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There seems to be so much information on what to expect when you’re expecting, but much less on what to anticipate after delivery. Understanding the changes your body goes through during the postpartum period is not only helpful but crucial in adjusting to new motherhood. These changes can vary from mom to mom, but some common ones include:
Weight Loss or Gain:
Most mamas can expect to gain weight during pregnancy, and typically lose that weight at some point during the postpartum period. But understand it might take weeks, months, or even years for this weight loss to happen. It's also not unusual for some moms to gain weight in the postpartum stage, especially after nursing has ended. At Matrescence, we reject the “bounce back culture” and remind you to give yourself grace in this process.
During pregnancy, your breasts prepare for breastfeeding by growing larger and becoming more sensitive. After delivery, they may become engorged with milk and may change in size and shape.
Many women develop stretch marks during pregnancy due to the skin stretching as the baby grows. But stretch marks can also happen postpartum, especially around your breasts as they change to prepare your body for nursing. These marks may fade over time, but they may not disappear entirely.
The abdominal muscles and skin stretch during pregnancy, which can lead to diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles) and loose skin after delivery.
Hair, Skin and Nail Changes:
Many women experience dry skin after delivery, which can also be as a result of the increased hydration needs during nursing. Brittle nails, hair loss and shedding are all common (but don’t worry, temporary!) during the postpartum stage as well. They generally resolve within a few months.
This is a big one! After delivery, hormone levels fluctuate, which can lead to mood swings, hot flashes, “baby blues,” and even sometimes postpartum depression or anxiety. If you're experiencing mental health issues, make sure you reach out for help.
Remember, as tough as it can be, it's important to embrace the changes to your body as a natural part of the postpartum experience. Society creates so much pressure to "bounce back" to our pre-pregnancy bodies, but this is not always possible or even healthy. Very few things in life are love at first sight - and for many of us, that includes our new body. It’s normal to not love every change your body goes through during the process of matrescence. But it’s also important to find ways to get to know, accept, and even love your new and changed body (after all, it is your home!). Embracing the changes can help us feel more comfortable in our postpartum bodies and focus on what really matters most - our health and well-being.