Physical Adjustments after Birth

Lily Kuhns

Physical Adjustments

After birth, the first month is when the mother's body begins to return to normal. It is important for the new mother to get plenty of rest, exercise, and eat healthy. There are also physical adjustments for the father. He might be getting little sleep for trying to help with the baby. He also has to manage household tasks and maintain a full-time job.

Medical Checkup

About four to six weeks after birth, the new mother should have a postnatal physical examination. Postnatal means after childbirth. The obstetrician will check to see if her uterus is returning to normal. The doctor will also check the episiotomy for any problems if one was made during delivery. An episiotomy is a small incision made at the back of the vagina to prevent tearing of the vaginal opening during birth. During the checkup, the mother should ask many questions about her health and adjustment to parenthood. The doctor should also give her advice on feeding and caring for the baby.

Rest & Sleep

In the first few weeks, newborns spend much of their time sleeping. Unfortunately, when the baby sleeps, the parents are still busy with tasks other than the baby. But, the mother's body needs the rest for the body to return to normal. The mother should take regular naps along with the baby. She could sleep in the morning or afternoon when the baby is sleeping. Extra rest during the day will help the mother better cope with nighttime feedings.

Many parents prefer that the baby sleeps in the same room as them, because it is easy to check on the baby. Breastfeeding mothers can nurse and go right back to sleep. Visits from relatives or friends should be short and sweet. Visitors often want to wake the sleeping baby. When this happens, the parents should ask the visitors to come back another time when the baby is awake.


Nutrition is just as important in the postnatal period as the prenatal period. If a mother is breastfeeding, she needs the same number of servings from the food groups as she did when she was a pregnant. She also will need lots of fluids, she should drink at least 3 quarts of liquids. This will help with milk production. She should avoid alcohol and caffeine while breastfeeding, as they can be passed to the baby through breast milk.

Strict dieting is not recommended while breastfeeding, the food restrictions can decrease the milk supply. Mothers who are not breastfeeding should still eat nutritious meals and snack so it will provide the energy she needs to care for the baby.

To lose weight, a new mother should eat nutritious meals and snacks without extra fat and calories. Foods like fruit, vegetables low-fat milk, yogurt, lean meats, poultry, fish, whole-grain breads and cereals supply the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients needed for a healthy diet.

With a healthy diet and moderate exercise will help a mother lose weight. A safe weight loss would be about 1 pound a week. It is important to remember that it took 9 months to gain all the weight, so it should take 9 months to lose it.


Physical activity can help a new mother feel more healthy and energetic. It can also help her lose weight. As soon as the doctor approves, she can begin postnatal exercises. At first, the exercises will be gentle, such as stretching and relaxing. As the exercises go on, the exercise can become more difficult.