Changes in Your Relationship (And Body) That Happen After You Give Birth
I think I speak for us all when I say for a majority of life- women think about pregnancy a lot. You think about those 9 months, the trimesters, the ways your body will change throughout, and all the fun details - picking names, reading into your child’s zodiac sign - okay, maybe not really but you can’t say that hasn’t crossed your mind, right?
Well, one thing we aren’t usually prepared for is the after. Not until I was pregnant, actually, did I start to think about it after. Or maybe if we’re being honest - not until after, did I think about after. Our bodies undergo a major transformation during pregnancy, that’s no secret - but they undergo an equivalently similar one post-delivery (not to mention our emotions, too). And while you can find a book down to the daily changes that happen when you’re pregnant, the different vegetable sizes your baby is during each week, and even predictions on how different types of music can determine your child’s IQ - your health and relationship with your partner after birth are easily overlooked, which becomes increasingly more stressful as you begin to care for your new addition on little to no sleep.
Some women I’ve spoken to have even said they felt blindsided by their bodies, relationships, and emotions post-baby. Here are some things you can expect:
Changes in your emotions.
This section should come as no surprise - if you’re pregnant or have been pregnant, you understand this rollercoaster. Your hormones have been fluctuating like crazy to prepare for birth, and once you’ve delivered, your progesterone levels drop significantly, which can cause mood swings, anxiety, and depression for a few weeks after birth. Sometimes this can lead to postpartum depression, which is categorized by the same symptoms, but last longer.
Tips for the emotional shifts: Keep a written diary to help you release some emotions, or at least make sense of them. Write down the things you’re feeling grateful for (whether that’s a heavy dish of Fettuccini Alfredo, or for your body which is literally growing a human being).
Two’s company, three’s a… crowd?
Speaking of a deep desire to bond with your baby - upon your little one’s new arrival, you’re also going to have a new dynamic in your relationship. This whole time, it’s just been the two on you, and sometimes moving into this transition can be difficult.
You’ll have new (sometimes difficult) decisions about parenting, all while adjusting to not being the only thing on your partner’s mind. Sometimes partners can struggle when they feel sidelined - make sure to still pay attention to each other and give each other a pat on the back from time to time for the work that’s going into being new parents (on such little sleep).
Tips for keeping attention on each other: Try to plan a nightly check-in with your partner, maybe before you go to bed. Make a point to talk about your favorite part of the day and something you noticed that your partner did that you appreciated.
Thought your breasts were big enough from pregnancy? Think again. All that extra progesterone we were talking about above is going to make your breasts even larger, especially with all that milk in there. This will typically peak two to three days after you give birth, as well as make your breasts pretty sore. As you transition to breastfeeding, the swelling will go down.
Tips for swelling: Rest, rest, rest! It will go down.
Let’s get to where the main event took place: your vagina.
If you had a vaginal delivery, you were probably already expecting a bruised, swollen vagina. If you had a C-section, that means you’re dealing with a similarly swollen and bruised incision, along with puffy abdominal muscles. In both instances: painkillers and rest will be your best friends. Some other tips for vaginal recovery: try dipping a pad in witch hazel, or applying ice in your underwear to help decrease inflammation.
Tips for your vagina: again, painkillers and rest will be your best friends (at the advisement of your practitioner).
Above all - Keep your and your partner’s mental health as a top priority during this time. You’re undergoing a lot of changes, so don’t be hard on yourself. You just brought a beautiful new life into the world, and for that you should be so proud.