12 Postpartum Changes No One Talks About
You’ve just had a baby it’s beautiful, it’s wonderful, but let’s get real, “What the heck just happed, why didn’t anyone tell me?” is the most reoccurring statement I hear from new moms when it comes to their recovery. We spend so much time getting ready for our pregnancy, delivery and baby that when the fourth trimester arrives we are in shock, or worse, suffer in silence. Whether you read What to Expect, took a local prenatal class, had a doula, home birth etc, you are not alone. There is a big black hole of information postpartum that is still at times very taboo - sigh…
Postpartum experiences can range from mental to physical changes, one thing’s for sure, there is no returning to your pre-pregnancy self, so lets learn to let it go mama! I decided to do a round up of our most common shared experiences that are a combination of studies and basic momming revelations. We have so much in common when it comes to matrescense, so let’s get to it!
12. Shoe Size “…my epic shoe collection!”
In a recent study published by the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, between 30 to 60 percent of women who had been pregnant at least once said their shoe size had changed. The change in foot size may be due to the extra weight women carry around during pregnancy, which puts greater stress on the feet, and, thus, may flatten the arch. In addition, pregnant women produce hormones known as relaxin that increase the looseness of the joints and ligaments, possibly making the foot structure more malleable.
Most of the women involved in the new study who experienced changes in their foot length and arch height were first-time mothers. Women who have given birth to two or three children did not experience such significant changes. This result suggests that a woman's first pregnancy may have the greatest impact on foot size, the researchers said. Thank goodness our foot size is not indicative of how many children we have!
11. Alcohol Tolerance “HelLooo college hangover!”
That nostalgia, the relaxation, the inhibition - is SO well deserved, but after months of body changes, you better believe your body has relegated you back to light weight status postpartum. The hangovers are REAL and your body is still functioning to recover and get that milk flowing. Great news, no need to pump and dump, not so great news, sleep deprivation paired with a fab glass of vino can have you out like a light after one glass. Never mind nursing a hangover after a small amount of alcohol with a new born has got to be a form of torture. Also your taste buds have changed, your favourite cab sav might not hit the spot and could potentially give your pregnancy indigestion a run for your money!
What you thought was your limit is no longer a measure - you’ll have to learn your body’s tolerance from scratch. So grab a NON JUDGEMENTAL friend and let loose! This way you’ll have a back up adult around incase you go from the un-intentional zero-100, you can take comfort in knowing you have support!
10. Pain Threshold “I’m Done!”
While this is very subjective having children might have you leaving your aesthetician with an asymmetrical eyebrow. Pain in the name of beauty is no longer an elective. A lot of women report feeling greater pain when waxing, getting needles or even going to the dentist! This is a tolerance that may no longer be built up over time but who cares! You just pushed a person out of your body that produced a pain equivalent of breaking 20 bones simultaneously (yes that is a fact).
9. Motion Sickness “Get me off this ride!”
Your body is having to adapt to scenarios involving motion from scratch. Like you baby you too just went through a re-birth so don’t be surprised when you go on a boat or plane and something just doesn’t feel right. This is especially true for amusement park rides. A lot of women report feeling upset or broken after being on a rickety ride. Either way there are lots of opportunity to find thrilling experiences any other way!
8. Sex Postpartum “ What sex life ?!”
Low libido, is very common due to all the hormonal changes post birth especially since hormones are also regulated by sleep which we all know we’re not getting as new moms. Night sweats and constant breastfeeding in the early months are physically and psychologically not helpful to feeling like you’re getting your groove back either! The one thing you will notice is your body has changed not only on the outside but the inside as well… Yup tissue scaring does happen internally whether you had a c-section or vaginal birth. Things will not be the same, so it’s time to get intimate and re-learn your likes and dislikes with the number one love of your life - YOU!
