Ok ladies, let’s get real. There are a LOT of things that happen to your body after your baby is born. We’re all so focused on the moment when our little one comes into the world, that many of us have no idea what to expect afterwards. And let me tell you, it can get CRAY. Some of the changes may make you wonder if you’ll ever get your body back. The short answer? Yes and no.
The first 6 weeks after your baby is born is when your body will go through the most drastic changes of your life. We like to think of this as “the bounce back” but what if things don’t exactly bounce the way you thought they would? Add in the pressure from the super thin, always glamorous celeb moms we look up to, and the pressure can be more intense than trying to squeeze back into your skinny jeans from “before”. Trust me, get some stretchy pants and leave the skinnies for later on.
There are some amazing things your body is going to do in those few short weeks, and some things that are going to make you take a second look. Some are good, some are bad and some are downright ugly, but the good news is that nothing lasts forever and with a few easy exercises, you can eliminate most problems. But remember, don’t be hard on yourself. You birthed a brand new life into this world, so in comparison, a jiggly tummy is really no big deal. Embrace the new you and try to ride out the weird changes as they come. Soon enough you’ll feel like you again, but until then, read this list and remind yourself that you’re not alone!
15 The Good: Watching The Pounds Disappear
You read that right. The pounds will drop off faster than they ever have in your entire life. In fact, you won’t experience a drop like this outside of giving birth. Once that baby comes out, you will instantly be 10 pounds lighter (which you totally deserve after going through labor for hours!). Then you’ll lose another 3-5 pounds of excess water in the first week. No exercise needed! Couple that with the extra 500 calories you burn EVERY DAY with breastfeeding and you’re going to see a lot of changes pretty quickly.
But don’t stress if you don’t see a huge change straight away. Every woman is different, and some don’t experience more than the initial 10 pound loss. Firstly, focus on the fact that you’re basically super woman because you brought a baby into the world. Secondly, once your doctor gives you the all clear, start off with light exercise that will help tighten stretched out muscles and also give you a mood boost.
14 The Good: The Girls Stand Out
As you see pounds drop off, you’ll see a gain in another area. The twin girls will most likely go up about 2 cup sizes. Although not every woman loves this, most feel that a couple of their assets have grown in a way that makes them feel even more womanly.
The increase in your chest area is due to your milk coming in, which means that it only lasts for as long as you breastfeed, so enjoy it while you can!
Although it’s in the good list, some women do experience pain and tenderness as they watch the girls grow. To combat some of the tenderness that comes along with breastfeeding and enlargement, try using a warm cloth on them which helps milk flow and eases some of the soreness.
13 The Good: Shorter Visits From Aunt Flo
Every woman will be happy to hear this one! After having a baby, some women find that their periods are lighter, shorter and less painful. Probably your body’s way of giving back to you after all the hell you went through with pregnancy and labor. But don’t expect to see that monthly visitor for a little while after you give birth. If you don’t choose to breastfeed, it will usually take about 6-8 weeks for a normal cycle to resume. If you do breastfeed, it can be anywhere from 20 weeks to a full year after nursing has stopped. And cycles can seriously vary afterwards so don’t be alarmed.
Unfortunately, not every woman will see shorter cycles, but thankfully birth control can help ease your monthly woes.
12 The Good: Eat More Calories Than Ever
This could be one of the best parts of having a baby, besides the actual human child you get out of the process. Most doctors will say that a breastfeeding mom needs an extra 300-500 calories per day besides her regular caloric intake to maintain pre pregnancy weight. Yes, that means you get to eat even more calories than you did while pregnant. Bring on the chocolate cake!
Ok in reality, you should get those calories from healthy choices, but the point here is that you get to eat more. And you’ll really want to because feeding a tiny human takes a lot more energy and effort than you would think, so you’ll be working up quite the appetite for a few months.
11 The Good: Lots Of Happy Hormones
During your pregnancy, you’ll notice some pretty big hormonal changes. Shocker, right? Those same hormones that are causing you to scream at your husband for bringing you Chunky Monkey instead of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream are the ones responsible for helping you bond with your baby and husband postpartum.
Your body makes a hormone called oxytocin which is a powerful “love” hormone. It helps you be motherly to your little one and also makes you that lovey dovey mom who shows every photo of your baby to the cashier at the grocery store. This same compound allows you to wake up night after night and somehow still think your child is the best thing on the planet, which really comes in handy those first few months!
10 The Bad: Gooey Tummy
Your body has just spent the last 9 months adjusting itself to make room for the growing baby inside, so it’s no wonder that things will be a little (or a lot!) stretched out even when your precious bub has been born. Your uterus will take a full 6-8 weeks to return to it’s normal size, so don’t get upset if you’re still not fitting back into your normal clothes. Not only your uterus has to shrink though. Your abdominal muscles have separated and stretched to accommodate that large uterus, so now they have to start returning back to their normal size.
Most will agree, since it took 9 months to get to this point, it will take 9 months to go back to pre baby. And for some women, it just won’t ever go back to the way it was. You may always have a bit of a baby pooch, but the good news is that you also have a baby, so it’s a great trade off!
9 The Bad: Constipation
Yeah, this is one of those things you don’t hear celeb moms chatting about after giving birth. They may look amazing, but chances are that they also dealt with this uncomfortable side effect of having a baby, so you’re not alone!
Your intestines have been through a lot, going from smushed up into a small space to the freedom of your entire abdomen, so it may take a few days for things to get moving again. Add in the fact that you may be (WILL BE) pretty sore downstairs and you may have been given some meds that can block things up, and well, you can’t blame your body for holding on to those bowel movements.
