Baby Steps: 7 Ways to Bounce Back After Pregnancy

While you’re getting to know your new baby after nine, long months of waiting, it’s possible you’ll also have to get reacquainted with your new body. Here are 7 weird body issues that show up once you leave the delivery room, and how to deal with them.

1. Hair Loss
During your pregnancy, your hair also experiences a pregnancy glow thanks to all the extra hormones taking over your body. You’ll notice thicker and longer locks because the body skips over the shedding process of the hair cycle. Unfortunately, this luxury may disappear after child birth. About 40 to 50% of women experience telogen effluvium, or excessive hair loss, one to five months postpartum. Though it’s temporary, help mask thinning hair by using volumizing shampoo that has ingredients like protein, which coats the hair helping it appear fuller. Also, use conditioners formulated for fine hair and apply it only to the tips of the strands to prevent weighing it down.

SEE ALSO: A Permanent Solution to Female Hair Loss

2. Brittle Nails
Along with lustrous hair, many women notice stronger fingernails during their pregnancy. But while holding your baby, you might notice the appearance of softer or brittle nails. You might want to ask your doctor to test for iron deficiency, which is a culprit for nail deficiencies. Taking supplements and eating iron-rich foods such as tofu, fortified cereals, beans and lamb can help restore iron in the body. And as a result, your fingernails should be back to normal between three to six months postpartum, while your toenails could take up to nine months to a year. To protect your hands from onychoschizia (the medical term for splitting nails), reduce the exposure to water or harsh chemicals by using rubber gloves when washing dishes or cleaning.

3. Stretch Marks
To make room for the little person or persons growing inside, the body experiences a lot of stretching and pulling. Pesky stretchmarks or striae gravidarum, are nature’s evidence of pregnancy, and scarring can occur on the hips, stomach, breast and even butt. They may start out as red marks and lighten up within the year, though many women are stuck with permanent dark marks. To prevent everlasting scarring, early treatment is key. Applying a Retin-A cream on newer marks can help rebuild collagen, the firming fibers that tear when the skin stretches. This cream should only be used if you’re not pregnant or nursing. For stubborn stretchmarks, women may opt for microdermabrasion, a procedure which tiny crystals blast away the top layer of the skin to stimulate collagen production. Another method that battles old scars is an FDA approved laser treatment that adds pigment to older, lighter stretchmarks to help blend them into the surrounding skin.

4. Dark Spots
More than 50% of pregnant women experience melasma, the darkening of pigmentation around the mouth, cheeks and forehead caused by elevated levels of estrogen. To prevent melasma, women should steer clear of the sun both during pregnancy and after giving birth. Exposure to ultraviolet rays can darken existing freckles or stimulate hyperpigmentation, resulting in dark spots on the skin. Applying an SPF of 30 helps provide both UVA and UVB protection. Moms wanting to rid the appearance of dark areas can use at-home scrubs and polishing kits formulated to rejuvenate damaged skin. If you prefer a professional treatment, you can elect a noninvasive cosmetic treatment of micropolishing the skin. This procedure helps polish, buff and tone the facial, neck and chest areas, which promotes high cell turnover.

5. Saggy Breast
Your breast may appear supple and voluptuous during your pregnancy, but what comes up, must come down. Sadly, the stretched ligaments in the breast may not bounce back after their dramatic growth. Though beneficial to your new born, breastfeeding can also slump the boobs. To help the presence of droopy, shapeless breast, women should consider purchasing undergarments that fit the new contour of the breast. Ill-fitting bras are not only uncomfortable but they won’t provide the proper support. Additionally, hitting the gym can help tone the chest muscles, aiding in saggy breasts. However, if you’re not happy with the girls, a mastopexy, commonly known as a breast lift, may help. This procedure repositions the nipple higher on the chest wall and can be combined with breast implants.

6. Varicose Veins
Due to the added pressure the uterus puts on your pelvic blood vessels, veins on the ankles, legs or face can go from small and barely visible to large and dramatic. The good news is that you can prevent or reduce spider veins during and after your pregnancy. Along with daily exercise, resting your legs higher than heart level can help promote circulation, reducing the appearance of the veins. Wearing a special support hose or tights can also help blood flow back toward the heart, preventing swelling or making the veins worse. If your body doesn’t respond well to self-care, there are a few medical options a doctor may recommend such as sclerotherapy, a procedure that involves injecting small and medium sized veins with a solution that scars and closes the veins. Another option is laser surgery, a procedure that closes off smaller spider veins, which involves strong bursts of light without needle incisions.

7. Stomach Pouch
Though you might lose the pregnancy weight, your tummy may not tighten back immediately, if at all, due to the stretching of the abdominal walls. If multiple sets of crunches and eating healthy doesn’t get you the results you want, there are few ways to rid the pregnancy pouch. Body-shaping underwear have shown to be effective in tummy-toning. The undergarments are made from breathable and nonbinding fabric which are comfortable for moms on the go and everyday wear. For tummies that refuse to slim down, an abdominoplasty or tummy tuck will remove excess fat and skin and in some cases, restore weakened or separated muscles. However, this procedure isn’t recommend for expecting mothers as it may cause serious harm to the unborn child. Additionally, you might want to wait to get a tummy tuck after you’re finished having children.