The arrival of a new baby should be a joyful occasion, but pregnancy and childbirth still places the body under an immense amount of physical strain, whilst the reality of having a new baby, and the impacts this has on life can be equally stressful.
Many women are unprepared for the physical changes that pregnancy and childbirth places on the body. After childbirth the body experiences hormonal adjustments as well a physical repair. It is not unusual to experience symptoms such as bleeding, swollen and uncomfortable breasts, stretch marks, hair loss, vaginal and perineal pain, piles and constipation, and incontinence. Some women may be subject to postnatal infections. These symptoms are both painful and in some cases women may feel uncomfortable or embarrassed talking about them.
Concurrently, new mothers face huge changes in their lifestyle, and huge challenges to their reserves of energy. Previous day-to-day workplace relationships are curtailed to a great extent, and women may experience feelings of isolation. An additional physical symptom may be feelings of discomfort during sex, this sense of change and isolation may extend to their relationship with their partner.
The combination of hormonal change, health problems and difficulties adapting to a new lifestyle, may wreak havoc on self-esteem and body image, particularly if regaining a pre-pregnancy body shape is proving difficult. These feelings can affect all women, but may be magnified in the case of women who struggled with body image before their pregnancy or have a history of eating disorders or disordered eating.
Postnatal depression affects one in ten women and previous problems with depression in addition to difficult circumstances surrounding the birth can make women more prone to it. Fortunately, postnatal depression is recognized as an illness, and treatments are available.
NB: It is not unusual for women to suffer from “baby blues” – often linked to hormonal changes, tiredness and coping with the totally new experience of motherhood. However, these feelings of irritability, lack of energy, or just being low generally go within a few days.
- You are feeling very unhappy.
- You have no interest in your baby or any normal day-to-day activities.
- You’ve lost your appetite.
- You are suffering from insomnia.
- Your self-esteem is low and you may suffer from anxiety and feelings of guilt
HOW WEIGHTMATTERS CAN HELP
Our doctor can assess you for the presence of postnatal depression, examine you and make suggestions to help alleviate your symptoms. Where necessary, medication can be prescribed for infections, or referrals made to other specialists. In the case of PND, anti-depressants can be prescribed if appropriate
Our dietician can provide practical solutions to the difficulties of regaining a pre-pregnancy figure, by designing a nutritionally balanced eating programme for healthy weight loss, whilst maintaining energy and supporting breastfeeding.
Our therapists can support you if you are struggling with PND, any physical or lifestyle changes you are experiencing, and any fears you have around changing body shape or a loss of control over eating.
Your body therapist will devise a relaxation programme to help you lower your stress levels using various massage techniques to relax body and mind and reacquaint yourself with your body.