6 Things to prepare you for post-birth that you probably didn't know about

By Martina Vitulli, The Essential Baby Box

We spend so much time preparing ourselves for birth, we often don’t give much thought to what happens in the days and weeks after our baby is born. Our bodies go through so many changes that it can be overwhelming and sometimes depressing. Many mothers are not prepared to feel this way.

Your preparation starts here.

6 common changes mother’s experience post-partum

The Baby Blues

You can thank your brain and your hormones for the mood swings, anxiety, sadness and irritability, otherwise known as The Baby Blues. Straight after you give birth, estrogen and progesterone levels plummet, leading to changes in mood. This usually resolves itself within a week or so after the birth of your baby. If similar yet more intense symptoms continue for longer and make daily life difficult, see your doctor.

Abdominal separation

We can thank abdominal separation or Diastasis Recti for the much hated, “Mummy Tummy”. This is when the abdominal muscles to the right and left of your stomach separate, leaving a gap in between. All women experience this separation in late pregnancy but not all retain it. You might feel your doctor, midwife or physiotherapist poking around your stomach in the days after you’ve given birth, they are likely measuring how far apart your muscles are. You can help to close the gap by performing gentle movements while your abdominal muscles are supported but always consult your doctor or physiotherapist first.

Bladder leakage

It’s well known that childbirth has a considerable impact on our pelvic floor muscles, but it’s not until after baby’s birth that we realise just how huge it is. The lack of control experienced by many women post-partum is confronting. Almost every sneeze, cough, slight jump or laugh will send you leaking. Incontinence pads are your friend, and although you’d much rather they not be, they’re usually only needed for a few weeks post birth. Just don’t forget your regular pelvic floor exercises and if things haven’t improved at your six-week check, talk to your obstetrician or midwife.

Breastfeeding can be painful

When breastfeeding for the first time, it can be disheartening to discover that, although so natural, it can also be uncomfortable and painful at first. Breastfeeding most certainly doesn’t come naturally to many women; it is a skill every mother learns. The Australian Breastfeeding Association stress that there is no one ‘right’ way to breastfeed, it’s whatever works for you and feels comfortable. If you’re having trouble, contact the ABA, your child health nurse, midwife or lactation consultant.

Leaky breasts

Well, don’t our boobs give us a surprise after birth? Once your milk comes in, you’ll find your breasts are triggered by both physical and emotional signals. You might be out in public, hear a baby cry, and even though it’s not your baby, your breasts might leak. The same may happen if you look at your baby, if you think about your baby or even talk about your baby. If you decide to leave the house for a couple of hours without baby and you’re overdue for a feed, your breasts are likely to leak. You really never know when it’s going to happen, all you can do is be prepared with plenty of nursing pads to save any embarrassments. Patterned and non-see through clothing also helps, too.

Bigger feet

Don’t be surprised if the shoes you wore pre-pregnancy no longer fit; shoe size can change during pregnancy.

Usually, weight gain and hormones are the two culprits for the foot changes. A study published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation confirmed that the extra weight carried during pregnancy swells the feet and flattens out the foot arch, permanently adding about half a shoe size. In addition to this, the hormone Relaxin can relax the ligaments in the feet, making them looser and more spread out.

Even after you lose your pregnancy weight and after the production of Relaxin stops, these changes are permanent. Make sure you wear supportive shoes during your pregnancy, avoid excessive weight gain and be prepared to say goodbye to your favourite heels.

A mother’s body is amazing, it does what it’s designed to do all on its own. Follow your intuition, and if you feel something isn’t right, there’s no harm in seeking help from your doctor or midwife.

References:

Abdominal Separation - https://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/abdominal-separation-diastasis-recti#2
Urinary Incontinence - https://www.babycenter.com.au/a553463/urinary-incontinence-after-birth
Breastfeeding - https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bf-info/common-concerns%E2%80%93mum/sore-cracked-nipples
Feet Changes -http://journals.lww.com/ajpmr/Abstract/2013/03000/Pregnancy_Leads_to_Lasting_Changes_in_Foot.6.aspx
Relaxing and Feet Changes - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4282454/

Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.

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