Postpartum: 3 days, 3 months, or 3 years?

How long does postpartum last?

When you are pregnant, you often perceive childbirth as the finish line of pregnancy. And then suddenly, surprise: we enter the postpartum adventure. Sometimes this time can feel like paradise. We are rocked by hormones and the first moments with our baby. We resume our daily activities. And in no time, postpartum is behind us. In short, exactly what we had imagined. Great !

And sometimes the layer sequence takes a different turn. We're not in great health. Milk production is proving difficult. Anxiety disorders may appear. In short, it's not really the rosy period we were hoping for. At the maternity ward, the midwife told us that the postpartum period would end after a few weeks. But we have the feeling that it is dragging on. And it's hard.

Does this mean anything to you? It's normal. Because a subject is debated: how long does the postpartum last? We tried to answer this complex question for you. Focus on the different perspectives that characterize this period, its symptoms, and our advice for living it best.

How long does postpartum last?

Postpartum period: what medicine says about it

Let's take things in order. First, what does medicine say? According to the World Health Organization , postpartum (or “afterbirth”) is nothing more and nothing less than the period following childbirth. In general, it lasts 6 to 8 weeks, or approximately 45 days. For what ? Because this is the time the uterus needs to regain its shape and position. This period therefore begins as soon as the placenta is expelled and ends on the first day of return of menstruation.

But already, within the medical profession, certain professionals are bringing their nuances, as explained by the magazine Harmonie Santé. We read that gynecologists Mattea Romano and Alessandra Cacciatore define the postnatal period in three distinct phases:

  • the acute phase (6 to 12 hours after delivery);
  • the subacute phase (2 to 6 weeks);
  • the delayed postpartum period (up to six months after birth).

You see us coming: postpartum is much more complex than what we find in Larousse.

Postpartum period: what women say about it

Because yes, there is the postpartum seen by medicine... And ours. The one that we live, that belongs to us, that reflects our history. An experience that is both universal and unique. The one who disrupts everything in its path: the body, the couple, the family, work. Without consensus.

So how long does it last? The real answer is that there really isn't one. This can extend over several months... Or even three years, as midwife Anna Roy states. Does that seem long to you? It's normal. But don't forget that giving birth to a child generates a multitude of physical and physiological cataclysms, which can sometimes persist (we'll talk about that just after).

This is why we see such a significant gap between the perspectives of medicine and the experience of young mothers. Because we tend to focus on the immediate symptoms following the birth of the baby. Yes, your uterus returns to its original size after a few weeks. But no, you don't go back to "the one before" in a snap of your fingers. It's much more complex than that. Many women, in fact, talk about their postpartum period as a “4th trimester”.

Anna Roy and other feminists, like Illana Weizman, are therefore campaigning for us to consider the postpartum period of future mothers over a long period of time. And that we thus fight against the injunctions to immediate happiness which result from it.

Postpartum symptoms

As you will have understood, many elements can influence the duration of the postpartum period. And in particular physical and psychological symptoms. Here are some of them (non-exhaustive list).

Postnatal period: physical changes

Just after childbirth, we regularly observe the same symptoms that characterize postpartum from a strictly medical point of view. The two most common inconveniences remain:

  • The trenches: uterine contractions that you feel after giving birth. It is the muscle that works to return to its original shape.
  • Lochia: bleeding (like a heavy period) that begins after the expulsion of the placenta. They remain very abundant the first days, then decrease over the weeks, before disappearing completely.
  • The flow of milk: the breasts swell, breastfeeding is in preparation! But it can be tight and hurt a little.
  • Stretch marks: they will fade over time.

It also happens that the vagina burns a little if you have had some lesions or an episiotomy. Don't panic, things will get back to normal quickly.

Your stomach will keep a rounded shape for some time. He carried your baby for nine months, he can't go flat again in a fraction of a second! And that's normal. So, don't feel guilty, and above all... Don't start doing sports or a diet to lose weight. No resumption of physical activity without the agreement of your doctor or midwife. Spare your pelvic floor!

