Some mothers are surprised to discover that their stomachs are still large after giving birth. The stomach will get smaller, but this takes time.
Changes with the Peritoneum and Abdominal Wall
# For a few days after delivery, the uterine muscles contract and wrinkle the peritoneum, which is wrapped around the uterus. It is severely relaxed compared to how it was before pregnancy and needs a lot of time to recover. The abdominal wall is very relaxed after giving birth because of the rupture of elastic fiber in the skin and an enlarged uterus. It takes weeks to recover, but exercise helps.
# Except for the striae gravida?rum, the abdominal wall will recover to its prepregnancy state, but this differs from person to person. Sometimes the muscles remain loose.
# Although most women report that their bellies have shrunk a great deal 6 weeks after birth, it takes a few months, 6 months on average, for the belly to return to normal; sometimes it does not recover.
# Wearing a maternity band (stomach band) helps if moving is uncomfortable after childbirth, but it will not make the belly shrink and revert to its prepregnancy appearance.
# Appropriate exercise will accelerate recovery during postpartum, returning strength to the muscles, make the belly shrink faster, and help lose the weight gained during pregnancy.
# Mothers who had a normal birth can start abdominal exercises immediately, and mothers who had cesarean sections can begin 1-2 weeks later, as long as there is no pain and the exercises are reasonable.
# After delivery, uterine contractions become weak and occasional. The pains/contractions are called afterpains.
# The pain becomes worse with each birth; breast-feeding causes the uterus to contract and also causes afterpains.
# Most of the pain disappears after 3-4 days; if afterpains are severe, painkillers can be taken for several days.