3 Unexpected Changes to Your Body Post Pregnancy
There is nothing quite like holding your newborn in your arms. You have carried this baby in your body, and now you have the pleasure of nurturing and cherishing her outside of the womb. During the first few months of your baby’s life, as you both settle into a routine, you will become aware of the post pregnancy changes your body has gone through.
A change in your body shape is to be expected. After all, you have just carried, and given birth to, a miracle. In addition to your figure, some women also experience other changes that they weren’t quite expecting.
Here are 3 physical changes that may manifest themselves in your post-pregnancy body:
Separated Stomach Muscles
It is common for some women to experience a separation of abdominal muscles; a condition known as Diastasis Recti. The degree of muscle separation varies from woman-to-woman. During pregnancy, your body cleverly separates the muscles to accommodate your growing uterus. You can gauge the size of the separation by lying on your back with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor. Raising your shoulders slightly off the floor, look down at your stomach, and gently using the tips of your fingers, feel how wide the gap is.
Make a note of how many fingers-width the gap is so that you can track whether the gap is growing larger or smaller. It can take up to eight weeks to close again, but by doing regular pelvic floor exercises, and deep stomach muscle exercises, you can strengthen this area to encourage speedier recovery. During this time of diastasis recti, you are more susceptible to back pain, as the muscles are stretched longer and become weak. Being aware of your posture can help prevent, or minimize, the pain.
Throughout your pregnancy, the hormone relaxin is released to relax ligaments and joints in the pelvis, in order to help the baby pass through the birth canal during labor. However, the relaxing effect of this hormone is not restricted to the pelvic area, and can be spread to the back, causing joint misalignment and pain in the lower back. Relaxin levels stabilize three to four months after delivery, and so back pain should begin to subside. While caring for your baby after birth, be sure you are aware of your posture:
Always support your back while feeding your baby. Place a pillow in the small of your back, and keep your feet flat on the floor.
Kneel or squat while performing tasks such as bathing your baby. Avoid bending at the waist.
Change your baby’s diaper on raised surfaces (and be sure to never to leave your baby unattended!).
Keep your back straight when you pushing your baby’s pram or stroller.
If your back pain persists or is severe, you’ll likely find it is difficult to achieve restful night’s sleep. This can be the most stressful post pregnancy challenge, considering the few hours you’re actually able to dedicate to sleeping while following a relentless infant feeding schedule. Sleep is too precious to lose out on, so you should consider investing in a 6 chamber air bed to fully support your recovering lumbar region. It will provide much-needed relief and help you catch up on overdue sleep. You want to do everything you can to keep your back pain as a temporary discomfort, rather than it becoming long-lasting, or worse, permanent ailment. It’s so critical that you get the best sleep possible, to help your body heal and recover from the totality of pregnancy and childbirth.
Your pelvic floor muscles were likely given very little thought prior to becoming pregnant. But post pregnancy? Pelvic floor muscle recovery becomes a top priority! You may not be prepared for how much you rely on these muscles to control your bladder, and it can be distressing to think that this may be a perpetual problem. Typically, post pregnancy women find that committing to a routine of pelvic floor muscle exercises helps restore the control they had pre-pregnancy. The good news is that you can complete these exercises without anyone realizing you are doing them. Over time, if you find your incontinence is not improving, seek further medical advice.
Most importantly, be patient with yourself and give your body a chance to heal. Post pregnancy changes are different for every woman, so you can’t compare your recovery to someone else’s.