After birth, the mother’s breasts produce colostrum, a fluid rich in nutrients and antibodies, before milk production begins. The mother’s uterus, cervix, vagina, and abdomen, which enlarged during pregnancy, begin to return to their normal sizes.
During pregnancy, the lobules (milk-producing glands), which are dormant in nonpregnant women, gradually become able to produce milk in preparation for nourishing the newborn baby. At the same time, they increase in number so that enough milk is produced.
The uterus begins to shrink immediately after birth and continues to decrease in size for the next 6–8 weeks, helped by hormones circulating in the mother’s body. There may be some mild pains as the uterus shrinks, but these usually disappear a few weeks after delivery.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.