What happens to your body after giving birth? Plenty!

Congratulations, you've just given birth! Now for the fun stuff... sleepless nights and your new post baby body!

Whether you’ve had one pregnancy or several, your body goes though tremendous change in the nine months of pregnancy and after. And unless you’ve been gifted with amazing genes or a sizeable bank account to pay for plastic surgery, chances are, your body won’t ever go back to the way it looked pre-baby. And that’s OK because you’ve just created a miracle.

Out of your amazing body popped out an equally amazing human being or beings who hate sleeping and love expelling large amounts of bodily fluids. You’re going to spend the next three months attached to this tiny thing and you’ll probably forget the world around you exists. But when the little one starts to grow and be more aware of the world beyond your boobs or the bottle, you’ll also start to have more time to yourself – which means actual time to look at yourself in the mirror, study your bod and think: “What the heck just happened?” Here’s our nifty guide to the not-so-fun things you can expect to happen to your body post baby:

“Did I suddenly turn into a tiger?”

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been bathing in Bio-Oil or rolling around in cocoa butter – stretch marks are genetic and if your mum didn’t get them, chances are, you probably won’t either. And if you do get them, don’t worry. So do 80% of all women and men, even if they haven’t had a baby! Wear your stripes like a badge of honor because you’ve earned them! Although they eventually fade away, you can hasten the process with retin-a cream. Surgery is also an option, but pretty hard core. Love your lines, we say!

“Why is one boob a lot bigger than the other?”

 

Lopsided boobs are par for the postpartum course, just like these coconuts. Photo by Claudia Gschwend on Unsplash

If you’re anything like the postpartum mums on the HoneyKids team, you’ll love the fact that you can finally fill a bra thanks to your newly acquired breast milk-filled boobs. Okay, so they may get a little lopsided after your baby’s drained a boob, but wonky boobs are kinda cute, right? Sadly, post-breastfeeding boobs aren’t quite so impressive… you’ve all seen what happens to a balloon when it’s emptied of air, right. That.

“Where did I leave my sunnies again? Did I even bring them?”

Mums, raise your hands if you’ve ever said “Where’s my brain gone?” Research shows that postpartum baby brain is caused by your hormones going haywire after childbirth. Another reason you might be feeling out of it? Sleep deprivation! Staying up all night feeding, burping and changing your little one will definitely give you a good case of mom-nesia.

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, where’s all your hair?”

Remember that luscious, healthy head of hair being pregnant gifted you? Well, after you give birth, you’ll see them in your shower drain and all over your floors. This usually happens around three months postpartum and is totally normal! If you were one of those women who grew freakishly long hair, your hair loss can seem more extreme. But don’t fret; your hair should go back to its normal hair growth cycle within six months, or between six and twelve months after birth – and it might not necessarily grow back the same way. “I’m loving these new sideburns and bangs,” says one mum. “My straight hair suddenly developed a curly life of its own. People kept asking me if I had had a perm!” says another.

“Pah! I never wanted a flat tum anyway…”

If you’re thinking that popping out a baby guarantees you a flat stomach – you’re wrong. In fact, you’ll find that you probably (to your horror) still look pregnant for a fair while after baby has ‘left the building’. “When I eat, I look five months pregnant. When I don’t, I look four months pregnant,” one mum shares. But don’t worry; like everything on this list, it’s completely normal (unless you’re genetically gifted or have a personal trainer and nutritionist on call). Remember, it took nine months for your stomach to stretch to make space for your little one so it only makes sense that it will take just as long (if not longer) for your tummy to tighten up again.

“Why does my tummy feel like jello?”

Post-pregnancy-body-JELLO

We’ve always loved jelly but didn’t realise we would end up with tums looking like a plate of it. Photography: Steven Depolo via Flickr

If you were one of those mums who had a bigger baby or was “all tummy”, you probably have RAD, otherwise fondly known as rectus abdominis diastasis or ab separation. Thanks to your large baby or babies, your stomach muscles overstretched themselves, creating a nice little pouch of fat in front of your tummy and above and below your belly button. Not only are they stretched, they’re weakened as well. In fact, one mum shares that her core became so weak, she could barely carry and bounce her babe. Take time to heal, don’t overdo it on the exercise and speak to a doctor if you’re concerned.

“Hahaha…oops, I peed myself!”

You laugh, you pee. You jump, you pee. You sneeze, you pee. You cough, you pee. Whether its light bladder leakage or complete loss of bladder control, the struggle of postpartum incontinence is definitely real for many mums. It is usually caused by the pressure caused when your growing baby and, eek, your organs press down on the pelvic floor during pregnancy, as well as hormonal changes and how you gave birth. Although pelvic floor exercises may help, if your case is severe, you might want to consult a doctor.

“So much for those Louboutins..”

Your feet grew? Yep: it’s a thing. Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

When you’re pregnant, you’ll find that your shifting centre of gravity and swelling might actually make your feet grow! However, for some women, this new shoe size becomes their new norm postpartum. Irritating if you have spent years building up an impressive shoe collection… So when you can, always put your feet up. If that doesn’t work, sell off your stash and start again with a whole new wardrobe of gorgeous footwear.

“Not tonight…”

There’s a good reason (apart from being sleep deprived) you probably don’t want to have sex with your partner after giving birth. Estrogen, the hormone responsible for vaginal lubrication is at an all time high, causing dryness. In fact, most OBs will tell their mums to wait at least four to six weeks before partaking in a bit of love.

Our conclusion

So you’re probably wondering: when will I go back to my old self? Studies show that it takes about a year to recover both physically and emotionally after childbirth. Those sleepless nights, the anxiety, breastfeeding and hormonal changes will take a toll on your body, just like being pregnant did. And that’s totally okay! Don’t be so hard on yourself and your body. After all, you’ve just made a little person and you deserve a break! Love that bod, ladies.

Like this story? Here’s more we think you’ll enjoy:

The nursing bras that don’t look like you borrowed them from your gran…
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Life after maternity leave
Is breast always best? What I’ve learnt from breastfeeding three kids

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Top image credit: Alexandra Brea vis Instagram