There’s so much information out there on what your body might be going through during your pregnancy. There's considerably less information on what your body might be going through after giving birth. After delivering their babies, many women are surprised and confused to find that their hips still hurt and their knees still feel wobbly. Postpartum joint pain can leave you feeling like you’re decades older and wondering whether you’ll ever fully regain the body you once had.
Why Your Joints May Be Hurting
Your body has been physically stressed by the additional weight it has been carrying around for the past few months. If you had an epidural, you may have sprained your tailbone during the delivery without even knowing it. Anything from chronic fatigue syndrome to rheumatoid arthritis may be the culprit. The most common reason, however, has to do with a pregnancy hormone called relaxin.
The Relaxin Hormone
During pregnancy, your body releases relaxin, which loosens your ligaments to help you carry the baby as it gets heavier and helps to prepare your body for the delivery. After birth, it takes awhile for your ligaments to retract to their original positions, and you may be in pain or feel like your joints are weaker until they do so.
How Long Does the Pain Last?
In general, postpartum joint pain can last anywhere from six weeks to six months. The pain can be exacerbated by new chores brought on from caring for your baby. For instance, carrying the baby in your arms can worsen arm, wrist and hand pain. Breastfeeding can cause you to further strain your back if you are not positioned properly during the feedings.
What to Do About the Pain
While you are waiting for your body to heal, it is important to avoid straining yourself, especially during the first few weeks after delivery. Neglecting to take care of your body can prolong any joint pain that you may already be experiencing. It is not recommended that you exercise immediately after giving birth; improperly exercising your body could make the situation worse.
Pain After Six Months
If you are still experiencing postpartum joint pain six months after giving birth, bring the problem up with your doctor. He or she may prescribe physical therapy for you. A physical therapist will be able to tell you what exercises you’ll need to do to heal your body properly.