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The Aftermath of Pregnancy

The pregnant body is often victim to toxic glorification. Sadly, we choose to undermine how pregnancy and childbirth can be an extremely laborious process for many. The process of growing a human obviously takes a toll on the host’s body.  These spill over onto the physical, mental and social aspects of a person’s life. This article attempts at delineating the different ways pregnancy can have negative implications on the birth-giver’s body. 

Source: Shutterstock

The pregnant body is often victim to toxic glorification. Sadly, we choose to undermine how pregnancy and childbirth can be an extremely laborious process for many. The process of growing a human obviously takes a toll on the host’s body.  These spill over onto the physical, mental and social aspects of a person’s life. This article attempts at delineating the different ways pregnancy can have negative implications on the birth-giver’s body.

Source: BabyCenter

Physical Changes

Some physical changes that occur during this post- birth period are:

Pregnant people often find a change in shoe size: One unique permanent alteration that people find after giving birth, is a change in their foot size. It is common knowledge that the foot swells during pregnancy, but the arch of their foot can also flatten because of the extra weight they carry and alter their foot size. A hormone called Relaxin also serves the purpose of relaxing muscles in the body, and this makes the weight load increase on the foot, making it flatter and longer.

 

Several people also find their bra sizes to fall after the breast feeding stage is over post pregnancy. They observe their breasts have become smaller and saggier. However, there is no proven link between breasts sagging and breastfeeding.

 

One feature of most pregnant bodies is their ability to reduce hair fall because of the high estrogen levels in the body. This results in shiny, healthier- looking hair. However, once the pregnancy phase is over, the hair loss starts catching up. Luckily, this rapid hair loss phase doesn’t extend beyond 3-5 months after child birth. 

 

In the first month post pregnancy, people can also expect to experience heavy and bloody vaginal discharge (lochia). Most doctors recommended high- coverage pads to stop the blood from leaking. The volume of this blood is around the same as a regular period. 

 

One distinctive change that pregnant bodies undergo is the dilation of the blood vessels near the skin surface which results in more pronounced looking varicose veins. During pregnancy, the volume of blood coursing in the vessels might increase, leading to higher pressure. This is a temporary condition but may take upto 12 weeks to clear up.

Source: Kindpng

Hormonal and Mental

Postpartum depression is the name given to the post- birth lows that a birth- giver experiences. It is a combination of physical, emotional and behavioral changes post giving birth. This form of major depression starts 4 weeks after the baby is delivered. PPD encompasses a number of changes that new birth-givers face. The severity and the onset of this, ranges in intensity. Their bodies experience a fall in hormones after delivery. There is no apparent link between this drop and depression. However, it is known that the levels of estrogen and progesterone increase by ten times during gestation. 3 days after the baby is born, the hormone levels return back to normalcy. PPD, fortunately, is a condition that can be treated with medication and counse. Having a new member in the family can be heavily distressing for a multitude of reasons. For one, a misplaced sleep schedule because of the baby’s irregular sleep patterns can result in irritable behavior, rocky mood and anxiety. A lot of the mental health deterioration can also be attributed to the hormone level fluctuations.

Social Life

Sex drive

People that are new to biological parenthood also see a paler sex drive. According to Hope Ricciotti, MD, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Harvard Medical School, it can tak upto a year to feel like you are really ready for sex again. Focusing on a child might often leave no time for yourself. Romance and sex might seem unimaginable after the exhaustive ordeal of giving birth. Even estrogen levels are extremely low after child birth, which translates to low sex drive.



Relationships

Becoming a parent often changes one’s identity and relationships with others. Sometimes people miss out on time they could spend with their partners. Babies can take a lot of physical time, physical effort and emotional energy. Dynamics with partners could change, there is an imbalance in the time and effort in other relationships, and overall, this phase can be a very taxing period.

Active Steps to Get Back to Normalcy

It’s a good idea to continue to take prenatal vitamins, especially during breastfeeding. The body loses nourishment during pregnancy and breastfeeding and to redeem previous levels, iron and vitamin C supplements are commonly recommended.

If the labor process involves forceps and vacuums, it is likely that the bladder will temporarily experience leakages. To alleviate this, kegel exercise can help strengthen the pelvic muscle to retain bladder control. Post- partum workouts must include core building exercises and cardio exercises. Rectus abdominal muscles get stretched during pregnancy, making exercise difficult. Thus exercises that focus on these areas, help rebuild these muscles together. A lot of people also seek therapy to untangle their relationships, to gain clarity on their new identity and role and declutter thoughts.

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