For nine months of pregnancy, women are really aware of all of the changes going on with their systems. But after the birth, most of their attention goes toward their little one and how he or she grows and develops. But while the baby is getting bigger, getting used to his mom and dad, and learning to smile, there are still a lot of changes going on with the mother's system.
The postpartum period doesn't just include some healing of the wounds that come during childbirth. The mom has to get rid of all of the hormones and excess water and things that they take on during pregnancy. During the baby's first month, the baby's former spot in mom's bump is shrinking, her other organs are going through changes, and a lot of areas are still sore. What is worse is that some of the icky problems that mom thinks she can say goodbye to once the baby is born can continue to be a problem afterwards. Some of these changes can happen quickly, while others can take about as long as the pregnancy itself to get back to normal.
Here are 20 changes that happen to mom in the baby's first month.
20 Say Goodbye To Becky With The Good Hair
There are a lot of downsides to pregnancy, but one of the best pluses is that moms-to-be can get thick and luxurious hair. It's all thanks to the hormones that course through her during the pregnancy. But once the baby is born, you can kiss Becky with the Good Hair goodbye.
In fact, for some women, one month after the birth, their hair can be a total mess. It can start falling out in clumps, as pregnancy hormones cause women to stop shedding hair but postpartum ones start the process over again. The hormone changes can cause frizz and texture issues, even. And it can take up to six months for the situation to level out. We hope you still have some hair at that point.
19 Some Scarring From The Experience
For some women, childbirth can be pretty gory, and they end up needing stitches in the process. That is both for moms who deliver via C-section and naturally, since about half of natural births involve tearing down there. Right after the birth, doctors and midwives usually stitch up any skin that has been cut or ripped, and it can take a while for it to fully heal.
By the time the baby is one month old, the skin has likely started to grow back together. These days, women don't have to have their stitches taken out, since they mostly dissolve, but the truth that we may not want to admit is that at that point, there is likely a scar. C-section moms have to watch out to make sure that their scar is healing well, and they might have to add an ointment to help it lessen in size and color. That's usually not as much of an issue for women who deliver naturally — or at least it's a lot harder to see and to worry about at that point.
18 Relationship With Dad Has Changed
Some of the changes that happen to the mom in the first month aren't physical. One of the most surprising might be how parenthood changes the relationship with the baby's father. For those who have a strong bond in the beginning, that first month can be amazing in fostering an even deeper connection. For others, that first month can be a real test that they might barely survive.
Men respond differently to becoming fathers — some embrace their role and take great care of the baby and the mother while others can feel scared and stifled and not muster up the strength to be supportive. Even the best fathers can have bad moments because of the stress and lack of sleep that happen in that first month. It's a trying time for both parents, and that first month can really change things for a couple. If it goes bad, though, we recommend that parents reset the situation and forgive each other for anything that went wrong when they had just become parents.
17 Hormonal Ups And Down
Pregnancy seems to be one long hormonal roller coaster ride, but after the birth, the loops and hills continue. In fact, that first month the hormones can cause a woman to go through even more emotional highs and lows during a short time. That time can definitely be filled with tears.
The body goes through a lot of hormone changes between the pregnancy and the birth, but afterward, all of those extra hormones are rushing out. Milk hormones rush in, whether you choose to nurse or not, and they can add on to the crazy situation. Many women can have no problem with their emotions during pregnancy only to go through the ringer a month after the birth. Unfortunately, it happens, and the tears can flow.
16 The Girls Might Be Even Bigger
Most women expect for their chests to grow when they are pregnant. It's a symptom that can start in the first trimester, and it's something that some women even look forward to as a benefit of having a baby. But many moms are surprised that they could go up another cup size or two between the birth and the one month mark if they choose to breastfeed.
Postpartum hormones trigger milk production, and that means that certain women might have to invest in another bra or two after the birth. We recommend having one ready to use for the first few days or weeks. The size is likely to be more stable when the baby is one month, so that is the time to go shopping.
15 Organs Move Back In Place
It's easy to imagine that a baby in the womb is just pushing the bump out. But the truth is that mom's organs have to shift a lot, since pretty much the entire abdomen is filled with the little one by the birth. That's one of the reasons that the bladder is such a problem — it's moved and squished. And women end up with a lot of heartburn because the stomach is pushed up a lot toward the throat.
