It’s your postpartum body and it’s the fourth trimester. Learn what to expect during this new phase of motherhood!
Your body has just gone through an amazing experience.
You grew a human and another organ (your placenta). It even provides all the nutrition your baby needs for the first few months of development by producing that sweet liquid gold.
Your hormones have changed many times over and nothing is in the same place as before you got pregnant. It’s funny how our bodies change throughout the pregnancies that we have.
Weather it is your first time being a mother, or your fifth, there are bound to be changes in your body that didn’t happen before.
So let’s take a look at some of the common (and not so common) changes that women experience postpartum.
Your Postpartum Body – Your Boobs
We might as well start at the top and work our way down.
Most likely your boobs got bigger during your pregnancy in order to prepare for making milk for your little one. If you are breastfeeding, good news, your tatas are not going to majorly shrink any time soon.
Generally, if you are still producing milk your boobs will retain their fullness. If you are not breastfeeding, your boobs will shrink as you lose the baby weight. As your breasts are mostly comprised of fat, if you lose weight, so do your boobs, thus reducing their cup size.
Also, once you stop breastfeeding, you can expect to lose about a cup size.
There are many other changes that your mammaries experience after you have had your baby. They will sag. This is not true of just women with larger breasts, any size boob can start to sag after pregnancy, breastfeeding, and weight loss. And of course, gravity…
Your nipples also (generally speaking) become darker and enlarged. This starts in pregnancy due to the pregnancy hormones.
If your nipples do return to their pre-pregnancy state, you can expect that to take about a year.
Many women experience a darkening in their nipples and areolas that does not fade after pregnancy and that’s ok. Embrace your beautiful breasts!
Your Postpartum Body – Your Abs (or Lack Thereof)
Your tummy grew, in some cases a lot, while you were pregnant.
This leads to a saggy tummy sometimes, which can leave some women feeling very self conscious. While it took nine months for your tummy to grow, it often takes much longer for it to return to its pre-pregnancy state, or better.
Even if you work your butt off (or tummy in this case), a flatter stomach will not guarantee firmer skin. Your tummy skin can get stretched out a lot when you are pregnant and if you did not take care to moisturize it very well, it will have a harder time returning to its original shape.
Moisture is key in retaining your skin elasticity during pregnancy.
There is also a condition that some women experience called diastasis recti.
This means that your actual stomach muscles, which run parallel, separate.
This can often cause a “pooch” or postpartum bloating that you just cannot get rid of. There are ways to fix this though. You can do certain workouts, physical therapy, or in extreme cases have surgery to correct it. While it might be difficult to get that six pack you’ve always wanted, it’s not impossible.
Your back can also become sore easier during pregnancy and postpartum.
This is due to the hormonal changes that you go through as well as the loosening and tightening of the muscles in and around that area. And carrying around your little one all the time.
You might also have an increase in stretch marks on your stomach and other areas of your body. While we can do our best to bathe ourselves in coconut butter while pregnant, sometimes it’s just not enough.
You can get stretch marks on just about every area of your body, your stomach, your thighs, hips, butt, breasts, and even the backs of your knees. If you do have stretch marks that are bright red, they will fade over time.
You can also use various oils and scar patches to help to fade your stretch marks also. Just think of them as your tiger stripes, your badge for bringing another life into this world!
Your Postpartum Body – Your Netheregins
If you had a vaginal birth, there are a lot of things that can happen down there that can cause many issues postpartum. If you tore during delivery, you might experience some pain after birth for a while, especially if you had to have stitches.
This is much more common in women who are delivering their first child or if the child is particularly large. One of the biggest things immediately after having a vaginal birth is to make sure to practice good hygiene.
This includes washing your area with your hand rather than a washcloth or bath poof as stitches could get caught (ouch!).
The hospital should also have provided you with one of those squirt bottles to help keep your area clean, try and use this after each time you go to the bathroom to avoid any unwanted contamination.
Find a pH balance soap to use down there and not to use any harsh water streams in order to avoid any further irritation.
Your Postpartum Body – Your Body After a C-Section
Having a c-section can be particularly taxing on your body.
While there is less “damage” done to your lady parts, there is significant damage done to your lower stomach. Thankfully having a c-section does not require getting sliced down the middle of your stomach anymore, rather an incision is make as close to your pelvis as possible so that it won’t be noticeable while wearing underwear or a swimsuit.
The recovery time is significantly increased when you have to have a c-section.
You are generally looking at 12 weeks of taking it easy. This means no heavy lifting, so get dad to rearrange the nursery for you. This also means no lifting other, older children as the weight restriction is generally about five to ten pounds.
This also means no driving for 12 weeks either, which can be rather difficult if you have older school aged children that you have to transport back and forth to school and other activities.
You are not supposed to drive because if you have to break fast this can put a major strain on your lower abdomen and rip your stitches. The main goal of recovery is to not rip your stitches or cause any internal tearing.
You can also expect to never really have feeling in your lower abdomen again. This is caused by the nerves in your stomach being severed when the incision is made. This, unfortunately, is not something that can be repaired.
Your Postpartum Body – Your Brain and Your Mood
Hormonal changes can wreak havoc both internally and externally on your body.
It can also create some major changes in your mood and how your brain functions. We have all heard about postpartum depression, which is a serious condition that can affect you and your relationship with your baby and even your partner.
Postpartum depression is nothing to be ashamed of and you should seek help from your doctor if you think you might be depressed after having your baby.
There is also a chance that you will be much more irritable and generally crabby after your baby is born.
You can thank your lack of sleep for that! If you are feeling extra irritable due to your lack of sleep, see if you can get someone to help with baby for a bit so you can get some rest. Being a mom, especially a new mom, is a difficult and tiresome job. It’s ok to ask for a little extra help here and there.
The better you take care of yourself, the better you can take care of your baby and your significant other.
There are also some very positive changes that can happen in your brain postpartum.
It’s amazing to think that you could love someone as much as you love your baby. You have only know each other for a short period of time, they can cause you so much stress, but you suddenly can’t imagine your life without them.
When you are breastfeeding, our brain releases oxytocin, which is also known as the love hormone. When you are able to breastfeed your baby, you are creating a special bond that will last a lifetime while boosting your feel-good hormones!
Other Random Things that Change
It can be really weird the things that happen to your body after you have a baby.
You develop sensitivity to things you never had before, find hair in places you never grew before, and can’t stand the smell of certain things. Each individual woman is different and our bodies handle changes differently.
But just remember, we are all beautiful in our own ways!
Weather you were able to go back to having a six pack or have an extra pooch and more stretch marks than you care to admit, just remember, you made a human and not everyone can say that!