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Prenatal Growth and The Baby's Birth

Pregnancy Stages

Delivery

When the cervix is fully dilated, the next stage of labor, the delivery, begins. The contractions should come every 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly, during a contraction, the baby's head emerges with the face turned downward. Gradually the head rotates as the shoulders, abdomen, and legs follow rapidly. Then, the remaining fluid in the uterus is expelled.

The last stage of labor is the delivery of the placenta or afterbirth. The type of care given to the baby right after birth depends on where the baby is born. Many hospitals let women breastfeed their newborn babies immediately. Other hospitals follow a more traditional routine, which includes some separation of the woman and the baby after birth. The doctor can discuss these options with the woman early in her pregnancy.

During the first few weeks after the baby is born, the uterus starts to return to its prepregnancy size. This process is usually faster in breastfeeding women. Simple exercises done with a doctor's approval will help tone stomach and abdominal muscles. Most doctors like to give the new mother a physical checkup about 6 weeks after delivery. Menstruation usually returns within 3 to 10 weeks after delivery in non-nursing women. In most nursing women, it may be longer before menstruation returns.

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