You've worked hard to give birth to your baby vaginally. Now your body needs a bit of time to get back to normal, so don't expect miracles! We explain what you'll feel in the coming days.

Why am I peeing all the time after a normal delivery?

While you were pregnant, your body retained fluid. Now that your body is returning to normal, it's all got to go somewhere. The extra fluid, tissues and blood needed during pregnancy have to be dissolved. They'll leave your body via your kidneys as urine. In the days after giving birth you'll be passing urine more often, and in larger quantities. This is one way your body sheds the extra fluid. You'll also sweat more. You may feel the need to wash more often while you get through this phase. You may have swollen feet and ankles for a while, as the extra fluid in your body moves around. It may be even more noticeable than any swelling you had when you were pregnant. Even though your body is trying to shed fluid, you still need to drink plenty to keep your bladder healthy. If you're breastfeeding, you'll get thirsty, so make sure you have a drink handy when you're feeding your baby.

Why am I leaking urine?

The weight of your uterus (womb) and baby may have strained your pelvic floor. This causes stress incontinence (leaking urine when you cough, sneeze, laugh or exercise). Regular pelvic floor exercises should sort this out within a few weeks. If not, speak to your doctor.

Are crampy stomach pains normal after a vaginal birth?

Yes. What you're feeling is your uterus (womb) contracting back to its pre-pregnancy size. Just before your baby was born, your uterus was about 25 times the size it was before you became pregnant. Within minutes of birth, your uterus begins to shrink in the same way they did to push out your baby, causing cramps known as afterpains. The pains may feel similar to period pains. It takes weeks rather than days for your uterus to return to its normal size. Your doctor will check your uterus when she comes to visit you after your baby is born. She'll place her hand on your tummy and feel for the top of your uterus in relation to your tummy button and your pubic bone. Let your doctor know if it feels sore when she does this, as it may mean you have an infection. The inner layer of cells that lined your uterus start to slough off. They'll pass out of your body as part of a period-like discharge called lochia. This may last for up to six weeks. Bright red at first, it gradually gets lighter in colour, fading to pink then whitish-yellow before it stops.

Why do I still look pregnant after my vaginal birth?

Your tummy muscles have been stretched and weakened and your uterus needs time to shrink down. After a vaginal birth, it's recommended that you start exercising your tummy muscles as soon as possible. This will help you get you back into shape and lowers your chances of getting a bad back. Start off gently with any exercise programme. Listen to your body. And take advice from your doctor or physiotherapist before exercising if you had back or pelvic pain when you were pregnant.

Why are my breasts painful?

As you start lactating, your breasts may be engorged and painful for a few days. You may even get painful nipples in the early days of breastfeeding. But, these are usually temporary problems that resolve soon after you get set in your breastfeeding routine. Wear well-fitting and supportive bras and put ice packs on your breasts to help relieve your pain and discomfort.

Is constipation normal after a vaginal delivery?

It is common to be constipated or have discomfort from haemorrhoids after delivery. It's possible that you don't pass stool for a few days after your delivery.

If you have constipation, you may feel a strain and pain while passing stool. Use ointments and sprays to help reduce swelling in the area of the rectum. Drink plenty of water. And eat a healthy diet full of fibre-rich fruits and vegetables to avoid constipation.

How long will it take for my stitches to heal?

It's common during a vaginal birth to have a small tear to the area between your vaginal opening and back passage (anus). This usually heals quickly, but a more severe tear or a cut (episiotomy) may take longer to heal. Stitches may be painful for a few days or even weeks. Talk to your doctor if you are worried about pain or how your stitches are healing. And don't forget your pelvic floor exercises. Doing the exercises may help to reduce swelling and speed up healing.

Why are my emotions all over the place after giving birth?

Like most new mums, you may be feeling up and down. There may be many reasons for this, such as:

physical discomfort after your baby's birth

the demands of caring for a newborn

worries about being a good parent

sleep deprivation

hormonal changes

Whatever the cause, it's normal to feel overwhelmed and weepy for a few days after you've given birth. This is called the baby blues. If the feelings of anxiety and upset don't fade in the first few weeks or you're feeling worse rather than better, tell your doctor. You could have postnatal depression and, if that's the case, you'll need help to get better. If just reading about all this makes you feel like a nap, it's no wonder. The dramatic transformation from pregnant woman to new mother is exhausting. In just a few weeks your body reverses changes that took nine months to happen. But don't worry, you'll get through it with the help of that most glorious of distractions: your beautiful new baby.

How can I help myself after my vaginal birth?

You'll find your new role as mum easier and more enjoyable, if you care for yourself alongside your baby. Here's how:

Many mothers recommend following traditional confinement practices. They believe that this long period of rest helps in quick and complete recovery.

Restrict the number of visitors at hospitals as well as at home. Sometimes the deluge of visitors after you've had a baby can be too much of a strain. And there's always the risk of you or your baby getting an infection. Instead, invite them all over for the Naamkaran ceremony.

Go for your postnatal checkups on time. Before you leave the hospital, your doctor will schedule appointments for you and your baby. These postnatal checks are very important to ensure that you are recovering well.

Resume exercises as soon as your doctor says it's OK. This will help you get back in shape, restore strength and energy levels and increase your sense of well-being. Walking in the park with your baby really works and you don't even have to worry about babysitting.

Set aside an hour or two each day for yourself. Relax with a book or listen to music. Spend some time alone with your husband or take a nap when your baby sleeps. The first few months after childbirth can be exhausting, both physically and emotionally. Take these breaks to recharge and recover faster.