Postpartum, Who Knew?
With an abundance of information about pregnancy and delivering your baby, you may feel prepared for just about anything, right? Well perhaps not. As many women learn the hard way, there are many changes you go through, mentally and physically, during the postpartum period.
To ensure that these changes don’t catch you off guard, let’s take a closer look at some of the basics of postpartum. Typically this period is defined as 6 to 8 weeks, post-pregnancy.
While your body will go through a number of changes that can vary from hours to weeks after childbirth, it’s important to know what to expect. If you experience any of these changes or symptoms, don’t worry, chances are it’s a normal part of the postpartum process.
Keep in mind, every new mom experiences different physical and emotional changes and to be safe, make sure to work with your OB/GYN. Start by attending your 6 week out appointment!
Vaginal Pain & Discharge: After delivery, your vagina may feel stretched and sore, it did go through quite a lot, though. During the first week or two after delivery, you will notice vaginal discharge that is primarily blood, but don’t worry; this is the remaining uterine lining from your pregnancy.
Difficulty Going #1 and #2: After childbirth, you may notice a change in your bathroom habits. For some women, the delivery process can make urination difficult and make having a bowel movement next to impossible. Often times this can be the result of an episiotomy or hemorrhoids from pregnancy.
Your Period Might Be Late: The arrival of your first period post-pregnancy can be tricky to plan for. Depending on whether or not you breastfeed your baby, it could make its return anywhere from 5 to 7 weeks out. But this is the average timeframe, don’t panic if yours isn’t right on schedule.
You May be Feelin’ Hot-Hot-Hot: After childbirth you may experience many changes in temperature. From excessive sweating and night sweats, to hot flashes, but not to worry, there is good reason for this.
After giving birth, your body starts to shed the extra fluids it retained and accumulated during pregnancy. As far as hot flashes go, this is largely attributed to your body’s production of prolactin, breastfeeding or not, which raises your body's temperature.
Your Sex Drive Takes a Steep Dive: While some women may experience the opposite end of the spectrum with a boost in their libido, many women notice a lull. This is likely due to many reasons, a few of the most common being:
- The stresses of being a new mom (i.e. lack of sleep, irritability and body image which usually hits an all-time low about 6 months out).
- Breastfeeding may impact your estrogen levels, which can alter sex drive and vaginal dryness which can lead to pain during intercourse.
You Drop Hair Like it’s Going Out of Style: During pregnancy, your raging hormones lead to less hair loss and for some, abundant hair growth. Unfortunately, after childbirth your body will overcompensate for the lack of shedding hair during pregnancy with an excess of hair loss. Remember, this only temporary and your hair will soon return to its’ former glory.
So…What Can You Do?
The goal after pregnancy is to not only enjoy time with your little bundle of joy, but to also take care of yourself and make sure you feel comfortable and healthy. One of the best things you can do for you and your family is to take care of yourself. Start with these tips:
- Continue Kegel Exercises
- Exercise Often
- Stay off the Scale
- Dress Smart (aka: Stay Comfy)
Postpartum can be a confusing time to navigate alone, especially with a newborn baby. In addition to keeping these changes and tips on your radar, make sure to find a medical provider who can provide peace of mind by answering any questions you have.
At Gwinnett Medical Center our Women’s Health Navigator is just the right person for the job. Sheila Warren, RN, can answer any of your questions no matter how big or small, while also ensuring that you have access to the resources and care that you need.