Ah, birth. Nothing has more of an impact on a woman and her body than this epic moment. It's exciting, challenging, and completely unforgettable.
Women like to prepare themselves for birth, they watch the movies, listen to the stories, and read the books. What actually happens to those delicate mommy parts during birth? For starters, although feminine and beautiful, a woman's baby-making (and baby-housing) body parts are anything but delicate.
Consisting of the baby house (womb) as well as the baby highway (cervical area), the womb is a workaholic to say the least. Both of these parts function together to deliver the new baby safe and sound. They are amazing. And we women...well, we get to house all of these amazing parts. Pretty cool, right?
Although birth is the big event, some people forget about life after birth, especially for the mother's body. If mom had an amazing body because she's been working hard before and during birth, it's probably ready for a little R & R after the birth (insert motherly chuckle here). What exactly is it doing, though?
We're here to breakdown the complex phenomenon of what the womb is up to. From the tiny ligaments surrounding the uterine area to the difference between effacement and dilation, we'll lay it all out.
Here are 15 crazy ways a uterus changes during and after birth. Enjoy!
15 The Mucus Plug Is Released
Don't get grossed out by the name. The mucus plug has a big job!
There is a little "cork" that dislodges before child birth. Usually this happens during the early stages of labor. Often, women have reported releasing the mucus plug several days before they ever feel a contraction at all.
There is usually a little blood when a woman's body released the mucus plug. It's frequently called "bloody show." Admittedly, these titles aren't the most fancy, but don't turn up your nose just yet.
The mucus plug does exactly what it says - it plugs. Like a castle gate, it protects all that is precious inside. It's the one barrier between your vagina and your uterus. When the mucus plug is released, it's a telltale sign that you'll soon be holding your sweetie in your arms.
14 Cervix Moves From Posterior To Anterior
Besides your little one, your cervix will be the most popular character in the epic drama that is child birth. The cervix has a HUGE job, and basically everything centers around the functions of this popularity contest winner.
Before labor, the cervix is positioned in a posterior angle. This means that your cervix is back opposed to being forward. Baby's head pressuring the cervix often causes this. A baby cannot pass through the cervix in a posterior position. Sometimes, the cervix waits until last minute to move, but when it does, it means business.
Many women swear you can influence and manipulate your cervix into moving from back to forward or posterior to anterior, to be exact. Walking is the most popular exercise sworn to influence the cervix. Bouncing on an exercise ball follows closely behind. But, opinions run the gamut.
13 Contractions Of The Uterus
You didn't think we'd leave this one out, did you? Ah, the notorious contractions. This little devils are the most well-known topic when it comes to childbirth. Even people who know nothing about having babies, know that contractions have to happen for babies to be born.
A contraction is a shortening of the uterine muscles. They occur at intervals before and during childbirth, and can be a huge bummer.
Some women reported contractions to be less painful than menstrual cramps. Other women felt as if their insides were being stabbed by a thousand tiny doubled-edged swords. You can understand that each woman will react differently to her pain as her body reacts to the contraction.
12 When Effacement Begins
Back to the (second) star of the show - your cervix. For a baby to pass through the birth canal, your cervix needs to be in the right condition to allow it. You may have heard the term, "cervical ripening" before, and never quite knew what it meant.
Well, it means that the cervix is thinning out and stretching in preparation of a baby passing through. This can happen up to several weeks before labor starts. In fact, many first time moms don't often become effaced until the big day.
Every woman is different, but there are some ways reported to speed up effacement. You'll want to speak to your healthcare provider before trying any of these, of course. Evening Primrose Oil, Sex, and Yoga are all common go-to methods for some holistic focused moms-to-be.
11 Going Through Dilation
Much like effacement, dilation can occur up to several weeks before giving birth. It's different from effacement in that the cervix is actually opening during the process of dilation. It's measured in centimeters, and is probably the second most common lingo in birthing language.
At zero centimeters the cervix is completely closed. At ten centimeters the cervix is totally open which is called complete dilation. You must be at ten to enter the pushing stage.
Again, walking is another home remedy to encourage dilation. There's just something about gravity that just really does labor a favor.
10 Supporting Ligaments Change As Baby Time Approaches
Throughout your pregnancy the ligaments surrounding and supporting your uterus have gradually increased. While they were stretching, you may have even experienced those sharp twinges of round ligament pain.
It's a big process for your body to provide space enough for baby to rent. An even bigger process is the notice of eviction that occurs while giving birth.
In the short time before giving birth your supporting ligaments lengthen and soften. They do this in preparation of your pelvic area being flexible enough to change shape as baby passes through. You don't typically feel these changes like you did the round ligament pain. These changes are slightly less annoying, but they may leave you feeling more loose in your leg and hip movements.
9 The "Second Birth" Occurs
This is probably the biggest surprise to new moms. They have to give birth twice. WHAT!
Yes, but the second birth is typically a ton easier than the first. As you may have guessed the first birth is your baby, of course. The second birth is pushing out the placenta.
Shortly after you give birth to your baby, the placenta detaches from the uterine walls. Your uterus natural contracts the placenta out down the direct path your baby just took.
It's common for your body to do all work for you on this second birth. Many women reported not having to push at all, but that it felt natural to flex a little. The placenta is softer and more moldable than a baby (bones make all the difference), so it slides out with ease most of the time.
