You have been nurturing your baby inside you for the past 9 months. It has been an incredible journey and indeed transformative. You’ve probably noticed that your body has undergone a lot of changes. But don’t worry about not being able to get back in shape just yet. Your body will go through some more changes before it eventually turns back into the shape you enjoy.
#1 Postpartum Vaginal Discharge (Lochia)
Postpartum vaginal discharge, or commonly known as Lochia, can be bloody. It is basically a mixture of leftover blood, mucus, and tissue from your uterus. It is very likely to have a heavier flow than you normally have during your period for the first 3 to 10 days after your delivery. We recommend using heavy-duty pads than tampons to lower the risks of infection from the heavy flow. Change your pads frequently for the first few days to best avoid the potential of any irritations and complications. Don't forget to put on a belly band to help to get rid of it faster.
#2 Swollen Body and Limbs
Your body has accumulated roughly 50% more blood and other fluids to accommodate your baby during pregnancy. You may lose 10 - 13 pounds immediately after your baby’s delivery that includes the weight of the baby, the amniotic fluid, the placenta, and some blood loss. But it can take days or even weeks for the rest of the extra fluids to leave your body. It is normal to feel swollen in your neck, face, ankles, hands, and other parts of your body.
*Remember: Drink plenty of fluids and eat foods that are rich in potassium, like bananas, oranges, cooked spinach, cooked broccoli, mushrooms, potatoes, and cucumbers.
#3 Heavy Breasts
Your breasts will produce small amounts of colostrum (yellowish precursor form of breast milk) immediately after you deliver your baby. After that, your breast milk will start accumulating and you can start feeling flushed, engorged, sore, and swollen in your breasts. You can begin your breastfeeding as soon as your newborn asks for it.
Imagine that your uterus has grown to about 15 times its pre-pregnancy size by the time you go into labor. It is normal that your uterus will start to contract and tighten to return to its original size. So bad news, you’ll still be getting some pelvic cramps while your uterus tries to shrink back to its normal size and location. The cramps can be the most noticeable when you breastfeed and trigger the production of oxytocin. But the good news is that they usually diminish after a week of time or 6 weeks most for the long-lived contractions.
#5 Pain in Your Vagina
Mums who gave a vaginal birth often have their perineum (the part between your anus and vagina) stretched, bruised, swollen, or possibly ripped from the excessive force exerted on it during delivery. Or some may have undergone an episiotomy (an incision on the perineum to enlarge the birth canal for your baby to pass through), which can take up to 6 weeks to heal.
#6 Backache and Soreness
You’re probably feeling utterly exhausted with soreness and aching all over your body after giving birth. It’s probably of no surprise that you need time to recover. You may be experiencing back pain as your abdominal muscles are trying to regain strength from overstretching. Imagine that they are weak and flabby after childbirth and you need your back muscles to help support your weight for postures like standing or sitting up that normally utilize your abdominal strength. It will be helpful to wear a belly band that can support both your back and abdomen to avoid overusing your back muscles. If your back pain hasn’t improved in 6 weeks, please contact your doctor.
#7 “Baby Blues”
Anxiety. Sweats. Mood swings. You are probably confused about the gush of mixed feelings all over you when you should have been the happiest mom to see your beautiful baby born. That’s okay, it’s totally normal for moms to feel overwhelmed by your emotions for the first few months after giving birth. In fact, studies have shown that up to 80% of new mums reported feeling depressed or annoyed after the delivery of their baby. You have undergone a lot of hormonal changes, physical discomfort and now you also have to get used to the presence of your baby in your life. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to rest and seek emotional support from your friends and family to help stabilize your mood.
#8 Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged, swollen veins that are near the surface of your skin. Many women are prone to varicose veins in their thighs and calves upon giving birth. It happens when the uterus exerts extra pressure on the inferior vena cava (that carries blood from your legs to your heart). The increase in your progestin level can also lead to the dilation of your veins. The good news is that they are completely harmless, even though they can be itchy or stingy sometimes.
Things you can do to help prevent varicose veins during your pregnancy:
Exercise exercise exercise!
Try not to stand or sit in one posture for too long
Don’t cross your legs
Don’t wear high heels
Lift your legs frequently to improve your circulation
Sleep on your left side to relieve pressure on your inferior vena cava
Drink plenty of water to accelerate your circulatory system and avoid constipation
#9 Pelvic Floor Discomfort
You may have noticed that you start leaking some urine and wet your underwear accidentally when you cough, sneeze or lift heavy objects. Oops, but don’t be embarrassed! This is due to having your baby’s weight pressing on your pelvic floor near the end of your pregnancy. Your pelvic floor muscles weakened after holding off so much weight for a prolonged period. Practice the Kegel exercises to help tighten your pelvic floor muscles and prevent future leaks.
#10 Postpartum Constipation
Constipation is pretty common to those who have just delivered their baby in the first few days or weeks. Weakened abdominal muscles, dehydration, anxiety, and the side effects of painkillers can all lead to little bowel movement and constipation. Many moms are also worried about rupturing their C-section wound or perineum stitches if they exert too much force on their lower abdomen. Keep in mind that it is very unlikely that your stitches will rip open and it’ll only worsen your conditions if you hold the urge to go to the bathroom. Drink plenty of water and eat a lot of fiber-rich foods to keep your bowels moving or ask for a stool softener from your practitioner to relieve constipation.
#11 Your Face Looks Dull
Melasma, also known as the “mask of pregnancy”, happens to up to 70% of moms during pregnancy. They get dark patches on their cheeks, forehead, and even lips from hormonal fluctuations that can still exist postpartum. You may even get acne or breakouts at the same time. Remember to consult a dermatologist if you have any concerns about pigmentation or discoloration on your skin.
#12 You Start Losing Hair
You can start losing hair to the decrease of hormone levels postpartum. But don’t worry! You may have already discovered that you grew more hair over the 9 months of pregnancy than you normally do due to the high hormone levels. You are only losing the extra hair you gained so it doesn’t mean that you’ll become bald after 3 months. The hair loss should slow down after 3 months and return to normal. You should consult your doctor if you have concerns about still losing hair 3 months after giving birth.