Having a baby is a beautiful, life-changing experience, and it’s perfectly natural that your body will change a little bit as well. We’re familiar with the facts that your weight distribution may change, you’ll notice differences in your breasts and if you give birth in hospital, they should discuss short term symptoms such as tenderness and constipation with you.
Your body may also go through some longer-term changes that aren’t often discussed. Here are some changes you might notice and methods of management.
During pregnancy, some women notice their hair looking thicker and more lustrous. After pregnancy, however, their hair may be falling out in chunks. This has to do with your hair cycle.
In the normal hair cycle, some hair falls out every day, and some of it grows back. High levels of oestrogen during pregnancy can freeze your hair in the growing stage. Then, once you’ve given birth and oestrogen levels decrease, your scalp purges the hair that would have fallen out during the previous months.
Because your hair’s normal cycle is thrown off, it may seem as though your hair is thinning. This is completely normal, and for most women, their hair fills out again after 6-12 months as the hair cycle returns to normal.
If your hair does not return to normal after 6 months, you can discuss treatment options such as topical medications or PRP with your doctor.
Urinary incontinence affects up to 37% of Australian women, and for many of them, it begins after pregnancy.
Pregnancy and vaginal birth can stretch the muscles in the pelvic floor and the vaginal walls. Quite often, they don’t completely return to their former state. Muscle laxity can mean less bladder support and some urinary leakage.
For many women, they may notice a little leak when they laugh, sneeze, run or lift heavy items. Unfortunately, very few women seek medical advice. In some cases, incontinence can be treated with simple pelvic floor exercises. Failing that, there are laser treatments that can tighten and strengthen the vaginal walls to provide better support for the bladder. In some more severe cases, your doctor may recommend surgery, but that is usually when other methods do not work.
There are a number of ways that having a baby can adjust the condition of your skin. Hormonal acne is quite common during pregnancy and will often clear up after giving birth. Some women even experience dry skin in the weeks following birth. This is normal and should only last a few weeks.
Some women get post-pregnancy pigmentation or melasma. Melasma is a condition in which hormones cause the pigment-producing cells in your skin to be overactive. The results is patches of hyperpigmentation in different areas of the face. Melasma break-outs may also be triggered by a combination of hormonal changes and UV exposure, so remember to slip, slap, slop.
The good news is that melasma doesn’t pose a danger to your health, but it can be a cosmetic concern for some women. If desired, you can cover the pigmentation with makeup or use pigment-inhibiting skincare products. There are some laser treatments that can reduce the pigmentation, but be sure to go to an experienced, doctor-led clinic as some lasers, and especially IPL, can actually make melasma worse.
Remember, if you notice any changes post-pregnancy that you have concerns about, you can always speak to a medical professional.