Monday, February 22, 2010

How much weight will I lose right after giving birth?

You probably won't return to your pre-pregnancy weight for some time, but you will lose a significant amount of weight immediately after delivery. Subtracting one 7- to 8-pound baby, another pound or two of placenta, and another 2 pounds or so of blood and amniotic fluid leaves most new moms about 12 pounds lighter.

The weight keeps coming off, too. All the extra water that your cells retained during pregnancy, along with fluid from the extra blood you had in your pregnant body, will be looking for a way out.

So you'll produce more urine than usual in the days after birth — an astounding 3 quarts a day. And you may perspire a lot, too. By the end of the first week, you'll lose about 4 pounds of water weight. (The amount varies depending on how much water you retained during pregnancy.)

How long will it take for my uterus to shrink?

By the time you go into labor, your uterus is about 15 times heavier (not including its contents!) and its capacity is at least 500 times greater than before you conceived. Within minutes after your baby is born, contractions cause your uterus to shrink, clenching itself like a fist, its crisscrossed fibers tightening in the same way they do during labor.

These contractions cause the placenta to separate from the uterine wall. After the placenta is delivered, the uterus clamps down even more, closing off open blood vessels in the area where the placenta was attached. As the uterus continues to contract, you may feel cramps known as afterpains.

For the first couple of days after birth, you can feel the top of your uterus at or a few finger widths below the level of your belly button. In a week your uterus weighs about a pound - half of what it weighed at delivery. After two weeks it's down to a mere 11 ounces and located entirely within your pelvis. By four to six weeks, it should be close to its pre-pregnancy weight of about 2.5 ounces. This process is called involution of the uterus.

Even after your uterus shrinks back into your pelvis, you may continue to look somewhat pregnant for several weeks or longer. That's because your abdominal muscles get stretched out during pregnancy, and it will take time – and regular exercise – to get your belly back in shape.