I received a request from one of our readers to do a post on all those fun things that happen to us post-pregnancy :). Yes, we absolutely could not love or adore that new little one any more than we do, but there are definitely some not-so-lovely things that come along with it that are unexpected for a lot of us.
I want to focus on 5 things that can change after having a baby and what we can do to help reverse those changes.
It is important to wait to start exercising again until you get the okay from your doctor. You do not want to injure or exhaust your body. Think about the amazing thing your body just did and respect it enough to let it heal! Don’t be surprised if it is different when you do start exercising again. It will take some time to get your strength and endurance back, but it will come back! I ran until I was 37 weeks pregnant, but it was still different when I started running again afterwards. I had to start slow and build back up, but I actually feel like I am stronger now than I ever was before! Having to basically start over with running gave me a goal to work towards and pushed me to succeed. Start slow and don’t be too hard on yourself, you have an amazing new little person to focus on! Find our post specifically on exercise while breastfeeding here
That whole peeing issue…
Sometimes, jumping jacks are not going to be very nice to that little bladder of yours. Many women struggle with bladder control after having a baby. This can be due to of a variety of reasons, including hormone changes, weakened bladder and pelvic muscles, and your uterus sitting on your bladder. Thankfully, there are things we can do to help reverse these changes.
- Kegals! We all hear about them but they really are proven to strengthen the pelvic muscles. There is a good guide from the Mayo Clinic on how to correctly do Kegal exercises here
- Retrain your bladder. This means using the restroom every 30 minutes even when you do not need to. Each day you try to extend that time until you regain full control. Read this WebMD article for more information on bladder training.
- Try to avoid constipation so full bowels are not pushing on your bladder. Eat enough fiber and be sure to drink a lot of water to help avoid constipation.
- Stay hydrated. This might be the last thing you want to do but it is important. Dehydration is not a better option.
- Avoid drinks that make it harder to control the urge to urinate. This includes caffeine and alcohol.
There are many different levels of this, but many women go through periods of time where they feel “down” or depressed after delivery. This can be a short period of “baby blues,” or can be as extreme as postpartum depression. It is important to talk to someone about this. You should not feel ashamed of it, just get the help you need so you can feel better.
Low (or no) libido
That wonderful hormone called Prolactin creates perfectly balanced meals for that new little one, but it also puts a major hold on your sex drive. Of course, there are other causes such as insecurities with your body or just plain feeling exhausted, and that’s okay! Talk to your partner about it and be open with how you are feeling. Read articles about it together and find new ways to be intimate with your partner for the time being. Remember, this is not a permanent change. There are some good articles about this here and here
This is the separation of the abdominal muscles and is caused by the muscles being stretched during pregnancy. Many women get this, but in most cases, the muscles will tighten back on their own. For other women, however, all the crunches in the world will not give them a flat tummy, and actually could be making it worse. To check if you have diastasis recti, lie flat on your back with your knees bent. Place two fingers just above your belly button pointing down towards your toes. Lift your head and feel how your muscles are moving. If you have a gap more than 3 fingers wide, you may have diastasis recti. If you have this, you do not want to do traditional ab exercises, as that may be making it worse. There are exercises that can strengthen these muscles back up though. There are examples of some of these exercises here and here
Always remember to take care of yourself! As a mother, you spend SO much time thinking about and caring for everyone else that it is easy to put your needs aside. Take some time out of each day to relax and do something you enjoy.
Have a wonderful weekend!