You may have had a rough ride during pregnancy and then you have either squeezed a little person out of your lady area or been cut open and you are thinking that’s your body done with all the changes and miracle working for one year… but very few people will go on and talk to you about the changes which continue to happen to your postpartum body – most probably because they don’t want to put you off any further! We need to be open about these issues though because I had no idea that my body would continue to give me grief and I have had to find advice and tips as they have happened to me. These 6 areas are the ones which have affected me in some way:
Losing Your Pregnancy Hair
My usual hair is fine, flat and one to never hold a style – unless I am going to a wedding and I use half a can of hairspray to stick my ‘do’ in place. During pregnancy, I developed thick, long, fluffy hair which I adored. It got better with breastfeeding too. Once I stopped and the hormones left so did my hair! Watching it slowly wash and brush out is devastating. Back to normal flat hair for me now… sob.
If you are experiencing this I was told that a strengthening shampoo, such as bedhead elasticate, was my best option to help the remaining hair. However, if you see a significant loss the GP can prescribe a shampoo to save your locks.
No one tells you about this. Once your hair falls out you begin to grow what looks like fluffy, baby hair which doesn’t really care which way it sticks out! You may have to endure a year of odd quiffs whilst it catches up to the other lengths.
Yes, there is a hair theme starting here but when your parents used to tell you that you made them turn grey they were not lying! These odd strands of grey/white have begun sprouting since having Jake and no matter how many times I pluck them out (I can hear the gasps from the hairdressers among you!) they always seem to grow back. Highlights are now costing me a fortune!
All the hormones have to go somewhere and once they leave they may upset the balance you had prior to having a child. I have never suffered from PMS but a year after having Jake I was experiencing tiredness more often, stress, I was anxious, low, having peaks and troughs of moods during the month and the migraines came back with a vengeance. If you do feel like this you are not alone and I have more information on this in a previous post.
This is the technical term for when your stomach muscles haven’t joined back together after your pregnancy. You will know there is an issue because your belly will look like as though it is ‘popping out’ and people often make the mistake of thinking it is still their baby weight. It is a common occurrence after birth with around two-thirds of women developing the condition. The worst thing you can do is add extra pressure to your abdomen by lifting heavy objects, straining if you are constipated and tackling exercises such as sit-ups and planks. With regular gentle exercise and expert advice, this should come together in time. If you are concerned that yours is still too severe you can visit your GP who will refer you to a physiotherapist.
I personally looked around for a local expert who could look at my postpartum body and you can read more about my story on this here.
We all know that weight goes on during pregnancy in most cases. What I didn’t realise was how much more I was going to gain due to sitting around more, lack of sleep and breastfeeding – it may suck in your uterus but it can leave you feeling drained at times and a quick remedy is a sugary snack. After my c-section I found moving about very uncomfortable and to keep my energy up for feeding and being up in the night I was turning to chocolate. I just assumed this would drop off once I became active again… oh poor naive Emma! The sleepless nights continued and so did my need for a sugar rush. I then found out that the body goes into survival mode when it is drained and wanting sleep so it stores emergency supplies of fat… around your belly! It is so difficult to shift when you are continuously tired and craving the sweet stuff. The best solution for this is to go and get those early nights, drink plenty of water to flush out those toxins, stay away from caffeine and swap your chocolate for a banana which is full of potassium and will give you energy too. Your postpartum body will thank you for it.
The worst thing you can do is get hung up on any of these problems. There are other women out there going through exactly the same and one of the best ways to help is to talk. You are not going through any of it alone. Gain expert advice where you need it but if it’s support you need find yourself a lovely girl tribe who understand what your body is going through. It may never be the same but then your life won’t be either… in a very good way!
I asked some Mums what their thoughts were on their postpartum bodies:
One thing is that you’ll wonder why you were so hung up on your body beforehand. I have a new found respect for my body since producing three children.
My tummy is now like a bowl of jelly that hasn’t fully set! I’m not bothered by it now but straight after having Alfie it made me feel physically sick. I am used to it now and it has improved as I’ve become more active.
The first year I didn’t mind my body and all it’s changes. I embraced it because I had a gorgeous baby to show for it. The second year I obsessed over getting back to my pre-baby shape and I stepped up the exercise only to find I wasn’t going to ping back. I have come to accept that I have a different body and that has also come with age. I am no longer 20 something and I am now a Mum which I love!
My body bothers me a little now I’m single as I haven’t got as much confidence but the positive twist is that I have 2 beautiful, funny girls that enrich my life. I’m stronger emotionally and fearless like a lioness. Suddenly superficial ideals aren’t at the forefront of my mind, I have a baggy belly but I’m a bloody good mum.
I’m definitely more squishy than I used to be! But I know my boy prefers to be cuddled by squish than bones! I’ll lose the extra inches eventually and safely in time.
It’s different yeah, but it’s not something I give nearly as much thought to as I once did. My priorities have changed so much since becoming a mum. I feel a lot more comfortable in my own skin. Like this is who I am meant to be.
I think rather than getting depressed at the loss of my figure, I’m viewing it as a blank canvas to record the rest of my life on.
How has your postpartum journey been? Do you have any to add to my list?
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