Bringing a child into the world is a tremendous gift. But it can also take quite a toll on your body for weeks, sometimes months afterward. To support yourself through the varying changes, it’s important to educate yourself on what to expect. Here are a few ways to help prepare yourself for postpartum body changes.
- Breast Changes
It’s well known that with pregnancy comes changes in your breast size. But there is much more to it than that. Estrogen and progesterone levels decrease right after you give birth.
This allows for prolactin levels to rise which is the hormone that triggers your breasts to produce milk. This can cause your breasts to become even larger, resulting in tenderness or discomfort.
Some mothers struggle with breastfeeding for a variety of reasons. The Lactation Network is a great resource to receive personalized advice from a certified lactation consultant to guide you through your breastfeeding journey.
- Iron Deficiency
It’s normal to feel weak after giving birth. Not only is your body put through extreme conditions but you also lose a lot of blood which depletes your nutrients. New moms tend to have an iron deficiency which can cause other issues such as:
- Cold extremities
- Shortness of breath
- Pale skin
- Swollen tongue
Eating foods with a lot of iron such as red meat, lentils, or leafy greens can be helpful. You may also want to add an iron supplement to your daily regimen. If you’re still experiencing some of these symptoms even with these additional lifestyle changes, talk to your doctor right away.
- Vaginal Issues
Having a C-section will result in much different side effects than someone who gives birth through vaginal delivery. But there are many similarities between them as well.
Bloody discharge, also known as lochia, can happen for up to six weeks postpartum. Throughout this time, the uterus will continue to contract, bringing it back to its original size before getting pregnant. This will flatten out the belly as well.
Vaginal deliveries will result in the pelvic area being bruised and swollen. This will thankfully pass over time but can be uncomfortable for the first several weeks.
Keep physical activity to a minimum and try to take a warm bath to prevent the onset of hemorrhoids or other infections.
- Bladder and Bowels
Unfortunately, there are some other issues you might experience that you didn’t consider before. Postpartum constipation, for instance, is very common due to intense dehydration or medications. Your bladder also becomes weaker because of your pelvic floor. This might result in an inability to control urination or experience leaking. The muscles that support these areas of your body have been put through a lot of stress and need time to rebuild their strength.
- Your Legs Change
Some pregnancies can result in a few different visual effects. After you give birth, you may notice more stretch marks, spider veins, or varicose veins. Occasionally, these will subside over time as you get your body back to normal. In other cases, they may be more permanent. Wearing compression socks or taking regular walks can help with blood circulation which can make them less prominent.
- Hair Loss
Because of the increased hormones during pregnancy, you may have grown longer more voluminous hair. However, some women have been said to lose upwards of a third of their hair postpartum. This is due to the decrease in hormones that happen after giving birth.
Hair loss usually begins around the time your child is three months old. Eventually, the hair will grow back over time. Adjusting your diet to increase the amount of protein can help with the hair growth process.
There are many physiological changes you’ll experience, some starting almost immediately after you’ve given birth. Remember that your body has been used to caring for not one, but two people for the last nine months.
Many things need to regulate themselves to return to a relatively normal state. If you’re concerned about any of the changes you’ve experienced, consult with your doctor to ensure there is no underlying issue to address.