Post Pregnancy – How the Marvellous Human Body Adapts
Pregnancy, and giving birth, is a roller coaster of a ride, which affects women in many different ways. However, the human body is designed to be pretty much perfect in every way and pregnancy is no exception. Many fundamental changes take place in a woman’s body during pregnancy; some are visible, others invisible and some are purely emotional!
The body knows though just how to get everything back in working order in the weeks and months following delivery. It’s amazing! How much do you know about post-partum?
Here are 7 post pregnancy body-changing facts
1. Getting rid of the big belly
The most obvious body change is the ever-expanding abdomen and the subsequent weight gain during the nine months of pregnancy.
After giving birth the uterus is still hard and round and weighs approximately 2.5 pounds. The
body though works to reduce this to around 2 ounces in the 6 weeks following giving birth. Naturally, after everything has been so stretched the abdominal skin and muscles will take time to return to normal (especially with women who were overweight before getting pregnant), but with gentle exercise, breastfeeding, and the new energetic routine of motherhood, this too can go quickly. But whilst the fashion these days is to 'snap back into shape' after having a baby, Mother Nature doesn't care too much for extreme weightless fads and whilst some women return to wearing their pre-pregnancy jeans in no time, other women may take significantly longer.
Also, an innie may turn into an outtie during pregnancy, then back to an innie – yes, we’re talking belly buttons!
2. Arghh, help! I’m losing my hair
The average person loses 100 hairs per day but due to falling estrogen levels in pregnancy this becomes much less. After giving birth the body therefore cleverly compensates for it’s “shedding deficit” by shedding more – in four to six months though it returns to normal, thankfully. However, if significant hair loss is experienced a trip to your medical practice is advisable to ensure that there are no nutritional or hormone deficiencies.
3. Lumps and bumps in unusual places
Varicose veins are common in the legs during pregnancy but also women, in the months leading up to giving birth, can also find varicose veins by the genitals, near to the vagina and vulva. This is normal and typically these tend to go away after delivery. Whilst the ones in the legs do usually lesson quickly after birth, some do remain. If they cause pain it is always advisable to have a check up with your doctor.
4. The silver lining of motherhood – stretch marks!
Stretch marks on the skin are usual during and post pregnancy, particularly the stomach and breasts but also legs, bottom and hips. They are caused by the rapid stretching of skin and whilst many women do get stretch marks during their pregnancies, some get very few and some get none at all. There is a genetic factor to take into account too – if your Mother didn't get stretch marks then it could be that you will have inherited her skin type and also not get them. However, most women do experience some but men can also get stretch marks, particularly when building up large muscles very fast .. so don't believe the old wives tale that only women can get stretch marks.
5. Give your Core some TLC .. not crunches
It's easy to think that repetitive core exercises will help get your abdomen back into pre-pregnancy shape. But the separation of the diastase recti (separation of stomach muscles that allows your baby bump to expand) need time to realign. Performing crunch exercises will prevent this realignment and you're more likely to see tangible benefits from focusing on cardiovascular exercise, pelvic tilts, kegels and postnatal exercise classes with the guidance of a specialist instructor.
6. You're not incontinent..another reason to get active.
Urinary stress incontinence is hardly surprising considering all the stretching experienced during pregnancy and childbirth but some women are genetically predisposed. Retraining your bladder, ensuring that it doesn't get overfull and performing a regular program of exercises designed to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, is essential. If incontinence continues to be a constant problem, it's important to contact your doctor for a consultation. This is not an uncommon side-effect of pregnancy and your doctor will be able to suggest appropriate remedial actions.
7. Again?! Really?
Whilst getting pregnant again may be the last thing on your mind after giving birth, some women are keen to expand their families quickly and some are just 'surprised' by another baby on the way. Theoretically, a woman can conceive again as soon as she starts ovulating after childbirth. This can be as little as 6 weeks later but most experts recommend waiting at least 18 to 23 months to experience pregnancy again. The advice is given to help give the Mother time to heal, adjust to her new infant, establish feeding patterns and ensure that she is receiving balanced nutrition and engaging in regular exercise. All of which would mean that both mentally and physically she is capable of starting another pregnancy.
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