“Bleeding, stretch marks, someone else’s breasts for sure, baby fat that just won’t go away… Will I ever get my normal body back?”
Having a new baby is great, right? Having a post-pregnancy body is not that great!
For example, if it hadn’t hurt so much, you’d wonder if you really did give birth since you still look pregnant!
And how do you feel about those wet circles on your t-shirt since you forgot to put nursing pads in your bra? Nott to mention the bleeding that goes on and on…
Well, it all passes!
The most common advice I read for new moms worried about the appearance of their post-pregnancy body is to be proud since it delivered a baby.
To me, that’s about as helpful as telling an exhausted new mom to sleep when her baby sleeps. Not very useful at all! (If you need effective sleep tips for new moms, read this article.)
The first time you give birth, you might be a bit shocked over how much your body has changed and how it looks directly after childbirth. It is hard to know what to expect and what is normal.
I think knowing is always better.
Remember, with a bit of effort and with the help of time, your body will return to a more normal state to a large extent, probably within a year.
Don’t despair! Instead, read all about your post-baby body below.
The Post-Pregnancy Body Changes Revealed
Belly Still Looks Pregnant
I had heard so many mothers say that your belly looks awful after giving birth. But I still didn’t realize that it would look this bad!
Our oldest son kept asking if he could squeeze my very soft belly.
Trust me, for a few weeks or so, you will continue to look pregnant. It is very normal!
Your uterus contracts slowly during six weeks and your stomach muscles are so stretched they aren’t really there.
Your belly will improve, and a bit faster if you breastfeed, since this helps the uterus to contract faster. But even if you don’t breastfeed, after six weeks or so, your uterus will be its original before-pregnancy size.
But your belly will not get back to normal without some exercise. The muscles are simply too stretched.
Crunches help, my friends! Unfortunately, exercising those muscles is the only way to get this part of your post-pregnancy body to look like before. (Believe me, I’ve tried cheating; it doesn’t work!)
But wait until you have stopped bleeding, your body has to heal before you start exercising.
Stretch Marks Are Hard To Get Rid Of
Did you get stretch marks (striae) during your pregnancy? Most women do. They can appear on your belly, your breasts or thighs and buttocks. If your mother got them, chances are you will too.
The good news is they fade over time. The bad news is they don’t go away completely. Stretch marks creams are available for you to try, or if you are desperate, you can get rid of them with plastic surgery.
But wait at least a year or so before considering any drastic solutions (surgery) to see how much of the stretch marks disappear naturally. This delay may save you some money.
If you don’t feel like just sitting around waiting for improvement, you can give time a little bit of help. Don’t expect miracles, but there are a few proven options to reduce stretch marks somewhat:
- Needling. Sounds terrible don’t you think?! Iäve tried it on my face for melasma and it worked really well. It is proven to work for any types of scars too, including stretch marks. Your best bet is to visit a saloon for it, but there are home treatment options too: Here is an example of a microneedle roller to try. Make sure to read up carefully on how to use them!
- Creams and oils to reduce the stretch marks. These are usually not as effective, but there are some with proven results. COS Naturals ANTI STRETCH MARK AND SCAR CREAM and Embrace® Minimize™ Scar Treatment are both worth checking out. (Links to Amazon).
Linea Nigra Disappears
What about the linea nigra – the brown line some pregnant women get on their belly during pregnancy?
Well, here is the good news – the line will disappear completely!
The bad news? Nope, no bad news here!
Did you know the old wives’ tale – that a short linea nigra, only to the navel, means a girl and a long one means a boy. Have you checked yours? Mine stopped at the navel whether or not I was carrying a girl or a boy.
Anyway, the linea nigra will disappear from your post-pregnancy body within a few months. If you breastfeed, it may take just a little bit longer.
Your Breasts Will Change
One of the biggest changes you might notice with your post-pregnancy body is your breasts.
Your breasts change during pregnancy and from breastfeeding. Most expecting mothers get bigger breasts while pregnant and then even larger breasts while breastfeeding.
Your breasts will not be bigger, but longer – and flatter. They might get some of their original, before-pregnancy breast shape back after a while, but most likely not all.
Actually, for many women, the breast change is the worst part of having a post-pregnancy body, because the change is so big. You’ll find a long discussion on the post-pregnancy breasts here.
What should you do about it?
Wear a good bra and do pushups to strengthen the muscles. And – hmm – get used to it! At least it should motivate you to buy gorgeous, expensive bras, right?
Or, of course, plastic surgery is an option if the shape makes you very miserable. But don’t do anything until well after you have stopped breastfeeding and you are completely sure that you will not want to have any more children. At least not for long. To learn more about options for breast augmentation after pregnancy, click here.
If you breastfeed, your breasts may also be sore for a while and may leak. Here are tips on what to do when leaking breast milk.
