Your Body’s Transition to Motherhood
Body Changes During Your Postpartum Season
Your little one has arrived!
And just when you thought you were done with pregnancy discomforts, you learn there’s one more “trimester” to go through—postpartum.
This fourth trimester is a period of significant physical, mental, and emotional changes for both you and your baby.
While it may come with some familiar pregnancy symptoms, questions, and new parenting worries, remember to be patient with yourself—after all, you just delivered a beautiful and special baby!
Here’s everything you need to know about how your body changes postpartum.
How long is the fourth trimester? Those first few months postpartum (yes, months) are full of changes for you and your baby. Typically, this season lasts from the day you give birth until your child is three months old.
Many women are medically considered to recover after six weeks of giving birth. However, experts agree that your body best recovers and transforms 12 weeks after your child is born.
But be patient with your body; postpartum is a gradual transition that is likely to continue for some time. Remember, it took nine months to grow your baby in your womb, and most women agree it takes just about as long for their bodies to “go back to normal.”
Changes to Expect
Hormonal and Emotional Changes
Immediately after birth, your hormones change once again – estrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate to kick-start breastmilk production and help your uterus return to its normal size.
These hormones also affect your emotional well-being.
You’re overjoyed that your little one is here, but you’re also tired from caring for a newborn, feeling insecure about your body, and trying to find a new life rhythm as a parent. These emotional ups and downs are normal as you settle into this next chapter.
It can be overwhelming, and many women experience postpartum anxiety or depression (PPD). Remember, PPD is never your fault. Reach out to your doctor, counselor, family, and friends for help if you feel overly sad, depressed, or anxious, or if you have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
The most common physical changes in your postpartum phase are linked to your healing and recovery from birth. Whether you’ve had a vaginal birth or C-section, your body is in a state of healing. You’ll most likely be bleeding and physically limited.
In addition, your breasts are changing rapidly as your body produces milk for your child. Within the first few weeks, you may notice your breasts continue to swell and fill with milk, especially if you are breastfeeding.
Your body still needs a few added calories for breastmilk production, but most importantly, be sure you are eating a variety of nutritious foods because your baby is developing their tastes through your milk!
Your Postpartum Checklist During the first few months after your child’s birth, you are everything to your baby. So taking care of yourself should be a priority. This is the time to focus on your physical healing and rest, providing for your child, and processing all your new emotions. And remember, it’s normal to not feel “normal” yet.
Be sure to add these things to your postpartum checklist as you settle into this season of life:
· Ask for help from family, friends, or a counselor if you feel overwhelmed.
· Take care of yourself physically by getting lots of rest and nutritious meals.
· Go to a women’s wellness visit with your doctor around six weeks postpartum.
· Schedule your child’s first pediatrician visits.
At Living Well, we care for you in all trimesters, including postpartum. Call us for a free women’s wellness checkup, counseling services, and resources during your first few weeks, months, and years after the birth of your baby.