Category Archives: Mum’s health
Focus on women’s health issues after having a baby
Given that after you have a baby, your body is doing all sorts of weird things (breasts, stretch marks, jelly belly, general weight gain), lots of you are keen to get back into or start some kind of regular exercise.
Were you a dedicated gym bunny before pregnancy/baby? A regular swimmer or walker? Or maybe exercise was always an uphill struggle for you? Getting into some light exercise after labour and birth is great, it can ward off constipation, get blood circulating for faster healing, help you sleep better, and improve your frame of mind.
But bear in mind that we are talking light exercise here. It is important to have realistic expectations, whatever your intentions were before. I remember first time round at eight months pregnant expounding on the fact that I was going to go on a walk up the big hill behind my house every day as soon as my daughter was born – “I mean really, there’s no reason not to, is there? It’s only 15 minutes out of my whole day!”. Oh-ho, little did I know that my timetabling plans would soon go out the window (check out our previous post for ideas on how you might spend your day with a newborn).
If your baby was born by caesarean birth, this is going to take you a lot longer so please make sure you take your maternity caregiver’s advice. Walking up and down hills isn’t advisable for the first month or two, so try and scout out some nice flat strolls.
Next post, we have a few ideas on exercising with a young baby…
Stretch marks, if you had them during pregnancy, won’t disappear altogether, but do fade over time to a rather festive silvery colour. Stretch marks are caused by a breakdown or loss of elastin and collagen fibres in the skin (often through rapid growth) which shows through to the top layer of your skin.
Whether or not you get them is largely determined by genetics and the speed and amount of weight you gain. There are all sorts of lotions and potions you can cover them with, and although there is as yet no scientific evidence to absolutely prove their helpfulness, many women swear by their favourite cream or oil. At least you’ll be doing something nice for yourself by taking the time to rub cream in, so by all means go ahead.
A friend suggested to me that they’re “a badge of motherhood”. Hmm, a bit cheesy for sure, but now when I see mine I remind myself of the amazing things my body is capable of like growing and nourishing a baby from scratch, rather than obsessing because I no longer have the body of a 20 year old (ahem, who am I kidding, I didn’t even have one of those before getting pregnant!)
Fondly known as “porn boobs” in our circle of friends, your post pregnancy breasts are going to be hard to miss. Breast milk is produced on a supply and demand system, but it takes a few days or even weeks for your body to smooth out the whole process. This means that for most (but not all) of you, as your mature milk “comes in” over the first week, you’re going to be experiencing a whole new delight – engorged breasts (aka giant bazookas).
This can be caused by more fluids in your breasts (“venous engorgement”) and by the actual milk itself. Never fear, they will deflate…slightly. Breastfeeding mums do sport larger than usual mammaries (bountiful beachballs) but once your body and your baby sync up, they should be a bit more manageable. And for mums who are not breastfeeding, just a heads-up that your girls are not immune to change and gravity either! Changes in your breast tissue are triggered by the changes in hormones that happen during pregnancy and labour, so even if you’ve decided not to breastfeed your boobs will still be preparing for it!
“I definitely didn’t expect the sheer discomfort of my milk coming in. My boobs felt like they were full of lead and were expanding way more than I thought possible – even filling out under my arms, which made sleeping on anything but my back seriously difficult. And I didn’t even get to enjoy that I went from an A cup to a very decent D cup seemingly overnight! The good news girls, is that they do settle down after a few days – even though at the time it feels like forever!” (R.)
For some quick ideas on things to help you relieve the discomfort:
- Avoid lying on your tummy in bed.
- Hand express off a little milk in the shower or just before a feed, to allow baby to latch on more effectively.
- Warm or cold flannels.
- Mild pain relief – paracetamol.
- Cabbage leaves (yep we’re not kidding) can help – just pop a leaf inside your bra (remove before they’re cooked 😉 )
- Feed baby whenever they are hungry rather than sticking to a clock-driven routine – this helps get breastfeeding established and your milk supply settled in. You can always switch to a routine later if you want to.
- Don’t stop feeding bubs, this will make engorgement worse and can jeopardise your milk supply.
You may find your partner is mesmerised by your swollen breast tissue (monster melons). Don’t worry, this is normal. Just set some guidelines while they’re still painfully tender such as look but don’t touch! Are you feeling unsexy about your maternal mammaries? Even more than the rest of your body, your breasts are undergoing a massive identity change – from sexy come-hither-man-bringer to giant dairy producing udder entities (did someone say udders?!). Some women are able to hold the two identities together comfortably but for many it’s quite normal for breasts become non-sexual zones for a while at least.