10 Shocking Things That Happen To Your Body After Giving Birth

Life begins at conception. A mother, depending on the situation, may become very happy or very frustrated with the news that she’s carrying a baby. This… Denis Courtney - February 5, 2017

Life begins at conception. A mother, depending on the situation, may become very happy or very frustrated with the news that she’s carrying a baby. This depends on whether the baby, the pregnancy was planned, or whether it was accidental. Regardless, all life is a gift and we must guard it by keeping the pregnancy and letting the baby have the pleasure of coming into the world and beginning to live.

Pregnancy is a journey. Through it all, mothers face many challenges. These challenges may not be the same for all mothers. Different women go through different experiences during pregnancy. Pregnancy usually has three phases. The first trimester, the second trimester, and the third trimester.

The first trimester is the first three months. This is when most women realize that they are carrying life. During this phase, the body has just realized that there is something extra that it needs to do. Various hormones are released during this stage to ensure that the baby stays in the uterus and remains safe. Through these hormones, some become intense and bring about early signs of pregnancy. The first sign that a woman is pregnant is that she misses her monthly periods. Nausea and vomiting become part and parcel of her morning and evening routine. Fatigue and general body weakness also appear in this first phase.

The second phase is the fourth to sixth month. During this period, for most women, the belly begins to swell. The baby starts to form into a human-like creature. The eyes and digestive system begin to develop. The appetite of most women increases during this time and the rate at which pregnant mothers consume food may be shocking in some instances. Most mothers also develop food preferences or cravings.

The third and most important stage is the seventh to ninth month of gestation. During this period the baby begins to fill out and look even more like a human being. Toward the time of delivery, the baby usually shifts and the head is facing down, ready to be born.

During birth a series of activities take place. Birth hormones trigger the uterus, cramping begins, and the vulva begins to dilate to create a passage for the baby on its way out.

When the baby is finally delivered, your role automatically shifts. The first weeks after birth may prove to be difficult, but after some time, you develop a motherly instinct, and a bond is created between you and your baby. You will spend these first few weeks changing diapers, feeding the child and making sure that the baby is fine and comfortable. The role may come with a lot of pressure, but you should relax and ask for help when you need it. After a few weeks, these roles of motherhood will turn into daily routines, and from then till forever, these roles will remain part and parcel of your life.

During the few first weeks after delivery, a woman may experience some changes both physically and emotionally. These changes may include postpartum blues, excess hair loss, hot flashes or night sweats, post-baby belly, painful breasts and post-partum thyroiditis.

1. Postpartum Blues

Postpartum blues is a type of clinical depression that can affect both the mother and father after childbirth. It is also referred to as clinical depression. Irritability, anxiety, sadness, low energy, crying episodes, reduced desires for sex and changes in sleeping and eating patterns are some of the symptoms that come with postpartum blues.

Contributing to postpartum depression is hypothesized hormonal changes. This condition begins three to four weeks after delivery. Severe cases of postpartum blues may lead to postpartum depression. Hormones responsible for this state include testosterone hormones, progesterone hormones, and thyroid hormones. These hormones cause mood swings or mood changes right after delivery.

Profound lifestyle changes after giving birth may also be a major influence on postpartum blues. This happens mostly in fathers who do not have to go through hormonal changes right after childbirth. However, once the baby is in the house, sudden changes occur.

First change in sleeping patterns. Sleeping patterns after delivery will automatically have to change. This is because the baby will awaken parents from time to time when in need of a diaper change, milk or when the child is unwell and unable to sleep. Parents may even go to the extent of making a timetable showing who will take charge of the baby and at what time. This is why fathers in some countries are allowed a three-week paternity leave. Which is very considerate for the male partners!

Some factors can increase the risk of postpartum blues if not dealt with on time. These factors include; birth-related psychological trauma, low self-esteem, low social support, poor marital relationship, low socioeconomic status, infant health problems, unwanted or unplanned pregnancies, cigarette smoking, formula being used instead of breastfeeding, previous miscarriage or stillbirth and maternity blues.