While it takes about nine months for all of those organs to move around, it doesn't take long for them to move back to their regular position. It's usually about six weeks before the uterus is close to its original size and just about everything has returned to where it's supposed to be around it. That first month is an interesting shift in all of mom's internal organs, so that's one reason why it's a good idea to rest as much as you can.
14 Lochia Lightens Up
For nine months, women get to skip their period when they are pregnant. But after the birth, all of that discharge that didn't come out for months will come out for weeks. The dark clumpy bloody stuff is called lochia, and at the beginning it feels like a super heavy period. New moms have to wear super-sized pads — although some prefer to just go for adult diapers for a while.
The discharge is heaviest for the first two weeks, and then it usually begins to lighten up. Around the one-month mark, most moms still need to wear a pad, but it doesn't have to be big and it doesn't have to be changed as often as the baby's diaper. For some, the lochia can last about six weeks. But if the mom is breastfeeding, it could be months before she has to worry about a normal period coming back again.
13 Bowels Can Be A Problem
One of the biggest fears women have about childbirth is the possibility that they could go No. 2 during the delivery. But we think it's even worse if they can't go No. 2 afterward. It's a big fear for the first few weeks, and the bowels could be a problem for the entire first month if the woman isn't careful.
Most women tend to clear out their colon with diarrhea before the delivery, so it might be a few days afterward when the situation arises, but it's a problem to have to go when you have stitches holding together the skin near there. Pain medications can make women constipated too, which makes the situation even worse. It can take a while to be regular again, but that is a not-so-fun reality during the first month with the baby.
12 Not Caught Up On Sleep
That first month with a newborn is unlike anything else a woman has experienced. Most have pulled a few all-nighters in their time, but those are usually pretty easy to get over. But when you are pregnant, it gets hard to sleep through the night; labor can make you lose a night's sleep or two; and caring for a newborn means there is even more sleep deprivation in your future.
Newborns sleep a lot, but they don't sleep for long stretches. At the very beginning, they have to eat every two hours, which means that moms don't get a full night's sleep until the baby does, which can take months or even years. For the first couple of weeks, moms tend to run on adrenalin. They almost don't mind the short bursts of rest. But after a month, exhaustion often creeps in. This is the point where moms start to need to nap during the day when the baby sleeps, but it'll be a while before they can truly get caught up.
11 Down A Dozen Or So
It can take nine months to gain all the weight that a woman puts on in pregnancy, and while some women think that the weight will go away when the baby is born, that isn't the reality for just about everybody. But one positive is that most new moms lose about a dozen pounds in the first month after having the baby.
The majority of those pounds come off with the baby's birth. Most newborns weigh about 7 pounds, and once you add on the placenta, that's about 10 pounds right there. In the next several days, the mom loses some of the extra blood in her body and the water she's been retaining. It doesn't seem like a lot, but it adds up and may end up being about half of the weight put on during pregnancy, if the mom put on the lower amount of weight recommended by the doctor. It can take months to take off the rest of the pounds, and moms don't need to rush. But it's good to know that the number on the scale had already started to go down.
10 Mom Stress Is Real
Many women expect their first month with their baby to be the happiest time of their lives. But the truth is that being a mother can be really stressful. That becomes evident even before the birth, but in those first few weeks of taking care of a little one, it really piles on. The medical bills start to arrive, and the expenses start to mount, as well, which means moms have to figure out how to ride that wave in the first month.
One of the hardest parts for some women is knowing that they are responsible for keeping the baby healthy. That is a big deal, especially if they are breastfeeding and/or if the doctor says that the baby is failing to thrive. Moms have a lot on their minds in those early days, including fears of germs and still figuring out how to put food on the table. It's a lot, but it only gets worse with time, so this is the time to learn to deal with it.
9 Milk Supply Levels Out
That first month of breastfeeding is one of the hardest, and while there is definitely emotional stress, it's also very physically hard for a woman. Her chest can go through a lot in that time, including really painful engorgement in the days when the milk is first coming in. Engorgement happens whether you are nursing or not, although women who nurse have to breastfeed to find relief and those who don't will have to try other remedies, such as cabbage, cold compresses or other things.
As a woman nurses, her milk supply adjusts, so over those first few weeks, her body will start to figure out how to fill without over-filling. She will still feel it when it is time to nurse, but her chest likely won't keep growing, and she won't experience as much engorgement. There are other painful things that can happen later on, but the worst of the engorgement is likely to be over, at least until she gets mastitis or weans.
