Your Post-Baby Body: A Timeline
Immediately after childbirth: You're 9 to 12 pounds lighter now that you're no longer carrying a 6- to 8- pound baby, 1 or 2 pounds of placenta weight, and 2 pounds of blood and amniotic fluid.
Two to three days: Up to 80 percent of women experience baby blues, feelings of loneliness, sadness, and fear that they won't be able to do a good job. While perfectly normal, if your blues don't go away or they get worse, tell your doctor. You could be experiencing postpartum depression, which can be serious.
Three days: Your breast milk should come in by now. If you're not breastfeeding, your breasts will start to feel less full and you'll stop producing milk in about a week.
10 days: Lochia, discharge resulting from shedding of excess blood and tissue from your uterus, which begins soon after childbirth, will lighten in volume and color.
Three weeks: Your muscles will start to regain their tone. If you had a complication-free vaginal delivery and exercised prior to pregnancy, you may be able to ease into a light workout routine now after checking with your doctor.
Four to six weeks: After growing to the size of a watermelon during pregnancy, your uterus should have shrunk back to its usual lemon size. Decreasing estrogen levels may cause hair to thin during this time, but only temporarily. In a couple of months, it should grow and thicken.
Five weeks: Feel like having sex? If so, it's safe. Discuss any concerns with your ob-gyn at your six-week checkup. Way too sleep-starved to consider more than a peck with your partner? No worries! If you do get frisky, use protection (breastfeeding moms should avoid estrogen-containing hormonal contraception), since you can ovulate and thus possibly conceive at this time.
Six weeks: Time for your postpartum checkup. Your ob-gyn will examine your vagina and abdomen to make sure you've recovered from birth and she'll likely want to discuss how you're feeling emotionally. Barring any complications, she'll also give you permission to start exercising again (at a moderate pace!). Make sure to discuss your contraception options and leave with a choice you're comfortable with.
Six to eight weeks: Although all new parents are sleep-starved, if you feel beyond worn out day after day, ask your doctor to check for anemia. Another condition that can cause fatigue is an autoimmune postpartum thyroid disorder, which affects up to 10 percent of mothers.
Eight weeks: Any postpartum vaginal bleeding should end.
Three months: Your hormones should return to their pre-pregnancy levels, meaning your menstrual cycle should begin again, any excess hair you developed during pregnancy should go away, and any mood swings you've experienced should level out. For breastfeeding moms, this stabilizing effect may not occur for another month or so, and even then may not happen completely until after you stop nursing.
Six months: Good news! Thanks to the forgiveness of time, any stretch marks you have should start to fade now.
Originally published on FitnessMagazine.com, July 2007.
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