There are different ways to help you cope with postpartum blues. Some ways of dealing with post-partum blues include creating a secure attachment with your baby. Both mothers and babies need a secure emotional attachment. Once this attachment is created, your baby will no longer be a liability. This promotes the brain of both the mother and the baby to respond cohesively. This attachment makes you feel confident and happy as a mother. Another way of dealing with postpartum blues is by asking for and accepting help from other people. Being a mother is not an easy endeavor. You should accept as much support as you may have available, especially for new mothers. You cannot make it on your own. You should seek help.

Also, be sure to take good care of yourself as well as your baby. This is very important because it will make you feel worthy and wanted. After birth, you should not shift all the attention to your baby; make time to bond and strengthen your relationship with your partner as well.

2. Post-Labor Pains

The first six weeks after giving birth may not be easy for some mothers. This is due to post-labor pains. Post-labor pains are caused by the physical changes that take place in your body after childbirth. The changes that cause this pain may include bleeding and sore muscles as a result of extreme pushing during delivery. Post-labor pains may come in the form of a sore vagina, which may be accompanied by discomfort, pain and numbness.

Pain is also experienced in your uterus. This is a result of contractions of the uterus. During pregnancy, the uterus expands in order to accommodate the growing fetus. There is a lot of space left in the uterus after birth. The uterus needs to contract in order to return to more normal size. During this contraction, a certain degree of pain is experienced.

The vagina, on the other hand, may swell. For mothers who have had a vaginal birth, the vagina may be swollen after delivery. This swelling is due to a lot of pressure exerted during delivery. When a mother pushes for the baby to come out, the pressure exerted on the walls of the vagina causes swelling. This pain and swelling may last for almost two weeks. Another pain in the vaginal region is when virginal tears occur during birth, and they have to be stitched. This is very painful especially when urine passes over that particular place.

Cramping is also a postpartum pain. Most mothers experience this for two to three days after delivery. Cramping may cause mild or even intense pain to the mother. This cramping can be intense, especially for breastfeeding mothers. The sucking of the baby triggers the release of the oxytocin hormone, which triggers contractions. However, postpartum blood loss is reduced by this hormone, so as much as they may cause pain, they are very helpful.

For postpartum pain relief, you may try the following tips. With your pillow under your belly, lie face down. For some moms, massaging the belly gently helps a great deal in easing the abdominal pains. Even if you don’t feel the urge, you should try to urinate as often as possible. This may help to reduce the cramping. For postpartum pain, consult your doctor before using any pain-reducing medication, especially if the cramping lasts longer than three days.

3. Painful Breasts

After birth, most new mothers have to deal with painful and swollen breasts. A few days after delivery, your breasts may feel very normal or they may feel very tender. A few more days afterward, the breasts start producing milk for your baby, and they may become tender, hence breastfeeding may become a very painful experience.

After birth, the breasts are soft and tender because they only have colostrum, the first milk that is very rich in nutrients. After a while, the hormones responsible for producing breast milk may cause some discomfort when activated, and the breasts start filling with milk. Due to the pressure from the milk inside the mammary glands, the nipples swell and may become very painful. Some mothers may refuse to breastfeed their babies due to the intense pain experienced during breastfeeding. This denial may become very dangerous, as it may lead to a severe case of breast engorgement. Other than breast engorgement, refusing to breastfeed may make the mammary glands dry up, hence early weaning. This is because these glands are activated as the baby sucks.

You can tell when your breasts are engorged. This is because the breast swell and the nipples become very painful. This is very normal for mothers who have just given birth, and this causes the mother to panic. The swelling of the breasts may even extend to the armpit and this may cause pain, and you may experience a fever as well.

To deal with painful breasts, following are some helpful tips. Within two hours of birth, ensure you breastfeed so that milk does not accumulate in the breasts, causing breast engorgement. You should nurse the baby frequently. Make sure to breastfeed the baby at least fourteen times a day. This will ensure a continual supply of enough milk for your baby because the glands will produce enough milk according to the consumption of the milk by the baby.

Before switching to another breast make sure that you breastfeed completely on one breast first. This will ensure that milk will not be accumulated in one breast making it swell and becoming painful. As much as possible, use pumped milk instead of formula milk as a supplement. Formula milk should only be used according to your doctor’s or your lactating counselor’s recommendations. Use a breast pump, or express your milk using your hands, to store up in case your baby refuses to breastfeed. Do not let the milk accumulate in the beast.

