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After the birth of a baby, the first 48 hours will show little difference in terms of shape and weight, with the majority of women feeling as if they should have lost at least 8lbs, but in reality their weight stays the same. It is important that women realise that just as they took nine months to produce a full grown baby it will take at least that long for them to regain some of their former shape.
Part of a midwife’s role is to reassure and instil a sense of reality when seeing new mothers. Expectations today are high in regard to how women perceive themselves, and it is more difficult when magazines and TV promotes quick fixes that are unrealistic. Preparing women for what they can expect after a baby is vital; this helps psychologically and gives more balanced expectations. Antenatal preparation with their partners enables both to hear and discuss what is real and also the myths that are common. This education approach should continue after the birth with every contact from the health professional offering reassurance and realistic advice that serves the woman well.
|Timeline||Physiological change||Visual change|
|1st day post birth||Reduction in size of uterus,
palpated around the umbilicus.
|Abdomen feels soft and spongy.
Vaginal loss bloody, wearing pads.
|3rd-5th day post birth||Uterus wall contracted at 3
fingerbreadths under umbilicus.
Breasts enlargement milk
|Abdomen still soft, uterus feels firm.
Vaginal loss much less heavy when moving around, wearing pads.
Ankles look puffy and swollen.
Breasts tender, hot and swollen.
|10th day post birth||Uterus just palpable at symphysis pubis.
|Abdominal tissue feels firmer.
Vaginal loss more settled and like a discharge, wear a liner.
Breasts changing constantly when feeding, wearing breast pads.
|28th day post birth||Uterus not palpable.
General body tone firmer.
Sleep pattern changed.
|Abdomen firmer and more resistant.
Breasts more normal in size wear pads if breastfeeding.
Walking around with baby,doing tasks.
Tiredness and lack of energy.
|3 months post birth||Still has some post-pregnancy
weight to lose.
Breastfeeding on demand.
|Some routine established, finding difficult to eat regularly between caring for baby.
Some nights where baby sleeps through.
|6 months post birth||Body shape slowly returning to previous functions.
Breasts still lactating.
|Has more energy to walk and get out of house, meet other mothers, confidence better.
Baby started to wean.
Managing to eat at regular intervals.
Baby sleeping through night.
|12 months post birth||All body functions and
physiological changes are now
|Adapted to motherhood.
Back at work.
Enjoying family life.