For many women, the weeks and months leading up to childbirth are exciting and filled with anticipation. Their focus is often on preparing for labor and the life-changing moment when they get to meet their baby for the first time. All too often, they don't give as much thought to what comes afterward.
A woman's body goes through many changes during and after pregnancy. There is physical change with the expansion of the uterus and belly, enlargement of the breasts and the effects of childbirth itself; there is mental change as the new mom adapts to the realization she is responsible for another human life; and there is hormonal change.
During pregnancy, a woman's body produces estrogen and progesterone in much greater amounts, but these levels drop rapidly in the 24 hours following childbirth. This dramatic change in hormone levels can have an impact on the way a new mother is feeling and also trigger symptoms of depression and anxiety. In some women, the level of thyroid hormones can drop, too, affecting the new mother's energy levels. This