To treat engorgement, nurse frequently, gently massage the breast to dissolve the milk, you may apply a cold pack on your breasts to soothe the pain, and lastly, nurse frequently.

4. Virginal Dryness

Another afterbirth-related problem is virginal dryness. Apart from afterbirth, virginal dryness may be caused by various other factors. They include menopause, failure of arousal before sex, a few varieties of contraceptives, some cancer treatment, and breastfeeding after childbirth. Vaginal dryness may cause discomfort and uneasiness, but after a few months, it may disappear on its own.

In afterbirth, vaginal dryness cases are mostly caused by breastfeeding. This is because, as you breastfeed, the hormones overconcentrate in the glands to produce milk. The hormonal imbalance during this time may course vaginal dryness. Women will mostly experience this vaginal dryness for about three months after delivery.

Symptoms for virginal dryness are reduced sex drive, virginal itchiness, discomfort or irritation, discomfort during sex, repeated urinary tract infections, vaginal surface may look pale and thin instead of moist and fatty, difficulty reaching orgasm or even being aroused, and an urge to pee more often than normal. If you experience these signs, then chances are you have vaginal dryness and you should surely do something about it.

Vaginal dryness can be controlled by some methods. One remedy is to consume a lot of water and fluids. This fluid will help keep the virginal area well hydrated, hence it will reduce the dryness in the vagina. Also, you can use lubricants to moisten it. There are gels or liquid that you can apply directly to your vagina or vulva, or your partner’s penis before having sexual intercourse. Also, these lubricants off short-term relief and pleasure during sex.

Another method is by using moisturizers specifically for the vagina. These liquids or gels are applied to the vaginal area in order to help keep it moist. They are longer lasting compared to other lubricants. To get rid of virginal dryness they may need to be applied for a few days.

Virginal estrogen too may be used for the same purpose of moisturizing the vagina. This is mostly prescribed to people who are experiencing menopause, but they are equally good for vaginal dryness as a result of breastfeeding. If the dryness turns out to be very severe then one can decide to try hormone replacement therapy to see if it can be helpful for her.

5. Vaginal Bleeding

Vaginal bleeding, or lochia, as it is commonly known, is the blood that flows from the walls of the uterus. This happens monthly for most women and it is a normal experience for women. After birth, vaginal bleeding is just as normal. At first, the blood will be a light read and very heavy. The blood may have clots during the first three to seven days after birth. The blood will gradually change to brownish-pink. Then the blood will turn yellow-white. After having a baby, you may bleed for as long as six weeks, or for as short as three weeks. This is a very normal undergoing for every mother that has just given birth.

This happens as a result of open blood vessels. When the placenta is detached from the uterus, these open blood vessels are left behind. The open blood vessels then bleed into the uterus, leaving behind a flow of blood. This blood is almost the same as monthly periods, but is usually thicker with massive clots. The blood is drastically reduced when the uterus contracts, causing the blood vessels to eventually close. In the case of a tear during birth, until the tear is sutured, the blood will continue to flow from that place as well. Synthetic oxytocin and a massage may be given by the person helping with the delivery to help the uterus contract so that it may close the blood vessels and reduce the blood flow.

To manage this blood flow that comes as a result of childbirth, you need to do a series of things. First and foremost, you should use sanitary pads. These pads should be heavy-duty because of the presence of clots in the blood and the increased blood flow. As the blood flow reduces, you can then switch to mini pads. You should avoid tampons due to the delicate healing of the vagina and uterus. Tampons may easily cause an infection in the vagina and also in the uterus.

In the case of over-breeding, you should seek medical advice. The following are just a few signs and symptoms that you are hemorrhaging. For four days after your birth, the blood is still light red. This may mean that the uterus has not yet contracted and that the blood vessels are not closed, and they are still removing a lot of blood. When your blood has a bad smell, or you get chills or fever, you may need to see a doctor.

