Here’s what to expect in terms of your physical symptoms, mental health, self-care needs, and intimacy this week.
At eight weeks postpartum, you’ve more than likely recovered from childbirth. However, if you had a C-section, a perineal tear that required stitches, or other complications, your body might still have a little healing to do.
If you’re breastfeeding, you’ve likely gotten into a rhythm at this point. Any breastfeeding person can benefit from eating nutrient-dense foods and drinking plenty of water to keep supply up. It can be easy as time goes on to neglect your needs, but it’s important to remember the hard work you’re doing every day (and night!).
Though you might be in the groove of breastfeeding at this point, you could still run into issues like nipple soreness, clogged ducts, or mastitis. It’s never too late in your breastfeeding journey to get support for any hiccups.
Bladder and belly
Eight weeks after giving birth, you might have the same frequent urge to pee as you did while pregnant. Since holding your bladder is a muscle contraction, this postpartum symptom will likely resolve over time as you get stronger.
While your uterus may shrink back to close to its pre-pregnancy size, your pelvic floor may need some support to get strong again. Strengthening your pelvic floor can help with bladder, rectal, and sexual function. Learn more here.
On a similar note, your uterus might still be slightly round and protruding. It can take a couple of months to shrink back to its normal size and may be slower to retract if your pregnancy went past 40 weeks. Lots of new parents continue wearing maternity pants throughout the fourth trimester, so don’t worry if that’s what you’re most comfortable in.
Skin changes and hair loss
About 90% of women develop stretch marks during pregnancy, and while they can fade in some cases, they may never disappear completely, like little reminders of your body’s incredible ability to grow a human.
You may notice other skin changes this week, like dryness, breakouts, eczema, or hyperpigmentation. Postpartum hair loss can set in anywhere from one to four months after childbirth, so you could also start to see some fallout. The excessive shedding is definitely no fun, but try not to panic — it typically lasts for about 6 months after it starts.
Your mental health
Postpartum depression (PPD) affects about one in nine new mothers. The symptoms can range from severe mood swings, irritability, and excessive crying to anxiousness, appetite changes, and trouble concentrating. Some people with PPD might find it hard to bond with their baby or lose interest in things they used to enjoy. If these symptoms last more than a couple of weeks, check in with your healthcare provider or call the Postpartum Support International hotline.
Body image issues are also common around this time. If you’re having negative thoughts about your appearance or feel pressure to “bounce back” to your pre-baby weight, remember it took nine months to grow your baby in your belly, and it will take time for your body to fully recuperate. The most important thing to focus on right now is being healthy, both mentally and physically. If you’re struggling to feed worthy or you find yourself being excessively hard on yourself, it might be a good idea to set up some time to speak to a therapist. You deserve to feel like your best self.
When you become a parent, your priorities shift. And while looking after your infant is a primary focus right now, self-care is vital too — and it’s anything but selfish.
This week, try to squeeze in a little “me” time, whether it’s getting a haircut, stretching for a few minutes a day, or allowing a loved one to handle baby duty for a couple of hours so you can take a nap. It doesn’t have to be by yourself either. If you’re craving socialization, you might set up a coffee date with a friend or ask another new parent to join you on a stroller walk.
Sex and intimacy
Though you probably have the medical go-ahead for intercourse by now, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ready to have sex again. There’s no rush, but if and when you are up for it, keep in mind you could ovulate and get pregnant again before having a period, so don’t overlook birth control even if it seems early.
Try to carve out some one-on-one time with your partner this week — even if it’s not sexy time. Whether it’s leaving your little one with a trusted caregiver while you grab a bite to eat or cuddling up on the couch during naptime, staying connected is crucial.
Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team
- Queensland Children’s Hospital. Increasing your breast milk supply. Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service. 2021. Web.
- Sam P, et al. Anatomy, Abdomen and Pelvis, Bladder Detrusor Muscle. StatPearls. 2021.
- Korgavkar K and Wang F. Stretch marks during pregnancy: a review of topical prevention. The British journal of dermatology vol. 172,3 (2015): 606-15. doi:10.1111/bjd.13426
- Vora RV, et al. Pregnancy and skin. Journal of family medicine and primary care. 2014. 318-24. doi:10.4103/2249-4863.148099
- Tavakoli M, et al. Predictors of mothers’ postpartum body dissatisfaction based on demographic and fertility factors. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 21, 8. 2021. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-020-03501-x
- Office on Women’s Health (OASH). Postpartum depression. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHS). 2019. Web.
- Alum AC, et al. Factors associated with early resumption of sexual intercourse among postnatal women in Uganda. Reprod Health 12, 107. 2015. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12978-015-0089-5
- Pittman G. Pregnancy possible soon after giving birth. Reuters Health. 2011. Web.