Your life will certainly change after you give birth to your first child, there are many enjoyable emotional and lifestyle changes to look forward to. However, there are also a number of physical changes you may experience after your baby is born. Many people have heard of postpartum depression, but there are several other physical and physiological conditions that can occur after delivery. Here are some of the most common postpartum conditions you should know about as you prepare to give birth.
Urinary and Bowel Problems
Delivering a child puts an extreme amount of pressure on the pelvic floor and this often leads to urinary and or bowel problems. These can take the form of prolapses (bulging of the pelvic organs into the vagina), hemorrhoids (swollen blood vessels which feel like lumps around the anus), constipation due to dehydration and frequent need to pass urine. Some of these symptoms will resolve with time and changes to diet and fluid intake. Other symptoms may need more help and women’s health physiotherapists are a key person to see after delivery to help rehab your pelvic floor.
Most women accept that feeling tired after giving birth is normal. Your body has just been through a huge journey of nurturing another being and then delivering that person into the world. Sleep deprivation is par for course before labour due to physical discomfort and nye impossible afterwards due to caring for your child. Society accepts that women won’t always prioritise self-care which lends normality towards perpetual fatigue. It could however indicate that your iron levels are low. If you feel fatigued make sure you discuss this with your health provider because iron may be part of feeling better.
Labile Mental Health
During pregnancy, through labour and after delivery, women experience huge hormonal changes and these definitely impact on mental health. Baby blues is a concept that many women understand in the first week after giving birth. For some women, ‘baby blues’ or feeling downhearted and low persists beyond the first week, first month and even up to the first year. Postnatal depression can occur any time in the first year after delivery so its important that if you do feel low or depressed you reach out to your health provider. Its definitely ok to talk about this, doesn’t reflect your ability or intentions as a mum at all and nobody will judge you!
This is a really important concept that many women will never mention. It is a time when the focus of everybody’s attention becomes the newborn. The new mum is largely the vehicle to display the baby and every conversation revolves around nappies and feeding and sleeping. The person the mum was beforehand becomes forgotten, her ongoing role as new mum is just accepted and the fact that her life has totally changed feels like its only on her own radar. For some women this leads to a loss of identity which in turn channels a sense of isolation. As a women’s health GP I feel it is crucially important to speak to women when they bring their new babies in for a 6 week check. Many women don’t even book an appointment for themselves! This is such an important time for a family to attend as a group, a partner to facilitate baby check and then look after baby whilst the new mum has a well woman check and time to talk about herself and her own needs at such a transitional time in her own life.