11. Physiological and Hormonal Changes after Birth

  1. Emma Derbyshire BSc, PhD, RNutr

Published Online: 6 OCT 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9781444344790.ch11

Nutrition in the Childbearing Years

Nutrition in the Childbearing Years

How to Cite

Derbyshire, E. (2011) Physiological and Hormonal Changes after Birth, in Nutrition in the Childbearing Years, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Chichester, West Sussex, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444344790.ch11

Author Information

  1. Senior Lecturer and Researcher in Human Nutrition, Manchester Metropolitan University

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 6 OCT 2011
  2. Published Print: 30 SEP 2011

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444333053

Online ISBN: 9781444344790



  • hormonal changes;
  • physiological changes;
  • lactogenesis;
  • postpartum;
  • milk volume


Once a woman has given birth, a series of hormonal and physiological changes take place to help the body return to its pre-pregnant state. Although these processes may be facilitated by breastfeeding, a large proportion of women do not return to their original weight before pregnancy, for reasons that will be discussed. In turn, failure to lose excess weight after birth is contributing to rising obesity figures, more so in developed regions. This section aims to outline the key hormonal and physiological changes that take place after birth to help the body return to normal. Mood changes, bowel habit and breast changes may all be experienced to some degree after birth, largely caused by the decline in pregnancy hormones. The physiology of breastfeeding, patterns of weight loss and evidence of some effective dietary and physical activity interventions that may help to support appropriate levels of weight loss after birth will also be described in this chapter.