3 surprising things that happen to women’s bodies after giving birth

Along with the joy of bringing a baby into the world, physical changes from pregnancy and postpartum conditions might cause unexpected effects on the body. It’s important to proactively discuss these topics with your doctor to stay informed, know you aren’t alone and understand what effective solutions are available.

Hair loss

Triggered by a change in estrogen levels, approximately 40-50% of women experience telogen effluvium — the excessive shedding of hair that occurs one to five months post-pregnancy, according to the American Pregnancy Association. The good news is that it’s usually temporary. Women can protect their hair by being extra gentle with it, particularly when it’s wet and more prone to breakage. Foods rich in flavonoids, antioxidants, biotin, zinc and vitamins B, C and E also can promote strong, healthy hair.

Stress urinary incontinence

Commonly referred to as light bladder leakage, stress urinary incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine when sudden pressure is placed on the bladder, like when you sneeze, cough, jump or laugh. One in three women of all ages experiences LBL, and it’s especially common among women who’ve given birth.

“Carrying the weight of a baby in the pelvis and the childbirth process can do quite a number on the pelvic floor and bladder, making it difficult to control urine flow, especially when you’re exerting yourself,” says Poise women’s health expert Dr. Jessica Shepherd, OB/GYN.

Dr. Shepherd notes that unhealthy lifestyle habits like smoking, drinking alcohol and using artificial sweeteners can increase one’s chances of experiencing LBL. Spicy, more acidic foods can also trigger LBL if you already have it.

“Knowing how your bladder reacts when you consume various foods can help you identify and avoid triggers,” says Dr. Shepherd.

Though common, many women are embarrassed by LBL. However, acknowledging it can help you find solutions. Here are a few to consider:

• Early on in your pregnancy, incorporate pelvic floor strengthening exercises into your fitness routine like Pilates, tai chi and Kegels.

• Try over-the-counter solutions specifically designed to protect against leaks. According to a survey conducted by Poise, 63 percent of women have used a sanitary napkin or period pad to address bladder leaks. These products weren’t designed to absorb moisture from urine and fail to provide LBL protection needed to stay comfortable and confident. Brands like Poise offer a variety of solutions designed to move with women’s bodies, including pads, ultra-thin pads, liners and microliners, in multiple sizes and absorbency levels. They also have an internal bladder support device called Impressa that’s inserted like a tampon, but instead of absorbing fluids, helps keep your urethra closed, stopping leaks for up to 12 hours per day.

“For my patients with bladder leakage, I always recommend trying Poise before more permanent surgical options are considered,” says Dr. Shepherd.

For more information on LBL and to find the right products for you, visit Poise.com.

Excess sweat

Many women sweat more, particularly at night, in the first few weeks after giving birth. This is caused by the natural process of your hormones working to rid your body of the excess fluids that supported your pregnancy. To combat this issue, wear loose-fitting, light garments and remember to stay hydrated.

Caring for a new baby can be overwhelming at first, but it’s important not to ignore your own wellness. Taking good care of yourself will help make your transition into parenthood more comfortable.

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