6. Post-Baby Belly

Hormonal changes cause your abdomen to reduce right from the time you have been delivered. Your abdomen may take at least four weeks before it comes back to normal. Normal means the shape your abdomen was in before you were pregnant. This does not guarantee a flat belly. In most cases, women end up acquiring rounder abdomens than before they were pregnant.

During pregnancy, the uterus and abdomen muscles are usually stretched for a long period of time probably four to five months for most women before they give birth. This stretching makes the belly expand in order to accommodate the baby who is growing in the womb. For the tummy to shrink back to normal, it may take a longer time. To get toned and flat belly for those who gave birth through a C-section, it may even take a year for the belly to get back to normal.

After birth, it is important to restore your original body shape by shedding the extra pregnancy weight. Chronic diseases, such as heart conditions and diabetes, may come as a result of too much body weight, hence it is important to restore your original body weight.

Exercise is very vital in retaining the body weight and shape you had before getting pregnant. One of the exercises designed for this purpose is the pelvic tilt. This should be started as soon as possible after your delivery. For mothers who delivered naturally, you may start after one week; for those who had a C-section, they may start as soon as their wound is completely healed.

Here is how to do this exercise: with one pillow under your hips, and another between your legs, lie flat on your back. Rise slightly after inhaling and exhaling. This exercise improves your stamina and abdominal strength.

Here is another good exercise: with your legs hip-width apart, lie on your back with your knees bent. Pressing your heels into the floor, extend your left foot. Repeat the same exercise with your right foot. Do this for about two minutes. This exercise is important because it helps strengthen the lower back and the transverse muscles while supporting your core. It also helps to lower your pulse. Single leg lifts and pelvic tilts are also important exercises, so be sure to do them as well.

7. Loss of Hair

After birth, many women’s hair may enter into a resting stage. This is perfectly normal when the resting stage is accompanied by massive loss of hair. What happens during this period is that when you start to breastfeed the level of the hormone estrogen increases.

This rapid growth sends at least five to six percent of your hair into a resting stage. During the resting stage, five percent of your hair follicles begin thinning, causing the hair to start falling out. When it comes to the average woman, at least one hundred hairs may fall out in a day. As serious as this condition may seem, it is a temporary condition. A few months after delivery, the estrogen levels come back to normal, and the hair begins to grow at an increased pace again. Over the next fifteen months or so, your hair may come back to normal, and the thickness of your hair will be restored.

Loss of hair in the first few months of delivery should not surprise you; it is a natural stage of hair growth, and it is normal. More than 30 percent of women who have just given birth experience hair loss. If you do not experience hair loss, that is perfectly normal as well, because different women have different hormone levels throughout their pregnancies. If you do experience hair loss, don’t panic, your hair will go back to normal again in due time.

The bad news is that this condition can’t be stopped. When you are undergoing a time of hair loss, the best thing to do is just to come to terms with it. A variety of products like hair thickeners may come to your mind to use. For new mothers who find it very difficult to experience hair loss, some just decide to cut their hair short. This is just fine to do, because the hair will eventually grow back to the length it was.

During this time of hair loss, you may want to refrain from doing a lot of harsh things with your hair that may cause even further hair loss. This includes using binders for pigtails, curlers, curling irons, hair blowers, etc. Biotin and silica-inclusive shampoos should be your best friend in the shower. And finally, avoid combing or brushing your hair when it is wet.

8. Hemorrhoids and Constipation

Hemorrhoids are inflamed and swollen blood veins in your lower abdomen or around the anus. Hemorrhoids are also called piles. External piles form under the skin around the anus. As soon as they appear, hemorrhoids should be treated as advised by the doctors. Some symptoms accompany hemorrhoids. These symptoms are painless bleeding, and irritation or itching may be experienced in the anal area. From the anal region, you may notice protrusion of lamps, pain, and discord experienced in the anal area, and finally, leakage of feces. Hemorrhoids may happen after giving birth and may make a mother very uncomfortable.

Symptoms of hemorrhoids caused by giving birth include itchy anus, swelling after a bowel movement, bleeding, and pain around the anus. To deal with hemorrhoids, you may soak your anal area in water by having a sitz bath. You can soothe the hemorrhoid area by applying some witch hazel. To release pressure on the rectum, you may want to sit on a pillow or other soft cushiony surface. Intake of fluids and dietary fiber should be increased to deal with hemorrhoids. A stool softener in some cases may be prescribed for you too. These are a few ways to help ease or do away with hemorrhoids.