Psychological changes

You will have understood, the body changes. But so does the brain. And the psychological upheavals linked to postpartum often result in two very different states, which we still don't talk about enough.

baby blues

First there are the baby blues. You've probably already heard about that. What is it exactly ? Well, it corresponds to a cocktail of emotions linked to all these physical, psychological and hormonal changes. Which is due to childbirth. It's a story ! This condition lasts around 15 days and affects the majority of women. This happens a few days after birth, and the young mother can then:

  • wanting to cry “over nothing”;
  • feeling tired;
  • being very irritable or prone to mood swings;
  • losing his bearings...
  • ...or confidence in her.

We grant you, the baby blues can quickly impress. But it remains without seriousness. Add to that the fact that it disappears on its own. On the other hand, if it lasts more than two weeks, talk to your doctor or midwife. It may be postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression

Not to be confused with the baby blues, therefore. And yet, such a common error! According to The First 1000 Days , nearly one in five mothers suffer from postnatal depression. Often, it sets in between the baby's first and second months. So, when should we consult? Basically, when the baby blues persist and sign. The symptoms remain essentially the same:

  • anxiety ;
  • confusion ;
  • headache ;
  • insomnia ;
  • irritability.

The problem is that it is difficult to diagnose. For what ? Because women tend to keep quiet. They feel guilty about this state of unhappiness, feel remorse, and therefore prefer not to talk about it to their loved ones, or a health professional.

However, the consequences of postpartum depression on their well-being and that of their child can be terrible. So, our advice: talk to someone you trust. Do not be ashamed. You are not alone!

Let us also add that this disease does not only affect women. It's still a fairly taboo subject, but paternal postpartum depression also exists. It affects nearly one father in 10, and deserves to be put on the table just as much.

Live your postpartum period well

In France, many initiatives support young mothers through their postpartum period. However, few women know this, and go through all these inconveniences alone. Please remember that several free devices can support you during this period. And this, well before the famous 6-week consultation.

The Prado device

Once you return home, you are entitled to two or three midwife visits in the first twelve days of your child's life. It's the Prado device for returning home, and it's free. It is offered as a priority to mothers who leave the maternity ward early (24-72 hours postnatal if vaginal delivery, and 96 hours if cesarean section). So enjoy it.


Family allowance funds (CAF) and certain associations also finance hours of home help. These measures are put in place in the event of a change in the situation. Which includes, of course, the birth of a child. This can really help you overcome occasional difficulties.

Mother-child units

Some hospitals have a mother-baby unit, to help those who are having difficulty bonding with their baby, or who are suffering from postpartum depression.

The 6 week consultation

Of course, the post-natal consultation with your gynecologist, or with the maternity midwife. It takes place between 6 and 8 weeks after the baby's arrival. This is where you will take stock of your state of health. The professional will, for example, check your scars (if episiotomy, tear or cesarean delivery). But you will also be able to confide in your psychological weather! So, talk about everything: your joys, your anxieties. From the (sometimes complicated) experience of birth. About your hesitation between breast milk and infant milk. Your desire, or not, to resume sexual activity. In short: of all your difficulties.

Muscle rehabilitation

Don't neglect your perineal and abdominal rehabilitation sessions (we tend to forget that one)! They are what will allow you to:

  • find super abdominal muscles;
  • promote a well-toned pelvic floor;
  • strongly limit the problems that you don't want to have in your life (like, at random, urinary incontinence).

They will also help you return to physical activity quickly. All in all, a good thing!

The range of Post-Partum products at Boome

At Boome, we noticed to what extent the new mother takes second place as soon as her child is born. But we haven't forgotten you! And we wanted to support you as best we can during this very special period. This is why we created Post-Partum , a food supplement based on plants, vitamins and amino acids. All this, 100% natural and without additives, of course. A complete range of products specially designed to help you get through the few months following your birth with complete peace of mind.

Our vitamins will be your best allies for:

  • boost your morale;
  • reduce your fatigue;
  • improve your resistance to stress;
  • strengthen your body.

In short, they will provide you with physical and emotional support, essential to counteract the hormonal drop caused by the post-natal period.

So, what do we take away from all this? Well, postpartum represents a time of life as unique as it is complex. That it defies any simplistic definition. May each experience remain entirely personal, with its joys and challenges. And above all, that it extends well beyond established medical limits. It is by recognizing this diversity and offering appropriate support to women that we will be able to support them as they deserve in this extraordinary adventure.

Stay connected with us for more motherhood tips, tricks and news! Follow our adventure on Instagram and join our community of (future) mothers.

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