The period of time immediately following childbirth. This period can be divided into three distinct yet continuous stages. The first 6-12 hours postpartum a woman is said to be in the initial/acute phase, during which time the mother must be carefully monitored for post pregnancy complications such as hemorrhage, eclampsia and embolism. Following this, a woman enter the subacute phase, which last for 2-6 weeks. This phase is characterized by rapid changes that attempt to return the female body to its normal, nonpregnant state. The third phase of the postpartum period, the delayed period, may persist for up to 6 months after childbirth. During this time, the female body gradually recovers from giving birth.