There are things nobody tells you about having a baby. They talk about how wonderful it will be, how lucky you are, how happy you will be once the baby is here. They joke about the lack of sleep – 'but you’ll get the hang of it’. What they don’t talk about is: what it’s like to be a postpartum mum.
That is, until after you’ve had the baby and made it through the first few months – then suddenly every woman you know has a story for you, about what it was like for them. But in those first few days, once you are out of the hospital and home, you realise one of the biggest changes has happened right under your nose – and that’s your body.
You may have seen women on Instagram or celebrities in magazines who just ‘bounced back’ with flat abs, no rings under their eyes and glossy manes of flowing hair as they dash out the door sipping wheatgrass juice on their way to baby pilates, seemingly just days after giving birth. But it’s more than likely that you’re not finding the postpartum experience the breeze that you thought it might be.
You may have been ready for the late-night feeds, juggling who holds the baby while we make the tea, the comfort of your sleeping baby on your chest or the feel of their soft velvet cheek against yours. But, what if you are not feeling ready about the changes in your body that no one told you about?
In this article we’ll talk about some of the changes you can expect after having a baby and provide some tips on making the most of this special time.
What is a postpartum mum?
The word ‘postpartum’ refers to the 6 to 8 weeks immediately after your baby is born. This is a time when your body is going through a lot of physical and hormonal changes as it re-adjusts to not being pregnant, preparing for life after the baby is born, and whether you are breast or bottle feeding.
Add to that caesarean recovery, healing from an episiotomy if you have had one and your experiences around sleep and breast feeding or bottle feeding, and this postpartum window can be full of emotional ups and downs.
During this time, it is worth reminding yourself that it took nine months for your amazing body to prepare for birth, it has gone through some massive changes in a very short time, and now it is healing.
Examples of postpartum body changes that you might experience
Postpartum insomnia and lack of sleep
There is no denying that your sleep patterns will change once you have a new baby. If you’ve experienced insomnia during the late stages of pregnancy you will be familiar with the feeling of being unable to sleep at night and the tiredness you feel later in the day.
Napping when you can, keeping active during the day, following a soothing nighttime routine to help your body ease its way into sleep and sharing getting up in the night if you can, are all things that can help you get more sleep. If insomnia persists or is affecting your mood, you should always seek help from your doctor.
Find out more about Nuby’s bedtime sleep aids for your baby.
Stretch marks after pregnancy
Stretchmarks from during pregnancy are common. If you do have stretchmarks after your baby is born, these may fade in time, becoming less noticeable. They are nothing to be ashamed of.
What happens to your breasts after pregnancy?
During pregnancy you may have noticed your breasts getting bigger, perhaps by as much as a cup size or two. A few days after giving birth, your breasts may at first get bigger as your milk starts to come. During which time they may also leak milk. They will go back down in size after a few days, whether you are breast or bottle feeding, and later may even be smaller than they were before you were pregnant. If you decide to bottle feed your baby, it will take around 7-10 days for your milk supply to stop.
When you are a new parent, you have your hands full. Whether you have decided to breast feed or bottle feed your baby, we have a range of Nuby products to help you get the most out of this precious time. Find out more about Nuby breast feeding products and read our guide on how to make baby bottles.
Postpartum hair loss
After you give birth your oestrogen levels drop. The result is that many new mums experience heavy shedding of hair. It can be worrying when you notice more hair on your brush, on your pillow or in the shower. Postpartum hair loss is a common experience. Your hair will keep growing and you should notice that you’re not seeing so many lost hairs after a few months. If you are worried that your hair loss is severe or if you notice that you are developing patches on your scalp where the hair is much thinner, you should consult your doctor.
Changes to your uterus after birth
Your uterus has been home to your beautiful baby for 9 months. As your body heals you will feel contractions in your uterus as it reduces in size postpartum. These contractions, which can cause some mild discomfort, will continue for a few days as your uterus contracts. These are also referred to as afterbirth pains, if you have had a baby before, you may notice that they are stronger than the first time. This is completely normal.
Moving beyond postpartum
It takes time for your body to recover. It can take up to a few months before you start to feel yourself again and are used to the changes in your postpartum body. Go easy on yourself.
We’ve put together some helpful information on our Nuby Real Talk blog to help you as your baby grows. This includes tips for bathing your baby, our guide to the best products for travelling with your baby, making up feeds and how to sterilise baby bottles.