7 Things You Need to Know About Your Postpartum Hormones

Earlier this week someone asked me what is normal for postpartum hormones. As I’m in that stage of life right now, with a two-month-old baby, this is an especially relevant question.

When you’re pregnant, your progesterone and estrogen are at some of their highest levels to support your growing baby. Then, you deliver your baby, and all of a sudden those levels tank.

It’s no wonder that being postpartum can make you feel crazy. I personally felt totally unprepared for what life would be like immediately after my first baby.

My research until now has mostly been about how to balance your hormones so you can get pregnant, rather than about what to do after your baby is born. So after doing quite a bit of research and coming across some interesting things, I’d like to share with you what I’ve found.

Here’s what’s normal for postpartum hormones and what should you do to help yourself feel normal, even if your hormones are all over the place.

1. Baby Blues

When baby blues are normal

Feeling a little “blue” after birth is very, very common. Your postpartum hormones are changing, you’re not getting enough sleep, and your baby is taking a huge amount of nutrients if you’re breastfeeding.

Adjusting to having a new person in the house can also be incredibly difficult and stressful. Your family dynamic will completely change, and it is normal to feel a little sad or overwhelmed as you adjust.

As you begin to get more sleep (especially as baby begins to sleep through the night) and establish a new normal for your life together, you should start to feel better.

That’s not to say that motherhood is a walk in the park. It can have its intensely hard moments. But overall you should start to develop a feeling of confidence in your mothering.

When baby blues are not normal

After my son was born, I experienced a huge drop in my confidence as a person. I felt like the misery of sleeplessness and not knowing what I was doing were going to be my new normal. I thought life would never be good and happy again.

Because I had been down for so long after our miscarriages, I didn’t recognize that the way I was feeling was not normal. I had trouble bonding with my son because I was convinced he wouldn’t survive.

Eventually I started to feel better, but it makes me sad now that I missed out on some of the best parts of his first year because I felt so horrible.

Here’s when baby blues are a sign of a bigger problem:

  • they feel more severe than just being a little sad and weepy
  • it feels like they’re taking over your whole life
  • it’s difficult to do your normal activities
  • your “blues” are affecting your relationships
  • you’re constantly struggling with negative thoughts and anxiety

What you can do about it

Don’t be like me and try to power through it. Don’t feel like your doctor will think you’re a bad mom if you admit to needing help.

  • seek professional help
  • ask for help around the house from your partner (or even paid help)
  • eat healthy–you need lots of nutrients and good bacteria to keep your mood in balance

2. Mom Brain

When “mom brain” is normal

Yes, “mom brain” is real. And yes, hormones are probably to blame. I recently read this fascinating article on the phenomenon.

You’ll experience the effect most during your last trimester and postpartum, as the high pregnancy hormones and low postpartum hormones affect your ability to remember things or process information.

Postpartum, you may find it especially hard to remember words for things. My husband likes to joke that when I’m tired I “lose nouns.” The same thing happens after I have a baby.

When “mom brain” is not normal

If your brain fog is perpetual and continues past the first year or so, you may want to get your hormone levels checked. It could be a sign that your body is not recovering fully.

What you can do about it

A lot of the “remedies” are just about coping until things get better.

  • write things down so that you’ll remember them
  • ask for help remembering important things
  • make a checklist for yourself of things you need before you leave the house
  • get enough sleep–your brain functions at its best when you’re rested
  • make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need, especially iron, vitamin B12, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D, magnesium, and copper

3. Night Sweats

When night sweats are normal

For the first few weeks after delivery there’s a dip in your estrogen levels. Just like older women going through menopause often suffer from hot flashes due to their dropping hormone levels, you may experience nighttime “hot flashes” in the form of night sweats.

You may have held on to some extra fluids after delivery, too. Your body produces up to 50% more blood and other fluids to support your baby. And if you were on an IV during delivery, you’ll have even more fluid in your system.

After baby is born, you don’t need that fluid anymore, so your body will get rid of it through sweat and urine.

I really wasn’t prepared for how much I stank after my first child was born!

When night sweats are not normal

This study showed that night sweats are worst about 2 weeks after delivery and should start to get better afterward.

It is not normal for night sweats to last much longer than a month.

What you can do about it

What can you do to stay sane when you feel gross from the sweat?

  • drink lots of water to stay hydrated
  • dress in lightweight, natural fabrics (such as cotton) to sleep
  • open windows to keep the air moving
  • sleep with a fan
  • use light layers on your bed so you can adjust as needed
  • eat soy to boost your estrogen levels
  • try essential oils to help you sleep

4. Exhaustion

When postpartum exhaustion is normal

Newborn care is intense. You’re either nursing a baby all night long or feeding the baby a bottle all night long.

It’s normal to feel exhausted when your sleep is this disrupted.

When postpartum exhaustion is not normal

If the amount of fatigue that you’re feeling is inconsistent with the amount of sleep that you’re getting, then something could be off balance with your postpartum hormones.

If you start getting more sleep and you’re still feeling overwhelmingly tired and like you’re rundown all day long, if you’re getting sick frequently, or if you feel like you need massive amounts of sleep to function normally, then it could be a sign of a bigger issue.

What you can do about it

Sleeping when you have a new baby is so hard. But the best thing you can do is get as much sleep as you can.

