Whether you’re planning to become pregnant, in the middle of your pregnancy, or just beginning your postpartum journey, it’s important to be informed on what to expect during each of these phases. While there are many commonly known facts about the postpartum recovery stage, there might be some aspects that surprise you. Here are six things no one tells you about postpartum recovery:
You may also experience incontinence, which is a leaking of urine that happens uncontrollably. This is because your pelvic floor muscles weaken during pregnancy. However, you don’t have to worry about experiencing incontinence forever, as it can be managed with the help of a physical therapist. To help lessen your symptoms, consider making simple lifestyle changes such as reducing caffeine/carbonated drinks/ alcohol, increasing your water intake, and consider exercise to help ease pressure on your bladder and pelvic floor.
Return of Your Period with Postpartum Recovery
This is something to be expected in your postpartum journey, however, you may be shocked to learn that everything you knew about your period pre-pregnancy may change. The timeline in which you experience your first cycle postpartum can be affected by whether or not you’re breastfeeding. This is because the hormone the body produces to lactate—prolactin—suppresses ovulation. Because of this, it could take weeks to even months to get your period again.
Additionally, with postpartum recovery your period may change a little, a lot, or not at all. You may experience a heavier or lighter flow, the length of your cycle can change, and you might even notice changes in cramping. If you find that your typical period products aren’t doing the trick, whether they cause discomfort or cannot accommodate the changes in your period, you should consider trying something new. Comfortable and simple to use cups like this one here, are an excellent way to transition back into your menstrual cycle. They provide up to twelve hours of leak protection, that way you’re able to spend time with your bundle of joy without having to worry about changing a pad or tampon every few hours.
A change you might have noticed but not necessarily expected is within your feet. It’s not uncommon for your feet to grow during pregnancy due to weight gain, swelling, and the fluctuating levels of hormones throughout your body. All of these factors can put more stress on your feet causing your joints to widen, resulting in growth. You can try to prevent this before your postpartum journey by wearing supportive shoes and practicing foot-muscle exercises.
While this may not come as much of a surprise, there might be some changes you didn’t know about. For example, what the internet calls a “mom butt” can occur to many breastfeeding mothers. Your body’s production of breastmilk melts away the gluteal-femoral fat as it is transformed into the food source for your baby.
You might also find yourself sweating a lot more than usual, and don’t worry, it’s completely normal. Your pregnancy hormones are to blame for this as they’re telling your body to rid itself of the extra fluids it once had to nourish your baby. It’s most common to experience postpartum night sweats, but will typically taper off during your recovery. In the meantime, to combat your sweating, make sure you’re remaining hydrated, put down a towel on your pillow to absorb some of your sweat, and wear lightweight clothing.
Your Breast Size May Differ
At the beginning of your pregnancy, one of the first changes you might have noticed was an increase in your breasts. These changes can carry on into your postpartum journey as well based on a handful of factors. As your body begins to produce milk, you may experience fullness, redness, and tenderness of your breasts. Fluctuations in size and fullness are to be expected, in addition to leaking every so often.
Your Skin and Hair Will Change
During your pregnancy, you probably noticed an improvement in the condition of your hair and skin. This is because your body was producing more hormones, resulting in shiny and voluminous hair and glowing skin. Unfortunately, many women also experience hair loss once their pregnancy is over. Hair loss is typically caused by the lack of hormones that you had due to your pregnancy, but don’t worry you’re not going bald! Your once voluminous hair was actually because of having more hair on your head. Once your hormone levels return to normal, so will the state of your hair.
It’s not uncommon to have a pregnancy glow that quickly disappears once your baby arrives. Many mothers experience skin conditions such as melasma, hyperpigmentation, and even acne during their postpartum journey. Melasma, also known as the mask of pregnancy, consists of darkened areas of the skin. This skin condition typically appears on the cheeks, forehead, eyes, and nose. To help minimize the spots, try using sunscreen and hydrocortisone cream during postpartum to lighten the spots. In some cases, you might even find that your skin is more oily, dry, or even acne-prone than usual. Luckily with some extra TLC and time, your skin can return to normal.
Remember, postpartum recovery is a time for your body to recover from the amazing process that is pregnancy and childbirth. While you’re acclimating to life with your new baby, be sure to find some time for yourself as well.