Your Postpartum Body-How it Changes and What to Expect
Your body drastically changes when you become pregnant, but those changes don’t stop after you give birth. After giving birth, your body has to adjust back to a new state of normal. This may result in a new postpartum body that doesn’t look quite the same as before you gave birth. In this article, we will go over what to expect after you have given birth and how your postpartum body changes.
What to Expect After Giving Birth
For nine months your body went through a drastic change. Now, after labor and delivery, your body has to adjust back to a new state of normal. This process can last anywhere from six weeks to one year. The first six weeks of your postpartum journey are the most physically grueling and mentally taxing. Between recovery from labor, breastfeeding, and the hormonal changes it can feel overwhelming. Thankfully, we were able to put together a list of some milestones and basic knowledge to expect during the postpartum period.
How Your Postpartum Body Changes (First Six Weeks)
The first six weeks after giving birth are the most crucial and intense. Directly after giving birth there are a variety of things that your body goes through. First, your body needs to recover from the delivery process. For women who had a vaginal delivery, this can include bleeding, and vaginal pain. For women who had a C-section delivery, this can include incision pain and vaginal bleeding. During this time your body is also adjusting to the decrease in hormones which can cause severe mood swings, crying, and an overwhelming sense of exhaustion. In addition, your uterus is shrinking back down and your body is getting rid of any retained fluid. This means that you will likely have to pee frequently, sweat, and that your tummy will start to shrink back down.
After this, your body should start to slowly heal from the delivery. About two weeks after your labor and delivery you should start to see your vaginal bleeding decrease. As your vagina heals from any tearing you may start to feel itchy or your C-section scar may start to itch as it heals. Mentally, many women go through a period of “baby blues.” The rapid change in your hormones, coupled with the new duties as a mother can be overwhelming and lead to periods of sadness and anxiety. This is completely normal, but if you are having intrusive thoughts of hurting yourself or the baby you may want to talk to your doctor.
Due to your rapidly changing hormones, you may also experience some hair loss after giving birth and even some acne or dry patches. In addition, your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor may be weak. This can lead to decreased bladder control and constipation. Similarly, your abdominal muscles may have separated during your pregnancy, this is a condition called diastasis recti. This condition can cause pain, weak abdominal muscles, and can be long-lasting if not properly taken care of.
How Your Postpartum Body Changes (After Six Weeks)
Six weeks after your labor and delivery, you should be cleared by a doctor to start more vigorous activities such as sex and exercise. It’s up to you to decide if you feel up to doing these things yet. Every woman is different so it’s up to you to determine when you are ready. Your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor should strengthen. This can help you get back your bladder control and lead to less pain when moving around. Make sure you are doing some abdominal and pelvic floor exercises to regain strength.
Your period typically will start to come back around the six-eight week mark. Your breastmilk may begin to dry up around six months after giving birth and your hair should stop falling out. If you had a c-section delivery you can also expect to be a little tired around the six-month mark. Overall you should start to feel better mentally and physically. If you have any lingering pain or depression, reach out to a doctor.
Long-Lasting Body Changes After Pregnancy and Birth
It can be difficult to accept, but after pregnancy and delivery, your body can change completely. The rapid increase and decrease of weight and the act of labor can cause long-lasting and permanent changes to your body. This is completely normal and expected. You had to grow a life inside of you and give birth! These changes can include stretch marks, a change in weight distribution, wider hips, a few extra pounds on your stomach, varicose veins, and C-section scarring. All of the long-lasting changes are just reminders of how powerful and beautiful your body is. Don’t look at them as negatives, but think of them as landmarks on the map of your life.
When to Talk to a Doctor
The first six week period after giving birth is the most crucial when it comes to possible complications. If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor. They should be able to diagnose and treat any problems that come about after giving birth.
- Chills or fever
- Heavy bleeding (soaking an entire pad in a short amount of time)
- Foul-smelling discharge
- Severe pain/redness/swelling/discharge from C-section incision
- Fainting, nausea, vomiting
- Constipation (lasting more than three days)
- Swelling/redness in your breasts
- Headaches/vision changes
- Swelling/redness in your legs
- Persistent and Intense feelings of sadness