  • Take naps.
  • Go to bed as soon as the baby does.
  • Let someone else help with the baby so you can rest.
  • Start working on a sleep routine for your little one.
  • Make sure you’re getting enough iron, B12, and magnesium.
  • Get enough to eat–especially if you’re breastfeeding!
  • Reduce stress–cortisol can hijack your other hormones and wear you out.

5. Weight gain

When postpartum weight gain is normal

It’s normal postpartum to lose a big chunk of weight. It can also be very normal to hang on to some of that weight–ten or more pounds even.

Some people think that breastfeeding is the magic pill that will make your pounds melt off, but it’s not always the case. A lot of women can’t get rid of the last few pounds until they wean.

If you are not at least 6 months to a year postpartum you really shouldn’t be thinking too much about your weight. Give yourself a little bit of slack, especially if you’re breastfeeding.

When postpartum weight gain is not normal

If you are past 6 months to a year postpartum and are eating a healthy diet but still holding onto 20 or more extra pounds, you may have a hormone imbalance.

Estrogen dominance (and low progesterone) can contribute to weight gain. So can thyroid imbalance or PCOS. Pregnancy is a common cause of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

What you can do about it

  • Eat regular, homemade meals as much as possible.
  • Keep sugar and grain intake low. A high protein, high fat diet can be very effective for regulating your blood sugar and helping you lose weight.
  • Watch your stress (again!)
  • Do some light exercise a couple times a week. I like to take walks with my kids in the stroller.

6. Hair Loss

When postpartum hair loss is normal

This is the one I’m really not looking forward to after this baby.

While you’re pregnant, your body hangs onto hair that it would normally shed on a daily basis.

But around 3 or 4 months out there’s a shift in your postpartum hormones. It is very normal at this point for that excess hair to start falling out. You may lose up to 1/3 of your hair volume as the old growth falls out and new growth comes in.

You’ll probably find handfuls of hair in the shower, on your pillow, and on the floor. Your hair will likely start to look a little weird as the new growth comes in (just being honest here!), and some women end up cutting their hair short to hide it.

This hair loss can last up to 6-to-12 months postpartum.

When postpartum hair loss is not normal

If you’re losing large clumps of hair for an extended period of time, starting to see visible scalp, or losing your eyebrows (or hair elsewhere on your body), it’s a good idea to check with your doctor.

This kind of hair loss is alarming but can still be in the range of normal.

If you don’t see a peak and then a reduction in the amount of hair you’re losing over time, you may have a hormonal imbalance. You’ll want to get your iron and thyroid levels checked.

What you can do about it

Although it’s very likely you will have some degree of hair loss as your body regains equilibrium, there are things you can do to slow down the loss and speed up the regrowth.

  • eat plenty of protein–it’s what your hair is made out of!
  • make sure you’re eating foods high in iron, zinc, and vitamins B and D
  • try to reduce your stress levels as much as possible
  • eat healthy fats to reduce hair breakage

7. Low sex drive

When low sex drive is normal

It is very normal, and even a good thing, for your sex drive to drop after you give birth.

Your body is healing–so sex isn’t even a good idea right now–you’re tired from tending to a newborn, you may be stressed out from adapting to the new addition to your lives.

When you do start having sex again, things will probably be uncomfortable at first. Your body has been through a lot and will take a while to fully heal.

Hormonally, the lower estrogen levels will cause you to be drier vaginally.

These lower hormonal levels can last as long as you’re breastfeeding, too, meaning it’s normal for your sex drive to stay low for a few months to a year or as long as it takes your baby to wean.

Obviously, having children will probably have a permanent effect on what your sex life looks like. But after your first postpartum menstrual period, your sex drive will likely start increasing again.

Everyone’s body is a little bit different, though, so your normal may be different from my normal or another woman’s normal.

When low sex drive is not normal

If you continue to experience little to no interest in sex after 18 to 24 months postpartum, it could be a sign of a hormone imbalance.

Especially if your low sex drive is accompanied by sadness or other symptoms of postpartum depression, it could itself be a sign of postpartum depression.

What you can do about it

Several of these will apply to any hormone issues you may experience postpartum.

  • Spend some intimate, non-sexual time with your partner. Having a baby pulls your focus away from each other, and you may need time to reconnect.
  • Keep your diet healthy to build strong postpartum hormones.
  • Get as much sleep as you can.
  • Manage your stress levels.


Postpartum hormones can do some crazy things to our bodies, but unless it’s severe, the effects are usually normal. Issues will normally resolve themselves as your body finds equilibrium again.

To help things along, you can

  • stay hydrated (helps with night sweats and weight issues)
  • eat a healthy diet with plenty of vegetables, healthy fats, protein, and healthy carbohydrates (mostly from vegetables). Keep it low in refined carbohydrates and processed sugar.
  • exercise moderately once you have your doctor’s approval
  • sleep… as much as you can!
  • reduce your stress
  • supplement if needed, especially with vitamins D3, B12, iron, magnesium, zinc, and probiotics for a healthy gut

Which of these have you experienced from changes in your postpartum hormones? What have you found helpful?

Is that massive hair loss normal? Does everyone get night sweats? Do you have postpartum depression or just baby blues? In all the bustle of getting ready for baby, we often forget to think about ourselves. Here are 7 things you need to know about your postpartum hormones and how to cope with the changes.

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