Childbirth is a serious test for a woman and the female body needs a lot of time for a full postpartum recovery. Therefore, obstetrician-gynecologists don’t recommend thinking about a new pregnancy in the near future: wait for at least 2 years before planning another pregnancy. In the case of childbirth by cesarean section, you should wait for no less than 3 years.
The internal organs during pregnancy
The greatest burden during pregnancy falls on the internal organs which work in an intensive mode for a long time.
1. The cardiovascular system overexerts itself due to the maintaining of uteroplacental blood flow and an increase in the circulating blood volume during pregnancy.
2. The urinary system removes the products of the mother’s and the baby’s metabolism.
3. There are changes in the respiratory system because there is a significant increase in the need for oxygen.
4. Other body systems are also subject to global changes.
The postpartum recovery of the uterus
First of all, the recovery after childbirth includes complete involution of the uterus. This hollow organ undergoes the greatest changes during pregnancy: the uterus grows together with the child and becomes about 500 times bigger by the time of the delivery. After birth, it represents a huge bleeding wound filled with blood clots.
During the first 3 days after childbirth, the uterine cavity should already be clean of blood; after 3-5 days the inner layer of it heals but we can’t speak about a complete postpartum recovery earlier than in 2 months.
There is also some discharge from the uterus: at first it’s blood, then it becomes more watery, and it finally stops around 6 weeks after childbirth. At the same time, the uterus begins to contract. The spasms can be accompanied by painful sensations in the lower abdomen – that’s the uterus regaining its former size and weight.
Postpartum recovery: vaginal area
The delivery of the baby affects the vagina as mush as the uterus: it is considerably stretched, its walls thin out and partially lose sensitivity.
In most cases, the vagina is restored quickly and within 6-8 weeks returns to its normal prenatal dimensions. However, sometimes this process requires much more time, effort, exercise, and even the help of plastic surgeons. Such situations can occur if there are significant injuries and ruptures during childbirth.
The recovery of other internal organs
As it’s been mentioned above, during pregnancy, all the internal systems and organs work harder. In addition, a lot of them are displaced by an increased uterus. After the delivery, you’ll need time for all organs to return functioning in the usual antenatal regime.
The endocrine system undergoes a lot of changes: the hormonal levels alter significantly and quite dramatically. It often puts a strain on the nursing mother’s health condition and state of mind.
For example, 3-4 days after the delivery, the level of prolactin required for the production of breast milk sharply increases. This can entail:
- Mood swings;
The restoration of the menstrual cycle
Postpartum recovery includes the normalization of the menstrual cycle. The onset of menstruation depends on whether the woman is breastfeeding the baby or not.
At first, the menstrual cycle after childbirth can be irregular and differ from the monthly period you had before pregnancy. If you’re not breastfeeding the menstruation returns to normal 2-3 months after the delivery, otherwise you should contact an obstetrician-gynecologist.
Getting back in shape
Of course, every woman dreams about getting slim and fit after childbirth as soon as possible.
Do not expect that the weight gained during pregnancy will disappear immediately. It takes about 9 months for a complete postpartum recovery, i.e. approximately the same period of time as pregnancy, when you gained weight.
Don’t follow a strict diet immediately after childbirth, especially if you’re breastfeeding, because your baby should receive a lot of nutrients. Your diet should be well-balanced, containing only healthy food. To get rid of the excess weight, it is better to start an active lifestyle and spend more time exercising.
The workouts for quick postpartum recovery
A new mother wants to make her figure as beautiful as before giving birth as soon as possible. Of course, sport is necessary, but if you start exercising unreasonably early after childbirth it can only do you harm. Please, don’t begin training earlier than 6 weeks after the birth of your child! This concerns abdominal exercises and especially heavy lifting. After the caesarean section, you shouldn’t exercise for a longer period of time depending on the course of the postoperative period and the condition of the scar.
In addition, there are contraindications to sports for nursing mothers. Physical activity can lead to a drop in the prolactin level and, as a consequence, to the termination of breastfeeding. A breastfeeding mom can do only light gymnastics and uncomplicated fitness during this period.