Women are usually prepared for the many changes that come with pregnancy, but postpartum body issues often come as a surprise. Few women are able to give birth and get right back to their old self. Typically there are months of recovery as your body transitions from pregnancy to new motherhood.
Here’s a closer look at six body issues many new mothers aren’t prepared for because they aren’t aware the problems are a possibility after birth.
Hemorrhoids are very common during pregnancy. It’s estimated that up to 50% of pregnant women will be affected by them, usually in the third trimester. However, even if you were lucky enough to avoid them during pregnancy there is a chance you’ll get them afterward.
Some women get hemorrhoids as a result of pushing during delivery. The strain and pressure causes the varicose veins around the rectum to swell. When hemorrhoids happen people are often left with uncomfortable side effects like pain and itching that can make the first few days or weeks of motherhood less enjoyable.
Natural hemorrhoids products can treat the symptoms so there is less discomfort. You’ll also need to drink plenty of water, eat fiber-rich foods and avoid straining yourself during bowel movements.
Melasma is common during pregnancy, most likely because of the increased production of hormones. However, the skin darkening caused by melasma during pregnancy can last months after delivery. For some women, the condition persists while they are breastfeeding. For others, it becomes a chronic condition.
Skin whiteners that contain hydroquinone can help speed up the fading of dark spots. The prescription product tretinoin can also help because it increases skin cell turnover and evens out skin tone. If you are light skinned naturally and aren’t seeing results with a topical treatment, laser resurfacing may be able to correct the issue.
Loss of Bladder Sensitivity
Many new mothers note that they have difficulty telling when they need to urinate after giving birth. The bladder is among the many parts of the body that are impacted by the delivery. It can cause temporary loss of sensitivity and swelling in the bladder. If your labor was very long, delivery was assisted by the doctor or you had an epidural the loss of sensitivity may be more pronounced.
Because of this, the sensation of having to use the bathroom can be deadened. This can lead to a number of problems including urine leaks, distended bladder, afterpain and bleeding. Even if you don’t feel the need to urinate, it’s important to use the bathroom frequently in the days and weeks after giving birth to avoid complications.
The beautiful bounty of hair you gained during pregnancy will be shed after delivery. Pregnant women have fuller heads of hair because increased hormone production decreases shedding. As soon as the hormones get back to normal you may see large amounts of hair fall out during the first six months after giving birth. Over time, your hair follicles will regulate and hair growth will go back to normal.
Larger Shoe Size
Edema, or swelling, around the feet and ankles is common during pregnancy. But the added weight from pregnancy can permanently change the size and shape of your feet. Often it’s a result of the arch flattening. Increased production of the hormone relaxin is also a factor. It can loosen the ligaments leading to flatter, larger feet. This is a permanent change, which means a shopping excursion for shoes that are a half size larger is often needed.
The breasts change more than any part of the body during and after pregnancy. Just before delivery they will begin to get larger due to milk production, which many women expect. What isn’t anticipated is what happens after you stop breastfeeding. Not only can breasts sag more than before from the skin tissue being stretched, they may also become smaller or stay larger.
Milk production will make the tissue in your breasts denser. Once you’re done breastfeeding the tissue can shift and change. But breastfeeding isn’t the only factor that determines what your breasts will look like. Age, genetics, number of pregnancies, smoking, pre-pregnancy breast size and weight gain while pregnant can all play a role. It’s also possible for one breast to be more impacted than the other.
What happens to the breasts after breastfeeding is largely out of your control. However, you can minimize the changes by watching your weight, not smoking and trying to avoid breast engorgement from an over production of milk.
Most specialists note that it typically takes 8-10 months before women’s bodies go back to mostly normal after childbirth. But as noted above, some of the unexpected changes will become the new normal.