The changes a woman's body goes through during pregnancy aren’t just physical and don’t stop after the baby is born. Every new mother experiences postpartum adjustments, and Moreland OB-GYN is here to help guide you through the process.
The term postpartum refers to the period of time after childbirth. Although the actual time period varies depending on whom you ask, ranging from the first 24 hours, the first six weeks, to even a full year.
Regardless of the specificity of the timeframe, it's important to remember that your physical and mental health needs to remain a high priority after you give birth and be given the proper care and attention that both you and your baby deserve.
Be honest and open with your obstetrician about how you're feeling and if you're experiencing any discomfort. Yes, your body is physically changing, and discomfort is expected, but there are situations that you will want to catch early on. This includes troubles with breastfeeding, irregular bleeding, depression or anxiety, and more.
It’s not uncommon for new moms to experience difficulties with their mental health, including baby blues, postpartum depression, and postpartum anxiety during the fourth trimester.
When pregnant, a woman's body produces large amounts of estrogen and progesterone. But after childbirth, those hormone levels can change rapidly. For some women, thyroid hormone production may even drop at this time as well. These fluctuations in hormone levels, along with fatigue, lack of sleep, and the desire to be a perfect mother, can lead to postpartum depression and anxiety.
Symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety include but are not limited to:
If you feel you may be experiencing any level of depression or anxiety, there are two things you need to remember:
For more information about postpartum mental health, read our blog.
Recovering from childbirth is a process that varies from woman to woman. No two postpartum experiences are precisely the same, so remember to go easy on yourself and listen to your body.
However, there are typical mile markers for when you can expect specific changes to happen during your postpartum period.
If you had a C-Section, your incision and the area surrounding it might be sore. This will affect your movement ability; however, it's typically recommended to move around as much as possible to avoid blood clots.
If you delivered vaginally, depending on how much you tore, your vagina may be quite sore. Your uterus will already begin to decrease in size to what it was pre-pregnancy. Remember that bleeding is still considered normal at this time.
For Both C-Section and vaginal delivery, it is normal to experience exhaustion, feeling overwhelmed, and a significant change in hormone levels. Don't be afraid to ask for help from family, friends, or neighbors.
If you had a C-Section, your incision should now be starting its healing process. This means it may begin to itch, however, general mobility is usually regained by your second week postpartum.
If you delivered vaginally and you tore, you should begin healing at this point. This means you may feel itchy in your vaginal region. Bleeding is still normal for week two postpartum, however, the bleeding shouldn’t be very heavy. Significant increases in activity can cause heavier bleeding, so it’s important to take it slow and listen to your body.
Both C-Section and vaginal delivery moms may experience the ‘baby blues’ and this is quite normal. However, if you are having trouble with eating, sleeping, bonding with your newborn, or feeling overwhelmed with sadness or anxiety, talk to your obstetrician or family doctor right away as you could be experiencing postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety.
For both C-Section and vaginal delivery, your uterus will now be back to its original size before pregnancy. If you are still experiencing feelings of exhaustion and overwhelmed, this is still normal at this point, however, if you have any postpartum depression or anxiety symptoms, please reach out to your physician immediately.
Consistent bleeding should stop by week six postpartum, however, it can begin again temporarily. In most cases, you are now allowed to go back to sexual and exercise activities but proceed with caution. You are also cleared to lift items other than your baby and allowed to drive again.
If you had a C-Section, you should expect your period to come back at this point but can also come back anytime between month six up to a year postpartum. It’s also possible to be more tired than before at this time.
If you delivered vaginally, by month six postpartum, your hair should no longer be falling out and you should start to regain full bladder control again if you had previous trouble with this.
For both C-Section and vaginal delivery, it’s typical for new mothers to gain a more positive mental state by month six! If you feel otherwise, we strongly encourage you to discuss postpartum depression or anxiety possibilities with your provider. There are treatments and you’re not alone!
As a new mother or anyone with a newborn, it’s easy to be consumed by all of your baby’s needs. The minute you become a mother, you take on the role of a caretaker, and it’s essential to be mindful that caring for yourself falls under that umbrella, too.
For more information about the fourth trimester and the care that Moreland OB-GYN provides, click here.
At Moreland OB-GYN, we are here to help you transition comfortably into motherhood during those first 12 weeks and beyond.
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