Do you need a quick fix to help your uterus shrink after birth?
Congratulations on the birth of your baby!
It’s a really special time in your life right now and one you will remember for a very long time.
The one thing I’m almost certain that you won’t want to remember is the state of your uterus postpartum.
Every woman wishes there was a magic button they could press to help her uterus shrink after birth but unfortunately there isn’t.
I remember when I first got pregnant I was so excited about seeing how my much my stomach would grow and what my new temporary body would look like.
As my stomach started to grow during that first trimester I realised that actually the first part of pregnancy I wasn’t so excited about after all.
You might be wondering why.
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The reason was simple.
My new body was at an awkward stage. I was kind of in the middle of the “is she, isn’t she pregnant” stage.
I hated it.
For some reason I felt that I owed it to everyone to explain that I was in fact actually pregnant and not just awkwardly misshapen.
I know you’re probably thinking, well what does this have to do with your uterus postpartum.
Well thats easy for me to explain.
You see I didn’t expect that once I had given birth to my baby that I would go through that same “is she, isn’t she pregnant” phase again.
I was completely taken aback by it.
I know it sounds silly now but I fully believed in my heart that I would have the “snapback” effect that I had heard people talk about – immediately.
I remember when I packed my hospital bag with my clothes for leaving hospital, I packed a pair of my pre-pregnancy jeans and I also had my maternity jeans which I had worn to the hospital.
Needless to say I didn’t fit into either. Why did no one explain this to me?
Your uterus postpartum is going to be very different in size initially to what it was before you got pregnant.
I get that for the odd few women the snapback does come into effect but lets be real for a moment because that is not the case for everyone.
Even more so if it is your second, third, forth, fifth baby etc because your body simply cannot bounce back that quickly.
It takes time for your uterus to shrink back after birth.
I always remember talking to a friend about how I felt about my postpartum body.
I was feeling awful for its current state and she told me that it took a full 9 months for my body to stretch and accommodate my baby so it is only natural that it would take some time for it to spring back.
I never forgot that and I never apologised to myself for the state of my body again.
I now understood that it would take time for my uterus to shrink after birth.
What happens to your body after you give birth?
Your body has a lot of work to do and it’s certainly not over yet just because you have delivered your baby.
You have to deal with postpartum bleeding as well as any tears that may have happened during labor that need time to heal.
What exactly is a uterus?
A uterus is a part of a woman’s body where when she gets pregnant her baby will be housed until it is time for it to enter into the world.
Your uterus is the shape of an upside down pear and sits in the lower part of your abdomen.
As you can see the uterus is a very important part of a womans anatomy.
Without this it would be impossible to bear a child.
As your pregnancy progresses your uterus will grow larger in order to accommodate your baby.
Before pregnancy your uterus is roughly the same size as an apple.
During pregnancy your uterus will grow to roughly the size of a watermelon at full term during your third trimester.
What happens to your uterus after childbirth?
After you give birth it can take up to six weeks for your uterus to contract and return to its normal size.
There are things that you can do to help with the process and we will look at those in a bit.
Another thing no one warned me about was the afterpains that occur after you have given birth. This is called involution.
Involution is not a nice process. I can only describe it as having a similar pain to mild contractions.
It’s quite difficult to get your head around as you don’t expect to feel anymore pain once your baby has been delivered.
Those short sharp pains that you get help your uterus to contract and to get rid of any blood clots that may be floating around in your system.
Women tend to feel these pains to varying degrees during postpartum.
For some lucky women if it is their first baby they may not feel any pain at all.
Why is it important for your uterus to shrink after childbirth?
Aside from the fact that once you first give birth you might still look like “is she, isn’t she pregnant”, there are actually other factors that you need to be aware of.
After giving birth your abdomen now has a massive gap where your placenta used to be.
All the blood vessels are now no longer connected to the placenta and “hanging” free.
This is the reason that you get postpartum blood loss.
Once your uterus has finished contracting and trying to expel and repair the blood vessels your stomach should more or less return to its original state.
If your uterus does not shrink back down efficiently then it will be difficult for your postpartum bleeding to stop.
If your uterus does not contract sufficiently then it can cause serious complications for you later on.
It’s important to be aware of how much your uterus has shrunk. If you can’t do this yourself then make sure you have a postpartum check up with your midwife or doctor to confirm that everything is ok.
- 6 Types of pregnancy pain that are completely normal
- The truth about your breasts after pregnancy
- 7 Tips to guarantee your survival of the fourth trimester
Ways you can help your uterus shrink after birth
1. Massage your uterus
You may have noticed your midwife massage your stomach once your baby has come out. This is for very good reason.
Your midwife wants to make sure that she can feel your stomach is beginning to contract straight away.
Not only that, she wants to help the process along so you get your body back sooner rather than later.
You can actually learn how to massage your own belly by following these steps.
- Make sure your bladder is empty
- Lie down on your back
- Press firmly down on your abdomen where your belly button is
- Gently massage your uterus in a clockwise and anticlockwise motion.
You may experience a little bit of discomfort whilst doing this.
If you are unsure how to do this you can check with your healthcare professional.
Breastfeeding is a great way to help your uterus shrink after birth.
When you breastfeed your baby it triggers a hormone (oxytocin) to encourage your uterus to contract.
Breastfeeding after childbrith also has other benefits.
- It helps you to lose weight that much quicker as you burn more calories.
- It encourages the postpartum bleeding to stop more quickly
- Breastfeeding also delays your first period
3. Make time to eat more healthy meals
The trick here is to eat little portions of food often.
Try as much as possible to eat a balanced diet and stay far away from the chocolates and cakes.
Chocolate and cake is always my weakness after I have given birth as I always get the urge to binge eat it (not good!).
My pregnancies are quite hard on me, especially during the third trimester when I tend to get a lot of reflux which prevents me from eating what I want.
Eating healthy will help you to shed any extra pounds you may have gained and lose the weight around your stomach area.
4. Wrap your stomach
When you wrap your stomach it helps with shrinking your uterus back to its pre-pregnancy size and give you some shape as well.
Some women love this method and some don’t. It is an entirely personal choice as to whether you want to belly wrap or not.
It is an effective method.
I tried this when I was pregnant but I wasn’t very good at keeping up with it.
How long does it take for your postpartum uterus to shrink?
It really shouldn’t take more than 6 weeks but even if it does fully shrink back to its normal size that does not mean that your stomach will be what it was pre-pregnancy.
Pregnancy can have a funny effect on your body and you may find that you might be a completely different shape to what you were before you got pregnant.
No one knows for sure.
***Remember it took 9 months to get your body to where you were in pregnancy so its only fair that it will take some time to get back to what you were before you got pregnant.
As long as you haven’t gained too much weight while you were pregnant and genetics allowing you should be able to return to your pre- baby body without too much stress.
If you enjoyed this post then have a look at some of the other posts listed below.
- 10 Facts about your body after childbirth that will blow your mind
- Postpartum headaches everyday and why you’re getting them
- 12 Things not to do after giving birth
Further reading on the involution of the uterus