Are you surprised by the size of your belly after giving birth? Blame it on your expanded uterus. Read on to learn about how to shrink uterus after pregnancy.
If you still look like a 5-6 month pregnant after the birth of your baby, you are not alone. Most women do after the birth of their babies!
The main reason why you still ‘look pregnant’ is your uterus. The uterus grew to the size of a watermelon to accommodate your baby, so it will take some time to return to its pre-pregnancy state.
But wait, there are ways to help shrink uterus faster after pregnancy naturally.
The purpose of shrinking uterus faster after birth is not for body image but to ensure that uterus returns to its pre-pregnancy size and does not cause any postpartum complications.
So, if you are looking to find a magic button to shrink your uterus after birth, unfortunately, there isn’t any. But you can try these sure-fire ways to shrink uterus naturally after birth. It worked for me!
Before we move on to nitty-gritty details, let’s first understand why it is important for uterus to shrink after birth.
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What happens to uterus after birth?
Before pregnancy uterus is the size of an apple, and it expands to the size of a watermelon to accommodate your growing baby throughout pregnancy.
Soon after you give birth to your baby and deliver the placenta, uterus starts contracting to return to its pre-pregnancy size. This process is known as involution.
For the first few days after birth, you will be able to feel the uterus near your belly button. Then, in a week or two, you will feel your uterus half the size it was right after birth. Then, uterus will go back inside your pelvis and slowly return to its pre-pregnancy state.
The red and heavy vaginal discharge after birth that you experience is nothing but mucous membrane lining of uterus shedding after birth as it starts shrinking after birth. And the vaginal discharge slowly tapers off after a few weeks.
Postpartum moms also experience contractions or afterpains after birth which is actually a good thing as it helps prevent excessive bleeding by compressing the blood vessels in the uterus.
So, soon after you give birth, your uterus starts contracting and plays an important role in regulating postpartum bleeding.
Why is it important for the uterus to shrink after birth or c-section?
Once the placenta is delivered after birth, uterus contractions help pressure the blood vessels in the area where the placenta is attached. Thereby preventing excessive bleeding.
If the uterus does not contract or shrink after birth or c-section, blood vessels will bleed freely, causing life-threatening postpartum hemorrhage.
Excessive uncontrolled bleeding, pain, backache are signs that your uterus is not shrinking after a c-section or birth. If it is the case, you need to talk to your doctor about your symptoms.
10 things to do to help Uterus Shrink after Pregnancy
Uterus shrinking is a physiological process, and it will take 6-8 weeks to shrink back to pre-pregnancy size and shape. This is because your hormone and uterine muscle do the most part in shrinking the uterus after birth. But if you want to help your body, here are things you can do to shrink uterus after birth naturally.
Breastfeeding has so many benefits to offer for both moms and babies. The women who breastfeed their baby have the advantage of hormone oxytocin releasing and helping the uterus shrink.
As the baby sucks on the breast, oxytocin is released to trigger the flow of the milk. You then feel abdominal pain or cramps, which signifies that your uterus is contracting. But, don’t worry; you won’t feel cramps or pain for the rest of your breastfeeding journey. The cramps only last for the first few days, and their intensity decreases with each day of postpartum.
For those women who can’t breastfeed or decide to formula feed their babies, their uterus will take a little extra time to shrink back to normal size and shape. Pumping breast milk also helps release oxytocin and thereby contracting the uterus.
2. Postpartum Girdle
Another natural way to shrink uterus after birth that mothers have used for centuries is belly binding wrap.
While there is no scientific evidence that it helps uterus shrink, few studies show the benefit of wearing belly wrap or postpartum girdle alleviating body pains and supporting your body after birth (source, source).
If you are using belly wrap for binding, you may need to learn how to do it correctly. But postpartum girdles are specifically made and come with hooks or zipper for ease of use.
Abdominal binding with a postpartum wrap or girdle helps tighten the muscle and connective tissues in the abdomen.
The maximum benefit of wearing a belly band or postpartum girdle is seen when it is worn in the first 6 to 8 weeks postpartum when the hormone relaxin is at a higher level in your body.
It is not too late to wear postpartum belly wrap if you have crossed the 6–8-week window. You can wear it until 5 months postpartum if you are breastfeeding as the relaxin hormone is still present at a low level.
The postpartum girdle or belly wrap is also beneficial for those mamas who have diastasis recti-separation of abdominal muscles.
3. Uterus Massage
Uterus massage or fundal massage is another way to help uterus shrink after birth. In addition, uterine massage after placenta delivery can promote uterus contraction.
Uterus massage is done by placing a hand on the lower abdomen and stimulating the uterus by massaging and squeezing it. The repetitive massaging and squeezing helps get rid of blood clots from the uterus, thereby reducing postpartum hemorrhage.
Fundal or Uterus massage is uncomfortable, but you can manage it with breathing exercises that you learned during your childbirth class. Here is an informative video about fundal massage that you want to watch from a labor and delivery nurse.
4. Use a warm compress
Use a warm compress on your abdomen to get instant relief from discomfort caused by uterus contraction. You can apply a heating pad or warm washcloth to your abdomen. However, you do not want to use a heating pad on your abdomen often as it can cause more aggressive uterine contraction.
