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  • Published 16 January 2024
  • Updated 29 January 2024
Your Postpartum Body: Common Physical Changes

After having a baby, a lot will change, including your body. Most of these changes aren’t cause for concern, but they can be surprising if you aren’t expecting them.

Thinning Hair

The boost in estrogen during pregnancy gives some people thick, gorgeous, shampoo-commercial hair. But once your baby is born, some of that hair may fall out. This is very normal, but can be upsetting. For most people, your hair will eventually return to what it was like pre-pregnancy. But if it doesn’t, or if you are frustrated with your hair in the meantime, try being more gentle with your hair by using gentle hair tools, less heat, and avoiding tight hairstyles that pull hairs out from the root.

Breast Changes

Your breasts may have changed during pregnancy and they will likely continue to change postpartum. These changes look different for each individual, but commonly, breasts will return to their pre-pregnancy size once milk has dried up (whether that is shortly after birth or much later, when you wean a breastfeeding child). However, your breasts may have a different shape after having a baby. Ligaments, skin, and muscle tissue have all moved, changed, and stretched during pregnancy, so your breasts will likely look a little different.

Postpartum Bleeding

After you give birth, you experience bleeding similar to a period that typically lasts for approximately 3-6 weeks. This is called lochia. After you have a baby, your body has to get rid of all the tissue and lining it used to protect and grow your baby during your pregnancy. The lochia should start heavy and gradually get lighter. Some warning signs that would require a call to your care provider are:

  • Soaking through a menstrual pad in an hour or less;
  • Bleeding that is bright red, like blood from a cut; or
  • Large clots, the size of a quarter or larger

Constipation

Constipation is extremely common postpartum. Your insides have been through a lot! In particular, a lot of people experience fear and hesitation about having a bowel movement after giving birth due to the pain related to labor. It’s important to eat a diet that will make having a bowel movement easier, with plenty of whole-food fiber, as well as plenty of water, and to keep your body moving. If diet and movement are not doing the trick, you can ask your care provider about medications that may help.

Pelvic Floor Health

Your pelvic floor will also be very different after giving birth than before pregnancy. Many pelvic floor concerns can be addressed and treated by a pelvic floor physical therapist, but sometimes these issues get ignored for years. So, it is important to see a pelvic floor specialist within the first few months after you’ve had a baby.

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