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10 Ways Your Body Changes After Birth

After birth body changes c-section scar

We all know that during pregnancy our bodies change phenomenally! Our organs literally move and our skin stretches to accommodate the growth of a whole new human being. How incredible are we, seriously?!

But the changes don’t stop at pregnancy. Some of these are temporary, but some parts of us are forever changed as a result of pregnancy and labour.

Let’s explore ten of the ways our bodies change after having a bab

Postpartum Body Changes 

1. Weight changes

It’s very normal and expected to gain some weight during pregnancy. While a lot of this is made up of our babies, the placenta, amniotic fluid etc, the weight doesn’t all instantly disappear just because we have given birth. You might notice extra weight on your hips, bottom, tummy and thighs. Over the coming weeks, you will lose some of the fluid your body has held onto. But the reality is that it is going to take time for your body to return to its pre-baby size.  Please go easy on yourself, Mama! You just grew the most precious and perfect little person. Your body deserves time to heal and adjust as well. When you are ready, and have had the all clear to do so, you will be able to return to your usual level of physical activity.

2. Your tummy looks different

Stretch marks, loose skin, a little pouch, perhaps? Some mamas also have a C-Section scar. While some of the changes to our skin will fade, some will be forever-reminders of our most incredible achievement. 

In terms of your tummy size, we are all different in how pregnancy affects our bodies. I’s important to know that it will take around six weeks for your uterus to shrink back down to its original size.

3. Problems toileting

This can be really challenging for some mamas and understandably so! Some of the common toileting issues new mothers experience include:

  • Constipation
    Your body has been through A LOT and your muscles are certainly weakened. That, combined with any pain medications you have taken during or after labour may contribute to feeling constipated in those first few days postpartum.
  • Urinary incontinence/Leakage
    I repeat: your body has been through A LOT! Your bladder has been under some serious pressure during pregnancy. As a result, some mamas struggle with urinary incontinence. They might leak urine when they laugh, sneeze, cough or jump. For most mamas, this improves within weeks-months. Please consult your Dr or female Physio for any concerns. 
  • Haemorrhoids
    These are very common and are caused by the enormous pressure and strain on the veins in your rectum during pregnancy and birth.  Please check in with your Dr as there are medications that can help!

4. Perineal discomfort

Most women who have given birth to their baby vaginally will have experienced some form of tearing in the perineal area. First and second degree tears are most common. A small proportion of women will have a more severe third or fourth degree tear.

Some mamas may also have had an episiotomy. The recovery from this is similar to a tear.

Any form of tearing will cause pain. Especially when you are sitting in a position that is putting pressure on the perineum. Urination can also cause bad stinging!! Some women find squirting the area with a peri-bottle at the same time as peeing can help to lessen that discomfort.

The perineal area in general can be quite swollen and tender following a vaginal birth. You may find ice or heat packs can help you to reduce some of this.

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5. Acne

Hello, hormones! Acne during postpartum is incredibly common and something that many new mamas experience. Things should start to improve over the coming weeks. If your acne is causing you pain and doesn’t seem to be improving, it might be a good idea to check in with your Dr about your options.

6. Hair loss

You know that luscious hair you’ve been enjoying for the last nine months? Yeah, that was only temporary, sorry! Lots of mamas are shocked when they notice excess hair fall loss postpartum. Fuller hairbrushes, ‘clumps’ coming out during washing and discovering strands of their own hair literally everywhere. I want to reassure you: you are not going to go bald! This is very normal and is, once again, caused by those pesky hormones!

Once your baby is born, estrogen levels drop and all that hair that’s held on longer than it would have starts to fall out (telogen effluvium). It can be quite alarming – and some mamas experience it worse than others. But it is a very normal, natural process that usually begins within a few weeks after birth (breastfeeding can delay it a little). Generally is at its worst around month four. It can last up to 18 months for some. But your hair will probably be well on track to its original condition by your baby’s first birthday.

Check out these postpartum horns:

7. Breast changes

Our breasts undergo some serious changes. Even during pregnancy! In fact, larger and more tender breasts are often one of the first signs that make us suspect that we may be pregnant.

Once our babies are born, the changes continue. Our breasts swell more as our milk comes in. For a little while there, they feel a bit like hot, sore watermelons!

You may also notice they are leaking, are extra veiny, and that your areola has darkened.

Once you have finished breastfeeding, it’s going to take time for your breasts to adjust and settle into their new shape.

8. Swelling

Water retention is very normal after giving birth. This is called “postpartum edema” and is caused by several factors including: an increase in progesterone and not being able to move around a lot. The reality is our bodies store a lot of fluids during pregnancy! These don’t simply disappear the moment we welcome our babies earth-side. If the swelling hasn’t gone after around a week, then please see your Dr.

Note: if you have swelling in only one of your legs, or if you are noticing pain or tenderness in one of your legs, then please contact your Dr or Midwife ASAP as you may be experiencing a blood clot. When it comes to swelling, another consideration to be aware of is postpartum preeclampsia. If you are experiencing headaches, nausea/vomiting, vision changes, shortness of breath or abdominal pain, then please seek help immediately.

9. Aches and pains

Pregnancy and birth puts a massive strain on our bodies. Aches and pains in various parts of the body are expected. You may experience cramps in your abdomen as your uterus contracts down to size, back pain, hip pain etc.

10. Vaginal Discharge

After giving birth, whether vaginally or via c-section, you will bleed for 4-6 weeks. This postpartum bleeding is called lochia. It’s made up of amniotic fluid, tissue and blood. Lochia goes through three stages. Over the coming weeks you might notice the colour changing from red and heavy, to lighter in colour. Eventually transitioning to a yellowy colour with occasional spots of blood.

If you are passing large clots, and the bleeding is heavy enough to fill a pad in an hour, then please speak to your Dr or Midwife ASAP!!

These are just some of the changes our bodies can go through during pregnancy and after. If you are every concerned about something that is happening to your body, speak to a medical professional immediately.

It’s important to note this blog is general education only. For any personal based advice regarding you or your baby please seek advice from your own healthcare professional.

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