The Reality of Postpartum Physical Changes
Becoming a mother for the first time is an extremely exciting milestone for any woman, however, along with the joy comes physical changes that many women don’t anticipate. Here is an overview of some of the physical changes associated with postpartum.
During pregnancy, the body undergoes significant changes in order to accommodate a growing baby. Bloating, weight gain, and swelling are all perfectly normal during pregnancy. After the baby is born, it can take some time for the body to return to its pre-pregnancy shape. Weight will likely fluctuate initially as the body adjusts to its new normal and begins to shed extra pounds.
Skin & Hair
The hormonal shifts that occur during pregnancy also affect hair and skin. Many women find that their skin becomes drier and their hair thicker during pregnancy. Hormonal changes can also cause increased skin pigmentation and a general increase in hair growth. After the baby is born, they can usually expect these changes to reverse and return to normal within the first few months postpartum.
Postpartum Bleeding & Discharge
Immediately after birth, women can expect to experience heavy bleeding, which can last for up to six weeks. Along with bleeding, women may also experience vaginal discharge. The discharge can range from colorless to yellowish and may contain spotting or bloody streaks.
Postpartum Pain & Discomfort
The recovery process following childbirth can often be uncomfortable and painful. Some of the common postpartum aches and pains include:
- C-section pain: After a c-section, women can experience pain at the incision site, as well as increased vaginal discharge, which typically tapers off after the first few days. Women can usually manage pain and discomfort with ibuprofen, warm baths, and cold packs.
- Engorgement: Women who are breastfeeding may experience engorgement, when the breasts become overly full with milk. Engorgement can cause pain and discomfort and can usually be managed with warm compresses, breastfeeding, or manual expression.
- Healing perineum: After a vaginal birth, the area between the vagina and anus may be swollen, bruised, or sore from any stitches or tearing. It can take several days to weeks for the area to heal, and can usually be managed with gentle cleaning, warm baths, and ibuprofen.
During pregnancy, the breasts can become fuller and heavier due to hormone fluctuations. After the baby is born, the breasts may become even more swollen and sensitive for the first few days. In the first few weeks postpartum, the breasts may become engorged as the body adjusts to its new demands. It is important to note that all of these changes are normal and typically subside once the body has adjusted.
Postpartum changes can be overwhelming, and it is important to remember that all of these changes are normal and temporary. Mothers should take the time to take care of themselves during this important time and seek help if needed. Being aware and gentle with oneself during the postpartum period can make all the difference.