Body Changes after Childbirth

Your little one has now been outside of your body about as long as she was inside—does that even seem possible? And, since it took nine months for your body to take its fully formed pregnant shape, you might be wondering why it hasn’t gone back to “normal” by now. Our first tip: Embrace the new normal, because your body did something amazing, and you probably carry the battle scars, stretchmarks and occasional bladder control problems to prove it.

Changes to body shape

Your belly

Your big, hard belly went away as soon as your baby was born, only to be replaced by a smaller, “smushier” belly. During those first few weeks after giving birth, you lost all that extra water weight and your belly may have shrunk further. By now, you may have your pre-pregnancy shape back, but even the fittest moms probably still have a saggy belly, even if it’s just the extra skin that used to be stretched around baby. Many of us still carry a pooch around the midsection, which may or may not go away in time. It’s fine to do whatever exercise you like, with your doctor’s OK, if you aren’t comfortable in your new shape, but keep in mind that this is all normal! In fact, one in three moms still have muscle tissue that hasn’t knitted itself back together, even several months after pregnancy, and this leads to a rounder belly.

Your hips

Your hips widened before giving birth, and many moms find that their favorite jeans never fit quite the same way again. This is because your pelvic bone structure actually changed to accommodate your baby’s journey into the world!

Your breasts

Your breasts also grew larger, and once you’ve finished breastfeeding you may find that they’re larger, smaller or about the same size as they were before. They may also be rounder, or they may sag more than before. Know that these changes occurred during pregnancy, even if you don’t see them until you’re no longer breastfeeding—the breastfeeding itself didn’t make your breasts look different.

Your feet

Now, this may be unexpected. Many moms deal with foot swelling during pregnancy, and their shoes may not fit the same even a year later. Some women even go up a full shoe size permanently!

Other external changes

If you have stretch marks, they’ve probably faded somewhat, and will eventually be just a lighter shade or silvery. If you had a c-section, you’ll keep the scar forever, but most women find that it’s barely visible unless they’re looking for it. You may also have developed spider veins or varicose veins while you were pregnant, and though they’ve likely become less visible, they’ll probably stick around for the long haul. 

Internal changes

It’s true that you may never be able to laugh, jump or cough again without a little urine leaking out. Sorry, it just comes with the territory. You can work on strengthening the muscles that hold in urine with Kegel exercises to minimize the leakage, and be sure to talk to your doctor about other ways to find relief.  

Your body: Wear it. Own it. Love it.

Sure, maybe if you hadn’t had a baby you would have a perfect supermodel body well into your 80s. But probably not. And anytime your new body catches your eye and makes you feel less than wonderful, remember what that body has been through—and what it’s given you—and love every imperfect inch.