Constipation, on the other hand, is either not passing stool regularly, or it can also mean passing no stool at all. Constipation is a normal condition experienced by many mothers after they give birth. When you have constipation, you should up your fluid intake. For water, you can take between eight to ten glasses each day. Consuming some form of prunes is helpful too, because prunes are laxatives; they are natural and do quite well for a case of mild constipation. When you wake up each morning, remember to warm some liquid and drink it. It will help a great deal. If constipation persists, then seek medical advice as soon as possible.

9. Night Sweats or Hot Flashes

During labor, one may sweat a lot; however, this may not be the end of sweating. Sweating may also happen periodically after you have given birth. Night sweats and hot flashes may alarm many women. Do not panic. This also happens because of changes in your body’s estrogen level, which causes changes in your body temperature. All the excess fluid retained during pregnancy is also excreted from your body through hot flashes and night sweats.

This oftentimes happens a few weeks after delivery. Night sweats and hot flashes are perfectly normal for mothers who have just given birth. Also, due to an increase of the hormone prolactin in the body, sweating and hot flashes become part and parcel of over 80 percent of mothers who have just delivered. This comes with an increase in milk production as regulated by the hormone prolactin.

For bottle-feeding mothers, you may wonder why you have experienced hot flashes. This is because milk production is still active and the hormone prolactin becomes present too as a result of this milk production. For bottle-feeding mothers, the level of night sweats may be reduced sooner because the prolactin won’t be stimulated by nursing.

Hot flashes and night sweats may last for six weeks for nursing mothers. For some lucky mothers, hot flashes may only last between six to eight days. However, don’t worry if you are still experiencing hot flashes numerous weeks after delivery. This is still normal for some mothers. Though as a symptom, night sweats and hot flashes may indicate a problem. These symptoms may indicate a bout with the flu, with temperature increases and lump or swollen breasts.

Hot flashes may even take a few months to stop. The following are tips that may help you take care of your afterbirth body while experiencing hot flushes and night sweats. Make sure you drink plenty of water, because your body, due to heavy sweating, may become dehydrated. To help prevent rashes and excess moisture from hot flashes, put on some talc-free powder, which will help absorb some of the moisture produced during night sweats. To help allow the sweat to evaporate during night sweats and hot flashes, wear light and loose clothing.

10. Postpartum Thyroiditis

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located below the Adam’s apple between your lower jaw and your neck. Thyroiditis is when your thyroid becomes inflamed, oftentimes in the first month after birth. This condition is not common. Postpartum thyroiditis may last from a few weeks to a few months after delivery. This type of thyroid abnormality may easily be ignored because most of the time it is associated with the stress experienced by mothers just after birth.

The symptoms of thyroiditis are nervousness, palpitations, irritability and intolerance. In the second phase of this condition, women may experience other signs and symptoms such as cold intolerance, dryness of the skin, general aches and pains, impaired concentration due to discomfort, poor memory and carelessness. Immunologic suppression that can occur during pregnancy induces fetus intolerance while in the womb. This suppression is important to diagnose, because, without a mother’s properly functioning thyroid, her fetus may be rejected in the womb, resulting in a miscarriage.

Mild thyroiditis is not an overly dangerous situation for mothers who have just given birth, and it only becomes a discomfort to you and other people around you when you begin experiencing symptoms like irritability and mood swings. Some people may find it awkward or uncomfortable to be around you because of being easily irritated.

A new mother is at risk of getting an infection when there is a history of thyroiditis disorder in her family. This is an autoimmune disorder and may cause your body to have highly concentrated amounts of anti-thyroid antibodies. For the treatment of postpartum thyroiditis, you must see a doctor for medical attention.

After giving birth, it should be an exciting feeling for the mother. When you experience the aforementioned symptoms, and any other unusual symptoms, you should be certain that you are taking proper precautions early on. As always, be certain to take good care of yourself before, during, and after becoming a mother.