It takes about a year on average to fully recuperate — both mentally and physically — from childbirth. Everyone’s postpartum journey is different, but keep this in mind if you’re not feeling like your old self yet.
Here’s what might be going on with your body, mental health, energy levels, self-care needs, and intimacy this week.
Some of the most common physical symptoms at 13 weeks postpartum revolve around breastfeeding, your period, skin changes, and potential hair fallout.
Breastfeeding or pumping for a full three months is no easy feat, so give yourself a pat on the back if you’ve made it this far. As you enter month four, keep an eye on how you’re feeling emotionally. The reality of being responsible for your baby’s nutritional needs can become overwhelming over time. A support group or even just some friends and family who have had this experience can be invaluable relationships to help you meet your breastfeeding goals.
If you haven’t gotten your period by now, it could happen this week. But if you’re still breastfeeding, it may take a bit longer. And when your cycle does start back up, it might be irregular for a few months, longer or shorter than before, or involve different or more severe symptoms.
Skin changes and hair loss
At the 13-week mark, your uterus has probably retracted to its normal size, but you may still have stretch marks. While these slightly indented streaks sometimes fade, they might never fully disappear. Just know they’re super common (about 90% of women get them during pregnancy) and are evidence of your body’s amazing ability to grow a human.
Breakouts and dark patches (hyperpigmentation) are also somewhat common at this stage. You might start to shed a little this week too. Postpartum hair loss can be a real bummer, but it’s totally normal and won’t go on forever.
Your mental health
As you get into the swing of new parenthood and watch your baby’s personality develop each day, you might feel joyful and proud. That said, postpartum depression (PPD) and anxiety are also relatively common around this time.
The symptoms of these conditions can overlap. Some of the most common include lingering sadness, constant worry, feelings of dread, appetite changes, mood swings, irritability, and difficulty sleeping. If these symptoms go on longer than two weeks, call the Postpartum Support International hotline or get in touch with your healthcare provider.
Your energy levels
Eating healthy and moving your body are crucial for keeping your energy levels up. But if you’re feeling sluggish this week, a lack of sleep is likely to blame. On average, new parents get about five and a half hours of shut-eye a night (often not in a row) — two and a half less than the recommended eight.
Your baby might be sleeping for longer stretches now, which can be a real game-changer. But if they’re not quite there yet, try not to sweat it. There’s definitely light at the end of the tunnel, as all children eventually sleep through the night.
Though your baby’s needs are immediate and constant, tending to your own needs is important too. It might sound like a cliché at this point, but you can’t care for others until you take care of yourself.
It can feel like the world around you expects you to have things “figured out” by now, and offers of help may be fewer and farther between. It’s okay to feel like you still need support! Don’t hesitate to ask your partner, family or friends for what you need. Caring for a family is a huge responsibility, and you weren’t meant to do it on your own.
Sex, intimacy, and social connection
It can take some time to feel up for having sex again. If and when you start, remember it’s not too soon to think about birth control (if it makes sense for you) — it’s possible to ovulate (and conceive) before getting your period.
Whether you’re single or in a relationship, human connection is vital for your emotional health. New parenthood can be overwhelming and isolating at times, and bonding with your partner, friends, or family members can help you feel more grounded and less alone.
Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team
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