September 23, 2017 September 23, 2017

Your Body After Baby: The First Six Weeks

Your Body After Baby: The First 6 Weeks

Lots of things are happening in your body right after you have a baby. During pregnancy, your body changed a lot. It worked really hard to keep your baby safe and healthy.

Now that your baby is here, your body is changing again. Some of these changes are physical, such as your breasts getting full of milk. Other changes are emotional, such as feeling overwhelmed. Here's what you can expect.

 

Your Uterus (also called the womb) While you were pregnant, your baby grew inside your uterus. Right after you give birth, your uterus is hard and round and weighs about 2½ pounds. You can feel it right behind your belly button.

By about 6 weeks after your baby's born, your uterus shrinks back to its regular size and weighs only 2 ounces. You can't feel it any more when you press on your belly.

Your Belly It takes some time for your belly to get back to its regular shape after pregnancy. Try not to get discouraged if it doesn't happen as quickly as you want it to.

What you can do: Be active. Talk to your health care provider about when you can start exercising and what activities you can do.

 

Vaginal Discharge After your baby is born, your body gets rid of the blood and tissue that was inside the uterus. This is called vaginal discharge or lochia. For the first few days, it's heavy and bright red. It may contain some blood clots.

Over time, the flow gets less and lighter in color. It may change from red to pink to brown to yellow. You may have discharge for a few weeks, or even for a month or more.

What you can do: Use a sanitary pad until the vaginal discharge goes away.

 

Getting Your Period Again If you are not breastfeeding, you may start your period again 6 to 8 weeks after giving birth. If you are breastfeeding, you may not start again for months. Some women don't have a period again until they stop breastfeeding.

Getting Pregnant It's possible that you may ovulate (release an egg) before you get your period again. This means you could get pregnant.

What you can do: If you are having sex, use birth control to help make sure you don't get pregnant again until you're ready. If you're breastfeeding, ask your provider about which birth control method you should use. Not all kinds of birth control are safe to use when breastfeeding.

 

Swelling Lots of women have swelling in their hands, feet and face during pregnancy. This swelling is caused by extra fluids in your body that help you get ready for labor and delivery. After giving birth, it may take time for the swelling to go away.

What you can do: Try lying on your left side or putting your feet up. Also try to stay cool and wear loose clothes.

 

Breast Engorgement Your breasts swell, too, as they fill with milk. This is called engorgement, and it can be painful. Once you start breastfeeding, it should go away. If you're not breastfeeding, it may last longer until your breasts stop making milk.

What you can do:Place ice packs on your breasts.

Wear a well-fitting support bra or a sports bra.

Don't express your milk. This tells your breasts to make more milk.Talk to your health care provider if your breasts stay engorged or if you are in pain.

 

Skin You may have stretch marks on your belly, thighs, breasts and bottom where your skin stretched during pregnancy.

What you can do: Use creams or lotions on your skin to help make the stretch marks go away.

 

Hair Your hair may have seemed thicker and fuller during pregnancy. After your baby's born, you hair may thin out. You may even lose hair. Hair loss usually stops about 3 to 4 months after your baby's birth.

What you can do: Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. These may help protect your hair and help it grow.

Be gentle with your hair. Try not to use fine-tooth combs or wear pigtails, cornrows, tight braids or tight rollers. These can pull and stress your hair. 

Use the cool setting on your hair dryer.

 

Your Postpartum Checkup Go for your postpartum checkup 6 weeks after your baby is born. At this visit, your health care provider checks to make sure you're recovering well from labor and delivery.