Postpartum Hormonal Changes and Your Pelvic Floor

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a woman holds her baby, another woman sits next to her holding a model of a pelvis. They are both looking at the pelvis

It’s important for new moms to be aware of postpartum hormonal changes. If you’re wondering when do hormones level out postpartum, this blog will guide you.

In the moments following birth, many new mothers experience a range of emotions. These emotions can include adrenaline, happiness, excitement, and accomplishment. Adjusting to the postpartum period can be difficult and overwhelming. To navigate this time, it is important to prepare for the challenges that may arise. Your body undergoes hormonal changes during pregnancy and childbirth that can impact your physical and mental health.

Postpartum, hormone levels will return to pre-pregnancy levels but there might be a postpartum hormone imbalance. You should be aware of the changes that might occur during this time. In particular, the impact of hormones on the pelvic floor. Let’s discuss. We’ll get into the timeline of hormonal changes postpartum and the connection between the pelvic floor.

Timeline of postpartum hormonal changes

Postpartum hormone changes are the body’s way of helping you adjust to the demands of motherhood. During pregnancy, estrogen and progesterone prepare the body for delivery. However, immediately after childbirth, these hormones decrease. This is to help prepare you for breastfeeding and other post-birth caregiving tasks.

Progesterone and oxytocin

The first hormone to decrease immediately following childbirth is progesterone. Progesterone helps regulate the menstrual cycle. This hormone helps your body adjust to the sudden decrease in gestation hormones. This makes it easier for you to bond with baby. During this time, levels of the “love hormone” oxytocin surge. This helps you feel connected to the baby and urges you to nurture.

Estrogen and prolactin

The next hormone to decrease is estrogen, which helps lactation. Estrogen levels drop after delivery and remain low for several weeks while breastfeeding. During this time, prolactin increases to maintain milk production. Prolactin is a hormone that stimulates breast milk production. Oxytocin continues to release during nursing sessions. By about three months postpartum, prolactin levels decrease while progesterone starts to increase.

Cortisol

Cortisol aka the stress hormone is a hormone that plays an important role in the postpartum period, too. It helps to regulate stress responses, mood and energy levels. It can even influence breast milk production. During the postpartum period cortisol levels tend to remain high, and this can have an impact on your overall health. High cortisol levels can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety, and postpartum depression.

How hormones are involved with the pelvic floor

Postpartum hormones play an important role in the health of the pelvic floor. Hormone levels, particularly of estrogen and progesterone, can have a significant impact. Particularly, on the strength and elasticity of the muscles that make up this area.

Estrogen helps increase blood flow to the pelvic area and encourages new tissue growth. Progesterone helps relax the pelvic floor muscles, making them more pliable. These hormones also affect the production of collagen and elastin. Collagen and elastin are essential for maintaining the strength of the pelvic floor. Hormone fluctuation can lead to weakened or overactive pelvic floor muscles.

When you’ll feel normal again

You may feel more energized as your pregnancy hormones start to level out and become more balanced. For example, as your body recovers from delivery, you may experience a peak in the hormone progesterone. This helps reduce contractions of the uterus and fuel lactation. But, then, there may also be a drop in oxytocin levels.

As months pass, your hormones will continue to fluctuate. They will do this until they return back to their pre-pregnancy state. This can take anywhere from three to six months. During this period, estrogen and progesterone levels will slowly drop. Oxytocin levels will start to increase.

Once the body has settled into a non-pregnant state, it can take some time for your hormone levels to go back to pre-pregnancy levels. Any changes you experience during this transitional period may cause you to feel overwhelmed or anxious. This is normal.

As the body adjusts, prolactin levels will increase as your milk supply increases. During lactation, prolactin helps keep milk production going while inhibiting ovulation. This is why breastfeeding mothers don’t ovulate or have a menstrual cycle until after weaning.

When do hormones level out postpartum?

The reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone rise as ovulation resumes. However, it can take up to two years for a woman’s hormone levels to return to pre-pregnancy levels! As a result, you might feel a wide range of emotional and physical symptoms during this time. These can include anxiety, depression, mood swings, and fatigue.

Enter the postpartum period (the time after childbirth). Postpartum can last for weeks, months, or even years, based on your recovery process. Then, pregnancy hormones decrease, and women’s hormone levels return to pre-pregnancy levels.

Hormonal imbalances symptoms

Women may experience a hormonal imbalance during the postpartum period. This can cause various mental and physical symptoms. You may experience:

  • Baby blues
  • Feeling weepy or blue-like for a few days after childbirth
  • Severe postpartum depression
  • Dry vagina – use lube
  • Postpartum thyroiditis. This causes temporary thyroid gland inflammation that can affect hormone levels. It can lead to mood changes, fatigue, anxiety and even weight gain.
  • Lack of sleep and the stress hormone cortisol can negatively impact hormone levels, too. This can result in pelvic floor muscle problems such as vaginal dryness.

Solutions for hormonal imbalances

Postpartum hormone levels can also be affected by lifestyle factors. Exercise, nutrition getting adequate sleep are all important for keeping hormones balanced. The postpartum period can lead to hormonal shifts that negatively impact the health of your pelvic floor. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is one solution for some women, but it has risks. Other options include:

  • Exercise
  • A healthy diet focusing on healthy fats
  • Moisture and lubrication products for vaginal dryness.
  • Kegel exercises, (contracting and relaxing the muscles that surround the vagina) to prevent urinary incontinence.

Postpartum hormonal changes can significantly affect your pelvic floor health. Inform yourself about the timeline of hormone changes, which can last months postpartum. This can help you understand their impact on your body and can help you better care for yourself.

Adopt healthy habits like a balanced diet, regular exercise, and prioritizing rest. If you need it, seek out proper health care. This will help you manage hormonal imbalances. This can help reduce the chances of pelvic floor problems as well.

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