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.
As your baby grows, your body should produce more milk to meet their nutritional needs. But if you’re having trouble keeping your supply up or are facing issues like recurring clogged ducts or nipple pain, remember breastfeeding isn’t for everyone.
Four months is quite an accomplishment, so don’t be too hard on yourself about making the switch to formula. When you wean your baby from nursing, your breasts will likely go back to their normal size, and you may experience breakouts or other hormonal symptoms.
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 be disheartening. But try not to freak out — it’s a totally normal symptom that happens to virtually every new mother in the year following childbirth. And it won’t last forever.
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 labor, 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 the “baby blues.” If you feel anxious or depressed for more than two weeks, contact your provider or call the Postpartum Support International hotline.
Your energy levels
Newborns need to eat every three-ish hours since their stomachs are so small. At four or five months, your baby might be able to stay full longer and potentially sleep for longer stretches. This means adequate shut-eye and more energy could be in your near future. But if your baby isn’t there quite yet, try not to sweat it. It’ll probably happen within the next few months.
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.
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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