Process: After the Birth

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.

Preparing for lactation

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.

Changes in the breasts

The number of lobules (milk-producing glands) in the breasts increases during pregnancy. After 3 months, they are able to produce colostrum, and after the baby is born, they can produce around 1 litre (1 3 / 4 pints) of milk each day.

The uterus returns to normal

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.

One week after childbirth

By 1 week after the birth, the uterus is already about half the size it was immediately after delivery of the baby.

Six weeks after childbirth

After 6 weeks, the uterus has contracted, although not quite to its original size, and returned to its usual position.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

Back to top