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Early Motherhood: Physical Changes During Pregnancy and Postpartum



Realize it or not, pregnancy brings a variety of changes to women’s bodies. They can range from common and expected changes, such as urination, hormonal changes, breasts, to cervix changes. These changes are the body’s ways in adapting to support the growing fetus.

 

  • Hormonal Changes

This changes may be varied between women. Pregnant women experience sudden and dramatic increases in estrogen and progesterone. They also experience changes in the amount and function of a number of other hormones.

A woman will produce more estrogen during one pregnancy than throughout her entire life when not pregnant. Estrogen levels increase steadily during pregnancy and reach their peak in the third trimester.

  • Weight gain, fluid retention, and physical activity: weight gain in pregnant women increases the workload on the body from any physical activity. As a result, pregnant women retain fluids and experience swelling of the face and limbs.

  • Sensory changes Pregnancy can dramatically alter how a woman experiences the world through sight, taste, and smell. Vision – Common changes during pregnancy include blurriness and discomfort with contact lenses. Taste – Most women experience changes in their sense of taste during pregnancy. Smell – A heightened awareness and sensitivity to a variety of odors.

  • Breast Changes: Pregnant women’s breasts often undergo a series of significant changes during pregnancy as their bodies prepare to supply milk to the newborn baby. Some women may develop stretch marks on the breasts, particularly if they undergo rapid growth. Many women will also notice an increase in the size of the nipple and areola.

  • Cervical Changes: The cervix, or the entry to the uterus, undergoes physical changes during pregnancy and labor. In early pregnancy, the cervix produces a thick mucus plug to seal off the uterus. The plug is often expelled in late pregnancy or during delivery. This is also called bloody show.

  • Hair & Nails Changes: Hormone changes can sometimes cause excessive hair shedding or hair loss. Aside from that, many women will experience changes in the physical appearance of their skin during pregnancy. Although most are temporary, some — such as stretch marks — can result in permanent changes. In addition, women who experience some of these skin, hair, and nails changes during pregnancy are more likely to experience them again in future pregnancies.


Practicing Mindful Pregnancy; A Way to Deal with Pregnancy Changes

Practicing mindfulness during pregnancy can be incredibly beneficial for both the physical and emotional well-being of the mother and her growing baby.

By incorporating mindfulness practices into the daily routine, expecting mothers can navigate the physical and emotional changes of pregnancy with greater ease, resilience, and inner peace. It is essential to approach mindfulness with an open mind and a spirit of curiosity, allowing each woman to explore and discover what works best for her unique needs and preferences.

  1. Meditation: Try spending five minutes (set a timer with a soothing alarm sound) sitting in a chair or on the floor with your eyes closed and focus only on your breath. Follow your in-breath and out-breath.

  2. Breathwork: Mindfulness asks you to pay attention to your breath. Breathing exercise during pregnancy can help women to:

  • Improving blood circulation and thus oxygen and nutrient delivery to the fetus and your body organs,

  • Keeping muscles relaxed, alleviating some of the tension sometimes builds up due to stress

  • Calming nervous system,

  • Can breathe more comfortably, while the natural increase of progesterone and the growth of the baby will make breathing harder.

  1. Journal: Start a daily journal practice. What you're feeling, what you're thankful for, or things you want to remember about your day. This practice will help you regulate better.

 

Postpartum Changes

 

Postpartum changes refer to the physical and emotional adjustments that occur in expecting mothers following childbirth. These changes can vary widely among women but generally include body aches, vaginal discharge, swollen feet, enlarged breasts, and vaginal pain.

 

  • Body Aches: As  your uterus contracts back to size, many postpartum people feel abdominal aches and flutters grow more pronounced during breastfeeding. The discomfort should last only a few days.

  • Vaginal Discharge – Lochia: lochia is just benign leftover blood, mucus, and tissue from your uterus. It is normal to experience lochia for up to a month or more as your uterus goes from 2.5 pounds to 2 ounces in size in the first few weeks of postpartum recovery.

  • Swollen Feet and Extremities: Hormone fluctuations can also contribute to edema, or swelling of the hands, face, ankles, neck, and other extremities. In fact, it's normal for your feet to increase by half a size.

  • Pronounced Stomach Pooch: That bulge is likely the result of pregnancy-related distension and laxity of the abdominal wall, particularly the fascial layer beneath the muscles, which is the strongest layer that keeps your internal organs in. It can take as long as six weeks for your belly to start looking normal again. 

