Vim & Vigor - Spring 2018 - University of Virginia - 39

TRUE OR FALSE:

Postpartum depression is
noticeable to you and people
around you.

FALSE. The postpartum depression
experienced by 1 in 9 mothers doesn't
always involve crying and sadness.
Often, women simply feel anxious,
overwhelmed or guilty, says Shannon
Clark, MD, a spokeswoman for the
American Congress of Obstetricians
and Gynecologists.
Every new mom struggles with lack
of sleep and worries about how to best
care for her baby. But if your mind is constantly racing with fears, you can't sleep
or eat, or you feel as though you can't
make it through the day, those feelings
are past the point of normal-especially if
they persist for a week or two, Clark says.
Postpartum depression is treatable
with counseling and sometimes medication, but it won't go away on its own.
"If you feel something's just not right,
that's all it takes to call your OB-GYN,"
Clark says.

TRUE OR FALSE:

It can take several weeks
for the vagina to feel normal
after birth.

TRUE. When you consider how
much the vagina stretches to allow a
baby through, it's no surprise that things
aren't quite right down there. First off,
expect to see blood, mucus and tissue
from the lining of the uterus in the first
several days after birth.
For weeks to come, the vaginal area
may feel swollen and sore, especially if
the perineum-the area between the
vagina and anus-was torn or cut during
birth. Those changes can cause incontinence and discomfort in the bathroom,
while vaginal dryness caused by a drop

in estrogen levels can make sex painful.
(When you do feel ready for sex, check
with your doctor first.)
Share concerns with your doctor,
Clark says, but know that such changes
are normal and that healing takes time.

TRUE OR FALSE:

Breastfeeding comes naturally
to new moms.

FALSE. It may seem like the work of
Mother Nature, but breastfeeding takes
effort and persistence from the majority
of new moms. A study in the journal
Pediatrics found that in the first three
days after the baby's birth, 92 percent of
first-time moms had at least one breastfeeding concern, like the baby not feeding well, breast pain or perceived lack of
milk. While 8 in 10 women in the U.S.
begin breastfeeding, only 19 percent
ultimately breastfeed exclusively for six
months, as recommended by the
American Academy of Pediatrics.
Clark encourages moms to seek support from lactation specialists-and not
to feel guilty if they supplement breastfeeding with bottle-feeding and formula.
"You think your body isn't going to fail
you, but the reality is that it sometimes
does," she says. "It's OK if things don't
exactly go the way you read they're
supposed to." ■

HOW QUICKLY
CAN I LOSE
THE BABY
WEIGHT?
As much as you miss your skinny
jeans, the postpartum period isn't
the time for cutting calories.
If you're breastfeeding, your
baby still relies on the nutrition
you provide, and calorie restriction
often correlates with a decrease
in milk supply, says Shannon
Clark, MD, a spokeswoman for the
American Congress of Obstetricians
and Gynecologists.
If you're able, breastfeeding is
in your best interests, not only for
the baby's health but also for your
weight loss. For the first six months,
your baby needs about 400 to 600
calories daily-and as he or she
gains calories, you lose them.
Ultimately, your rate of weight loss
depends on your pregnancy weight
gain. Although a gain of 25 to 35
pounds is recommended for normalweight women, almost half exceed
those recommendations. If you lose
1 to 2 pounds weekly, it can take
several weeks to several months to
reach your pre-pregnancy weight.
"There are no rules," Clark says.
"Everyone's body is different,
and everyone's circumstances
are different."

WEBSITE

Teach Me How to Kegel
Exercising the pelvic muscles helps with postpartum vaginal healing
and bladder control. To learn Kegel exercises, visit the American
Pregnancy Association at americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/
kegel-exercises.

SPRING 2018

39


http://www.americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/kegel-exercises http://www.americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/kegel-exercises

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