5. Postpartum Sitz-bath
If you don’t want to use a warm compress directly on your abdomen, you can take a warm bath or postpartum sitz-bath. It is a gentle approach to promote bearable uterine contraction. In addition, a warm bath is super relaxing when your whole body is aching in the first week after birth.
6. Tea to Shrink uterus after birth
The herb helps tone the uterus, pelvic muscles and reduces bleeding postpartum.
While there is no scientific evidence that the red raspberry leaf tea helps shrink uterus after pregnancy, it certainly helped me cope with menstrual cramps and postpartum cramps. It is worth a try!
7. Herb to Shrink Uterus after Birth
Dill (Anethum graveolens) is a staple herb in European and Asian cuisines. In addition to being used in food preparation, it is traditionally used to treat digestive issues, relieve menstrual cramps (source), and other ailments.
Dill water (also known as Suva water) has been used for ages to assist in postpartum recovery in Indian culture. The anecdotal evidence says that it helps the womb/uterus shrink back to its original size and shape and helps the body flush out any toxin left after birth.
To make dill water, boil one tablespoon of dill seeds in 1 liter of water for 5-7 minutes. You can drink it warm or cool. You can sip dill water throughout the day in the first few weeks after birth.
It is not the best tasting drink, but it does help alleviate abdominal pain or cramps postpartum.
8. Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated is important in general, but it is even more important when recovering from childbirth. Drinking enough water is not only crucial for making breastmilk, but it also helps flush toxins out of the body and keeps things moving.
That being said, you do not need to drink more water beyond your thirst. One glass of water each time you breastfeed and then drinking to thirst is enough to keep you hydrated postpartum.
9. Eat healthy food
Eating healthy, nutritious food is very important postpartum. Try to consume three healthy meals plus snacks in between to keep up with your milk supply and provide your body with essential nutrients to recover after birth.
It is always hard to find a time to cook a nutritious meal when caring for a newborn. So, make sure you plan your meals or adapt to a breastfeeding meal plan that gives you simple recipes with ingredient lists so you don’t have to spend too much time figuring out what you will cook every day.
In addition to eating healthy meals, make sure you take your postnatal vitamins regularly to make up for missing nutrients from your meals.
10. Do not Exercise
Be gentle to yourself in the first 6-8 weeks after birth. Your body needs time to heal after labor and delivery. You do not want to exercise until you get okay from your doctor.
Body movements and walking are okay, but you do not want to strain your body with exercises for the first couple of weeks after birth.
How long does it take for the uterus to shrink?
The uterus starts shrinking as soon as you deliver the placenta after birth but takes about 6-8 weeks to return to the pre-pregnancy state.
Soon after birth, you can feel your firm uterus at the belly button level. The most significant uterus shrinking from 1000gms to 500gms happens during the first week after birth. It is when you feel abdominal pain or contraction which limits postpartum bleeding (source).
By six weeks, it weighs approximately 50 gms. The withdrawal of progesterone and estrogen also helps the uterus shrink by increasing activity within the uterus (source).
Whether you had vaginal or c-section delivery, the uterus takes about 6-8 weeks to shrink to its pre-pregnancy state.
However, if you decide not to breastfeed your baby or you can’t breastfeed your baby, it may take about 8-10 weeks for your uterus to shrink after birth.
Can you feel your uterus shrink after birth?
Yes, the abdominal pain and cramps that you feel after birth signify that your uterus is shrinking after birth. You will feel abdominal pain and cramp in the first few days after birth, but they will go away within a few days.
Does uterus shrinking hurt?
As the uterus starts shrinking back to its pre-pregnancy size and shape, you will feel abdominal pain and cramps. These cramps feel like menstrual cramps. You will feel a sharp pain when breastfeeding in the first few days. The intensity of pain decreases as postpartum days go by.
Does pumping help the uterus shrink?
Like breastfeeding, stimulating your nipple by pumping releases oxytocin and causes uterine contraction. You will feel abdominal pain or cramps in the first few weeks while pumping, which signifies that your uterus is contracting or shrinking.
How long does it take for the uterus to shrink if you don’t breastfeed or pump?
Breastfeeding or pumping is one of the ways to induce uterine contraction. But if you are not breastfeeding or pumping, it will take a little longer, about 10-12 weeks, for the uterus to shrink after pregnancy.
If you are not breastfeeding or pumping, you can wear a postpartum girdle, drink dill water, and massage your uterus every day to induce uterine contraction.
I hope this article has put some perspective on when you can expect your uterus to shrink after pregnancy and what you can do to accelerate the process.
Usually, it takes 6-8 weeks for the uterus to shrink back to its normal size and shape after birth or c-section.
For those mamas who are not breastfeeding or pumping, it may take 8-10 weeks for the uterus to shrink after childbirth.
I highly suggest wearing a postpartum girdle or belly wrap for the first 6-8 weeks after birth. It not only helps with uterus shrinking but provides body support while breastfeeding and will support your body while you are caring for your newborn.
For me, drinking dill water was beneficial for alleviating abdominal pain or cramps while breastfeeding in the first few days. So, do try it if you can handle the taste.
In the comment section below, let me know if you have any questions about shrinking the uterus naturally after pregnancy.
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