During pregnancy, a women’s body goes through several changes. From physical changes inside the body to changes in hormones. During the final weeks of pregnancy, additional changes occur as the body prepares to give birth to the child inside. While a general guideline on the course of pregnancy are provided freely by health centers and on the internet, each person is unique and the actual process defers between one pregnancy and another. Some women experience contractions and changes to their body a while before going into labor, while others only start to experience these elements just before going into labor.
The Last Few Weeks Of Pregnancy
During the last few weeks of pregnancy, a women’s body starts to go through an array of rapid changes in order to make a final preparation for labor. The University of Minnesota reports that hormones changes in the body in order to soften several ligaments that are located between the bones in the woman’s pelvis. They report that joints might feel looser than usual when this change occurs and pain might also accompany the change. Furthermore, hormones also start to soften the cervix, the tissue that holds the baby inside the uterus during pregnancy.
As the cervix start to soften from the hormone changes, blood-tinged mucous may pass from the vagina. This is a natural process as mucous begins to loosen once the cervix opens. Some women do not experience this throughout their entire pregnancy. Engagement also usually happens during the final weeks of pregnancy. This is when the baby starts to move lower into the pelvis. Finally, the bag of waters breaks approximately one day before contractions start to occur.
Stages of Labor
While every pregnancy and labor process is different, medical experts have classified the process of childbirth into three different stages.
The first stage of labor is the longest one when it comes to measuring time and passes into the second stage once the cervix has dilated to 10cm. This first stage has been divided into three phases to help women better understand the process.
- The first phase is known as the early labor phase and occurs from the time the woman goes into labor until the cervix has dilated to a total of 3cm.
- The second phase is known as the active labor phase. Once the cervix has dilated to 3cm, the woman transcends into this phase until the cervix dilates to a total of 7cm.
- The final phase is known as the transition phase. Once the cervix has dilated to 7cm, the woman transcends into this phase until the cervix dilates to a total of 10cm.
During these three stages, women tend to go through a lot of different emotions and these phases are usually also accompanied by a lot of pain.
The second stage of labor occurs once the cervix has dilated to 10cm. The woman will be in the second stage of labor until the baby is finally delivered. The final stage of labor involves the delivery of the placenta.
The Body After Giving Birth
The first six weeks after giving birth is a time that should be taken slowly. During this time, the body goes through changes in order to heal. Both physical and emotional changes occur during this period and can cause the woman who just gave birth to feel an additional amount of stress. The perineum needs to heal during this time and the uterus needs to shrink back to regular size. This can cause pain in the woman’s body, which can make her feel uncomfortable. Vaginal discharge and breast engorgement are also common amongst woman who gave birth in the past six weeks. Other conditions that may affect a woman within the first six weeks include:
- Urinary problems
- Excessive sweating
- Fatigue and feeling tired
- Nipple pain
- Swelling in feet, hands and face
How Soon After Giving Birth Is It Safe To Have Sexual Intercourse?
Due to all of the changes a woman’s body needs to go through during pregnancy, it is advised not to start having sexual intercourse immediately after giving birth. Apart from the changes in the woman’s body, after giving birth a woman might also experience tenderness and dryness in her vagina. Pleasurable fiction during sex might also be reduced due to a decrease in the vagina’s muscle tone. WebMD reports the recommended time to wait before having sexual intercourse after childbirth to be four to six weeks. It is important to consider how a woman feels and to respect her decision if she needs additional time to heal and get ready to continue having sexual intercourse.
Pregnancy is a complicated process that puts a woman’s body through many changes. Apart from physical changes, women also experience several emotional changes due to the hormonal changes occurring in their body. After giving birth, a woman’s body takes approximately six weeks to heal. During this time, a woman needs to take good care of their body and wellbeing and should avoid having sexual intercourse too soon.