Dr Ian Currie
I suppose it depends what is meant by recovery. From a medical perspective, the physiological changes that have occurred during pregnancy have diminished by 6-12 weeks post-partum and the uterus will have returned to a normal post pregnancy size by then. Menstruation would usually start at this point when the normal hormonal cycle starts.
However, women have different labours, and are also delivered in different ways - normal, forceps, ventouse, caesarean. Therefore, their recovery can be immensely varied.
If a pregnancy is normal and the delivery is uncomplicated, physical recovery improves month after month. It’s the sleepless nights that are usually the most troublesome.
Also, many women breastfeed and this can place the body into an oestrogen deficient state for several months thereby suppressing periods.
Delivery following medical intervention usually delays recovery even if there are no complications. If anaemia or infection occurs, this can have a profound effect on not only dealing with the physical and mental aspect of having a new baby, but also the body’s recovery from the complication.
Damage to the perineum is common following a first delivery and suturing is often required. Even after ‘healing’ has taken place the perineum can be very sensitive and tender for several months in some cases. However, if pain is severe it would be advisable to get a referral to be checked.