  • Stretch Mark: These thin scars on the stomach, hips, breasts, or butt usually start out red, purple, or dark brown and then lighten within a year. Researchers found that stretch marks cannot be prevented, but their severity can be reduced by using moisturizers during pregnancy. 

  • Varicose Veins: During pregnancy your body will increase its blood volume, which puts pressure on the veins, making it easy for hemorrhoids and varicose veins to develop. The condition is usually temporary and varicose veins may improve after childbirth, it can take up to 12 weeks postpartum to clear up.

  • Back Pain: Postpartum people can also experience back pain due to postural changes of pregnancy and frequent hunching over the newborn for holding and feeding. These postpartum problems should clear up in the first six weeks after giving birth.

  • Night Sweats: You're still retaining lots of fluid from pregnancy, and sweating is one way your body expels it. The sweats should dry up in a few days, but in the meantime, keep comfortable by wearing breathable PJs and using fewer blankets.

  • Constipation: After you give birth, it can take two to three days to have a bowel movement. To keep things moving along, have at least eight glasses of water a day plus plenty of fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

  • Hair Loss: Many parents experience hair loss after pregnancy, the result of a drop in hormone levels.

  • Anxiety: Hormones, as well as other physical and emotional changes a postpartum person experiences, can cause you to become anxious or have nightmares. Symptoms like panic attacks, severe insomnia, obsessive thoughts or compulsions, or suicidal ideation are serious and should be addressed right away by your healthcare team.

 

Overcoming Postpartum with Mindful Postpartum

In addition to support, therapy, and medication, the ideal treatment plan for postpartum or perinatal depression and anxiety often includes mindfulness techniques. Exercises such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation, for example, have been shown to reduce blood pressure and promote recovery from many illnesses.

 

However, as a new mother, it may be difficult for you to find the right time to do this. Thus, you can create a different frame of mind in just 10 seconds at a time. We can call this composing a moment. It is giving yourself a 10-second break and create the mental state you want for 10 seconds. Sometimes, this 10-second break is enough to enable you to regroup and see things in a different light, kind of like changing from blue to pink-tinted glasses. Everything is still there, but it might look a little different

 

Below are the steps you can take:

  1. Allow yourself 10 seconds in which you feel calm, assured, confident, and relaxed. For 10 seconds, you can occupy whatever mental space you wish.

  2. Breathe deeply from your belly. Be aware of your breath. You may need to place your hand on your abdomen to feel it expand as you inhale and contract as you exhale.

  3. Center. Find your physical core.

  4. Engage your senses. Be aware of what you are hearing, what you see, what you are smelling, what you can taste, and what you feel on your skin.

 

Bymne UMA Series

 

Bymne wants to help women and mothers to find ways to get back to our nurturing soft side in times when it feels difficult, especially during the first stage of motherhood when we’re in a transition and we haven’t been used to it. Bymne UMA Series is inspired by Parvati and her ability to be both nurturing and fierce. In collaboration with professional midwife, Maria Christina Sulistyawati E., A.Md.Kep, we developed these tools using scents and powerful essential oils that can help women find balance in their motherhood.

 

Bymne Calm, Peace, & Confident Oil Blend

UMA Calm, Peace, & Confident Oil Blend is a combination of Lavender, Clary Sage, & Neroli to help prepare and boost your calmness, peace, and confidence during crucial and uncertain situations.

INGREDIENTS: Lavandula officinalis (Lavender) Oil, Salvia sclarea (Clary Sage) Oil, Citrus aurantium (Neroli) Flower Oil

 

Bymne Stress-Free Oil Blend

UMA Stress-Free Oil Blend is a combination of Bergamot, Lavender, Eucalyptus, and Rosemary to help soothe your nervous system and redressing a woman’s hormones and emotional balance.

INGREDIENTS: Citrus bergamia (Bergamot) Oil, Lavandula officinalis (Lavender) Oil, Eucalyptus globulus (Eucalyptus) Leaf Oil, Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil

 

Nipple & Breast Treatment Oil Blend

Bymne Nipple & Breast Oil Blend is very softening and helps to comfort sore nipples & breasts during pregnancy and breast-feeding by softening the breasts, smoothening the mammary glands, and balancing skin water level with its restorative fatty acid around the nipples. It contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents that promote faster healing.

INGREDIENTS: Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Calendula Dried Petals

 

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