Drink a ton of water, eat extra fiber and let your body work things out for itself.
8 The Bad: Sweating
We’re not talking about the usual sweating after hauling 6 bags of groceries up your apartment stairs. This sweating is due to the hormones in charge of getting all that excess water and fluid out of your body after baby is born. You stored up a lot of extra liquid during your pregnancy which helped keep you and baby healthy, but now it’s just extra and needs to be pushed out. Yes, you’ll pee a lot of it out, but your body will also sweat it out, which means you’ll be waking up many-a-night covered in sweat and wondering who turned up the heat.
Don’t worry though, it only lasts a few weeks and then you’ll just be sweating from carrying your child all day long.
7 The Bad: Back Ache
You would think that since you no longer have a baby attached to the front of you that you wouldn’t have those annoying back aches any longer. Think again. Your ever expanding uterus caused your abdominal muscles to get pretty weak, causing your back to do the compensating. Add in those pesky pregnancy hormones that make your joints loose and you’ve got some serious aches and pains.
But all of that takes time to readjust after giving birth, so it may be a few weeks before you feel like your back and joints are functioning normally again. So when you see a fit celeb who seems to have started her workout routine in the delivery room, you know that in reality, her joints probably weren’t ready for anything more than lifting up her baby for those first 6 weeks. Go easy on yourself and take your time getting back into a work out routine!
6 The Bad: Hemorrhoids
This could be the worst of the “bad” list because no one likes to talk about it and it’s not exactly a pleasant experience. In fact, it’s downright painful. Many women develop hemorrhoids later on in pregnancy, and the pressure of pushing a baby out can make them much worse. Up to 25% of women will continue to have these pesky, unwelcome fellas 6 months after baby is born. This can be another reason that you wait until later on to begin working on getting your body back.
So when you see that super slim celeb mom prancing around in her workout gear, remember that she’s probably had a lot of help to get to that point. Reality is, your body has taken a beating and may need some extra time before it’s ready to get back in the game.
5 The Ugly: Tears Downstairs
According to parents.com, up to 95% of first time moms will tear during delivery. I know that’s a scary number, but when you think about the fact that your baby’s head is roughly the size of a cantaloupe.. well, getting a tear seems a bit more normal.
What does this mean for the bounce back? It means you’ll be taking things slower, which you honestly deserve, momma! Depending on the size of the tear, your doctor will probably have to put in a few stitches (you won’t really notice it happening since you’ll be cuddling your super cute baby). The next few weeks might be more painful than you anticipated as everything heals up and returns to it’s (mostly) original position.
To help things along, do your Kegel’s even if you can’t feel much going on down there for a little while.
4 The Ugly: Swollen Legs And Face
You know swelling all to well if you’ve reached your third trimester of pregnancy. Swollen ankles and feet may have you ditching the sneakers for a pair of sandals or slippers. But you would think that once you deliver that beautiful baby you’ve been waiting to meet that the swelling would just go away. Instead, it can actually get worse until your kidneys kick into gear and rid your body of all that excess fluid.
Many women find that they not only still have swollen ankles, but they now also have a pair of super swollen legs and face. Don’t worry, postpartum swelling does go down pretty quickly in the days following delivery, but to help things along, drink plenty of water to flush the system. And wearing comfy clothes doesn’t hurt either!
3 The Ugly: Incontinence
If you were anything like me during pregnancy, you thought that as long as you exercised regularly, you wouldn’t have any incontinence issues. Then when you started having that problem, you thought that as soon as you gave birth it would all magically get better. Unfortunately for many women, this problem doesn’t clear up in the few weeks after delivery, with some having incontinence for years afterward. Really makes the bounce back sound glamorous, huh?
There are a couple things that can help, including the amazing Kegel which (when done correctly) tightens the pelvic floor and helps weak muscles find their strength again. If that doesn’t seem to fix things after a month, you can go to a pelvic floor rehab physical therapist. It might sound crazy to go to those lengths, but when incontinence hits you, you’ll do just about anything to make it go away.
2 The Ugly: Hair Loss
Remember how your hair became this gorgeous mane during pregnancy? Well, now it’s all falling out. Yay.
It’s not your worst fear of going bald, it’s actually a normal hormone cycle that’s causing all that beautiful hair to circle the drain. During pregnancy, your estrogen levels skyrocket which causes your hair to stay put instead of fall out daily like it usually would. So when you have your baby and your estrogen levels drop, all that stored up hair now begins falling out. This makes it seem like every last hair on your head will be gone in a matter of days, but in reality, you head is just returning itself to pre pregnancy levels. It’s not glamorous and doesn’t help you feel great during the bounce back, but it’s totally normal and nothing to worry about!
1 The Ugly: Skin Discoloration
You may have developed some skin discoloration during pregnancy, called chloasma. They can show up as dark spots on your face or as the line running straight down from your belly button, called the linea nigra.
These unfortunate splotches and dark marks won’t disappear straight after pregnancy, but will slowly fade as your hormones drop back to their regular levels. But be aware that if you plan to go on an estrogen containing contraceptive, these spots may reappear.
If they’re really bothering you, you can do a few things to minimize the discoloration. First off, stay out of the sun so that they don’t darken further. Try not to irritate your skin with harsh facial cleansers. And finally, if those patches are still there after a year (yikes!), talk to your dermatologist about medicated treatments.
Sources: FitnessMagazine, parents.com, KellyMom, AhaParenting, BabyCenter, Healthline, Giphy