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New Mom

What does "postpartum" mean?

New Mom1

February 12, 2019

You hear the word "postpartum" all the time during pregnancy and after you have a baby. But doesn’t it seem like it means something different to everyone? Some people use it as a nickname for postpartum depression (as in “I know someone who has postpartum”), but that’s pretty confusing since postpartum has its own meaning.

The word postpartum refers to the time period after a woman gives birth. Technically, postpartum refers to mama and postnatal refers to baby, but sometimes you’ll hear postnatal refer to both. Medically, it’s often considered the 6 weeks after birth. That’s approximately how long it takes for a uterus to return to pre-pregnancy size, so in the medical world, that’s often when you “graduate” from postpartum care. But who here didn’t feel like they were back to themselves after 6 weeks? I know I didn’t.

If we expand that definition to how long it takes for your body to return to its pre-pregnancy state, it’ll be different for everyone. Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders can be diagnosed up to a year after childbirth. For breastfeeding mothers, there can be significant physical and mental changes that come with weaning. Pelvic floor injuries are very common and can have long-lasting effects, especially if not treated. Many women will be forever changed and will never get completely back to how they felt before pregnancy. And that’s completely valid and normal.

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