By the time your baby is born and you have successfully settled into your new daily routine, you might be feeling emotionally and physically weak. Pregnancy and childbirth cause extreme changes to a woman’s body.
Getting your old body back may seem like a far off dream. In fact, the postpartum body problems you might be dealing with can make you downright depressed. Every new mother wants to get her prepregnancy body back as soon as possible.
Dealing with postpartum body problems is not an easy task, but with a little care and time, you can get rid of the problems.
But remember, you need to have patience. No problem will go away in a few days, especially when your baby’s needs are a priority over yours.
Here are 10 common postpartum body problems and how to deal with them.
1. Stomach Flab
Soon after delivery, you lose most of your baby weight, but the bulging stomach is a big problem. As it takes about 6 to 8 weeks before the uterus is back to its prepregnancy size, you will have to live with a bulging stomach for some time before trying anything to get rid of it.
Also, as the area around your belly has the most stretched-out skin and muscle, getting it back into shape will take time.
Any kind of exercise that targets the transverse muscles will help tighten the loose skin around your belly. Regular cardiovascular exercises will also help reduce overall body fat.
You can also try body-shaping underwear made of breathable, nonbinding fabric.
2. Sagging Breasts
Just like a flabby stomach, sagging breasts is another postpartum problem that new mothers experience.
During pregnancy and nursing, the hormonal changes in the body cause breast tissue to expand and the surrounding skin stretches, making the breasts look bigger and full. Over time, the skin tissue shrinks, but the skin loses elasticity and therefore it sags.
Exercises that help tone the pectoral muscles around the breasts will help give your sagging breasts a lifted appearance.
Regularly massaging with warm oil in an upward direction can also help.
At the same time, do not forget to wear a supportive bra. Be sure to find the right fit and wear a sports bra while exercising.
3. Vaginal Discharge
Vaginal discharge made mostly of blood and what is left of the uterine tissue is another problem that one may have to deal with after delivery. This type of vaginal discharge is called lochia and can last for several weeks. It is how your body eliminates blood and tissue from your uterus.
When experiencing postpartum bleeding, you need to take extra precautions by using heavy-duty pads and changing them several times a day. Do not use tampons, as they can cause an infection at this stage.
Also, avoid any kind of strenuous activities, which can cause more bleeding.
Give your body time to heal and the vaginal discharge will go away.
4. Skin Discoloration
Soon after delivery, a woman’s “pregnancy glow” fades away. Your skin may actually look dull and lifeless. In fact, some women experience dark skin patches on the forehead, cheeks and upper lips.
This happens due to hormonal changes in the body that cause the skin to become too dry. It is, however, a temporary issue and goes away completely within a few weeks.
To help the process along, apply some warm coconut or olive oil on the affected skin and massage gently before going to bed. You can also apply fresh aloe vera gel on the affected area a few times a day.
No matter how you wish to deal with skin discoloration, you must use sunscreen diligently to maintain results. Also, avoid going out in the sun during peak hours.
5. Stretch Marks
Ugly marks on the stomach, hips, breasts or butt are something that no woman wants. But it’s very common to have these marks during or after pregnancy, due to the drastic weight fluctuation and ongoing hormonal changes in the body.
To fade stretch marks, you need to keep the skin moisturized. Rub some warm olive or coconut oil on the affected area in the morning after bathing and again at night. Another more effective option is to rub some castor oil on the affected area, then cover with a plastic wrap and place a warm compress over it for 20 to 30 minutes to help the oil penetrate deep into the skin.
Also, keeping your body hydrated by drinking plenty of water and following a skin-friendly diet will help a lot in fading the stretch marks.
6. Hair Loss
During pregnancy, most women have fuller, shinier locks. But soon after delivery, one starts losing more hair than usual.
Like other postpartum problems, it’s the hormonal changes in the body that cause the hair to fall out. After you give birth, the estrogen level in the body becomes low and causes the hair that was in the anagen phase to enter the resting phase and fall out.
Post delivery hair loss is temporary and hair growth returns to normal within 6 to 12 months.
To maintain good hair health, eat a protein-rich diet.
A regular oil massage also is beneficial, as it increases blood circulation to the scalp as well as conditions the scalp and strengthens the hair roots.
Also, handle your hair with care. Wash or comb your hair gently and use only lukewarm water to wash your hair (do not comb wet hair). Avoid using blow-dryers and other heated styling instruments, and do not style your hair in pigtails or braids that can cause excessive pulling.
7. Vaginal Dryness
Maintaining a proper estrogen level is important, as it boosts the flow of blood to the genitals and increases vaginal lubrication. A lack of estrogen after delivery is the reason behind vaginal dryness as well as problems like hot flashes and night sweats. Along with hormonal changes, breastfeeding can cause vaginal dryness due to high levels of the hormone prolactin.
Once the hormonal balance is regained, vaginal dryness reduces and disappears.
To minimize the discomfort in the meantime, you can try a vaginal moisturizer, which needs to be applied every few days. But avoid douches and personal hygiene sprays, which can irritate sensitive vaginal tissues.
Also, drink an adequate amount of water to keep your body well-hydrated.
8. Postpartum Hives
During the postpartum period, sometimes the immune system reacts to allergens or hormonal changes. This in turn causes a release of histamine, a protein, into the bloodstream and results in itchy, red rashes. This is known as postpartum hives.
Postpartum hives usually occurs on the arms, the feet and the back.
Basically, there is no need for treatment. The skin condition resolves automatically after a few weeks.
In the meantime, to get relief from the symptoms, apply a cool compress on the affected area. Topical application of fresh aloe vera gel, calamine lotion or coconut oil can also soothe red, burning patches occurring due to hives.
9. Varicose Veins
Another common issue for postpartum mothers is varicose veins. During pregnancy, some women develop dilated blood vessels near the skin’s surface, most often on the calves and thighs. Heredity, hormonal changes in the body and the pressure on the veins due to pregnancy all play a role.
Varicose veins improve after childbirth, but sometimes it takes several months.
Light exercises like stretching and walking as well as exercises like leg lifts and hamstring curls will prevent new varicose veins from forming.
Avoid sitting for long periods of time, but if you must, then keep changing positions regularly. Also, elevate your legs as much as possible.
Plus, compression stockings can help a lot when dealing with varicose veins.
The ongoing hormonal changes in the body after delivery can slow down the gastrointestinal system and cause constipation. Also, certain pain medications prescribed by your doctor can cause constipation.
Plus, the problem is more common in women who had a long labor (without eating anything) or who had a bowel movement or enema during the process.
To deal with constipation, eat high-fiber foods to stimulate bowel activity and drink plenty of water. You can also ask your doctor to recommend a stool softener.
In most cases, the problem resolves within a few days.
- Get as much rest as possible.
- Accept help from others, including your partner, friends and family members.
- Lose weight by eating healthy, balanced meals that include fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Drink lots of water to keep your body hydrated.
- Don’t rush yourself to get back to what you were before.
- Enjoy a walk on a daily basis.
- As soon as your doctor gives the green light, start exercising.