Your hormones will shift again just as rapidly as they did after you get the pregnancy news. This happens to your hormones after giving birth, starting a few hours after delivery, and continuing for a few months.
By focusing on hormone balance after giving birth, many mothers hope to prevent or at least lessen the severity of postpartum mood disorders known as the baby blues.
Just what is it that’s going on with your body, exactly?
Knowing how your hormones work in the months leading up to and perhaps for the first six weeks after giving birth might be useful.
Estrogen is a crucial hormone for female reproduction. It is generated by the ovaries and is essential in pregnancy since it helps to grow the foetus and thicken the uterine lining.
Elevated oestrogen levels are a normal part of pregnancy, reaching a peak in the third trimester. Many professionals think the decline in oestrogen after giving birth contributes to postpartum depression.
Progesterone sources include the ovaries, adrenal glands, and placenta (during pregnancy).
Before conception, progesterone helps strengthen the uterine lining following ovulation so that it can receive a fertilised egg.
Placental progesterone production peaks early in pregnancy and remains high throughout. The hormones progesterone and relaxin, both produced by women, help relax the muscles, ligaments, and joints so that they may expand to accommodate the developing baby.
After giving delivery, your body’s progesterone levels will naturally drop. There will be no further increase until you start menstruating, anywhere from six weeks to a full month after giving birth (though this may vary if you are exclusively breastfeeding).
Other symptoms of low progesterone include baby blues, menstrual cycle abnormalities, weight gain, reduced sex drive, and headaches.
Prolactin, rising consistently during your pregnancy, remains stable after you give birth while progesterone and oestrogen levels decline. Breast milk production is stimulated by this hormone, while progesterone and oestrogen might impede this process.
What makes prolactin so intriguing is the link it seems to have with the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of pleasure, dopamine. Moodiness, exhaustion and extra pounds are side effects of too much prolactin.
Now that we have a sense of the major hormones involved, we can discuss the potential side effects of these hormone shifts and the measures you may take to alleviate them.
Postpartum Depression: Signs & Symptoms
Many new parents report feeling depressed and not like themselves after giving birth, likely due to hormonal changes. Swings in mood, inability to sleep, loss of appetite, feelings of sadness and worry, and uncontrollable outbursts of crying might become the norm.
The good news is that the baby blues usually fade away within a week or two. Signs of postpartum depression include a failure for these emotions to diminish or even worsen. Postpartum depression symptoms include:
- General malaise
- Abandonment of the infant
- Lack of faith
- Panic attacks
- A constant need to weep
- Inability to focus or remember things
- Lack of hunger
- Anxiety on a grand scale
- Extreme weariness and inability to sleep
- Soreness and discomfort
- Lack of ability to handle or enjoy life’s experiences
Depression after giving birth is quite real and should not be ignored. Warning signs like this warrant prompt attention from a doctor.
Hormonal Shifts After Childbirth
Look at the hormonal changes a woman experiences after delivering her baby.
Immediately Following Labour
After giving birth, your body’s oxytocin levels rise to assist you in recovering from birth and to make up for the rapid decline in progesterone and oestrogen. Likewise, the hormone prolactin will rise to optimal levels to facilitate lactation.
These hormonal shifts will manifest as positive emotions. Still, it’s also usual to have mood swings in the days and weeks following childbirth. Feelings of worry and despair may set in when the oxytocin wears off.
Postpartum Month: 1st
You likely function mostly on adrenaline and little sleep for the first three to six weeks after giving birth. As your body adjusts to its new routine, your hormone levels will begin to regulate. You can probably get around better now that your body is recovering.
The symptoms of postpartum depression seem different because they are more severe and linger for longer. Some symptoms may develop during the first few weeks of life, while others may not surface for up to a year.
Postpartum Month: 3rd
In the third month after giving birth, your hormones will have begun to recover to pre-pregnancy levels. However, owing to the various stresses of caring for a newborn, you may notice a rise in cortisol, the stress hormone. Usually, sleep deprivation makes this worse. Lack of sleep has been linked to further hormonal shifts, including lower serotonin and melatonin levels. Your disposition might suffer as a result of this.
Postpartum Month: 6th
Around the six-month point, your hormones will have reverted to pre-pregnancy levels. Additionally, this is common for women to experience their first period. Normal cyclicity is achievable after oestrogen and progesterone levels stabilise.
The hormone prolactin, which causes you to produce breast milk, begins to drop when your infant transitions away from breastfeeding. Your baby’s requirement for breastmilk will decrease when solid foods are introduced, even if you want to continue breastfeeding. However, if you continue to breastfeed exclusively, your prolactin levels will remain elevated, which may help to keep your oestrogen levels low.
Hormonal Imbalance: Tips & Tricks to Relieve Symptoms
If you’re having symptoms of a hormonal imbalance after giving birth, there are several ways to get some relief:
- Having someone else take care of the cooking and cleaning can provide much-needed downtime.
- Take care of your diet and your sleeping schedule.
- Try taking a relaxing bath, going for a stroll in the fresh air, or doing some mild exercise to ease your mind and body. Plan a get-together with your pals or schedule a dating night.
- Your doctor may also suggest treatment options for the infant blues.
Feeling down after giving birth, medically known as postpartum blues or psychosis, is natural. But it’s important to remember that these emotions usually pass quickly. However, if you’re experiencing severe symptoms that keep you from enjoying your time with your new baby, you should seek expert help.
Also, if you had a hormone imbalance before pregnancy, you are more likely to develop one after giving birth. To feel perfectly fine again, you should visit a healthcare professional and get treated as soon as possible.