Post-Pregnancy Body Changes No One Tells You About.

*THIS IS A COLLABORATIVE GUEST POST*

Most of us are so preoccupied with our pregnancy that we do not give a second thought about the journey our body is about to take post birth. Popping back to our pre-pregnancy shape is not as easy as you might think and it is not realistic to think that it will happen overnight.

The truth of the matter is that your body will probably never be the same again.  This is not necessarily a bad thing but a testament of childbirth and the beautiful gift of life.  It is the beginning of a new chapter in your life, so learn to #lovethebodyyouarein.

Belly

It takes approx. 6-8 weeks after giving birth before the uterus returns back to its pre-pregnancy shape. Externally you are likely to be left with excess skin, the amount will be due to the your pregnancy weight gain and how big you carried.

It is unrealistic to think that this weight will just fall off.  Breastfeeding will aid in weight loss. Did you know that a breastfeeding women burns up to 500 calories a day? Your belly will also appear smaller as breastfeeding helps to contract the uterus back into its normal position much quicker than if you do not breastfeed.

Breastfeeding alone will not shift all the weight.  You will also need to eat well and engage in other forms of exercise to help loose the weight.

For most women a time period of 9 to 12 months is a realistic time period, for others it may take much longer and loosing your pregnancy bulge becomes part of your everyday life.

Shoe size

You may not expect this, but it is very common for women to experience an increase in shoe size after giving birth.

Pre birth our bodies start to prepare for labor.  A hormone called relaxin is released into the body with the purpose to relax muscles and ligaments ready for the baby to be birthed.    The ligaments in the foot also relax.  The weight from your pregnancy weighs down on the feet, flattening the arches and in turn pushes or stretches the feet out.  Presto, a bigger shoes size!

Hair Loss

Our hair is constantly growing and falling out.  As hair falls out new ones replace them, to help keep our hair healthy and full.

A woman has high estrogen levels during pregnancy and as a result her does not fall as much.  Her hair will however continue to grow resulting in very thick, lush hair.

Approx. 12 weeks post birth a woman will experience dramatic levels of hair loss.  This is normal and you should not be alarmed.  Your estrogen levels have returned back to normal and your body is simply getting rid of all the excess hair you accumulated during pregnancy.

Gas

Excess gas is normal post birth and whilst unpleasant and embarrassing it is common.

Some women may even find that they release gas from their vagina.  This occurs when gas escapes from the rectum and into the vagina.

You will be pleased to know that is shorted lived and is not permanent.

Pain

It is important to remember that birth is natural and that or bodies are designed to cope with the labor process.

Women who have vaginal births will often find it hard to sit down initially.

This can be caused by a few things-

  • Stitches required to repair the perineum as tearing can occur during childbirth.  It is important to keep the area clean and dry.  Rinse with warm water and pat carefully to dry.  Numbing creams and or tablets can be purchased to help relieve the pain.
  • Hemorrhoids caused by pushing during the labor process.  Hemorrhoids in most cases will go away in time.  They can be treated with special hemorrhoid creams, cool packs and or soaking in a bath.  Should your hemorrhoids bleed or get larger over time it is recommended to consult your health care provider.

Hemorrhoids can also make it difficult to go to the toilet.  Avoid constipation and excessive pushing by eating food that is high in fiber. Also drink plenty of water, as the water will help to soften your stool.

TIP:  Invest in some comfortable cotton underwear (full coverage).   The cotton will allow your skin to breath and help to avoid infection.  Cotton panties are also extremely comfortable too.

Incontinence

Labor and pregnancy can take its toll on your bladder.  You may find that initially you have a loss of sensation and you may not be able to identify when you need to use the toilet.

TIP:  Take regular toilet stops to ensure your bladder does not get too full, to avoid leakage.  Some women may also find that laughing; sneezing and or jumping can cause small amounts of leakage.

Vaginal bleeding

Vaginal bleeding is a bloody discharge experienced immediately post birth and can last for several weeks.

It begins as a bright red colour and will change to a more pinkish tone in time.

TIP:  Use sanitary pads as opposed to tampons.  Change the pad regularly and keep the area clean to help avoid infection.

Sex drive

It is not recommended to have sex until approx. 4 weeks post birth.  This allows time for the woman’s body to recover internally. Most women will experience a lack of sex drive after giving birth.  This is mainly due to a drop in estrogen levels, a shift in your priorities and lack of sleep.

Some women will even experience a physical change in their vagina.  It may become wider, looser and more open, it may also feel bruised and swollen.  This for some women can be difficult.  The good news is that there are procedures available to help tighten and remold the vagina back into shape if desired.

