The reason behind postpartum hormones and how to deal with them
Postpartum hormonal changes induces a lot of stress on the body. There are many hormones contributing to the effect and simple ways to deal with these changes.
While preparing for the miracle of childbirth, new moms often anticipate a variety of lifestyle changes like weight gain, disturbed sleep cycles, and breastfeeding. However, very few of them prepare for the emotional and psychological changes that are part of the package. Postpartum hormonal changes are a big deal and need to be addressed with a lot of support and understanding. If you are experiencing “baby blues” after childbirth, here are the hormones that contribute to the causes of postpartum depression:
Progesterone is a key pregnancy hormone that is produced by the ovaries and placenta. It is at its highest level in the body during the third trimester of pregnancy and drops low immediately after childbirth. You will again produce this hormone only during your first menstrual cycle, causing a tentative imbalance. Progesterone helps in the development of the fetus and plays a big role in preventing preterm labor. It also counteracts the effects of Prolactin – another key pregnancy hormone that triggers moodiness and low metabolism, adding to the causes of postpartum depression.
Prolactin is the hormone that triggers the production of milk in the body. The rise in the levels of prolactin is not evident during pregnancy because of progesterone that counteracts it. However, when the levels of progesterone drop after childbirth, the effects of prolactin are more pronounced. High amounts of prolactin in the body results in water retention, low energy levels and an overall feeling of being low. But this is temporary. Prolactin levels begin to drop between the 4 to 6 month mark when breast milk production decreases and you begin to introduce your baby to solid food.
Relaxin is produced during the second and third trimester of pregnancy. It helps in softening muscles, relaxing ligaments and preparing the pelvic region for childbirth. It also hinders muscle contractions that can lead to preterm labor and triggers the rupture of the membranes around the fetus for smooth childbirth. Since relaxin is still present in your body for up to 5 months after labor, your muscles will feel soft and yielding.
Oxytocin stimulates the contraction of the uterine muscles and promotes healthy secretion of milk in the breasts. However, oxytocin also triggers a variety of emotions like trust, empathy, anxiety and even sexual arousal. Since all these feelings play a key role in building an emotional relationship, oxytocin also helps in increasing the bond between the mother and her infant. This hormone is produced at the base of the brain and gradually drops as the mother reduces breastfeeding.
Symptoms of postpartum hormonal changes
Apart from feeling the “baby blues”, many women feel generally low with varied symptoms of postpartum depression. A few of them are discussed below:
Tiredness: Though tiredness is a given with a new baby in hand and a new life ahead, many moms experience extreme fatigue due to the emotional weight of their feelings. This is usually accompanied by headaches.
Low metabolism: Low metabolism coupled with weight gain and water retention is a sign of imbalance in your postpartum hormones. This can lead to mood swings and a sensation of not feeling like yourself.
Disturbed sleep: Postpartum hormonal imbalance can also lead to poor sleep patterns which further contributes to tiredness and fatigue.
How to deal with postpartum hormonal changes?
With such varying levels of hormones in the body, it is not uncommon for new moms to feel low and depressed – especially when they are expected to be elated with the new life in their arms. Here are a few ways you can deal with postpartum hormonal imbalance:
Communication is key
It is best to stop yourself from bottling up your feelings. According to recent statistics, 13% of new mothers and pregnant women suffer from symptoms of postpartum depression, so remember that you are not alone. Share your feelings with your spouse, a good friend or close relatives who are willing to lend a listening ear. Do not let your negative thoughts get to you. Speak it out.
Use all the help you can get
Being a new mom is taxing enough. Do not take it all up on yourself right from the first day of childbirth. Grab all the help you need in the form of relatives staying up with your baby or your spouse helping out in household chores. Your body has been on a roller coaster ride for the past 9 months and will continue to do so for up to a year. Cling on to all the help and pampering you get and use it to your advantage.
Though all women go through postpartum hormonal changes, not all of them feel the emotional crux of it. However, it is important to keep in mind that not only are all women wired differently, but each pregnancy is unique. The best solution is to remind yourself that this is just a phase and enjoy every minute of the tiny bundle of joy in your arms. Nevertheless, if the symptoms go out of control, it is best to reach out for professional medical help. Consult doctors online at mfine today and get expert help to navigate through the challenging phase of early motherhood.