Not nice, but at least it should stop hurting within a few weeks. If it continues to hurt or if your nipples start bleeding, consult a lactation expert quickly. Your baby might be sucking in the wrong way.
Your Private Parts Will Recover
Before giving birth the first time, a very dear and very honest friend asked me:
“Has anyone told you that you will resemble a baboon “down there” after giving birth?”
No, no one had informed me of this not-so-nice fact about my post-pregnancy body.
To be honest, I didn’t check. But it sure felt like she was right!
No matter how many stitches, if any, you got from giving birth, you will be sore!
But if you don’t get any infections, the soreness should fade away within a week or so. Actually, if you had wounds that were too small to be stitched, you can be sore for a longer period while they heal.
And then there’s the other issue.
A baby’s head actually came out that way, which means that the muscles and tissue were really stretched as much as possible. To get the muscle tone back, these muscles need to be exercised just as any muscles. They need to be exercised not only for your own (and your spouse’s) pleasure but also to prevent urine leakage. Actually, urine leakage is a very common problem for women after pregnancy, but few talk about it.
It should go away gradually as your body heals, but if you continue to have such problems, don’t hesitate to talk to a doctor. Quite simple surgery can help you get rid of this condition.
Squeeze as often as you can!
I heard somewhere that three orgasms per day will do the job for you. It must have been an impatient man who came up with that idea! Even if it would work (please tell me if you try it), who would feel like it and have the energy to try it just after giving birth???
Postpartum Bleeding Continues
If you haven’t noticed it already, I can tell you that you will continue to bleed after giving birth for at least one month, probably more. The bleeding may stop faster the second time you give birth, but don’t count on it. Eight weeks of bleeding is normal. But of course, quite soon, the bleeding should not be red anymore, but rather brownish and not very abundant.
It doesn’t matter if you gave birth or had a cesarean, you will bleed anyway. The blood comes from the wound where your placenta was attached to the uterus.
If you’re at all worried, talk to a health care provider.
Skin Goes Dry
Many women have very healthy complexion during pregnancy. Bad news – your skin will go back to normal after giving birth. Also, if you breastfeed, your skin and hair might become very dry for a while.
Good news, if you suffered from skin pigmentation changes during pregnancy (sometimes called ““the mask of pregnancy” or chloasma or melasma), these changes will often fade away after giving birth.
And if they don’t disappear to your satisfaction or fast enough, creams or serums can help. One cream that consistently get great reviews is Meladerm by Civant Skincare. This product can actually give nice results even in just a few weeks, which is good, especially since the company has a 30-day repayment guarantee.
If you have very sensitive skin, talk to a dermatologist before using any skin lightening products. Also remember that you should not use such products while breastfeeding.
Another option is to use a serum. This organic Vitamin C serum is great and improves both skin pigmentation, wrinkles and dark circles. It can be even be used under the eyes, which I think is perfect!
Weight Loss May Come
Your post-pregnancy body is likely to be bigger than before.
The body stores fat during pregnancy to prepare for breastfeeding.
If you do breastfeed, you might lose some of that weight quite easily. Some women even become very skinny during breastfeeding. As your baby grows, you actually need some 500 – 800 extra calories per day to produce the milk.
The problem is that you will be so incredibly hungry! If you had difficulties eating during the last part of your pregnancy, these problems will be gone now! You will be starving!
So if you do want to lose some weight, you really have to think through what you eat. It is very easy to stuff your poor post-pregnancy body with lots of unhealthy snacks when you have so little time and are so hungry!
Of course, if you don’t breastfeed, you’ll have work a bit harder. But on the other hand, you won’t be so hungry! To learn more about losing weight while breastfeeding, read this article.
The one part of your post pregnancy body that really should improve naturally is your arms. Or at least your left arm if you are right handed…
You will carry your baby a lot and will get stronger and stronger. With beautiful biceps developing.
Love Life May Suffer
Was sex the first thing you thought of after giving birth? Or after studying your new body in the mirror? No? Why am I not surprised…
For many it even seems a bit scary to have sex the first time after giving birth, considering how sore you are, that you might have a lot of stitches, that you are bleeding and so on. Not to mention being exhausted and having a new baby in your arms around the clock.
But, if you do want to give it a try, remember to use a condom if you are still bleeding to prevent infections (and new babies…). Breastfeeding can be effective as birth control, but you need to breastfeed exclusively and on demand. And it is not 100% safe.
Also, use lubricants! Lots of it. Your mucous membranes are fragile, maybe a bit torn, and often very dry due to hormones.
Without lubricants, I can almost guarantee you that your first try will be a really bad experience. So unnecessary!
For more information about sex and breastfeeding, click here.
And if you are curious on when other moms started to have sex after childbirth, check out this poll.
Well, this was the truth about your post-pregnancy body. Some things change, some stay the same. Almost everything can be fixed with some effort and with the help of time.
If you want to share something regarding your post-pregnancy body, write a comment below.