What to Expect After Baby, Part 2
Your body will undergo many changes after you give birth. Some of them will take you back to something resembling your pre-baby body, while others will make you wonder if you’ve been replaced by aliens. In our last post, we talked about leaking bodily fluids and soreness, but those aren’t the only changes you’ll experience.
You’ve probably been warned that you’ll be more tired than usual after you give birth, but if this is your first baby, nothing can prepare you for the sheer exhaustion you’ll experience. You spent hours, possibly even a couple of days, working hard to bring your baby into the world, perhaps dozing between contractions. Maybe you even had days of prodromal labor that interfered with your sleep and your routines before the big day. You lost some blood, maybe even a significant amount of blood, during the process. Then you have a tiny human who is unable to sleep more than a couple of hours (if you’re lucky) before needing to be tended to. You’ll be told to sleep when the baby sleeps, though this is easier said than done. Prioritize sleep in the first few days. Skip the shower, makeup, and anything else that isn’t crucial to your and your baby’s survival until you are feeling up to it. If your partner, family, or friends are willing to help, let them. When you have visitors, don’t be afraid to recruit them to help.
While you were pregnant you probably noticed that your hair got thicker and more luxurious. In the months after you give birth, you’re going to shed all that extra hair. It’ll feel like you’re slowly going bald, but the shedding will taper off to normal in a few months.
Stretch marks will fade over time, but will not completely disappear. You may also notice dark patches develop on your skin during pregnancy. These will gradually fade until your skin returns to normal.
Giving birth is a huge life change, which is accompanied by drastic hormone changes. Be prepared for some powerful emotions. Most new moms go through some degree of postpartum depression. In most cases it is a mild case of baby blues that will only last a couple of weeks. For some moms, though, it may be more serious. Take care of yourself and seek support. As much as you can, try to spend time with other people and avoid being isolated. If your depression gets worse or lingers more than a couple of weeks, talk to your doctor.
Giving birth results in an almost instant 10+ pounds of weight loss between baby, placenta, and amniotic fluid. In the first few days, you’ll also lose a bit more weight from extra fluid. Eat healthy and squeeze in a little exercise and it won’t take long before you’re back to your pre-pregnancy weight.
About six weeks after you give birth, your doctor will have you back for a postpartum checkup. At this visit, the doctor will check to be sure everything is healing properly and returning to normal. Your doctor will also discuss birth control and resuming intercourse, if you haven’t already. If you’re breastfeeding, your cycles may or may not return, but don’t rely on breastfeeding for contraception. Also, don’t think that just because you haven’t had a period you can’t get pregnant. Remember, a normal period doesn’t occur until after ovulation, so it is quite possible to become pregnant again within weeks of giving birth.
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