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Embracing Your Postpartum Self: How to Deal with Physical, Emotional and Mental Changes Postpartum

It’s no secret that between nine months of pregnancy and the delivery of a baby, your body undergoes some crazy, yet beautiful changes. From physical changes, like stretch marks and skin imperfections, to ‘all-over the place’ hormones, it may take some time to adjust to your postpartum self. That being said, it’s completely normal to feel a bit self-conscious during pregnancy and after the baby has arrived. The good news is, there are plenty of ways in which you can learn to love your new body and embrace life as the wonderful mother you are.

 

Low sex drive

Disinterest in sex can be attributed to hormonal changes, medications, lifestyle habits, and more. Unlike men, a woman’s experience with a low sex drive is mental, rather than physical, so treatment varies depending on the individual. Some women opt to address their concerns with a sex therapist or a counselor. This avenue may result in furthering your education on intimacy and may also introduce you to exercises you can do on your own, or with your partner, in order to get to the root of the problem. Others may visit a healthcare professional in search of treatment through medications* that can help with Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder and must be prescribed through a doctor. Inversely, a medication you’re taking currently may be the cause of your low libido, which is also something you may consult with your doctor on.  *Always consult with a medical professional prior to taking any medications that may interfere with pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Pelvic Floor Weakness

It’s quite common for women to experience Pelvic Organ Prolapse or a heavy feeling in the vagina after childbirth. This is also a sign of weakening in the pelvic floor region. The pelvic floor is made up of a group of muscles designed to support the organs in the pelvis, rectum, and vagina. If your pelvic floor is weak from carrying and delivering your baby, it’s likely you’ll experience constipation, lower back pain and, painful urination. The good news is, there are some fairly easy ‘at-home’ workouts a new mom can do to regain strength in this area; one of the most popular being kegel exercises. Kegels are performed by tightening your pelvis, then lifting it upward. Concentrate solely on your pelvic floor muscles and avoid tightening your abdomen, thighs, or backside as this can result in injury. For best results, do these 10 times in a row up to three times daily.

Engorged Breasts

If you purchased bras while you were pregnant, you may want to wait a bit before you try to wear them again. It’s likely that your breasts will be engorged due to drops in estrogen and progesterone, hormones that help your body create breast milk. If you’ve chosen to nurse, the swelling should go down in a few days as your baby feeds. Mothers who do not breastfeed are likely to experience engorgement for about a week. A tight-fitting bra, ibuprofen, and ice packs can all aid in alleviating some of the pain and discomfort. While it’s true that due to weight gain during pregnancy and other factors such as smoking, your breasts may not ever be the same postpartum, but try to keep in mind that holding your baby in your arms makes all the changes your body has undergone far worth it!

Emotional Health

In the past, the topic of Postpartum Depression has been considered taboo, but the truth is, it’s very real and can be life-threatening if not treated properly. Symptoms of this type of depression may include insomnia, loss of appetite, intense irritability, and overall difficulty bonding with your new baby. If a new mother chooses to ignore these feelings, they can last for months and only tend to worsen as time goes on. Postpartum Depression can be treated with counseling, antidepressants and hormone therapy. If you’re a new  parent, and you’re experiencing these symptoms, do not be afraid to speak up. While this  condition may not be 100% preventable and varies depending on the individual, there are some steps you can take in order to strengthen your emotional health during pregnancy in order to be the healthiest in mind and body possible post-delivery.

Sleep

When people say, “get all the sleep you can before the baby arrives,” they truly mean it! Most new moms find themselves sleep deprived for the first few weeks and even months of their child’s life. Caring for a newborn is not easy, especially when you haven’t gotten an adequate amount of rest. You want to give your baby all of your attention, but it may feel impossible if you’re not taking the necessary measures to get enough sleep. It’s completely normal to feel like you don’t want to miss out on any moments in your brand-new baby’s life, however, you’re much less likely to remember them if you’re too exhausted to see straight!

Hair Loss

Thinning hair or actual hair loss postpartum is completely normal. Because your body is experiencing elevated levels of estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy followed by a more leveled out amount post-baby, it’s quite possible your luscious locks will thin or even fall out about three months postpartum. Have no fear, this just means new hair will grow in and many new moms even experience “baby bangs,” which is the growth of short hairs around the hairline. If you want to expedite the regrowth process, stick to a diet full of protein and consider a daily biotin supplement. As always, if you are breastfeeding, consult your doctor prior to any changes in your health care routine.

 

Resources:

https://www.fitpregnancy.com/pregnancy/labor-delivery/new-mom-workouts

https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/pelvic-organ-prolapse

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12383030

https://www.forhers.com/sexual-health/addyi

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