All women experience massive transformations in their bodies whenever they get pregnant. While there is no lack of discussion on this topic, the same can’t be said about the postpartum body.
As the baby becomes the center of a family’s attention after birth, some women tend to be unprepared for the temporary and lasting changes that pregnancy leaves their body with.
And it doesn’t help that the mainstream media perpetuates unrealistic postpartum body expectations with their focus on celebrities who manage to get back into shape merely weeks after giving birth.
So, what does a realistic postpartum body look like?
A Scar That Keeps on Giving
While most women are proud of their birthing scars, many find it an inconvenience with some even suffering from complications from the wound after leaving the hospital.
Experiencing itching and the occasional pang of pain years after the last pregnancy is also not unheard of among mothers who underwent the operation.
Wider Hips and a Bigger Bottom
Women who have a normal body mass index (BMI) before conceiving a child usually gain an average of 25 to 35 pounds as they go further along their pregnancy.
Some women are lucky enough to be able to get their pre-baby bodies after birth. However, there are also plenty of women who experience a permanent change in their physique postpartum.
They report a sort of “cargo shift” in the sense that their hips end up wider and their bodies much fuller than before as they hang onto about 10 pounds of pregnancy weight. However, the average weight women keep after birth is an additional 2 to 5 pounds from their original weight
A Shift in the Body’s Rhythm
Women who aren’t breastfeeding typically get their periods back around six to eight weeks after birth. Those who do may not experience menstruation for the entire duration of their breastfeeding months or years.
Most mothers experience a change in their menstruation after their first pregnancy. This includes a heavier monthly flow, getting small blood clots, stronger cramps and irregularity in cycle duration.
Some women mention needing larger tampons or shifting to menstrual cups to handle their periods postpartum.
The “Mommy Tummy”
This might be the most common change women experience after pregnancy. Women end up with looser tummy areas or a bit of flab due to the parting of abdominal muscles. The separation is called diastasis recti and fortunately doesn’t pose any health threats.
However, some women prefer getting their stomachs tightened through surgical operations like tummy tucks.
A woman’s foot size may temporarily or permanently end up bigger than their original size before pregnancy. This is due to the foot swelling pregnant women experience caused by extra fluids in the body from the growing uterus.
But don’t throw away your old shoes just yet. It can take a couple of months before a woman’s feet can go back to its original size but they will eventually shrink back in some cases. Fingers crossed!