Understanding Pregnancy Hormonal Changes as New Moms
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Understanding Pregnancy Hormonal Changes as New Moms

By Teddyy 7 Nov 2023
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Congratulations on becoming a new mom! It’s an incredible and life-changing experience, but it also comes with challenges. One of the most significant changes during the postpartum period is the rollercoaster of pregnancy hormonal changes, which affect your emotions, body, and behaviour.

This article will delve into dealing with pregnancy hormonal changes in detail.

A Timeline of Postpartum Hormone Changes

  • During pregnancy, your body produces birth hormones such as estrogen and progesterone to support the growth of the placenta and the baby and prepare for breastfeeding.
  • After delivery, hormonal changes occur rapidly. Estrogen and progesterone levels drop sharply, while oxytocin (the ‘love hormone’ which helps mother and child bond) levels surge.
  • After delivery, a breastfeeding hormone called prolactin increases to support milk production.
  • You may experience physical and emotional changes for 3-6 weeks after delivery due to pregnancy hormones, which include discomfort, bleeding, tenderness, swelling, breast engorgement, and changes to your skin and hair. These changes are natural and temporary as your body adjusts to post-pregnancy life.
  • It takes three months for pregnancy hormone levels to reset. After six months, prolactin levels decrease, and other hormones return to normal.

Postpartum Hormones Immediately After Birth

During and after childbirth, pregnancy hormonal shifts occur that can cause a range of emotions. Estrogen, progesterone, and relaxin levels decrease while prolactin levels increase, leading to mixed emotions and social behaviour changes.

Pregnancy hormonal shifts can cause mood swings, and you may experience postpartum depression or ‘baby blues’. Some of the postpartum depression symptoms are:

  • Feeling overwhelmingly sad or despair
  • Losing interest or pleasure in activities
  • Experiencing fatigue and low energy
  • Having difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Noticing changes in your appetite
  • Feeling irritable or angry
  • Experiencing feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Having difficulty concentrating or making decisions

Dealing with pregnancy, accompanying stress, responsibilities and hormonal changes can be difficult for you to handle all on your own. If you notice these symptoms in you or your loved one, reach out with a hand of support, reassure them. Ask them to seek professional help.

When Do Postpartum Hormones Go Back to ‘Normal’?

Every woman’s journey to normalcy after giving birth is unique, and it can take up to six months or longer in some cases. Here are some tips for you to deal with pregnancy hormones:

  1. Prioritise self-care. Take a few minutes for yourself each day. Ask for help to rest and recharge.
  2. Eat enough healthy fats like nuts, coconut oil, dark chocolates, olive oil, egg yolks, and avocados to recover faster.
  3. Seek help from healthcare professionals, support groups, or loved ones to ease your transition.
  4. Focus more on getting uninterrupted sleep. One helpful method to ensure that your baby stays asleep at night is to take turns with your partner. This way, you can both share the responsibility of keeping your baby asleep and get some rest yourselves.
  5. Heal first; don’t rush to a pre-pregnancy lifestyle. Your body has transformed; be patient and take care.
  6. Avoid strenuous activities, exercise moderately as advised by your doctor.
  7. Never miss an appointment with your doctor post pregnancy.
  8. Open communication with your partner during parenthood. Share thoughts and feelings to navigate this new phase together.

The Signs of a Hormonal Imbalance After Pregnancy

Postpartum hormonal changes may cause regular physical and behavioural shifts. Understanding these can help navigate motherhood. Some signs of pregnancy hormonal imbalance are:

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Hair loss
  • Weight gain/loss
  • Mood swings
  • Low sexual drive

How Can Your Partner Help?

During the postpartum period, dads can provide crucial support by being patient, empathetic, and engaged. It is essential to share baby care duties and listen without being judgmental. Compliment, express love, and reassure her that seeking help is okay. Small gestures matter. Remember, you and your partner are a team, and your presence can make all the difference during this challenging yet beautiful phase.

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How long does it take for postpartum pregnancy hormones to balance?

After giving birth, your birth hormones may take three to six months to return to their pre-pregnancy levels. If you are breastfeeding and begin to wean, your prolactin and oxytocin levels may decrease, which can lead to feelings of sadness, anxiety, or irritability.

What hormones change at four months postpartum?

After childbirth, pregnancy hormone levels return to normal around four months postpartum. Prolactin, responsible for milk production, decreases as breastfeeding frequency decreases or when the baby starts consuming other foods. Oxytocin is released during breastfeeding, promoting emotional connections. Cortisol levels are high due to stress, but it normalises with self-care. Thyroid hormone levels may fluctuate but tend to stabilise as the body readjusts.

What do postpartum pregnancy hormones feel like?

After giving birth, women may experience a range of different emotions and physical sensations due to postpartum hormones. These hormones can cause mood swings, anxiety, and fatigue. Also affects energy levels, sleep patterns, and appetite. While some women may feel a strong emotional connection with their baby, others could struggle with feeling overwhelmed. It’s important to acknowledge and talk about these emotions with your partner or any healthcare provider.

What pregnancy hormones change during breastfeeding?

Hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and prolactin stimulate colostrum production during pregnancy and continue until a few days after delivery. Oxytocin, often called the “let-down hormone,” helps release milk during breastfeeding and fosters maternal bonding.

What is the recovery time for postpartum?

Postpartum recovery time varies for every woman, depending on factors such as the type of delivery, overall health, and any complications. The healing may take about 6 weeks in case of a vaginal delivery and longer in case of a c-section. But note that postpartum recovery is not just physical; it also involves emotional and mental adjustments. Full recovery, both physically and emotionally, can take several months or more. It’s crucial for women to listen to their bodies, seek medical advice when needed, and be patient with the recovery process.

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