Today we're looking to answer your questions about your uterus after birth! How long does it take for your uterus to shrink? What problems you should look for, and things you can do to help the process.
During pregnancy, your uterus can expand up to 500 times its normal size! (source)
After all, your baby needed a lot of room to grow.
The uterus is a mysterious, magical organ capable of growing and nurturing life (with some help of course.)
It's also one of the least understood things new moms pay very little attention to.
Unless there is a problem of course...
Here we are going to take a look at why you need to make sure your uterus shrinks after birth, and what you can do to help it.
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- Why Worry About Your Uterus Shrinking After Birth?
- What Happens If My Uterus Isn't Shrinking After Birth?
- How Long Does It Take for Your Uterus to Shrink to Normal?
- How to Shrink Your Uterus After Birth
- Fundal Massage
- Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
- A Postpartum Girdle
- Warning Signs That Somethings Wrong
- Final words
Why Worry About Your Uterus Shrinking After Birth?
After you birth your baby your uterus is left with a very large internal wound where your placenta fastened your baby to your body.
This wound is what causes so much postpartum bleeding.
As your uterus shrinks, the wound gets smaller and the blood vessels start shrinking too. This slows down the bleeding.
What Happens If My Uterus Isn't Shrinking After Birth?
So what does happen if your uterus doesn't shrink down?
This is when the problems start.
If your uterus is not shrinking after pregnancy, it's called uterine atony.
You may even hear medical professional refer to this as "a boggy uterus."
According to health line
"Atony of the uterus, also called uterine atony, is a serious condition that can occur after childbirth. It occurs when the uterus fails to contract after the delivery of the baby, and it can lead to a potentially life-threatening condition known as postpartum hemorrhage."
Essentially, if your uterus doesn't shrink the way it's supposed to, you may bleed too much. Which is something you definitely want to avoid.
Here's a great video that explains why you want your uterus contracting and shrinking as soon as possible after having your baby.
Luckily there are things you can do help your uterus shrink after birth.
How Long Does It Take for Your Uterus to Shrink to Normal?
According to Healthline, your uterus should start shrinking back to normal size within one week, but it usually takes 6 weeks for it to completely go back to normal.
Most women notice the biggest amount of shrinking in the first 3 or 4 days.
How to Shrink Your Uterus After Birth
So know that we know why you want to reduce the size of your uterus after birth, let's focus on the how to shrink your uterus.
The very first way to help your uterus shrink, is fundal massage!
After having your baby, your uterus should naturally start contracting on its own.
If you give birth in a hospital, your nurse will likely start massaging your uterus right away. This is called a fundal massage.
This is something you can do at home as well to stimulate contractions and help your uterus start shrinking down to normal size.
Unfortunately, it may hurt a bit.
The key is to relax as much as possible while massaging your uterus.
This will help lower the pain big time.
Try taking in a few slow, deep breaths while counting to 10.
It's easier to push yourself to do something painful if you know there's a stopping point. (Getting to 10.)
If you start breastfeeding shortly after birth, you may notice that your start cramping.
This is a good thing. This means your uterus is starting to shrink by itself.
Oxytocin (a hormone) helps your uterus to contract after birth. Breastfeeding releases tons of oxytocin. (This little hormone makes you feel all lovey too!)
So the more you breastfeed, the more signals you'll give your body to shrink that uterus.
If you can't breastfeeding, you can also pump. Pumping causes nipple stimulation, which will also flood your body with the oxytocin and help your uterus contract.
(If you're wondering how long the pains of the contractions last while breastfeeding, most new moms barely notice them after a day or two.)
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
You may have heard me mention this before, but I LOVE red raspberry leaf tea.
Red raspberry leaf tea has so many benefits for pregnancy, labor AND postpartum. Plus it is very nourishing. (like sipping on a liquid vitamin.)
Livestrong states the following about red raspberry leaf in regards to postpartum bleeding
"The leaf of the red raspberry plant contains flavonoids, but it is the presence of tannins, which are astringent in nature, that may help tone the uterus after giving birth. The herb is a uterine tonic, meaning it has the reputation of invigorating and strengthening the uterus."
Essentially, it's saying that the herb could help your uterus contract after birth and may even be able to prevent that uterine atony mentioned above! (after all, atony literally means the absence of tone!)
*Now, here's where I have to throw in my warning. Very few herbal supplements are deemed safe for breastfeeding moms.
If there's no research that says its perfectly safe, then it's automatically advised against. This doesn't mean it's not safe.
It just means there is no research out there stating it is. But here is my feelings.
If the tea is safe during pregnancy with your baby in your tummy, how is it harmful to your baby through your breastmilk?
Plus all those vitamins would be going straight to baby too! Just my opinion though.
You can find my favorite brand of red raspberry leaf here. It's all organic and tastes great with some honey and lemon.
Personally, I drank two to three cups a day. You can drink it hot or cold. I prefer hot.
But many moms love whipping up a big batch of "iced tea" and drinking it that way. It's all a matter of preference.
A Postpartum Girdle
A postpartum girdle, or abdominal binder, can help to shrink your uterus quickly after birth as well.
I wore mine a couple days after having my baby and noticed that my tummy flattened pretty quickly.
There's a popular misconception that wearing a girdle after birth will help you lose baby weight, but this simply isn't true.
It can help you feel better though!
For me, this will always be a must have postpartum essential.
It provided awesome support and allowed me to get up and moving with a lot less pain and just made me feel stronger until I was fully recovered after having my baby.
You can read more about why you should get a postpartum girdle and how to choose the right one for you.
Seriously. Get some rest!
So remember how we talked about that giant wound in your uterus from where the placenta was.
It needs to heal!
This means your job postpartum, is to rest.
This will allow your body to fully function and do what it needs to, to shrink your uterus after birth.
A good way to know if you're not resting enough is by watching your bleeding.
If you suddenly start bleeding more, you're doing too much!
It's your body's built-in way of saying "slow down!!"
Remember, you went through a lot. Your body needs time to heal and rest, and your uterus will do its thing.
Warning Signs That Somethings Wrong
If your worried about whether your uterus is shrinking quickly enough, here are the major warning signs that something could be wrong
- Pain in your back or pelvis (not the contraction pains)
- Excessive or sudden increase in bleeding that doesn't slow down
- Soaking more than 1 pad per hour and not showing signs of slowing
- Feeling clammy, dizzy, nauseated or pale (signs of losing too much blood)
If you know your uterus is not shrinking after pregnancy, then something could be wrong and you should call your doctor immediately.
Finally, remember that your body usually knows what to do.
In general, you really don't have to worry too much about shrinking your uterus after birth.
It naturally knows what to do. But hopefully, some of these tips will help you know what to look for, and how to speed up the process a bit.
If you are concerned about how long it's taking for your uterus to shrink, make sure to speak with your doctor.
*P.S. My favorite postpartum rehab program is currently open! Make sure to check out the The Postpartum Cure! It's fantastic and helps moms recovery quickly after birth. This helped me big time with my own problems after having a baby! You'll love it!
*disclaimer: everything in this article is for informational purposes and should not be taken as medical advice.