Here’s what you might experience in terms of physical changes, mental health, energy levels, self-care needs, and intimacy at 11 weeks postpartum.
Also known as edema, postpartum water retention is relatively common. You probably had some swelling in your legs, feet, and hands during pregnancy, and while this swelling usually goes down substantially in the week after giving birth, you might continue to retain water for a few months. If it gets noticeably worse, let your healthcare provider know.
As many as 60% of women develop diastasis recti (separation of the left and right ab muscles) during pregnancy, which can make your stomach stick out slightly. It’s not usually permanent, but about 40% will still have it at six months postpartum.
The vast majority of people develop stretch marks during pregnancy. Though they can fade, they may never disappear entirely. You might also notice other skin issues this week, like breakouts, hyperpigmentation (dark patches), hives, or rashes.
These conditions can be frustrating, especially if you’ve never experienced them before. But the good news is you’re probably not as restricted in terms of skincare treatments as you were while pregnant.
Some people begin to lose hair around this time. This postpartum symptom can be hard, especially when you’ve gotten used to lusciously thick pregnancy hair. But remember it’s completely normal and also temporary.
Your period could come as soon as four weeks after giving birth or take nearly a year to show up again. (It usually takes a little longer for those who are breastfeeding, but this isn’t always the case.)
When your cycle does restart, it could be longer or shorter than it used to be or involve different or more intense symptoms. Additionally, while you might get a period around this time, don’t be surprised if it’s not regular for another few months.
Your mental health
Depression and anxiety are among the most common mental health conditions at 11 weeks postpartum. Here’s what to know.
Roughly 11% of new mothers suffer from postpartum depression (PPD). Symptoms of PPD include:
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Intense irritability and anger
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Appetite changes – loss of appetite or eating more than usual
- Sleep troubles – inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
- Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
- Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, or inadequacy
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Talk to your provider if these symptoms sound familiar. You are not alone and there are many treatment options available to help you feel like yourself again.
Some of these symptoms overlap with symptoms of other postpartum mood disorders, including postpartum anxiety disorders.
While the symptoms of PPD sometimes overlap with postpartum anxiety, the most common signs are lingering worry, racing thoughts, feelings of dread, restlessness, increased heart rate, and shakiness. If symptoms of either condition don’t go away in about two weeks, get in touch with your healthcare provider or call the Postpartum Support International hotline.
Your energy levels
If your energy is lagging this week, lack of sleep is likely to blame. According to a survey, most new parents sleep between five and six hours a night (and it may not be in a row) — two to three hours short of the recommended seven to nine. You might still be a few months away from your baby sleeping through the night, but we promise there’s light at the end of the tunnel. All children eventually sleep through the night!
Your baby is a top priority right now, but tending to your own needs is crucial too. In a perfect world, your self-care might involve venturing out for a group yoga class or binging several episodes of your favorite show. But this week, it could be something as simple as taking daily walks, streaming a quick workout, or painting your nails at home. It can also look like asking for help with household tasks or ordering pre-prepped meals. Anything that makes life easier and more enjoyable!
Sex and intimacy
While you’re probably cleared to have intercourse by now, it might take some time before you feel up for it, emotionally and physically. Switching gears from parenting mode to sexy time isn’t always easy, let alone finding the opportunity. If you are interested in sex, you may find you need more foreplay, and you may benefit from using lube (even if you never needed it before). Breastfeeding parents may find their sex drive is particularly low due to hormonal changes. It’s totally normal, and it can help to talk about this specific situation with your partner.
When you do start having sex again, don’t overlook birth control (if you could become pregnant from sex) — it’s possible to ovulate this early, potentially before you get your first postpartum period. In any case, some alone time with your partner can help you connect during this hectic stage, even if it’s just watching a movie at home or cooking dinner together.
Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team
- Riley M. The First Year of Parenthood: New Parents and Their Sleep Patterns. Sleep Junkie. 2021. Web.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Edema. The Mayo Clinic. 2020. Web.
- 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
- 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.