Pregnancy is like a marathon — it’s a long event, there’s a great prize at the end, and your body has to go through a recovery period. The best way to prepare yourself for what is to come is to learn as much as you can about what may happen so you can plan accordingly.
Even though much of the focus is on the pregnancy stages, a woman’s body will go through a number of changes after giving birth. While you’re snuggled up with your newborn baby, here are eight things that might happen to you that are perfectly normal.
There’s no escaping those pesky hormones, even after pregnancy. The heady mix of hormones that are helping your uterus contract back into your pelvis as well as helping you to breastfeed and bond with your baby might also make you exhausted, teary and moody.
All you can do is give it time and accept that for now you will go through a roller coaster of emotions.
2. Leaky boobs
If you are breastfeeding, then you can expect your breasts to have moments of fullness and also some leaking. The strangest thing of all might be when your milk lets down to the cry of someone else’s baby!
Even moms who bottle-feed their babies might experience some leaking in the early days after giving birth. Rachel, mom of two, said, “After I had my second baby, I tried the old wives’ tale of putting cabbage in my bra to see if it would stop the milk. In three days it had all dried up!”
3. Recovering down there
For moms who have a vaginal birth, a full recovery can take a little while. Any stretching or swelling in the vagina should subside after a few days. If, however, you had to have an episiotomy, it could be a few weeks before you are fully healed.
If you are feeling sore in that area, try using ice packs and sitting on well-cushioned seats or a “doughnut” cushion, and avoid sexual intercourse until you have been cleared by your doctor.
If you had a C-section, then the incision will obviously need time to heal. The stitches should be removed about six weeks later, but the scar will continue to heal and might be red and itchy.
4. Round belly
You’ve spent nine months growing a baby in your belly, and it might take just as long to get it back into shape. In the first few weeks and even months after giving birth, it is perfectly normal to have a soft, round belly. For lots of women, even when they do lose their baby weight, their tummy is never the same.
“I never really thought about what my body would look like after having a baby, so I was a little surprised to see that even after almost a year, the skin is a little soft and droopy,” said Claire, mom of one. “I don’t really care, though. It’s not like I strutted around in a bikini before anyway.”
It’s not pleasant sounding or feeling, but some women will get hemorrhoids during pregnancy or after a vaginal birth. It’s not surprising, considering all the pressure and pushing that goes on during the process.
The swelling and pain can be uncomfortable. To help relieve the symptoms, try applying a hemorrhoid ointment like ANUSOL®. Eating a high-fibre diet, drinking lots of water, and getting plenty of gentle exercise, such as walking, can help prevent hemorrhoids from reoccurring.
6. The need to pee
Unfortunately that constant urge to pee doesn’t end as soon as your baby is born. In the first few weeks of recovery, some women will continue to make frequent trips to the restroom until their body tightens and gets back into shape.
However, it’s also not unusual for women who have had children to experience some mild incontinence. If this is you, then keep a supply of panty liners handy, and continue those Kegel exercises.
7. Hair loss
During pregnancy, you probably had a lush head of hair and lots of good hair days. However, it’s a different story after pregnancy. All that hibernating will turn to shedding, and you’ll be losing hair like never before. Don’t worry — it does grow back.
Kelly, mom of two kids, said she was startled by the post-pregnancy hair loss. “I panicked when I first starting washing my hair and — literally — clumps were falling out. I thought I had some pregnancy-related disease and I was going to go bald. It only lasted a few months, but I did actually ask my doctor about it during an appointment because I was so concerned.”
8. Low libido
You might be all loved up with your new little family and see your partner with a new appreciation, but it’s very likely that after giving birth you will have a low libido.
As if all the exhaustion, leaky boobs, lack of showers and baby spit-up on your shirt weren’t enough, the post-pregnancy hormones — particularly the up-and-down changes in estrogen — will be the reason you just don’t have that sexual urge.