Fourteen weeks postpartum

Here’s what might be going on with your body, mental health, energy levels, intimacy, and work-life balance at 14 weeks postpartum.

Your body

Three and a half months after giving birth, your body is getting stronger, and you may be able to start re-gaining some lost muscle.

Diastasis recti

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.

Water retention

Your body might still be retaining a bit of water. Also known as edema, postpartum swelling should slowly resolve on its own, but if it gets noticeably worse, let your healthcare provider know.

Hair loss

Postpartum hair loss usually starts a few months after childbirth, so you might notice some fallout this week. The amount of shedding can be alarming, and while this symptom is arguably one of the worst, remember it happens to virtually everyone following pregnancy and won’t go on forever.

Your mental health

Lots of new parents feel proud, happy, and all-around content at this stage. Still, body image issues, postpartum depression, and anxiety are relatively common. Here’s what to know.

Body image

Pregnancy changes your body in many ways. Beyond weight gain, it can affect your hormones, your skin, your period, and your hair — to name just a few. It’s easier said than done, but instead of  “bouncing back” to your pre-baby size, focus your efforts on “bouncing forward.”

Some people never get back to their pre-pregnancy clothing size, and that’s more than OK. It’s easy to get caught up in negative self-talk, comparing yourself to others, and the pressure to be fit shortly after childbirth. The most important thing, though, is to strive for mental and physical health, no matter your size. This mindset is not only good for you but also your child.

Postpartum depression and anxiety

About one in nine new mothers have postpartum depression (PPD or the “baby blues”), and as many as one in five struggle with anxiety. While they’re not exactly the same, the symptoms of these conditions often overlap.

Some of the most common include constant worry, lingering sadness, mood swings, appetite changes, and sleep issues. Postpartum anxiety can also have physical effects, like increased heart rate, shakiness, and excessive sweating. If you feel depressed or anxious for more than a couple of weeks, contact your healthcare provider or call the Postpartum Support International hotline.

Your energy levels

Because most babies don’t yet sleep through the night, there’s a good chance you’re not getting the amount of rest you need to keep up your energy levels. If possible, consider some creative approaches to rest, like switching off with your partner for part of the night, naps or going to bed very early. Eating a balanced diet, moving your body, and drinking tea or coffee can help prevent sluggishness. Just try not to go overboard with caffeine later in the day, as it can make it harder to fall asleep when you get your chance.

Sex, intimacy, and social connection

Bonding with your partner is important, even if you’re not quite ready to be sexually active. But when you do start having intercourse again, don’t overlook birth control because you could unknowingly ovulate before getting your first postpartum period. You may find additional foreplay, lube or avoiding penetrative sex more enjoyable at first.

And whether you’re a single parent or in a relationship, social connection is vital. Spending time with friends and having a sense of community can make the experience of new parenthood feel less isolating.

Work-life balance

Going back to work after having a baby can range from freeing to emotional to stressful. From finding childcare to pumping during the day to being away from your little one for the first time, it’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed. Looking for support from people who have been in your shoes — co-workers or friends — can really help. They may have ideas to simplify routines or just be a good place to vent.

Try to give yourself grace as you navigate this new life stage. And as always, let your healthcare provider know if you experience any severe or lingering mental or physical symptoms.

Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team


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