8 Still Sore And Tender Down There
Natural deliveries can really hurt, and it can take weeks for things to feel better. In fact, in that first month with a baby, a mom might have to sit on a special pillow or use an ice pack pretty regularly. Some are okay to sit after a few days or a week or so, but it takes longer to keep the area from being sore.
There are some people who think that they are OK, and that means that they can get in on the action in the bedroom again, but doctors advise waiting at least six weeks. Be warned, though; even at that point, it can hurt the first few times. It's really hard to fathom how much things can hurt, but luckily things usually heal. It just takes time, and sometimes one month isn't enough.
7 Mom's insides Still Bigger Than Before Baby
After nine months of growing, the uterus starts shrinking back as soon as the placenta comes out after the birth. In fact, nurses will try to encourage the uterus to shrink by giving the occasional "massage" to the new mom's belly, since it can help stop the postpartum bleeding.
While the uterus shrinks fairly quickly, it still took nine months to stretch so large, so it can take some time to go back down. In fact, it never really goes back to the size it was before the pregnancy., although women who work hard to get their body back can look pretty amazing on the outside even if the uterus is still a little bigger than it was before. These parts are still going through things, but eventually will shrink
6 Night Sweats
Sleep can be hard to enjoy for more than one reason after the baby comes. It's not just the newborn's feedings that can interrupt the REM cycle, but it's hard to get some shut eye when your body is going through the postpartum night sweats.
The icky phenomenon happens because the mother has been retaining water for all nine months of pregnancy, and it's time for it to come out. Even if a woman hasn't had swelling, the amount of water in her body increases greatly with the baby on board but has to be shed in that first month postpartum. It can take a while to get back t normal, but since you aren't sleeping much anyway, you might as well change the sheets.
5 Back In Stride
Late in pregnancy, it's so hard to do anything. The baby in the belly puts so much pressure on the pelvis, that most moms end up waddling a little like a penguin instead of a walking. It's just about impossible to walk normally when the baby is riding lower and feeling like a bowling ball is sitting in the mom's midsection, but this is one of the few things that can get better pretty quickly after the birth.
While some women can experience chronic low back pain after the birth, most can feel an immediate relief when the baby is no longer providing the pressure. They can walk straighter and taller and the waddle is nowhere to be found. It's a lot easier to get back in stride than a lot of women expect, and that is definitely a postpartum plus.
4 Things Might Still Leak Down Below
While a new mom might feel a lot better on the bottom half in terms of walking, that doesn't mean that all of the issues go away. The pants might fit a little better, but they can still get a little wet, since many women still have issues with their bladder even after the birth.
Pregnancy can do permanent damage to the urinary tract, which means that many women end up having frequent urges and they might be a bit incontinent. There are some surgical procedures that might help, and some women benefit from medication, but it's probably still too early to try that at the one month mark. Instead, be sure to do your Kegel exercises several times a day, and talk to the doctor if things don't get better after a few months.
3 Ab Muscles Start To Go Back Together
Pregnancy doesn't just move organs. It can also move the muscles in her body. The abdominal muscles literally separate during the final stages of pregnancy so that there is room for the baby bump to come out. After the birth, those muscles start to come back together, although it can take a while for them to fully go back to normal.
The condition is called diastasis recti, and it is worse if the mom has multiples. For some women the abs never truly return to normal, no matter how many crunches and planks she does. It's why so many women have mummy tummies. But there is a surgery that can help to repair it, if necessary.
2 Baby Blues Or PPD
We've already talked about the hormone changes that can be a big issue in the first month with the baby. But unfortunately those hormones can be the reason that some women go through mental illness, even if they never have before. Many women get the baby blues, which can happen because of the overwhelming stress of the situation, plus the isolation that the postpartum recovery period can entail. But for some women it gets worse.
The hormones can actually drive a woman into postpartum depression, which includes feelings of hopelessness and more. We encourage all women who go through this to reach out to their doctor. Sometimes medications can help to balance the hormones and make them feel better quicker.
1 Mother Life Settles In
It doesn't take long for a baby and for a mother to settle into a routine. Since the feedings come at regular intervals, that can allow for the mom to begin to figure out a sleep schedule that gives her a little bit of rest, and she can even figure out a little time for a daily walk or to make a healthy dinner.
At the very beginning, it can almost feel foreign to respond to a baby's cries, but by a month, it seems more natural, and some women can even hear a difference in the baby's cries based on the need. Her life as a mother is settling in, and although parenthood is hard at all stages of life, around a month in, many women feel a little more confident and a lot more in love.