Others will experience a condition, which leaves the vaginal canal feeling dry.  This condition can be very painful when having sex.  It is recommended to consult your health care provider for advice and aids to improve your condition.

TIP:  Talk to your partner and discuss your needs.  A carrying partner will wait to you are physically and emotionally ready.

Breast size

Most women will experience a sudden increase in breast size immediately post birth.  This is caused by an increase in blood supply to the breast and her milk coming in.  For most this will be uncomfortable as your breasts become engorged.

In time the discomfort will ease as your body learns to regulate the milk supply needed to feed your baby.

TIP:  Invest in a good quality seamless nursing bra.  The stretchy nature of the bra will change and conform to your body without restriction.

Leakage

Nipple leakage is normal initially as the breasts overflow with milk.  Some women will leak more than others, while some will simply not leak at all.

TIP:  Invest in some absorbent washable cotton nursing pads. The cotton will feel super comfortable against your skin, will allow the nipple to breath and will help to avoid infections such as thrush, in and around cracked nipples.

*THIS IS A COLLABORATIVE GUEST POST*

Reclaiming Something Back For Me

This week I took part in my first gym session after two years of not setting foot in one since T was born.

I was never a massive gym buff previously, but after failing to conceive T for a number of consecutive months I felt it was my responsibility to think outside the box and make some changes – just in case it was me (which is was, but nothing specifically to do with weight).

One of those changes was to make myself healthier in the hope that perhaps if I created a better environment for a baby, one would appear. So I started working out at the gym after work religiously three to four times a week. We eventually conceived several months down the line, but whether losing a ton of weight and eating better was a contributing factor I’ll never know.

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Alternative Ways to Conceive: Egg Donation

*This is a collaborative post.

I’ve blogged about our journey of conceiving T many times on the blog – often writing about how bloody hard it is, not to mention time consuming. But one thing we’ve never really written about is what would have happened if our choice of conception didn’t work out and we were forced to choose another route.

Of the many nights Sharon and I were sat awake wondering whether this time would be the one, we also often discussed what we would do after the umpteenth time of a yet another failed insemination. That number never really surfaced as we eventually conceived T after two years of trying, but I imagine that that number was slowly dawning on us.

One option would have been to go down the IVF route – which is a popular and usually viable option for couples, although not always guaranteed for others and is often costly. But when you’re faced with the thought that you may never conceive; you think about all the options!

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The Breastfeeding Chronicles – Things I Didn’t Know About Breastfeeding Before Breastfeeding. 

“I didn’t know it/they could do that!” is a phrase we hear quite often in our house. I’m also forever hearing alternative ways to use breastmilk; whether it’s in the freezer for ice lollies, or in the bath for soft skin. It really is magic stuff.

Here’s a few of the things I didn’t know about breastfeeding/breastmilk before I started breastfeeding.

It’s hard work. I thought that once a baby latched on it’ll just be a case of feeding them whenever. No. The first few weeks are a constant battle what with sore nipples, mastitis, and engorgement. You also have cluster feeds to contend with (no one told me about cluster feeds!) and the night feeds. Baby also has to learn, and each feed can be different. Baby will often time feeds just when the food shop arrives or when the postman knocks on the door

Milk doesn’t just come out of your nipple area. The areolas join in as well. I genuinely thought T had cut holes into my nipples when he once accidentally bit down. I also thought that those holes would eventually join up and my nipple would fall off (I may have also been sleep deprived). Either way, I didn’t know milk came out of other holes.

It comes out blue when expressed! (S) The amount of times K expressed and the first few ounces were as blue as the ocean (okay, I’m exaggerating – but it was blue!).

You will burn calories. I knew breastfeeding worked your body, but I didn’t think it would physically burn calories, which explained why I woke up ravenous and often very thirsty during feeds. Apparently you can burn a good 500 calories per feed! Pass the cake!

It has healing properties (S) Whenever T cut his head or face with his nails, K would squirt or wipe a bit of breastmilk onto the affected area. Within a few hours it would be fully scabbed over if not barely visible. It’s magic!

Despite your boobs doubling in size during pregnancy, they will continue to grow whilst breastfeeding. It wasn’t long into my pregnancy that I had to up by bra size, so I bought 2 nursing bras to kill two birds with one stone, thinking that my new bra size would be the one I nurse with. Little did I know that once I started breastfeeding that I would have to up my bra size AGAIN. Epic fail.

