5 truths about postpartum recovery every woman should know

It's crucial to empower yourself with knowledge of what might happen as your body changes over the coming six weeks postpartum that have the potential to delay your recovery.

5 truths about postpartum recovery every woman should know

The journey to welcoming a baby into the world is a miracle of nature and a (literal) labor of love. Then a new kind of journey begins—recovery.

It's crucial to empower yourself with knowledge of what might happen as your body changes over the coming six weeks postpartum that have the potential to delay your recovery. The good news is that identifying some of these conditions early and equipping yourself with the right knowledge, as shown below, can help any new mama.

Here's what we want you to know:

1. Having various pelvic floor issues is fairly common.

The pelvic floor is made up of all of the muscles, ligaments and connective tissues that support the function of pelvic organs like the uterus, bladder and bowels. It's not uncommon for women to experience issues with those muscles weakening after the strenuous effort of childbirth.

Possible symptoms include:

  • Persistent pain in the pelvic or genital region
  • Discomfort during sex
  • Constipation
  • Frequent urination
  • Unexplained back pain

If you notice any of the above symptoms persisting, get in to see your physician or ob-gyn right away. They can recommend treatment, schedule further visits if necessary and guide you towards using targeted techniques, like core exercises and yoga to soothe pelvic pain and strengthen those muscles once again.

2. Losing hair is perfectly normal.

A totally normal occurrence among many new mothers is postpartum hair loss—a result of hormones leveling out following pregnancy, during which women typically experience higher levels of estrogen and progesterone. While an individual naturally loses about 80 hairs a day through the growing process, it's not uncommon for a woman to experience nearly triple that postpartum.

Hair loss usually slows around six months postpartum, but if you're not seeing any signs of slowing, it might be helpful to have bloodwork done to see if other imbalances might be affecting your body.

In the meantime, make sure to consume a balanced diet, working in plenty of protein, calcium, iron, and other minerals and minimize stress as much as possible to keep your hormone levels under control.

3. The separation of abdominal muscles isn’t as scary as it sounds.

Diastasis recti is a separation of the abdominal muscles that occur following pregnancy. This is a normal process where the growing uterus causes the larger muscles in the abdomen to stretch and ultimately drift apart once the tension is released.

Though it's a common condition, especially in older mothers or those who have carried multiples, it's certainly frustrating to have a bulge in your abdomen or midsection that stubbornly refuses to budge.

Although severe cases might require the intervention of a physical therapist, most cases of diastasis recti can be identified with a simple at-home check, and treated with specific exercises (which can also be done at home).

4. Getting postpartum infections can happen—so listen to your body.

As your body recovers from childbirth, the potential for complications through a variety of different infections can arise. Some common infections affecting new mothers are infections from C-section incisions, mastitis (a breast infection commonly brought on through breastfeeding), and urinary tract infections. Symptoms include:

  • Fever, chills, aches, and fatigue
  • Hard or painful areas, usually only on one breast
  • Difficult or painful urination, cloudy or bloody urine

Make sure you listen to your body and get to your physician right away if you experience any of the above. Most infections can be treated with a simple course of antibiotics, and by drinking plenty of fluids.

5. Battling postpartum depression is *so* hard—but help is available.

An unfortunately common psychological condition affecting new mothers is postpartum depression, and it has been linked to rapidly fluctuating hormone levels causing chemical imbalances in the brain, sleep deprivation, and stress.

Common symptoms include:

  • Crying for no apparent reason, or more than normal
  • Feelings of moodiness, restlessness, or irritability
  • Oversleeping, or not being able to sleep at all
  • Trouble concentrating or remembering details
  • Trouble bonding with or forming an attachment to the baby
  • Feelings of self-doubt about being able to care for the baby
  • Thoughts of harming self or the baby

Because these symptoms are broad, postpartum depression shouldn't be self-diagnosed. It's important to consult with a doctor and a psychologist, who can take into account your specific circumstances and make an informed decision about the best course of action.

Due to the severity of this condition, a doctor will usually recommend a treatment plan involving therapy and medication, which can greatly improve a new mother's ability to cope. Having friends and family that act as a resource and support network is also invaluable.

In short, the more a new mother is informed about what to expect, the better prepared she will be to handle the physical and emotional changes that can occur postpartum. Though postpartum recovery can be certainly overwhelming at times, remember that the changes the body is going through are a result of the incredible power of motherhood, and are nothing to be ashamed of!

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By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.


Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!


Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.


Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌


Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.


Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.


Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.


Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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