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Postbirth Recovery

Will Breastfeeding Make My Belly Smaller?

Will breastfeeding help make my uterus shrink to its pre-pregnancy size?

Yes! This is yet another reason to breastfeedBreastfeeding is associated with profound uterine contractions (nope, you’re not done with those — sorry!), so you may feel some pretty intense abdominal pains when you breastfeed during the first couple weeks. But all that hurting will actually pay off, shrinking your belly to its pre-pregnancy size (or at least pretty close to it).

Right after you give birth, you’ll probably feel as light as a feather, and may find yourself blessing complete strangers even if you’re not religious. At one to two days after birth, your uterus is about the size it was at your 18th week of pregnancy, so don’t be surprised that you still look pregnant. It will get progressively smaller as the days go on. By one week postpartum, it will be closer to the size it was at 12 weeks pregnant, and by six weeks postpartum, it will be pretty darn small. Breastfeeding just helps accelerate that whole process.

Breastfeeding is also associated with less blood loss after delivery, and it helps you lose any extra pregnancy poundage, since you’ll burn more calories to make milk for baby (note: breastfeeding is not your go-to weight loss plan; it’s not going to magically take off all your weight — but it helps). It also reduces a mother’s risk of ovarian cancer and premenopausal breast cancer. So nursing baby isn’t just good for her, it’s good for your health and your recovery too.

Plus, more from The Bump:

Answers to All Your Breastfeeding Questions 

A Smart Start: The Right Way to Begin Breastfeeding

Crotch Care 101: How to Help Yourself Heal

By Laura Riley, MD, ob-gyn, Director of Labor and Delivery at Massachusetts General Hospital and author of You & Your Baby: Pregnancy