Here’s what you might be going through this week in terms of physical and mental health, your energy levels, self-care needs, intimacy, and social connection.
Physical symptoms at 19 weeks postpartum can involve everything from hormonal shifts and skin changes to water retention and hair loss.
In addition to the actual time it takes to feed, pump, and clean the equipment, breastfeeding can take a toll on your body. It can be hard to prioritize getting enough nutrition, hydration and rest. Most experts recommend continuing a prenatal or postnatal vitamin while breastfeeding to fill in nutritional gaps.
At this point, you’re likely pumping for work or social needs. If you’ve been pumping for several months, it may be worth checking your flange size again, and replacing parts, like duckbills, that wear down with frequent use.
You might not get your period until after you stop breastfeeding, though everyone’s timeline is unique. When your cycle does show back up, it could bring different or more intense symptoms than before, like noticeable breast tenderness or severe cramps.
Also known as edema, postpartum water retention happens when extra fluid is trapped in the tissues below your skin. It usually goes away a couple of weeks after childbirth, though some people still experience swelling months later.
Staying hydrated, taking walks, and eating fewer salty foods can help. But if you notice it getting worse or that one area is suddenly more swollen than another, let your healthcare provider know.
We’re sorry to say there’s really not much you can do to stop postpartum hair loss. It can be really distressing to see and feel so much loss. The good news is that it’s temporary. Most people are back to their usual fullness (sometimes even fuller) by their child’s first birthday.
Your mental health
Roughly 85% of women experience some type of mood disturbance in the first six months after giving birth. For most, it’s short-lived or mild enough that it doesn’t disrupt their lives, but as many as 15% will suffer from more severe or longer-lasting postpartum depression (PPD) or anxiety.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a form of anxiety, could also arise. If you experience any common symptoms of OCD, PPD, or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), like repetitive behaviors, obsessive or racing thoughts, irritability, extreme mood swings, sleep issues, appetite changes, or deep, lingering sadness for longer than two weeks, call your provider or the Postpartum Support International hotline.
Sleep and energy
On average, new parents get between five and six hours of shut-eye each night the first year. Energy is directly tied to sleep, so if you’re not getting enough, it’ll be tough to power through your day with a clear head. According to a study, sleep deprivation could also make it harder to lose the weight gained during pregnancy.
It’s easier said than done, but definitely try to rest when you can. Getting a full night of uninterrupted sleep is ideal, but two four-hour stretches are better than one five-hour stretch.
Try to make self-care a priority this week. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant — small changes and healthy habits can make a big difference. Consider meditating, stretching, going on brisk walks, streaming 20-minute workouts, trying a new recipe, or applying a refreshing face mask.
Sex, intimacy, and social connection
About nine out of ten women are sexually active again in the first six months after giving birth. Still, many experience low libido and other setbacks like pain during intercourse and difficulty reaching orgasm. Pelvic floor therapy is becoming more accessible, and can set you up with a plan for healing instead of trying to muddle through.
While intimacy with your partner is important, it doesn’t have to involve sex if you’re not quite ready (or just not in the mood). When you do feel up for it, though, make sure you have a plan for birth control because you could ovulate before getting your first postpartum period.
And no matter your relationship status, human connection is essential. New parenthood can be isolating, and bonding with family members, friends, and other parents can foster a sense of community and make you feel less alone.
Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team
- Canul-Medina G and Fernandez-Mejia C. Morphological, hormonal, and molecular changes in different maternal tissues during lactation and post-lactation. J Physiol Sci 69, 825–835. 2019. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12576-019-00714-4
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Edema. The Mayo Clinic. 2020. Web.
- American Academy of Dermatology Association. Hair Loss in New Moms. Web.
- MGH Center for Women’s Health. Postpartum Psychiatric Disorders. Reproductive Psychiatry Resource & Information Center. Web.
- Riley M. The First Year of Parenthood: New Parents and Their Sleep Patterns. Sleep Junkie. 2021. Web.
- Gunderson EP, et al. Association of fewer hours of sleep at 6 months postpartum with substantial weight retention at 1 year postpartum. American journal of epidemiology vol. 167,2. 2008. 178-87. doi:10.1093/aje/kwm298
- Gutzeit O, et al. Postpartum Female Sexual Function: Risk Factors for Postpartum Sexual Dysfunction. Sexual medicine vol. 8,1. 2020. 8-13. doi:10.1016/j.esxm.2019.10.005
- Pittman G. Pregnancy possible soon after giving birth. Reuters Health. 2011. Web.