You’re about four months in — a major milestone for both you and your baby. But if you’re not feeling like your old self quite yet, you’re not alone. Research shows it takes about a year to fully recuperate from giving birth and adjust to the reality of parenthood.
Here’s what you might experience at 17 weeks postpartum in terms of physical changes, mental health, energy levels, self-care needs, and social connections.
Here’s what to expect in terms of physical changes, mental health, and energy levels your first week postpartum.
Physical symptoms at the 17-week mark can involve everything from hormonal shifts and skin changes to hair loss and water retention.
Four months of breastfeeding is a major accomplishment! If you’re breastfeeding, you’re likely hitting your stride with feeding, and maybe you’re starting to wonder what this next phase of feeding will look like. Will you start solids soon or will baby start teething? Social support groups for new parents who are breastfeeding can be valuable places to share experiences, gain tips, and just commiserate about the challenges. In-person and online communities can both be great sources of support as your breastfeeding journey continues.
Aside from acne, you might notice other skin changes this week, like rosacea, eczema, rashes, hives, or general sensitivity. Get in touch with a dermatologist if these conditions don’t improve in a few weeks.
Postpartum hair loss can range from disheartening to devastating. Although temporary, it can be an additional adjustment during this time. Supplements and pricey solutions are unlikely to be effective, but a new haircut and volumizing shampoo can work wonders.
Postpartum water retention (aka edema) happens when excess fluid is trapped within the tissues under your skin. It usually subsides in the first couple of weeks after giving birth, though the swelling might not go away completely for a few months. Moving your body, drinking more water, and eating fewer salty foods can help, but let your healthcare provider know if it gets worse.
Your mental health
Anxiety and depression are among the most common mental health conditions at 17 weeks postpartum. Here’s what to know.
Common signs of postpartum anxiety include racing thoughts, constant worry, restlessness, and feelings of dread. The symptoms can also be physical, such as excessive sweating, hot flashes, shakiness, dizziness, and nausea.
Symptoms of postpartum depression (PPD) include feelings of deep sadness, worthlessness, or inadequacy, overwhelming fatigue, eating more or less than usual, excessive crying, and thoughts about harming yourself or your baby.
The hormonal shifts from weaning off breastfeeding might also contribute to PPD. If you feel anxious or depressed for more than two weeks, contact your provider or call the Postpartum Support International hotline.
Your energy levels
Four months for your newborn ushers in a new period of development that can lead to some hiccups when it comes to overnight sleep.
If you’re used to some longer stretches of sleep, you might start noticing that baby is interrupting this routine. Don’t panic, you’re not headed back to the newborn stage, but you may need to roll with a tougher phase of sleep or make some adjustments to nap and bedtime routines. Enlist help during the day time and make a plan with your partner for overnight care.
It’s easier said than done, but getting enough rest and eating a nutritious diet are crucial for new parents. If your loved ones offer to help with baby duty or tasks around the home, take them up on it so you can have the free time to tend to your own needs. Self-care may not always look glamorous, sometimes a special meal at home or time to read just for pleasure is a win!
Sex, intimacy, and social connection
Whether it’s date night, going on a walk, or watching your favorite show together, alone time with your partner can help you feel connected during this chaotic life stage. And when you’re ready to have sex again, remember it’s never too early to think about birth control. You could unknowingly ovulate and get pregnant before your period starts.
Human interaction is essential, no matter your relationship status. The first year of parenthood can be overwhelming, and spending time with friends, family, and other new parents might help you feel more grounded.
Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team
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- Mayo Clinic Staff. Edema. The Mayo Clinic. 2020. Web.
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