A woman’s body goes through so many changes in preparation for childbirth. Once the baby is born, a woman’s body experiences more changes as hormones settle. Stretched and bruised muscles and body parts work to get back to a pre-pregnancy state.
And I’m not talking about just the leftover baby belly. There are many things going on inside as well.
Below are some tips to help guide your body back to a near pre-pregnancy state.
One of the most efficient ways to help your uterus return to its normal size is to breastfeed. Mothers who breastfeed lose their “baby belly” quicker.
When baby breastfeeds, he/she stimulates the release of oxytocin -- the hormone responsible for the onset of contractions. With the release of these hormones during feedings, the uterus will continue to contract and shrink. (3)
Losing Weight after Baby
Once your baby is born, you will lose about 12 pounds right away (8-pound baby + 1-pound placenta + 3 pounds of amniotic fluid and blood). By the end of the first week, you will lose from 4 to 6 pounds of water weight just through urination and perspiration. (1)
“Wait six weeks or so before you think about slimming down ... You can start to do some gentle exercise (walking, pelvic floor exercises, stretching) ... A nutritious, varied diet will speed your recovery ... Although it can be difficult to lose weight after having a baby, it’s important that you do so carefully and slowly.” (4)
Breastfeeding can also help with this because your body can use your existing fat stores to produce milk. (4)
Regaining Bladder and Bowel Control
Everything associated with the birth can bruise and stretch bladder and bowel, and related muscles making it difficult to use the bathroom and even hold pee in until you get there. (1)
Kegel exercises (tensing and releasing the vagina and perineum) are essential to helping to re-establish vaginal and bladder muscle control. Make sure to urinate frequently, as well. (2)
To aid with bowel movements, drink lots of water, take stool softeners as recommended by your doctor, and avoid straining during a bowel movement. (2)
1) Body changes after childbirth. Babycenter.com. Web. Oct 17, 2012.
2) Your Body’s Physical Changes After Childbirth. iVillage.com. Web. Oct 17, 2012.
3) Breastfeeding and Afterbirth Pain. Heskin, Nicki. BellaOnline. Web. Oct 18, 2012.
4) Healthy Weight Loss after birth. BabyCenter.ca. Web. Oct 18, 2012.
Reviewed October 18, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith