Postpartum recovery can be a doozy! Here are some Postpartum Body changes you may not know about.
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You would think that after carrying a baby for nine long months, earning
stretch marks tiger stripes from your stretching belly, and having to lose most of your dignity during the process of giving birth would be enough changes to last a lifetime.
Ah, my friends. The changes only just begin after your baby is born.
During the first year after your child is born, your body and hormones will go through many other drastic changes – some of which may make you feel a little bit crazy.
Alas, it’s all worth it for the perfect little bundle of joy…but it can be hard when you feel like you don’t have a ton of control over what your body is doing.
You all know that I believe knowledge is power, and I think knowing what changes may occur to your body postpartum can make them a little more bearable.
One of our most popular posts is called 15 Things You May Not Know about Child Birth Recovery…so consider this a sequel 🙂 Make sure to check out that one for postpartum recovery tips!
Postpartum Kit Ideas
Along with helping all of you new moms and moms-to-be know what’s to come, I thought I’d also share a fun little Postpartum Survival Kit that you could give to another new mom. These are items that they could use throughout that whole first year.
- Chocolate (dark chocolate is good for you, you know).
- Spray bottle with fan
- The DivaCup
Shop the image above for this product!
- Fuzzy Socks or slippers
- Vitamin D3
- Coconut Oil
- Stool Softener/Laxative
- Nursing pads (reusable or disposable)
- Water bottle (an insulated one is even better!)
- Netflix Subscription
- Gift cards (for restaurants, pedicure, meal delivery services, etc.)
- Journal and Pen
- Fleece blanket
Place all these items in a little basket or tote and bring it to a baby shower or to a mother who just had her baby!
You can add this sweet little poem to the basket to – it celebrates them becoming a mother. Just right click on the image to save and print for later.
Please remember that no advice in this post should be construed as medical advice. Always discuss any changes or issues you are concerned about with a medical professional.
Your Hair Will Fall Out – Postpartum Hair Loss
I think one of the best parts of pregnancy is that it usually makes your hair look full, beautiful, and shiny. Right before I gave birth to Jack, I got my hair cut, and the hairdresser couldn’t stop talking about how thick and beautiful my hair was.
Well, all good things must come to an end.
Most women experience substantial postpartum hair loss in the months proceeding birth. I naturally have thick hair, pregnant or not, I swear, the amount of hair that was coming out in my brushes and around the house was a bit alarming to me!
I find that it usually gets better about six months or so…but man, it can be ROUGH. Make sure you keep taking your prenatal vitamins, invest in a good shower catcher, and maybe consider putting your hair in a pony tail while you cook (believe me, this will save your family from some unfortunate additions to their dinner)
Don’t be surprised if your shoe size changes after you give birth. Many women see an increase in their shoe size while pregnant (often due to swelling)…but giving birth doesn’t always mean they go back down to the same size.
I feel like my feet got wider with my two pregnancies, which makes shoe shopping no fun. I much prefer lounging around in slippers and fuzzy socks!
Many women experience changes in their menstrual cycle after giving birth. While there may be a unicorn mom out there who actually has lighter and less painful periods, many women experience the opposite – especially with the first postpartum period. If you have the copper IUD, it can also make things worse.
This can really stink. I mean, you’d think your uterus could give you a break! If you do find that you are bleeding more and having worse cramps or mood swings…first, talk to your doctor.
Second, look into some better methods for dealing with that “time of the month.” Heating pads, ibuprofen, and some chocolate can really help.
However, you may also want to consider a menstrual cup, such as the DivaCup. These have increased in popularity in recent years (though they have been around since the 1930s!) – and many people report that it makes heavy periods a lot more easy to deal with (I’ve even heard of some people who say it helps immensely with cramps!).
Click above to buy the DivaCup at Walmart.com
Basically, it is a reusable, bell-shaped silicone cup that can be used by women of all ages and stages. Instead of absorbing blood, it collects it, which helps avoid disrupting the vaginal pH and environment. You can also use the measurement lines to report back to your doctor in case you are concerned about the flow of your period.
It’s nice because it can be used for up to 12 hours, and when you are taking care of a baby, that is a big deal!
Keep in mind that that The DivaCup is for use after your postpartum bleeding is over – you shouldn’t be using anything besides pads during that time. Make sure you read the User Guide before using The DivaCup and discuss any concerns you may have with your doctor.
Hair color and texture
I have talked to a lot of women who have reported changes in their during and after pregnancy – most often, they report it getting darker. This has happened to me (even though I’m in denial and still put in my drivers license that I’m blonde).
I’ve known some women who have had their hair become curly or turn straight after giving birth as well. Let’s chalk it up to hormones?
Sweat and Temperature
This is especially common right after giving birth – being hot and sweaty all the time! While this can be a sign of an underlying health issue or mastitis, it’s often just a part of recovering from child birth – especially postpartum night sweats.
In the Breastfeeding Mama’s Support Tribe that I run on Facebook, there have been several conversations about this – and it often happens right when a mom starts to nurse. I would imagine it’s the surge of hormones.
Personally, I am almost always hot, and I do feel like it’s gotten worse with each pregnancy and subsequent postpartum recovery period. However, some people go through periods of being hot, then cold, then back again…so you may experience a little of each!
A Gut That Won’t Go Away
Most women don’t leave the hospital with their body the way it was before giving birth. And that’s okay!
It can take up to six weeks for your belly to contract back to normal, so don’t feel like you need to start doing crunches in between feeding your baby.
Because your abdominal skin has been stretched and pulled considerably during pregnancy, it will likely not be the same again – and it may take some time to get it back to where you feel comfortable. Make sure you give yourself some grace!
Abdominal centered pilates can be really helpful in toning the abdominal muscles though. Some women experience something called diastis recti, which can make your belly appear looser and bigger than before. If you are experiencing this, you can discuss options with your medical provider.
This typically subside after a few weeks (or for some, months), but it’s worth mentioning because it’s so weird.
You may have phantom contractions and kicks where you could swear on your life you felt a baby kick. You may even convince yourself that maybe you are somehow pregnant again (or maybe that was just me . . .).
You may have already experienced a change in breast size, shape, etc. while pregnant…and they only keep changing after baby is born – especially if you are breastfeeding.
I can’t remember the exact figure, but I think that most women will experience at least three changes in breast size during the first year – as your milk comes in, as it regulates, and as you start to wean. Don’t be surprised by this – I highly recommend getting a professional bra fitting done, as it can really help you feel more confident (I have a friend who does this – in person and online – if anyone needs a recommendation!).
If you experience any pain or discomfort, I highly recommend using coconut oil as nipple treatment, heating pads to relieve pain, and some ibuprofen.
I think this is one of those things that most women have at least heard of – incontinence.
It’s not just a silly joke on sitcoms – many, many women experience incontinence or urinary issues during and after pregnancy. I read somewhere that the figure is around 50%, which is crazy.
If you experience incontinence, don’t feel embarrassed and just know that you are in good company. Many other women leak a little urine when they sneeze or laugh too hard 🙂
Even if you don’t experience too many issues, be aware that you may not be able to jump on the trampoline for awhile (or ever again!).
I have seen a new brand of underwear that is designed to help with this issue, and I think that’s awesome.
This is especially common when you are newly postpartum and breastfeeding. I always felt like my thirst was never sufficiently quenched. There’s a reason many hospitals give you a big water jug to take home!
Some of this can happen as a result of pressure on your back during pregnancy or poor posture. Pregnancy and child birth can also really get you out of alignment.
Constipation and Tummy Issues
Many women experience bowel issues after giving birth – especially constipation. Low water intake and hormones can really make you feel even more backed up.
A good quality stool softener, some licorice, plenty of water, and a diet high in fiber can really help. Constipation can lead to hemorrhoids, which are NO fun.
It’s normal to feel tired – especially during those first few months. Many new moms go from sleeping through the night to barely getting more than 1-2 hours straight of shut eye, so if you have a decrease in energy…don’t be too surprised.
However, if you are feeling extra drained, it may be a sign of a vitamin deficiency, which are very common after pregnancy. Iron deficiencies or anemia are probably amongst the most common. I am almost always anemic after pregnancy. If you are feeling so drained beyond repair, make sure you get some blood tests done.
Pregnancy brain extended
If anyone tries to convince you that pregnancy brain disappears when baby is born…laugh. Pregnancy brain turns into mom brain…which really is a real thing.
What causes this is up for debate – some say hormones, others say sleep deprivation, and others say just the adjustment to a whole new way of life.
Many moms see an improvement by the one-year-mark, but if you are like me, you may never be the same again.
Sudoku, crossword puzzles, and driving different routes can help with mental agility!
Katie is a Colorado-native, BYU graduated, and most importantly, wife to one and mother to three beautiful boys. She is passionate about sharing her experiences with others – especially about pregnancy, breastfeeding, cooking, and crafts. She is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She loves spending time with her family and helping others find joy in family life.