Last Updated on November 12, 2023 by Otuebo Harrison
The body of a pregnant woman goes through many changes. Despite the fact that the pregnancy is done and you now hold a living, breathing wonder in your arms, the difficulties have just begun.
While you are learning how to care for your newborn, you must adjust to your new role. For the first few weeks, the majority of your time will be spent feeding, changing diapers, and soothing your infant. With your child, you inevitably have an emotional connection.
However, you will also soon see or experience new changes in your body. Numerous changes occur to your body as it begins to heal and settle into its new role.
Recovery after childbirth might be difficult, therefore you must maintain calm and patience rather than becoming anxious at the difficulties. In a few months, your body will begin to function normally once more. Till then, be kind to yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for assistance when you need it.
Here are 6 shocking things that happen to your body after giving birth
1. Painful Breasts
Most new mothers must struggle with painful, big, and swollen breasts.
A little colostrum, the rich, creamy first milk packed of antibodies that help protect your infant from infection, is what makes the breasts first tender after giving birth. However, as the breasts begin producing milk after a few days, they could become hot, swollen, and sensitive.
Nipples at this period become quite sensitive, making feeding potentially very uncomfortable. Even early weaning could be a result of this.
However, at the moment, the supply and demand of breast milk tends to dictate how much is produced. Therefore, make an effort to breastfeed more and the discomfort and pain will eventually disappear.
Women who received intravenous fluids during labor experienced higher levels of postpartum breast edema and reported that their breasts were firmer and more sensitive than women who did not get intravenous fluids, according to a 2015 study that was published in the International Breastfeeding Journal.
Do not disregard your fever if it is accompanied by warm, red breasts. This may indicate mastitis or a breast abscess, both of which are uncomfortable illnesses that require medical attention.
2. Post-Baby Belly
You won’t necessarily have a flat stomach when the kid is born. Most women will have a round tummy following delivery.
It takes time for that region of your body to return to its original size because the uterus, abdominal muscles, and skin are stretched out for months during pregnancy. After having delivery, getting a flat stomach could take several months. For people who underwent a C-section, it could take up to a year to achieve a toned and flat stomach.
Compared to weight gain during the second or third trimesters, weight gain during the first trimester was more strongly connected with weight retention at seven years postpartum, according to a 2015 study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.
To shed the postpartum weight and get your body back in shape, you must take action. You have an increased chance of developing chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease if you hold onto your pregnancy weight.
According to a 2009 study in Women & Health, postpartum weight gain and changes to the body’s form might lead to unfavorable body images.
Breastfeeding is one of the best ways to stop this kind of weight gain. Breastfeeding is reported to minimize postpartum weight retention in a 2008 study that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
For anyone trying to lose weight, eating and exercise are crucial components of the weight-loss process, along with nursing.
3. Night Sweats or Hot Flashes
You may have sweated a lot during delivery, without a question, but the first few weeks following giving birth may also find you sweating a lot.
This occurs as a result of the body’s estrogen levels fluctuating suddenly, which affects how your body regulates its temperature. Additionally, it is a typical way for your body to get rid of all the extra fluid it had been holding onto throughout pregnancy. The majority of the time, people will sweat a lot at night.
Similar to those related to menopause, you could also have hot flashes.
Over one-third of pregnant and postpartum women reported having hot flashes, according to a 2013 study published in Fertility and Sterility. Similar to those during menopause, the predictors of these hot flashes include depressive symptoms, low education, and a higher body mass index.
There is no need to be concerned because everything will return to normal within a few months. In the interim, take good care of your body to reduce the symptoms by doing the following:
- Your body may become dehydrateddue to heavy sweating, so make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids.
- Put a soft towel on your pillow to absorb some of the moisture.
- Wear loose, lightweight clothing to allow the sweat to evaporate.
- Sprinkle on some talc-free powder to absorb excess moisture and help prevent a heat rash.
4. Hair Loss
You might experience a significant hair loss after giving birth. This is typical, so don’t be alarmed.
Due to hormonal changes in the body, more hair follicles than usual are in the active growth phase during pregnancy, which results in the majority of women having a gigantic mane of hair.
However, shortly after giving delivery, the body’s estrogen levels suddenly drop, which causes more hair follicles to enter a terminal stage. Between 40 and 50 percent of women are affected by significant hair loss and scalp hair thinning as a result of this.
It is transient, though, just like the majority of changes brought on by pregnancy and childbirth. After the infant is delivered, the hair loss phase normally starts within five months and ends within 15 months.
To fight hair loss after delivery and enjoy healthy and strong hair again, you must:
- Avoid pigtails, braids and any tight hairstyles that cause excessive pulling.
- Follow a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, which contain flavonoids and antioxidants. Consult your doctor about supplementing your diet with vitamin B complex, biotin, vitamin E and zinc.
- Use shampoos and conditioners that contain biotin and silica.
- Do not comb or brush your hair when it’s wet.
- Avoid using blow dryers and other heated hair instruments.
5. Vaginal Dryness
After giving birth, dry vaginal tissue affects many women. Many women also deal with this issue when pregnant.
Any woman may struggle with vaginal dryness, but keep in mind that it will eventually go away on its own after a few months.
The continual variations in hormone levels during and after pregnancy are the main cause of vaginal dryness. Vaginal dryness becomes a non-issue once the hormonal balance has been restored.
Breastfeeding can contribute to hormonal changes and vaginal dryness. The issue will continue to exist the longer you breastfeed.
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According to a 2000 study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 83 percent of female participants experienced sexual problems in the first three months after delivery and postpartum vaginal dryness is one of the reasons behind it.
To help deal with this problem, make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep the body hydrated. Also, avoid douches and personal hygiene sprays, which can irritate sensitive vaginal tissues.
6. Post-Labor Pains
With all the pushing and contortions of labor, it is very natural to feel washed out, tired and even painful. Pain can be felt in the ribs, abdomen and back as well as near your private parts.
After delivery, the uterus is shrinking back to its normal size and position, and this causes intense pain as it contracts down. After childbirth, the uterus is hard and weighs about 2½ pounds, but it goes down to just 2 ounces after about six weeks.
The discomfort, which frequently occurs when breastfeeding, is comparable to light labor contractions. The hormone oxytocin, which causes your uterus to contract, is mostly to blame for this.
The pain will be greater if you have given birth by cesarean, which is a serious, major surgery. Recovering from a cesarean takes more time.
The tearing during vaginal birth also will cause a lot of discomfort during the healing process.
The healing process varies from person to person, but in general, the pain or discomfort becomes more manageable about one to two weeks after giving birth. By six weeks, the pain will vanish completely.
To relieve pain and soreness:
- Lie down as much as you can, so that the pressure is taken off your bottom.
- Put a cold compress on your perineum to reduce pain.
- Rest whenever you feel the need, and give your body time to heal.
- Continue having a warm bath daily for at least a month.
- Start doing pelvic floor exercises as soon as possible.
If the cramping or pain persists, call your doctor immediately. It could be a sign of infection or another problem that requires medical attention.