Postpartum period

Postpartum Period: 3 Puerperal Phases

When childbirth happens you need to be aware of the puerperium phases that come after

The first pregnancy opens the doors to a new world. Childbirth is a beautiful moment, but it is also scary. When everything seems to end there, the arrival of puerperium or postpartum period strikes.

The discovery of each new stage implies entering into something that until then had been seen from a distance, but also requires living it personally and, if possible, preparing oneself, both physically and psychologically.

In this article, we present you what the last phase we go through related to gestation and childbirth is. Find out which are the three stages of puerperium or postpartum.

What is the postpartum period?

When we speak of puerperium or postpartum, we allude to the stage that follows the moment after childbirth, after the expulsion of the placenta from the interior of the uterus, and lasts until the complete restoration of the woman's physical condition to a point similar to that before the pregnancy took place.

How long is the postpartum period?

As for the duration of the postpartum period, it usually lasts about six to eight weeks, which would be nearly forty days, which is why it is also known traditionally as quarantine.

However, the recovery of completely normal functioning (including hormonal restoration before pregnancy)  can sometimes be extended up to six months due to breastfeeding.

By increasing levels of the hormone prolactin, which promotes the secretion of breast milk, alters the normal functioning of female hormones, being quite common, for example, that menstruation takes all this time to reappear.

The recovery of the normal ovarian cycle is usually the unequivocal sign that the puerperium or postpartum has come to an end.

Postpartum period
Puerperium finishes when women return to their pre-pregnancy state.


3 postnatal phases

We could divide the postpartum period into 3 phases, taking into account the variation of the characteristics of each of them that are produced:

1. Acute phase

In what would be  the first stage of puerperium, we could narrow it down to about the first 24 hours after delivery. Due to the change in the mother's life situation that occurs with the arrival of her child, these first hours are an authentic contact with the new reality and the emotions related to that experience are appearing throughout that first day.

The physical contact, the hugs, and the first breastfeeding will favor the strengthening of a unique bond, the one that takes place between mother and child.

On the other hand, the other great change that happens in the acute phase is physical for the mother, who after passing nine months of pregnancy, the first 24 hours imply the "awareness" of the change of situation for her own body.

2. Subacute postpartum period

What would be the second stage of postpartum, the subacute stage, would range from the second day after delivery to 6 weeks later.

During this phase of the puerperium, the annoying but necessary afterbirth pains begin to take place, a type of uterine contraction whose mission is to make the uterus go back to its original size, after having increased its capacity to be able to house the baby inside during pregnancy.

As well as  lochia, which are the vaginal secretions that are produced derived from these contractions, through which the remains of blood and tissues are eliminated due to this involution of the womb.

Furthermore, there is the so-called milk let-down, which occurs when a woman's breasts noticeably increase in size by producing sufficient quantities of breast milk inside to take care of the baby's feedings.

3. Delayed postpartum period

It could last up to 6 months if the mother chooses to breastfeed her baby. During this stage, prolactin (which is the hormone responsible for promoting milk production) prevents the restoration of the hormonal balance needed to give rise to ovulation, and for the body to resume its normal functioning.

It will be from the end of breastfeeding when the fourth stage of the puerperium or postpartum is considered to be over, which is why some health experts speak of the delayed postpartum period as a phase that can be extended up to 12 months.

Check out the original article: Las 4 etapas del puerperio o posparto que debes conocer at