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Navigating Postpartum Recovery: Understanding the Healing Timeline After Childbirth

Giving birth to a baby is one of the most amazing feelings in a woman’s life. However, a woman’s body undergoes numerous changes while giving birth to a baby and afterward. There occur numerous physical and mental changes in a woman and it takes a lot of time to recover or feel “normal” again. The postpartum phase can be delayed and last up to six months (1) and during this phase, a woman has to be taken proper care of so that the healing gets quicker.

Although the postpartum recovery experience is different from one woman to another, there are some recovery milestones that everyone ideally hits. This article will give you a sense of the postpartum recovery timeline for a better understanding of things you can expect from your mind and body after childbirth.

How Long Is The Postpartum Period?

No matter how you have delivered your baby, the postpartum recovery period usually lasts up to the first six to eight weeks after childbirth. However, you will not return to normal after six weeks of your pre-baby condition. This refers to postpartum healing, which includes the healing of your body after giving birth to your child.

How Long Does it Take to Heal After Childbirth?

Every woman is different, so each one will recover at a different rate with different postpartum symptoms. The first six weeks postpartum are known as the “recovery” period. By six weeks after giving birth to your child, your vagina (in case of vaginal birth) or C-section incision (in case of C-section birth) should be healed, and your uterus will be back to its normal size.

You will be experiencing a lot of changes during the first few weeks of childbirth, and they may include tiredness to hormonal fluctuations. You will see changes in your mind and body after the first six weeks of recovery. Sometimes, it might also take up to twelve weeks for complete healing.

How Your Postpartum Body Will Change After Giving Birth to Your Child?

Week 1

Physical Status Post-Vaginal Delivery

Depending on how much you tore, your vagina might hurt quite a lot. You will have to stay in hospital for at least one week in case of a vaginal delivery.

Perineal soreness and bleeding are normal during the first week. The color of your blood would be bright red during the first week and eventually turn brown. You will feel little contractions, particularly when breastfeeding.

Physical Status After C-Section

After a cesarean or C-section delivery, your incision can be painful. You might also find pain in most of your movements. A lot of women find it hard to get in and out of their beds. However, you should move around, at least a little bit.

In case you had a bladder catheter put in, it would be removed during the first week.

Mental Status At Week 1

It is quite difficult for new moms to deal with their emotions during the first week. Estrogen and progesterone levels drop off, and prolactin and oxytocin levels continuously rise and fall throughout the day. With all these, sleep deprivation will make you feel frustrated as if nothing is going right.

Week 2

Physical Status Post-Vaginal Deliver

In the case of some women, the bleeding will start to taper off during the second week. However, for some others, it can last for six weeks.

Bleeding during this time will not be heavy. You might start feeling vaginal itchiness because the area is starting to heal.

Physical Status After C-Section

During the second week, you will still likely feel a bit sore, however you will find it easier to move around. You would feel itchiness around your scars as the incision site is starting to heal.

Mental Health Status At Week 2

During the second week of postpartum, baby blues are normal. Most women get baby blues during this time. (2) However, some might also experience postpartum depression (which is different from baby blues).

You should consult with your doctor if you are having difficulty dealing with your emotions, have extreme cases of sadness and anxiety, or if you are having suicidal thoughts during this time.

Week 6

Physical Status Post-Vaginal Delivery

By this time the bleeding stops and your uterus goes back to normal size. Most women can start exercising and sexual activity by the sixth week after childbirth.

Physical Status After C-Section

By the sixth week after giving birth to your child, you will be fully recovered from the surgery and be fit for exercise and other physical activities. Your uterus will go back to pre-pregnancy size now. The scars will not hurt anymore, however, they might still be itchy around the incision.

Mental Status at Week 6

It is normal to feel overwhelmed and exhausted during this time. However, deeper feelings of anxiety, depression, or hopelessness should be treated by an expert.

6 Months

Physical Status Post-Vaginal Delivery

You will have full bladder control by this time (if it was a problem earlier) and if your hair was falling out after childbirth, it should stop falling out by now.

Your milk may be drying up and you may expect your period might come again anytime.

Physical Status After C-Section

A study has found that women who had cesarian delivery were more tired after six months. (3) Your milk may be drying up by now and your period may come back anytime.

Mental Status at 6 Months

You will have a positive mental status by now, especially if your baby is sleeping more. However, sometimes you might also experience mood swings.

Any lingering feelings associated with postpartum depression must be addressed.

One Year

Physical Status Post-Vaginal Delivery

You might be feeling normal by now. However, your body might have gained a few extra pounds. Your breasts will appear different if you are still breastfeeding.

Physical Status After C-Section

By this time, your scars will have faded, however, it might still be a little numb.

Mental Health Status at 1 year

Your mental status would depend on how comfortable you are adapting to motherhood and how well you are sleeping.

Things That Will Help You Recover During Your Postpartum Phase

You will require some of the things to begin the postpartum healing process. Below are some of those.

Pain Relief Medication

Pain relief medications like Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen help in relieving aches and pains. Follow your doctor’s instructions.

Absorbent Maxi Pads

You will also need comfortable and absorbent maxi sanitary pads for the bleeding and discharge that you will be experiencing post-delivery.

Cotton Underwear

Choose cotton underwear for yourself. Cotton fabric is breathable and can wick away moisture. You can also look for disposable cotton underwear for the first several weeks after childbirth.

Ice Packs

You will find enough relief from pain and inflammation with ice packs. Ice packs are available in various forms, you can even get wearable ice pads for your vaginal and perineal areas. However, you can also get enough benefits from the classic ice pack wrapped in a towel.

Peri Rinse Bottle

A peri bottle or spray bottle filled with warm water can be used to enhance healing and protect your stitches. The warm water will help you gently rinse off your perineal area after you come from the restroom.

Witch Hazel Pads

If you want to soothe postpartum hemorrhoids then try using Witch hazel pads. These pads will also help ease the soreness in perineal areas.

Postpartum Belly Bands

Belly bands will help ease some of the pains and aches as you heal. You might also find a reduced level of back pain by using a belly band. A belly band will support your pregnancy-stretched core muscles. In the case of a C-section, a belly band will take some of the pressure off the incision.

Stool Softener

Women usually experience constipation in the weeks following childbirth. Using a stool softener can be a great way to relieve constipation, and put less strain on your vaginal and perineal areas.

Lanolin and Nipple Creams

Your nipples might seem sore and dry at times. Lanolin and nipple creams will be helpful for you. You should apply these creams anytime you are feeling discomfort. The best thing about these creams is that they are made with baby-safe ingredients.

Nursing Pads

Nursing pads are useful for you if you are breastfeeding and there is milk leakage between feedings. These pads fit inside your bra and soak up leaks.

Nursing Bras

Nursing bras are specifically designed for women to be used after childbirth. These bras offer comfort and support for irritating sensitive areas. Choose the nursing bras that do not have an underwire.


The postpartum phase can be exciting and simultaneously overwhelming. Knowing about the postpartum recovery timeline will help you through your healing after giving birth to your baby. You should try all the best possible ways to get rid of anything that discomforts you and give yourself time and scope to recover from the delivery. Apart from all these, support from family, especially your partner is highly essential for you to heal after childbirth and enjoy your motherhood.


Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 1, 2024

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