PCOS and Postpartum:
What Happens After Giving Birth?
According to the National Library of Medicine, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects up to 20% of women during their reproductive years. One of the side effects of PCOS is irregular or missed periods. That means a woman suffering from the condition might not ovulate regularly.
If you've recently gotten pregnant and have PCOS, you might wonder how you'll feel after you have your baby. Will your symptoms be the same or get worse? There's a lot to learn about PCOS and postpartum.
This guide will discuss what you need to know about your PCOS symptoms after pregnancy and how to manage them.
PCOS Symptoms After Pregnancy
Unfortunately, PCOS might cause complications that are long-term for both the baby and mother. PCOS might affect a woman's ability to breastfeed well. Some of the side effects associated with PCOS might worsen after a woman gives birth.
Many women who suffer from PCOS can have issues with weight gain. After giving birth, you might have to pay more attention to your weight. It's essential to maintain a healthy diet throughout your pregnancy so that this side effect doesn't spiral out of control.
It can take a long time for any woman to lose weight after they've given birth. For women with PCOS, it can be even more difficult since that's already a major side effect of the condition.
Hormone imbalances are a common side effect of PCOS. When you're pregnant, your hormone levels increase. You might find that your hormones are more out of balance after giving birth if you have PCOS.
Right after a woman gives birth, her high hormone levels will plummet over the next several days. Her estrogen and progesterone levels will decrease as soon as the baby is delivered. She'll then experience a surge in oxytocin right after birth to compensate for those level drops.
You might feel like you're on an emotional roller coaster the next few weeks after giving birth. Getting used to the lack of sleep and establishing a new routine for your baby will contribute to that feeling.
After around three months after birth, your hormone levels should start to stabilize. Those with PCOS still might feel out of whack. This is around the time that symptoms of postpartum depression will arise.
For more on this topic read PCOS and Hormones: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions.
Managing PCOS After Giving Birth
Managing your PCOS symptoms during your pregnancy is just as important as handling them after you've given birth. Staying on top of your side effects will ensure you have an easier time stabilizing after you have your baby.
Nutrition and Diet
Eating healthily even when you're not pregnant or postpartum is a great way to manage your PCOS symptoms. You should eat a diet that's full of fresh fruits and vegetables. Limit your intake of high-sugar and processed foods.
Focus on consuming the following types of foods:
- Low-fat dairy
- Lean proteins
- Whole grains, like barley brown rice, and quinoa
- Leafy greens
You should eat a small snack or meal every few hours. Ensure that you're eating a small portion of lean protein with each meal. Avoid drinking sugared soda, juices, or other sweetened drinks.
As we mentioned before, many women with PCOS struggle to maintain a healthy weight. According to Very Well Health, only 30% of women with PCOS are at a normal weight.
Eating healthily during and after your pregnancy will help you avoid a variety of health issues and decrease your PCOS symptoms. Many women who have PCOS are at a greater risk of developing gestational diabetes during their pregnancy. Following a nutrient-rich diet will help decrease your risk.
Exercising after giving birth is a great thing for any new mother to do. Getting outdoors will reduce any brain fog you're feeling and cabin fever. Additionally, moving your body will help reduce your PCOS symptoms.
There are a lot of different types of exercises you can do postpartum. More rigorous workouts will help reduce your overall body weight and mitigate your symptoms.
One type of exercise you can participate in is cardio. Cardio doesn't necessarily mean going for a run. Some examples of cardio workouts include:
- Elliptical machine
Strength training is also another great option that you can also combine with cardio. Lifting weights helps you build muscle, in turn burning more calories. Some equipment you can use with strength training includes:
- Hand weights
- Resistance bands
Your core needs to get built back up and strengthened after giving birth as well. Strengthening your core will stabilize your body. A strong core can also improve your posture and reduce lower back pain. Sit-ups and planks are great options if you're looking for core exercises.
According to CNY Fertility, there are multiple supplements that can help you manage your PCOS after giving birth. Let's talk about some of the most common ones you can incorporate into your daily routine.
Zinc is an antioxidant that helps different enzymes function in your body. It also works to help with hormone release, cell growth, and your reproductive cycle.
It's not common for most women to have a zinc deficiency, but it is prevalent in those who suffer from PCOS. Having a deficiency in this nutrient is often associated with PCOS symptoms like high cholesterol levels and insulin resistance.
Taking a zinc supplement can help reduce your PCOS symptoms. It might also improve your ovulation and hormone imbalances.
Many PCOS symptoms, like obesity and insulin resistance, can have a negative effect on your gut. The microbiota in your gut is vital to your metabolism and the integrity of your gut.
Probiotics can help improve and restore your gut health. A healthy gut can also help reduce inflammation. Inflammation is a symptom of PCOS.
Taking a probiotic supplement can improve the health of your gut while reducing inflammation. It can also help balance your hormones.
There are a few different B vitamins out there. The most important ones to keep in mind for those with PCOS are folate B9 and vitamin B12. Both of these vitamins help lower your body's inflammation by breaking down homocysteine, an amino acid.
Vitamin B can help improve your fertility while correcting hormonal imbalances. Supplementing with folate can also increase your progesterone levels.
Why take multiple pills a day when you can take one convenient tablet? The Knowell supplement contains many of the needed nutrients and vitamins that can help manage your PCOS after childbirth. Every ingredient included in our supplement can help balance your hormones while providing you with much-needed relief.
Some of the ingredients you'll find in our supplement include:
- Cranberry extract
- Folate B9
- Vitamin A
Tips for PCOS and Postpartum Depression
Unfortunately, there is a higher risk for women with PCOS and postpartum depression. A woman's mind and body go through a lot of different changes throughout the pregnancy process. Those changes don't stop the second she gives birth, either.
Many women feel emotionless, sad, and empty after giving birth. If you've felt this way for more than two weeks, you should contact your healthcare provider. There are certain steps you can take to mitigate your symptoms of postpartum depression.
Make Time for Yourself
Finding time for yourself throughout the day after you've given birth might seem like an impossible task. You could feel like you're stuck to the couch all of the time, breastfeeding your baby. You might feel overwhelmed by your household responsibilities and work.
Don't take on these tasks alone. Reach out to your support system. Ask a trusted adult or your partner to take your baby for a few hours.
You might find it beneficial to schedule time for yourself once a week. Even if it's getting out of the house between breastfeeding sessions, you can use these snippets of time to decompress.
Rest as Much as You Can
You've likely heard the advice to "sleep when your baby is sleeping" countless times. However, getting less sleep can cause your depressed feelings to increase.
Go to bed early or take naps when you can. If you're nursing, pump an extra bottle or two. That way, your partner can take over one of the overnight feedings while you rest.
Know When to See Your Doctor
Postpartum depression is long-lasting feelings of agitation and sadness. These emotions can get worse and evolve into chronic depression if they're not addressed.
If you've noticed feelings of depression after giving birth that is getting worse, make an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor can help you find the support and treatment you need.