Pregnancy and delivery transform you as a person; they make you feel bolder, braver, more responsible, and ready to do anything to ensure your baby’s wellbeing. However, rarely do people talk about the weird changes that your body goes through. Many moms prefer to focus on the pride and joy of being a mother, but often that joy is short-lived when the little discomforts start piling up and can no longer be ignored.
Below are a few of those physical changes to help you brace yourself and prepare adequately:
10 Hormonal Fluctuations
For birth to occur, the hormones sustaining pregnancy must drop so that the uterus has to expel your child, and the impact of that drop will be felt for quite a while after childbirth. The effect may come as baby blues or postpartum depression, both of which make you feel depressed, lethargic and irritable, only that the latter lasts longer and may require medication.
You can also expect a surge in Oxytocin; the bonding hormone that connects you with baby and gives you the urge to protect them from all forms of danger.
Another thing to look out for between 4-8 months after delivery would be the changes in the thyroid hormones that regulate temperature and metabolism. About 5% of women do experience postpartum thyroiditis, which is an inflammation of the thyroid gland, leading to symptoms like rapid heart rate, weight gain, restlessness, and dry skin.
9 Breast Size
The bras you wore during gestation will have to be shelved for a while, as they will probably be way too small. A surge in prolactin, the hormone that signals breast milk production kicks in right after the drop in progesterone, making your boobs grow bigger than before.
Also, look out for breast engorgement that is caused by increased blood flow to the breasts. This happens during the first few days after birth and makes your breasts hard and painful. Not to worry, as nursing your baby will help reduce the engorgement. You can also use some warm packs before breastfeeding and cold ones right after to relieve the discomfort.
8 Changes In Your Pelvic Floor & Bowels
You may find it rather challenging to urinate for the first few days due to the changes caused by the baby going through the vagina and stress of pushing and labor. Also, your vulva and labia may be swollen, making it harder to pee that there before. It is also perfectly normal to have a bigger gash as your body sheds extra fluid and adapts to changes in hormones.
Postpartum constipation and hemorrhoids are also to be expected due to dehydration and the side effects of pain killers. You can ask for a stool softener, but also use some natural alternatives like drinking prune juice and plenty of water.
You may also want to pay some attention to your pelvic floor muscles that are still reeling from childbirth, especially when coughing or laughing makes you leak pee. Visit a pelvic floor physiotherapist to help tone up the ligaments, muscles, and tissue supporting your bladder, vagina, and rectum.
You may notice some varicose veins and stretch marks due to the weight gained during pregnancy. These get less prominent but tend to stay for a little longer. You can wear some compression leggings to ease the discomfort brought by varicose veins.
6 Your Core Muscles
After birth, do not be surprised if your core muscles are weaker than there before, making lifting anything incredibly hard. Pregnancy causes a gap to develop between the left and right abdominal muscles due to the thinning of connective tissues. This gap is responsible for back pain, a big belly that looks pregnant and weak ab muscles that make it hard to push, pull, and lift. The gap may heal itself during the first eight weeks after birth, but if it does not, a physiotherapist can give you some motions to help regain core muscle strength and promote healing.
5 Your Face, Teeth, & Eyes
The drastic hormonal changes may impact your face, causing dryness, pigmentation, or acne. If the breakouts become painful and inflamed, speak to your dermatologist and get some medication to soothe the chronic acne.
Again, visit your dentist if you feel any discomfort in your gums. You may also develop cavities in this stage. Also, dry eyes may be caused by changes in fluid levels and hormone changes.
4 Your Uterus & Vagina
During recovery from childbirth, you may experience some contractions, which feels like menstrual cramps right after birth and into the next two days. These contractions help the uterus go back to its original size and go back to its place behind the pubic bone.
You can also expect some bloody discharge called lochia for up to six weeks right after birth, this is normal and comes from the part where the placenta was attached to the uterus. The blood and mucus mixture gradually becomes lighter.
If you had a vaginal birth, your vagina will definitely feel sore for a while, and a C-section will mean a painful incision. Rest and painkillers will be vital in this stage to foster healing and avoid infections. If you feel any new discomfort, speak to your ob-gyn, as the aches should be reducing.
3 When Will Your Period Come Back?
This question is quite familiar with first-time moms, and its return will depend on whether you are breastfeeding or not. If you choose to formula feed, your fertility and period will be back in six-eight weeks. Your period will not come for as long as you are breastfeeding exclusively. After around six months and you start weaning your little one, your period may come back.
2 Your Mineral Levels
After birth, your low iron levels may make you apprehensive and exhausted for the first few months. To restore the iron you lost due to bleeding in childbirth, eat red meat, leafy greens and beans, and continue taking your prenatal vitamins while you breastfeed. Also aim to eat a wider variety of healthy foods to boost your choline, chromium, iodine, copper, selenium, and vitamins A, B, C, D, and E. such include whole grains, fruit, complex carbohydrates, and pulses.
1 Your Shoe Size
Weight gained during pregnancy and hormones may make you gain up to half a shoe size. The 11-16kg of extra weight may cause the foot's arch to flatten out. Again, hormone relaxin released around childbirth helps the bones and pelvis to relax and facilitate delivery. However, the hormone is not specific, and also affects ligaments and joints all over the body, including your feet, thus making it spread out.