My Postpartum Body…

Emi Sano
5 min readMar 25, 2024
Photo by Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash

I’m shifting gears from discussing raising our toddlers to reflecting on my own experiences as a mom and the changes my body has undergone.

If someone had told me that my body would go through tremendous changes for years after having a baby, I might have hesitated before getting pregnant. I’m not saying I regret having a baby or becoming a mother, but if I had known about all the issues that would arise after childbirth, I would have prepared myself a little more.

I’m not just talking about pelvic floor issues; I’m referring to changes in gut health, allergies, and everything in between.

Gut Health:

I’ve been talking with several mom friends who’ve mentioned that their gut health has changed, and most of the time, their doctors won’t even look into it. Often, it’s dismissed as “normal after having a baby,” with advice to cut out certain foods from your diet. Sometimes that’s an easy fix, but other times, there’s something more causing your body trouble. I’ve had friends who are still struggling with their gut health despite undergoing several tests, with doctors unsure of the underlying cause of their reflux or bowel movement problems.

There’s a syndrome called “leaky gut” that’s been discussed in many forums as a potential main driver behind the gut health changes experienced by postpartum parents. It’s often talked about as a “theory” rather than a diagnosis, so don’t expect your primary care provider to readily test for it; more than likely, they’ll brush you off. Essentially, it suggests that at some point, the lining of our intestines could break down, causing gut bacteria to leak into our bloodstream and trigger an inflammatory response.

Often, these gut health issues present as food allergies, with the body exhibiting responses like hives, asthmatic reactions, or sometimes symptoms close to anaphylaxis. It’s not a typical food allergy because the reaction doesn’t occur every time that particular food is consumed, resembling more of an autoimmune inflammatory response like Mast Cell Syndrome.

Weight Gain/Loss:

It depends on the body and the circumstances, but there is a tie-in with postpartum and rapid weight gain or loss.

Lack of sleep:

A study found that women who were sleeping less than five hours a night, six months postpartum were three times more likely to have kept their baby weight and maybe even gained more.

University of Utah Health

Thyroid Changes:

It’s no secret your hormones can change after pregnancy. If you experience rapid weight gain or loss, it is recommended to get your thyroid checked for any issues.


Stress hormones can increase weight gain. Sometimes, stress can cause you to overeat as a way to “cure” your stress, etc. The combination of lack of sleep and increased stress can be a double factor.


This varies depending on the individual. Sometimes, your body can’t retain the calories needed to produce milk and maintain your own body, so it all goes to the milk you’re providing to your baby. This can lead to drastic weight loss, including shedding extra weight gained during pregnancy. This is what happened with me and as soon as I ended our breastfeeding journey I was able to see the weight come back on.

On the other hand, sometimes you may overeat to compensate for the calories you need to produce milk and sustain your own body, resulting in excessive weight gain. Finding a balance can be challenging, and if you find yourself on either extreme, it would be helpful to consult with a doctor or a nutritionist to establish a healthy breastfeeding journey.


Before I got pregnant, I underwent a blood test for allergies to determine what I was allergic to. The results showed a short list of environmental allergens and a few food intolerances.

After giving birth, I noticed that I started experiencing allergy reactions to different foods that had never happened before. After two years of dealing with these flare-ups after eating, I decided to get tested again, and the results were alarming, particularly for seafood, which had been listed as a minor “intolerance” previously. The reaction was so severe that my doctor prescribed an epi-pen and advised me to avoid seafood altogether. I was taken aback; I had always consumed seafood without major issues, but now it triggers complete body flare-ups, forcing me out of commission for a few days afterward. While I haven’t needed to use the epi-pen yet, I know it may be necessary at some point.

I’m not intentionally continuing to eat seafood; these flare-ups often occur due to cross-contamination at restaurants I visit.

I’ve started immunotherapy shots for my environmental allergies, and I’m hopeful that once everything falls into place, I won’t experience such severe reactions anymore.

Mental Health:

To be honest, my mental health wasn’t great to begin with, but I’ve felt like it’s been through the wringer since giving birth. I believe I had many undiagnosed postpartum mental health issues that I tried to push through and struggled with for a long time before finally realizing I needed help. Three years after giving birth, I’ve finally taken the step to see someone.

I experienced a lot of anxiety after having my son, and combined with my difficulty sleeping (likely insomnia) and struggles with emotional regulation, I didn’t anticipate that it would take such a toll on my mental health. I highly recommend seeking support in the early stages of parenthood and periodically throughout each stage of life.

All that scrolling on Instagram or TikTok through various “parenting life coaches” won’t provide the help you need to navigate the challenging seasons. Trust me; I’ve followed numerous accounts, and while they may offer validation and a sense that I’m trying, they haven’t truly helped me through these tough times.

In summary, what you’re feeling is entirely valid and (somewhat) normal. I encourage you to discuss any issues you may have with your doctors and seek guidance on treatment options or ways to navigate the postpartum experience.



Emi Sano

Emi Sano is a self-published author of “Voices: a short story collection” and YA novella “We Don’t Talk About That.” She freelances as a writer/blogger.