Pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum sure do come with their pitfalls, but hey, it’s not all bad. So don’t go quitting the idea of getting pregnant just because you’re terrified of the aftermath. Although it may seem you hear one extreme or the other — the miracle of childbirth or the death-defying pain you’ll experience — there may be some realities you’ve not given much thought to. Good, bad, or indifferent, here are seven things no one tells you about postpartum recovery.
1. Your period may change forever
Even though you’ve made several bodily sacrifices over the course of your pregnancy, the disappearance of Aunt Flo was probably a change you welcomed with open arms. But now, it’s back to reality, and your body needs to figure out how it’s going to get its menstrual cycle back on track. According to Today’s Parent, your pre-pregnancy period should return after giving birth. If you’re not breastfeeding, you period may return in a bout 10 weeks. If you do opt for breastfeeding, it may return in about 20 weeks. However, some women won’t see their periods for an entire year.
When your period does return, don’t be surprised if it’s unrecognizable. If you’d been on the pill for several years prior to deciding to get pregnant, your body has to discover its real cycle, the same story explains. Weight, drastic changes in hormones, and complications during labor and delivery can also affect your postpartum periods. If you’ve historically had easy, breezy periods, you could be in for a nasty surprise. Or, perhaps you’ll experience a lighter period than before.
2. Your skin will change
Stretch marks aren’t the only changes you’ll notice on your skin. While hormonal fluctuations, stress, and new-mommy fatigue can wreak havoc on your appearance, there just may be a silver lining. The experts at Baby Center say some women who’ve suffered from acne during pregnancy could begin to see improvement postpartum. On the flip side, though, women who may have had perfectly clear skin throughout pregnancy might start to see more breakouts.
3. You’ll shed some weight immediately
Before you start freaking out about how you’re going to lose all that baby weight, there’s no point in crying over spilled milk — or in this case, water (weight). That’s right, water weight is a huge component of weight gain during pregnancy, which is actually good news for your postpartum bod. It may be a difficult journey to return completely to your ideal weight, but at least you can take comfort in knowing you’ll quickly shed some pounds right off the bat.
Immediately after delivering your baby, What To Expect says you’ll drop 10 to 13 pounds, partially thanks to the human being you’ve just brought into the world. You’ll still be holding on to some water weight, though, and you’ll start losing it within a week after delivery.
4. You’ll sweat excessively
So, about all that water weight. Just how does it disappear so quickly? Sweating. Lots and lots of sweating. As Dr. Michele Hakakha, M.D. and author of Expecting 411, tells The Bump, you can expect to experience tremendous night sweats. Your body’s estrogen level drops massively following the birth of a child, which means the change in hormones messes with your body’s temperature regulation. Don’t worry, though, you’re not destined to be a human furnace for your partner for the rest of your life. It’ll eventually even out.
5. Your stomach will change (possibly for the better)
Most women know they’ll be dealing with a less-than-toned belly for several weeks after childbirth. Obviously, you stand a chance of getting that post-baby bod back so long as you stay healthy and you’re careful about how much weight you gain in the first place. Either way, your stomach muscles undergo changes during pregnancy. And according to U.S. News & World Report, post-baby bellies are an upgrade for some women. Why? Because during pregnancy, the abs separate to the sides to make room for the baby, and they never fully come back together. So for some, with the right diet and exercise, more muscle definition can be an added postpartum bonus.
6. You can start exercising sooner than you think
While it’s a common belief you have to wait until the six-week mark to start working out, the truth is most women can ease into a postpartum exercise routine shortly after giving birth. Once you’ve gotten the go-ahead from your doctor, don’t shy away from showing your body a little love. You won’t drop three dress sizes in two weeks, but you have to start somewhere. U.S. News & World Report recommends exercises like side planks to engage your oblique muscles.
7. You may have more energy
Now, you’re probably thinking this one sound way too good to be true. After all, you’re now left with a crying baby, sleepless nights, and an ongoing state of exhaustion unlike anything you’ve experienced before. But on the other hand, we all know how a new mom immediately turns into superwoman, so it’s not too surprising that she may actually report having more energy than ever before. According to Parents, a woman’s aerobic capacity can increase up to 20% during the first six weeks after giving birth.