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What causes the cervix to begin closing?

What causes the cervix to begin closing up again after giving birth, and how long should it take? I understand that the risks of any type of infection after birth are much lower if your cervix closes up pretty quickly (I'm in my third trimester and preparing for childbirth), but how do you encourage your cervix to do so?
Immediately after birth the cervix begins closing and the uterus begins contractions to bring it back to its normal shape and size. However, it takes quite a while for this process to be completed. Often most women will continue to have vaginal flow for several weeks after giving birth and it may take as long as 6 weeks or even longer for the uterus to completely return to its normal pre-pregnancy size and for the cervix to heal up. It is this time frame for healing that often has your OB GYN doctor recommend a postpartum office check up about 6 weeks after giving birth. Infections after giving birth are rare but serious when they do occur. Often infections are related to a small piece of placenta that stays in the uterus and serves as a focus for bacteria to grow on. Symptoms of infection after giving birth can include bad smelling vaginal drainage, fever, chills, back or severe pelvic pain, or other concerning symptoms. These are thing things you will want to watch out for after going home with your baby and, of course, if you experience any of these symptoms you will need to see your doctor immediately.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under ZocDoc’s Terms of Service.
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