Everyone’s well aware of the changes a woman’s body goes through over the course of a pregnancy.
So much focus is put on maintaining maternal and baby health, that sometimes the immediate physiological aftermath of the pregnancy and birth is forgotten.
There are seven significant body changes after your baby is born:
Changes to the Uterus, Bladder and Bowel
At the onset of labor, your uterus is about 15 times heavier than before you became pregnant not including the baby, amniotic fluid, and placenta, and its capacity is 500 times what it was before conception. (1)
After birth, your uterus will continue to contract, especially if you breastfeed. These contractions can feel like mild labor contractions.
2) Weight loss
You will lose about 12 pounds immediately after birth: one 8-pound baby plus the placenta (1 pound) plus several pounds of blood and amniotic fluid. (1) Your body will flush out the extra water and blood volumes that it no longer needs over the following days and weeks.
3) Bladder and Bowel
Your bladder can swell as a result of labor and delivery and you may lose your normal “need-to-pee” sensitivity. You may also experience difficulty in holding the pee in until you make it to the toilet. (1 & 2)
Bloating and mild constipation are also common after birth. Birth, slower food processing, dietary changes, pain medications, and more time in bed can all contribute to constipation. (2)
Changes to Vagina and Breasts
4) Vagina and perineum
Whether you delivered vaginally or via cesarean section, you will experience vaginal bleeding like a heavy period for up to six weeks as the lining of the uterus is shed. (2)
Some women experience pain during intercourse after giving birth, sometimes up to a year later. (4)
If you didn’t require stitches, the perineum should heal quickly and there should be little to no associated pain. (1, 2)
5) Breast changes
At first, your breasts produce colostrum which is a rich, creamy fluid full of antibodies.