Your Post-Baby Body

Monday, April 22, 2013

African American Woman Looking at Her Baby

Your body undergoes a lot of changes during pregnancy. You might be surprised by some of the changes in your body after pregnancy, too.

Yikes, I’m leaking!

Many women experience incontinence (urine leaking) during and after pregnancy. After your baby is born, you may have some numbness “down there,” so you may not know when you need to go. The muscles in your bladder (the part of your body that holds urine) may not be able to hold the urine in. This can be frustrating or embarrassing. The good news is this numbness usually goes away after a few days or a few weeks. In the meantime, you might want to wear a sanitary pad to catch any leaking urine. You also might want to go to the bathroom often, even if you don’t feel like you have to go. If incontinence lasts longer than a few weeks, talk to your doctor. 

“Aunt Flo” is over-staying her welcome.

After nine months without having your period, your body is making up for lost time—sort of. In the first few days after you give birth, you may have some bleeding that looks like your period. This is your body getting rid of what it was storing up to nourish your baby while he or she grew inside you. After a few days, what started as red, heavier bleeding usually becomes pinkish. It might last up to six weeks. If intense exercise or activity increases the bleeding, try some lighter forms of activity for a few weeks.

If the bleeding is very heavy or you start to feel weak, contact your doctor right away.

What’s going on with my breasts?

After having your baby, your milk “comes in” (your body makes breast milk). You may find that your breasts feel fuller, heavier, and maybe even harder. If you are breastfeeding, try to have your baby breastfeed for 10‒20 minutes per breast. Alternate breasts each time you breastfeed so you’re not always feeding your baby from the same breast. If you aren’t breastfeeding, try using a warm compress (like a washcloth that you run under warm water) on your breasts, and resist the urge to empty your breasts. It makes your body think you’re breastfeeding, you’ll make more milk, and the discomfort will last longer. Talk to your doctor if you feel uncomfortable for more than a few days.

Why does my belly still look like THIS?

If you expected to walk out of the hospital in your pre-pregnancy jeans, you probably were disappointed. Many women find they are still in maternity clothes weeks or months after their baby is born. Your uterus had to grow almost 500 times its normal size to hold your baby. It takes time to shrink. It also takes time to lose the weight you gained (your baby weight) and for your stomach muscles to get back to “normal.” In the meantime, learn to love your post-baby body. 

Oh, my aching back!

Lower back and hip pain are very common during and after pregnancy. The ligaments and joints around your lower back and hips are more loose. The strains of labor (like pushing) may have used muscles you don’t usually use. Getting your body moving may help. Try walking and doing some gentle stretching. Talk to your doctor about when you can add some strength training activities. Be sure to listen to your body. If an activity feels painful, stop.

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