Society has created an image of what life looks like after you have a baby, and while this picture of postpartum life includes things like sleeplessness, it also glows with the joy of new parenthood.
It almost never includes the idea that your hormones could be changing so fast you’ll feel like you have emotional whiplash.
At Osteopathic Center for Healing in Rockville, Maryland, Neil Spiegel, DO, and Jennifer Gularson, PA-C, help patients at all stages of life enjoy an optimal level of health. In order to fully enjoy your family, you need to be functioning well, with manageable stress levels, little pain, and a calm frame of mind.
We offer such services as acupuncture, osteopathic manipulation, and hormone balancing to help you reach your optimal level of health, even during the tumultuous postpartum period.
The super fast hormone change postpartum
By the time you give birth, your hormone levels have reached the highest possible levels.
Throughout your pregnancy, your body produces estrogen and progesterone to support your health and your baby’s health. Then, within about three days after birth, those hormones return to baseline levels. That’s fast!
This rapid drop in hormone levels is the biggest hormone change in the shortest timespan any human ever experiences. It’s faster than puberty, menopause, or any other big change you can think of.
Along with estrogen and progesterone, your thyroid hormones are likely to fluctuate more than usual during the year after giving birth. Cortisol may increase, and hormones like prolactin, related to milk production, and relaxin and oxytocin, which prepare your body for giving birth, also change a great deal.
What changing hormones mean for you
Such a big change in such a short period of time has consequences. You’re likely to feel lots of different ways — lonely, isolated, sad, wonderfully happy and joyful, angry, and just about any other emotion you care to name.
When you add the other stressors of new parenthood to the hormonal roller coaster, you begin to see why that first year is often emotionally difficult.
You’re likely to get less sleep than you need, you may have worries about caring for a tiny human, you probably have other obligations to see to, and generally, things are difficult.
What you can do
There’s nothing you can do about the hormonal changes, other than to be prepared. But there are some things you can do to ease the turmoil you’re likely to feel.
For example, pay close attention to nutrition to give your body what it needs to heal. If you’re breastfeeding, good nutrition is even more important.
Aim for meals that are rich in protein, healthy fats, minerals, and vitamins. We can help you develop a plan if you’re unsure about what to eat.
Another thing you can do is sleep when you can. Rather than attempting to catch up on everything you need to do while your baby naps, take a nap instead. This will help when you need to be awake with your baby in the middle of the night.
How we can help
Along with an excellent nutrition plan and sleeping as much as you can, you can also visit us at Osteopathic Center for Healing. We help you find ways to lower your overall stress levels.
When you feel chronic stress, your body uses resources to maintain a constant fight-or-flight state. If you can lower your stress levels, your body can spend its reserves healing, which is necessary after the changes of pregnancy and the difficulties of birth.
Services like acupuncture can lower stress levels, and osteopathic manipulation can help make sure your body is in proper mechanical order to function well.
Whether you’re preparing for the postpartum period, or you find yourself there and are unsure how to handle it, schedule an appointment with our experts. We’re always happy to help.