Assuming you don’t need a cesarean section, delivering your baby will be one of the most strenuous and tiresome experiences you will ever go through. No matter how much you mentally and physically prepare for the big day, your body will be strained. You might be too excited about your new baby to notice some of them, but there are symptoms that last a week or so after your delivery to serve as a reminder of how hard you worked. Your abs will be sore, your back might feel tender and your throat might even be scratchy if you were particularly vocal. One symptom that many women are left with is bloodshot eyes. By pushing so hard for a few hours, you might have put stress on all of your blood vessels, including the ones in your eyes. In many cases, they are impossible to prevent, but some techniques might help you minimize redness.

When you’re pushing during delivery, you’re going to give it everything you’ve got. However, during your birthing classes or research, you probably read that you should try pushing with your diaphragm and abdominal muscles as much as possible to minimize strain elsewhere. This technique is key in keeping your eyes white after delivery. If your face is getting red and you feel as though your head will explode during labor, there’s a good chance you’ll come out of it with bloodshot eyes. Consider telling your partner to watch the coloration in your face and encourage you to push from your lower body if you start getting red. Studies also show that women who are physically fit in the last trimester of their pregnancy are better at pushing efficiently, and their eyes will be less affected by the strain of labor.

If you do have bloodshot eyes after you’ve delivered your baby, they will return to normal after a week or two. Try applying a cold compress a few times every day if you’re self-conscious. This will assist healing and your eyes will go back to normal faster. You could also talk to your doctor about using a product such as Visine to minimize redness, and sporting a good old-fashioned pair of enormous sunglasses will help too for outdoor occasions. Pregnancy is tough, and even your male friends and family will cut you some slack if you look less than your best just a week after delivery.

Source: Kristin R Kardel et al: Association Between Aerobic Fitness in Late Pregnancy and Duration of Labor in Nulliparous Women. Obstetrics and Gynecology Volume 88 Issue 8 pp. 948-952 August 2009