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Getting to Know Your Postpartum Body

Updated: Jun 5


Getting to Know Your Postpartum Body

Every postpartum body is a new body, whether you have a vaginal or a cesarean birth. It can be an interesting journey getting to know your postpartum body. It is important to understand what changes you may experience to fully understand this new you. Your new body will go through many stages and changes within the first 48 hours, first 6 weeks, first 6 months, and first year postpartum. Every postpartum person will experience different types of symptoms while hormones shift such as swelling, sleep deprivation and much more. These changes may be surprising and scary to navigate through, but having the knowledge of what to expect can greatly help.


Hormones & Emotions


During the fourth trimester, postpartum people experience many quick changing emotions and don't always know why. You have estrogen, progesterone and many other hormones surging and plummeting through your body during this time. As your prolactin and oxytocin increase, your estrogen and progesterone are decreasing. This helps explains why postpartum can make you feel emotionally labile, like an emotional rollercoaster.


Getting to Know Your Postpartum Body

These hormone shifts will greatly impact your physical body postpartum, as they are trying to adjust to the newness as well. Relaxin, a hormone that can cause instability and higher risk of injury, can stay in the body for up to five months postpartum and can be attributed to instability and feelings of weakness postpartum. Prolactin, which helps stimulate milk production, will remain in the body for as long as you breastfeed postpartum. This hormone can also be attributed to the water retention in your postpartum body, causing an increase in swelling.


Swelling Tips


When experiencing intense swelling postpartum, there are some tips and tricks to help navigate through these symptoms. Elevating your legs at or above your heart, drinking plenty of water, wearing loose clothing, wearing bigger shoes and doing “ankle pumps.” 


  • The elevation of your legs can help to reduce intense blood flow and reduce the amount of swelling by redirecting blood flow back to your heart. 

  • Drinking lots of water if you are dehydrated can improve kidney function and reduce swelling.

  • Wearing loose clothes and shoes, ensures that there are no creases or indents that limit the flow of fluid from your limbs back to your torso.

  • Ankle and leg pump exercises allow your muscles to pump the fluid you are retaining back up into the body so that it can be reabsorbed. 

  • These tips are covered in greater detail in a module in our Postpartum Essentials course.


Sleep Deprivation Tips


When welcoming a newborn, it is normal to expect to have a changing and a variable sleep schedule than before. The sleep deprivation of caring for a baby not only affects your physical tiredness but also your postpartum hormone shift. This is why it is important to develop a plan before the fourth trimester to decide how to manage this new change. Will you and a partner switch off care? Sleeping between the hours of 10pm and 2am are especially critical for recharging. Will you have dedicated time for sleep while a partner or other caregiver is in charge of wake ups. If it within your means, plan to have alternate caring for the baby during the night and take turns. Another tip is to delegate tasks to partners, friends, or other helpers so you can get to bed as soon as you are able, rather than staying up to wash the bottles and do laundry. Finally, having a sleep environment that is calming, dark, and only used for sleep can be helpful to get to sleep quickly and sleep as long as your baby allows.


Getting to Know Your Postpartum Body


Advocating For Yourself


All of these experiences combined can cause significant emotions to take into consideration, such as baby blues and PPD/A (postpartum depression/anxiety). Although normal, it is crucial to seek professional help if you believe you are experiencing PPD/A. Don't be afraid to ask for help when needed. For more tips on how to create a plan and advocate for yourself check out the module on self advocacy in the Postpartum Essentials Course.

Getting to Know Your Postpartum Body

Physical Changes to Your Postpartum Body


Pregnancy and birth impact your abdominals, low back, pelvic floor, causing the abdominal and pelvic muscles to become over lengthened and weakened. It is important to rehabilitate these muscles through slow, gentle exercises. A pelvic floor therapist can help figure out what exercises and techniques are right for you to heal and thrive in your new body.




 

If you have pelvic health concerns and would like to see how our therapists at

Embrace can help, follow the link to schedule your free discovery call.



Embrace Pelvic Health

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