8 Cervical Area Narrows And Thickens
After serving as a baby highway, your cervix is bound to change a little. You may not feel these changes. A healthcare professional will be able to tell whether you've given birth or not, though.
Pre-pregnancy your cervix was more of a perfect circle. After childbirth it will be more oblong, like an oval. This is just how your body reacts to all it's accommodating.
It will take a few weeks to narrow and thicken, but that's about all it will take. For up to two days after giving birth, it's the width of two fingers. After those couple days the changes start to take place without you even realizing it.
It's nothing really to worry about. More than anything, it's another bit of proof that you accomplished a great feat in giving birth to a child.
7 The Uterine Area Will Continue To Contract Even After Birth
Did you ever wonder why women still look about 5 months pregnant right after giving birth? Logic might tell us that when a baby comes out, out bellies should return back to normal size right away. Nature tells us something different, though.
Your amazing uterus will continue to experience contractions for several days after birth. In fact, breastfeeding your baby or simply holding your new little one will trigger these contractions. These contractions are simply your body doing its job of healing and returning to its pre-pregnancy state.
It may take 6-8 weeks for the uterus to return to the size it was before pregnancy. This is completely normal and there's no reason to rush it. Your body knows what it's doing.
6 Heavy Lochia Is Coming
Normally massages are wonderful and relaxing things, right? Well, there is a type of massage that isn't so wonderful, but it is indeed necessary. After giving birth, your beloved nurse will massage on your tummy, which will in turn cause more contractions.
This uterine pressure causes blood to exit, and you'll be thankful for that extra large pads provided by the hospital or birthing center. For the past several months, there was a huge need for nourishment and protection, so there is extra fluid that needs to be released.
This flow of lochia will be heavy and bright red at first, often with clots. Within the coming weeks, the flow will lessen, become pink then brown. Soon, a yellowish-white fluid is all that will leak. This could be as short as in 2 weeks or last up until 6 weeks.
5 Uterine Area Changes Size After Birth
Remember the radiant princess exiting the hospital cradling her new baby? She was the epitome of true beauty in that she presented herself in a lovely way. Yet in doing so, she also embraced what it truly is to have just given birth.
Her tummy was pooched out, and she didn't try to hide it at all. This is how our bodies are supposed to look after such a physically demanding event such as birth. Your uterus won't magically shrink the moment your baby is born.
Instead, it will react like a slowly leaking balloon. It will take about 6-8 weeks to return back to its pre-pregnancy size. Your belly is a different story all together. With so much extra fluid in your body, not too mention the supporting and stretching it just endured, it may take a little longer to respond than your uterus. It took 9 months to grow to that size, so it's only reasonable for it to take that long to return back to its pre-pregnancy size.
4 Myometrium Muscles Begin To Return To Normal
Don't let this big word scare you. Myometrium muscles are simply the muscles that induce those wonderful contractions you feel during labor. They are actually the middle layer of uterine muscles, surrounded by the inner layer of uterine wall (endometrium) and the outer layer of uterine wall (perimetrium).
The myometrium muscle not only has the job of inducing labor, but it also has the job of expelling the placenta after your baby has been born. When the placenta has exited the scene, this special muscles does its best to keep the bleeding to a minimum by closing off the blood vessels with a fibrous layer.
Once these very important (but often annoying) jobs have been accomplished successfully, the myometrium muscle begins to return to normal again. No longer needed at its full capacity, it settles back into a state of rest.
3 The Welcoming Back Of Aunt Flow
One great think about pregnancy is that there are no annoying periods to endure. Of course, all your lovely pregnancy symptoms will make up for this absence. It's still nice to think of a 9 month sabbatical from Aunt Flow, though.
It's anybody's guess when a new mom will see the arrival of her first menstrual cycle after giving birth. It can take a few weeks or several months for your uterus to return to its normal non-pregnancy functions again.
In addition, your period may be lighter or heavier. It may be longer or shorter. Most likely you will see some kind of change, but not even your doctor can predict what this change will be. After child birth, your uterus is pretty much in charge of your body from now on.
2 Phantom Kick Phenomenon
Have you ever heard of non-pregnant mothers still feeling their baby kick inside the womb? They're not crazy, because there is such a phenomenon as phantom kicks. Some women reported feeling random kicks up to 9 years after giving birth.
There are a few theories about the reason for this craziness. Some say that it just take the uterus an incredibly long time to get back to 100% normal. Often, it just never does. Tiny contractions may hit you out of the blue. These contractions sometimes feel like little flutters or kicks like when you were carrying your little one.
These little phantom kicks can feel so much like the real thing that some moms begin to suspect that they are pregnant again.
1 Some Things Will Be A Little Lower
There is a strong possibility that your cervix may sit a little lower than it used to before you were pregnant. It's done a lot of work, fulfilled it's purpose, and accomplished a huge task. Who's to blame it for wanting to take it easy and maybe recline in an easy chair for a while?
We're not saying this is definitely going to happen, but some women report experiencing this after giving birth. Most of the time it's nothing to worry about, but if it begins to be uncomfortable or become a problem then contact your doctor.
According to women who have experienced this, it feels like your cervix is not too far away from the entrance of your vagina. It's kind of weird thing to experience, but every once in a while it happens to moms.
Sources: Babycenter, What To Expect, The Bump