During pregnancy, your hormones undergo a significant transformation as your body prepares to nurture and deliver a baby in the coming months. During postpartum, your hormones generally begin to return to their natural levels, with many pregnancy hormones decreasing as the body returns to its pre-pregnancy state. Keep reading to understand how your hormones change during this journey!
Immediately after birth
Immediately after birth, your progesterone and estrogen levels start to decrease as your body becomes aware that the baby has been delivered. This is accompanied by a significant rise in Oxytocin, which promotes immediate love and bonding, often contributing to the joy you experience when first meeting your child. During this time, prolactin levels will begin to increase as well, as your body stimulates breast milk production.
Three to six weeks
At this point, as you are likely in postpartum recovery, the body is undergoing many physical and emotional changes as it begins to return to its pre-pregnancy state. Oxytocin will still be released in high amounts to promote breastfeeding and uterine contractions, but estrogen and progesterone will continue to decline until they reach non-pregnancy levels. During this time, you may experience postpartum depression symptoms or even just “baby blues” as a result of the intense physiological changes you are going through.
At the three point mark, you are probably more used to the motherhood routine than before, and you may become more accustomed to less sleep, more fatigue, and more stress. While reproductive hormones continue to decrease and return to normal, cortisol levels may increase as you may feel more stressed about the baby’s wellbeing. Fatigue and lack of sleep could contribute to postpartum depression symptoms as well.
Hormones are expected to go back to normal after 6 months of postpartum, as the body has had more time to adjust to the new physical and emotional demands of motherhood. At this time, as the need to breastfeed starts to decrease, prolactin levels will start to go down, reducing the amount of milk production in the body. As your hormones return to normal, you can expect to start menstruating again as well.