 

Credit: Wikimedia

Credit: Wikimedia

Your boobs know when a feed is due before your baby does, and will continue to tell you until your baby is fed. I was out at dinner with my mum friends, a few miles away, when my boobs started tingling. I knew T was due a feed. I amusingly text S to see if he was feeding at the time and like magic, he was.

You can literally feel your milk coming in. When I’m feeding T I’ll often feel my other boob “filling up”. It’s not like the feeling of when you fill a bucket – it’s like a warm tingling sensation. But very quickly my boob is then a different size and shape.

I didn’t know milk came from the blood (S). I thought milk just happened. Never in my right mind did I think that K’s blood created it. This explains why you have to be careful when drinking, but things like food poisoning won’t effect T because the food bug sits in the digestive system. Very clever!

Not everyone wants to do it. I (nievely) thought that once you have a baby you would naturally want to breastfeed your baby if you were able to, but from speaking to other mums I very quickly realised that some mums actually don’t want to. Whether it’s because they wish to share the feeds with their partner early on or because they don’t want to lose their bodies to the baby, it’s interesting to know that not everyone wants to breastfeed.

What new things did you learn after they occurred?

K & S

Everyday “Exercises”. 

I probably haven’t seen the inside of a gym since I fell pregnant and, in all honesty, I do miss it (I really do) as it gave me time between work and home to wind down. It also gave me a clean and energised feeling despite getting sweaty. I really enjoyed it.

Since having T I’ve recently realised that I actually do several “exercises” on a daily basis – or at least that’s what I tell myself when I’m on my second piece of cake.

The (dash-to-the-kitchen-for-tea-during-nap-time) Interval Run. Complete this 2-4 times a day for an all over body workout.

The (desperate-full-bladder) Stair Climb. Likely to also strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, this exercise will also work your thighs, bum, and tum.

The (up-hill-buggy) Bicep Extension. For an added workout, add a bag of shopping to the load as well as a full bladder.

The (quick!-grab-a-muslin) Tricep Extension.  For extra tone, add a cat refusing to move off the other end of the muslin.

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The (other-end-of-the-sofa-forgotten-item) Leg Extension.  Adding a baby to your chest will add tone to your core muscles.

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The (pick-up-washing-with-baby) Squat. Wet towels, and winter jumpers ready for storage will add an extra upper body workout.

The (washing-machine-load-with-baby) Lunge. With a phone, pair of socks, and back door keys in your pocket, it’ll add some extra bruising toning to your thighs.

After the work out, cool down is vital – so I make sure I grab my nearest desert-based product from the fridge.

What are your daily “exercises”?

K

Lifesavers

Several blogging award ceremonies are now upon us. Every year, we nominate and then vote for our favourite bloggers – sometimes spending hours on one category because the category has three of your favourite blogs in it.

But where would we be without the little parenting lifesavers that have got us through the day so we could carry on blogging?

So without further ado, I present my Top 10 parenting lifesavers.

Breakfast biscuits – For when a proper breakfast is not going to happen. Without them, I would likely go hungry thanks to a mis-timed feed.

Bottle of water – ‘Nuff said.

Coffee creamer / whitener – For when a hot, milky coffee is not going to happen as soon as you’d like it. This stuff keeps hot drinks warmer for longer.

Nipple cream – In the early days, this stuff was liquid gold, especially the ones that didn’t need to be washed off before a feed.

Twitter – I’ve kept my sanity chatting to the lovely ladies and gents of Twitter. There’s either someone having the same day as you, or someone who just fancies a chat. I’ve spent many feeds stuck in the sofa with just the company of Twitter. It’s great.

Frozen meals – During the first few weeks we saved up left over portions of dinners so that if I was having a hectic day, I could just whack a meal in the oven. This has been a huge help with zero effort as all it took was cooking a larger lasagne, for example. This also saved our wallets (and waistlines) from buying takeaways!

Vanish – For those white to yellow vest days. I need to take out shares in this stuff.

Nursing Pillow – Apart from it’s obvious use, it’s also good for being a neck pillow for a last minute nap after a feed and T is on my chest. No more cricks in your neck.

Baby TV – Not my proudest life-saver, and when I caught myself letting him watch the TV I cried a little bit, but within the ten minutes I let him watch the telly during a challenging day I got to go the toilet and prepare some (decent) food. Although it is only ten minutes I still feel guilty about doing it, trust me.

My stretchy wrap – Probably my biggest life-saver. For when T doesn’t want to be put down, and I want to cook dinner. It also means I can nip to the shops without packing up the pram.

What are your parenting life savers?

K