Adjusting To Physical Changes In The Fourth Trimester

As if pregnancy didn’t create enough physical changes in a woman’s body, the process continues into the postpartum period. As a result, many people refer to the initial postpartum period as the fourth trimester. Not only is a woman adjusting to caring for a newborn, but a woman’s body is also adjusting after spending 9 months growing a little human. While many changes occur during postpartum, the following are a few of the most common that occur.


1. Lots of discharge

After nine months without menstruating, don’t be surprised to experience consistent discharge shortly after giving birth. Formally known as lochia, the discharge can range from blood to other fluids and can also include harmless blood clots. The length can vary somewhat depending on each woman, but usually, lochia discharge ends between 4-6 weeks after giving birth. Additionally, women who opt to breastfeed may not experience lochia immediately after birth.

2. Engorgement and nursing pain

While breastfeeding is often promoted as the most natural and easy process in the world, the reality can be very different. Beyond dealing with the initial discomfort of latching, another common setback can be engorgement. Engorgement can happen to any postpartum woman, including people who opt to bottle feed instead of nurse. The experience refers to when a woman’s breasts become overly full with milk. Typically engorgement occurs in breastfeeding women who miss a feeding.

3. General body swelling

During pregnancy, some of the added weight a woman gains comes from additional fluids. Not only is swelling a common side effect of pregnancy, but the condition can continue into the postpartum period. Although the experience can feel concerning, women shouldn’t be alarmed. Swelling is the body’s attempt to remove excess fluids. In general, a woman should try to rest when possible and keep legs elevated to help ease discomfort. Additionally, women should try to drink plenty of water to aid in alleviating the swelling. Also, consider dressing in looser clothing and keeping the room temperature cool.

Adjusting to postpartum life

As if adjusting to caring for a newborn wasn’t enough, a woman in postpartum also has to navigate a variety of physical changes, and some side effects may be unexpected. However, with time, most of the common physical changes that occur during postpartum will subside. For women who are experiencing more serious discomfort, consider speaking with an obstetrician or postpartum midwife for help with easing symptoms.

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