7. Empathy “I was such a perfect mom, and then I had kids”
Perspective is a b#*$%! All those times you were secretly judging other mom’s or YOUR OWN mother for their parenting styles has come back to haunt you! (guilty as charge) Seriously though, there is a sisterhood in seeing other mom’s who like you, are trying to get through the day. Learning the art of picking your battles will become a skill and you will find making friends will become easier as children have a beautiful way of bringing adults together. You may also find yourself crying at random commercials and every Disney movie!
6. Relationship Dynamics “ But our baby is supposed to enhance our love.”
Where do we even start - you’ll gain new friends and may loose existing ones because your lifestyle has changed. Your relationship with your parents may be enhanced or can become over bearing. Your primary relationship is now facing multiple changes including household duties, different parenting styles, and couples time becomes family time. And finally intimacy can be overshadowed by exhaustion. Just know that these challenges are more common than we think. There is a huge shift in how we relate to others because we are getting to know who we are now that we’ve become a mother, slowly you will realize the relationship that needs the most nurturing in order for you to be your best, is the one with yourself.
5. Body Odor - “What is that smell?! Oh it’s me…”
Yup that’s right, it’s you that smells like a bus full of teenage soccer players postgame. You can literally be sitting down, minding your own business and your body will have you thinking someone else entered the room. It doesn’t help that things are coming out of every orifice of your body and let’s not forget the last time you showered, wait, who the heck has time to shower?!
4. Random Hairs “Gimme some of that beard oil!”
Congratulations! You’ve officially become your nana! While your hair is falling out of your head, your body is sprouting new ones. Especially all around your most unwanted places. The hormones and estrogen levels in the body can grow hair where it doesn’t belong in what literally feels like overnight. So welcome random chin, nipple, bum and dark arm hairs to your grooming regiment, unfortunately it might become a permanent part of your routine!
3. Hair Texture “Why are my hair products not working?!”
Ah yes the dreaded postpartum hair loss in exchange for the random sprouted hairs is always a favourite. For some women, the hair loss is minimal. But for others, it can be noticeable. This can be extremely distressing, especially with the emotional, psychological, and physical vulnerabilities women already face in the post birth. Postpartum hair loss tends to happen 3- 6 months after delivery when new moms are already stressed about adjusting to life with a baby, recovering physically from childbirth, and at risk for developing a maternal mental illness such as postpartum depression. Studies show while most women experience some hair shedding after giving birth, it's "particularly noticeable" in about 60 to 70 per cent of women. Generally hair begins to regain its growth within a year, even then the texture may be different which is especially noticeable for curly haired women.
2. Gratitude & Appreciation “ I have no idea how to thank you.”
Your world is completely different than it was before. Literally any hour to yourself including a solo grocery run can feel like a vacation and is a seriously underrated act of self-care. All of a sudden all things outside of mom life can start to feel like guilt or judgement so being around others who are caring and give you the flexibility to reconnect with you or make your life a little easier is nothing short of a blessing. With that being said, parenting is not a solo job we are meant to live in community.
1. Your breast size or shape has changed. “They’re huge! They’re deflating? Where’d they go?!”
The biggest change that is almost absolute are your breasts. Research states that pregnancy not breastfeeding causes the breast to change although we’re not entirely convinced! Your nipples will change with the areola becoming quite dark and pronounced at first and the shape and size of your nipple changing almost permanently. Once your milk comes in your breasts can become almost unrecognizable and you may need to be fitted in sizes you didn’t even know existed. After some time as your baby grows and consumes less, you’ll notice your breasts may begin to “deflate” leaving the shape pendulous where it was once buoyant. After you stop nursing your body will take some time to realize that it no longer needs to produce milk and it may take up to a year before the fat begins to re-deposit into the breast tissue again. Moral of the story - have some patience, your body will do what it needs to over time.
Remember ladies once we’re postpartum, we’re postpartum for life! Be gentle on yourself as you transition. Whether you are a new or existing mom, leave your words of wisdom below of tips you wish you knew and lets continue this conversation!