Pregnancy and childbirth are the two most special periods in a woman’s (and subsequently, mother’s) life. The magic of conceiving, growing a human being inside you, and then bringing a precious life into the world is a truly remarkable and unforgettable experience.
However, the stress and rigors of pregnancy can leave your body feeling taxed. The changes that took place in your body leave it feeling different from how it was before your bundle of joy came into being. Trying to go back to how your body was pre-pregnancy can be a real hassle, and takes a lot of patience because your body won’t revert in the twinkle of an eye.
In this article, we will discuss, in-depth, the changes that your body goes through during childbirth, and how long it will take to go back to how things were before.
1. YOUR ABDOMEN
During pregnancy, the subcutaneous fat (the fat that is under your skin) in your belly helps to protect the fetus from external dangers. After childbirth, the extra fat will reduce on its own from 6-8 weeks after childbirth (though this may take longer if you had a C-Section). If you exercise your abdominal muscles frequently, it will take between 1-2 years for them to fully snap back into shape.
2. YOUR BREASTS
the secretion of breast milk is the reason your breasts increase in size during pregnancy and while lactating. Unfortunately, the muscles in your breasts find it difficult to support the new size as it is almost three times larger than the normal size, and this results in your breasts sagging. The restoration of sagging breasts takes a long time and a lot of effort.
Interestingly enough, women who had their child at an early age will find it easier and faster to restore their breasts compared to older mothers. Even though you can’t get your old shape back, with the right exercise, you can still have great looking mammary glands.
3. YOUR MUSCULOSKELETAL SYSTEM
Your musculoskeletal system goes through a whole lot of stress during pregnancy, as a result of carrying both the baby and all that extra fat. The secretion of a hormone called ‘relaxin’ is also a contributing factor, as it helps the muscles in your vertebral column maintain their elasticity.
During pregnancy, your spine may also shift a little, also leading to increased pressure. After childbirth, your musculoskeletal system reverts to its old way between 3-4 months, but you may want to engage in specialized exercises to help speed this up.
4. YOUR UTERUS
The uterus is arguably the part that takes the most pressure, as the baby grows inside it. The changes in the uterus are very visible and dramatic. A woman that has never had a child has a uterus weighing 40g, but one who has will have a uterus weighing 80g. As a matter of fact, a new mother’s uterus can weigh up to 1000g!
However, about 10 days after childbirth, the uterus begins the process of healing itself. It is normal to experience some bleeding during the first week after birth. This is often no cause for alarm. Your uterus goes back to normal after about two months post-childbirth.
5. YOUR CERVIX
The cervix undergoes very dramatic changes too, especially during labor. After delivery, the cervix still remains about 10cm dilated and will take up to 6 weeks to completely close. You should know that your cervix will never revert to its former conical shape. It will instead heal to a cylindrical shape, but this won’t apply if you had your baby through a C-Section.
6. YOUR MENSTRUAL CYCLE
Because you haven’t got a visit from Aunt Flo in 9 months, it may take a while for your menstrual cycle to regularize itself. Your age, nutrition, diseases, and other factors affect how quickly your menstrual cycle becomes regular again.
Your first period post delivery should appear about 5-6 weeks after childbirth, though it will take about a year before your cycle becomes normal and regular.
7. YOUR GENITALS
If you had a natural (or vaginal) delivery, it is only normal to expect that the muscles down below will experience a bit of stretching. A lot of stretching if your baby was big. However, you shouldn’t worry about the muscles staying loose forever.
After childbirth, the walls of your vulva smoothen, which makes it seem like it has gotten bigger or wider. The muscles of your genitalia will begin to contract and revert to how they were after about 8 weeks after childbirth.
8. EMOTIONAL ISSUES
Due to the stress of taking care of a newborn, your emotions may go haywire. Postpartum depression (also called baby blues) can cause feelings of sadness, tiredness, and fatigue. All these may lead to poor functioning and response. This is a fairly normal occurrence after childbirth, and so you shouldn’t be hard on yourself. With support from family, friends and your doctor, you should bounce back in no time at all.
Restoring your body to how it was before childbirth is a time and effort consuming process. Don’t be worried if you don’t see results as quickly as you would like to. Give your body time, and soon, you’ll be back in shape.
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