8 Most Dramatic Postbaby Body Changes
You were probably looking forward to your body getting back to “normal” after baby’s birth, but surprise! The postpartum period brings a whole new set of changes you probably weren’t warned about.
1. Hair loss
It might feel a little bit like you're in a horror movie the first time you find extra hair in your brush... on the bathroom floor... and in the shower drain. But try not to freak out. “Your hair naturally goes through growth and loss cycles, but when you’re pregnant, you lose fewer hairs,” explains Shelly Holmström, MD, associate professor at the University of South Florida College of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Tampa, Florida. After baby’s born, your hair plays catch up to your body’s natural cycle, and that’s why your hair seems to come out all at once.
How to deal: Wait it out: All our mom friends say they did eventually stop losing hair in large amounts. For some, it was in as little as three months. For others, it wasn’t until they stopped breastfeeding. Every woman is different. “When I was four months postpartum, my hair started coming out. Hair would fall out by the handful! But by about eight months postpartum, it was over,” says Kelly B.* Sarah H. says she started losing hair “at 10 months postpartum. I took prenatal vitamins thinking that would help slow it down, but it kept falling out anyway.”
In the meantime, be kind to your hair (maybe cool it with the hair drier and curling iron for a little while), and if you’re particularly concerned about the hair loss, talk it over with your doctor.
2. Leaking pee
No matter how you deliver baby, it’s likely that you’ll have to deal with some, um, pee problems afterwards. Holmström explains that vaginal delivery causes trauma to pelvic floor muscles. And for c-section moms, the pressure of baby lying low on your pelvis during pregnancy could be enough to cause leaky pee. The good news? It won’t last forever. “The postpartum incontinence went away for me eventually, around the six-month mark,” says Brittany S.
How to deal: Do (lots and lots of) kegels. Don’t know how? Start by tightening your pelvic floor muscles, like you’re holding urine (but with an empty bladder), squeezing for five seconds. The beauty of these exercises is that you can do them anywhere, anytime. “I did kegels every chance I could,” says Heather R. Invest in some pantiliners if you’re worried about leaking in public.
3. Dryness... down there
You're low on estrogen after delivery (and while you're breastfeeding), which causes a thinning of your vaginal membrane. And that leads to dryness, making getting back in the sack a challenge. Our tip? Lube — it’s a lifesaver.
How to deal: You’ll be back to your old self soon, but in the meantime, be open to new things. Jolene B. says, “My partner went out and bought a bunch of different types of lube for us to try. It made me feel better that he was willing to go out of his way so I’d enjoy myself. Plus, we had an excuse to fool around a lot — we had to try all those different kinds!”
4. Foot growth
You may have thought your feet were bigger during pregnancy just because of temporary swelling, but the truth is, your feet may have actually grown permanently. One study found that about 60 to 70 percent of pregnant women’s feet became longer and wider for good.
How to deal: Go shopping if your old shoes don’t fit. You can’t count on your feet shrinking back to their prepregnancy size, and it’s not worth it to be uncomfortable. “I only bought shoes for the next upcoming season — this way it was less of financial burden than buying a whole new shoe wardrobe in one sitting,” says Jenna C. Plus, who doesn’t love an excuse to shoe shop?
5. Leaky boobs
Some women’s boobs leak. Some don't. And get this: You might even leak if you don’t breastfeed. Breast leaking has to do with the tiny muscles at the opening of the nipple pores. Some women have stronger muscles there than others.
How to deal: “I use the burp cloth to soak up the milk and wear breast pads when I leave the house,” says Cora W. Other moms can get by with just a thick nursing bra. “My nursing bra is absorbent enough that I don’t have to keep checking myself every five minutes,” says Lanie T. In general, leaking tends to taper off as the baby starts to nurse less frequently.
6. Stretch marks
Your skin expanded at such a rapid rate during pregnancy that you most likely got a few stretch marks. Once you’re postpartum and your body starts going back to normal, it becomes a reality that some of those marks just aren’t going away.
How to deal: Stretch marks don’t usually disappear, but in most cases, the color does fade, blending into your skin tone. Help it along with some good, old-fashioned moisturizing. Bumpies recommend Bio Oil, Palmer’s Cocoa Butter and Mamma Mio’s Goodbye Stretch Marks. Others recommend just waiting it out. If your marks are severe, and you can’t bear the thought of living with them, talk to your dermatologist about other, more intensive treatments.
7. Bigger (or smaller!) boobs
Breastfeeding? Prepare for your boobs to get huge, especially if they get engorged, and then much smaller again. Even if you don’t nurse, your breasts may never return to the way they looked or felt before you were pregnant, Holmström says. That’s a normal side effect of all that pregnancy stretching and stress. Unfortunately, there’s no way to get them to look different unless you’re willing to see a plastic surgeon.
How to deal: Shop for stretchy, supportive bras that are easy to adjust to fit your ever-changing bust. (If you’re nursing, we recommend going sans underwire to prevent clogged ducts.) Plan another shopping trip a few months after you’re done breastfeeding, since you may change sizes again.
Embrace your new figure, like Hannah B. did; she says, “I’m loving having bigger boobs! I’m usually a small B-cup so I’m enjoying it now!” If you want, buy some deep V-necks to show off your newfound cleavage.
Not into the extra stares a bigger bust can draw? Go the opposite route and buy some new demure clothes to keep them from being the topic of conversation. And if you’re one of those moms who experiences a little shrinkage, there’s nothing wrong with buying a bra with a little extra padding if that makes you feel more confident.
8. Postpregnancy paunch
Newsflash: Right after having a baby, you’re still going to look pregnant. And it will take time for your uterus to shrink back to its original size. Even then, Holmström says your tummy might not become perfectly flat and firm. “When you’re pregnant,” she notes, “there is so much stretching that takes place all over. Having loose skin on your abdomen is totally normal.”
How to deal: Eating right and exercising can certainly help. “I always remind my patients that it took them nearly 40 weeks to gain the weight and for their bodies to make all of these changes, so they can’t expect it to return to normal more quickly than that,” Holmström says. In the meantime, some moms love shapewear. Others learn to appreciate their new curves.
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