clinic.
You are still likely to be feeling a huge range of emotions and physical sensations. Who knew that you could simultaneously feel elated and sad? Or that the bliss and contentment of breastfeeding would be accompanied by intense pain. Well, this is motherhood – it’s not always straightforward.
Why am I still sore?
It is completely normal to still be sore and tender in a number of places around your body. For many, the perineum, the place between your vagina and rectum, is likely to be the major source of discomfort. Your perineum has stretched enormously to accommodate the birth of your child. If you suffered cuts and bruises to your hand following a fall you probably wouldn’t be concerned by pain at six days after the injury, and although vaginal childbirth is not considered an injury, the same type of damage will have occurred; your skin will be trying to heal and bruising will still be tender. Give yourself time, be gentle when washing this area and try to wear loose-fitting clothes. If you start to show signs of infection – swelling, fever, nausea, increased pain – speak to your GP or midwife as soon as possible.
Perineum soreness can be relieved with painkillers, cold packs, warm baths and, when you are ready, Kegel exercises (pelvic floor exercises). However, for most women, the pain should be lessening by now and it will hopefully be easier to sit down than it was in the first few days.
Will I still feel afterbirth pains?
Your afterbirth pains should be diminishing by now, although you may still feel them at Day 6, particularly when you feed baby and if you are not a first-time mother.
Cramps are the sensation that accompanies your uterus shrinking to its pre-pregnancy and childbirth size. Breastfeeding is actually a great help as it speeds the process along (when your baby sucks it triggers the release of the hormone oxytocin) and reduces the risk of postpartum anaemia caused by blood loss. Although it won’t be until around Week 6 post-birth that your uterus returns to its normal size, you can take comfort in the fact that today it has already shrunk to such an extent that it probably weighs around half what it did immediately after you gave birth.
Will I still be experiencing vaginal bleeding?
Yes, it is still normal for you to discharge lochia on Day 6 post-birth. It should be darker than it was to begin with and while you may still pass a few clots, these are going to be small (no bigger than the size of a blueberry) and should make a stain of around 5cm diameter on your pad.
What other physical changes will I be experiencing on Day 6?
By day 6 your breasts will probably not be as hard or engorged as they were to begin with post-birth and you will have lost around 2 kilos in water weight. However, bearing in mind the enormous pregnancy and childbirth journey you have just been through, don’t be surprised if you are experiencing all sorts of aches and pains, particularly in the region of your tailbone, pelvis, back and legs.
Good news for mothers who suffered from swollen extremities and/or a swollen face during pregnancy: the swelling may now be beginning to subside as you near the end of the first week with your new child.
Why do I need to pee so often?
It is totally normal for women to experience urinary incontinence post-birth. When you think of all the pressure and stress that your bladder and pelvis have just been through, it is easy to understand why. Add to this the effects of your uterus shrinking, hormonal changes and more, and it becomes something of a perfect storm. Things will settle down, you will regain much of the strength you felt in your pelvic floor, but things may never be quite what they were pre-childbirth.
Now is the perfect time, with your midwife’s blessing, to really up the pelvic floor exercises (Kegels) and other exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor. If you don’t want to pee a little every time you sneeze, cough or laugh, do those Kegels as often as you can!
Breastfeeding on Day 6?
You may leak a bit during feeds from the breast you are not feeding from. If you have an oversupply of milk, rest assured that this will usually resolve itself within a few weeks, but you should try to ensure that your baby doesn’t consume too much foremilk and not enough hindmilk as this can result in him suffering wind and not absorbing enough vital nutrients.
By now you may have discovered that your baby makes signals that he wants to come to the breast and then doesn’t feed – there’s nothing wrong with this and he may just want some comfort, warmth and bonding time with you. Try not to get fixated on whether your baby is feeding enough or too little – minutes at the breast really don’t matter! As long as your baby is hydrated, having regular bowel movements, is sleeping and waking fairly regularly, then he is probably getting exactly the feeds he needs.
How often should I bottle feed my baby on Day 5?
Much as with breastfeeding, if you are bottle feeding, you should take your cues from baby. In fact, when he is hungry, he may nestle towards your chest, make sucking noises and perhaps suck his own fingers. Getting to grips with the logistics of bottle feeding (sterilisation, preparation of formula and heating a bottle, etc.) can take time to get used to, so being aware of a baby who is getting hungry can mean the difference between a calm feed and a howling baby who is too worked up to suck milk from the teat.
In terms of how much bottle milk baby should be having, remember that babies typically need between 150ml and 200ml of formula per kg of their body weight each day. However, these amounts will inevitably vary from baby to baby, if you are concerned that you under or over feeding your baby, check with your midwife or GP.
Time to relax?
If you have the support and understanding of your partner, family, friends, and/or other people, around you, you should take some time out for yourself – this can only be good for your long-term wellbeing and, inevitably, that of baby as well. No, giving your baby to someone else to look after for a while is not a bad thing, neither are you selfish to want a bit “you time”.
Generally, your family and friends will be super keen to spend time with the new arrival, so make the most of it. Soak in a warm bath when you can and if you are up to it get outside and enjoy some rays, even if it is only for ten minutes.
Try to make time for good meals and to keep yourself hydrated – a nutritious, balanced diet will not only satisfy you, it can help restore your energy levels. Sitting down with your partner, and family perhaps, to eat and chat can also keep you feeling emotionally sustained as well.