Your body goes through so many changes during pregnancy, which makes perfect sense. You’re creating a little human after all! But, the changes don’t stop after you’ve welcomed your beautiful baby into the world. Your postpartum body will continue changing and it will take some time until you feel like your normal self again. To help new and expecting mamas navigate this exciting time, we turned to a couple of experts to explain what really happens to your body after giving birth and how to best take care of yourself.
You’ll still look pregnant.
Although celebrities might make you believe otherwise, your body won’t magically snap back to its pre-baby shape right after you’ve birthed your new bundle of joy. You’ll still look pregnant for a little while longer. “It takes up to two weeks to lose the excess fluid that your body carries while pregnant,” says Manhattan-based physical therapist Marianne Ryan. “Also, it takes a full month for the uterus to shrink back down to normal size.” So be patient with yourself. Don’t stress over how your body looks and enjoy this special time with your baby.
You’ll bleed for a few weeks.
One thing they don’t tell you before becoming a mom is that your baby isn’t the only one that will leave the hospital needing diapers. “Postpartum bleeding can last six to eight weeks post-delivery,” says Dr. Tristan Emily Bickman, board-certified OBG-YN. “It happens as the uterus recovers and as the hormonal fluctuations cause the endometrial lining to shed.”
Over time, the bleeding will decrease but she recommends wearing pads for the first six weeks postpartum. Our Overnight Pads, in particular, are a new mom favorite and with good reason. They’re organic. They have a high absorbency, and they are extra long and come with wings for extra comfort and leak protection.
Your hormones will be out of whack.
You can also expect your hormones to be all over the place after childbirth. “It could take three months for things to rebalance again and even longer if you are breastfeeding,” Ryan says. The reason is that when your nipples are stimulated it decreases your body’s estrogen production. Symptoms of unbalanced hormones include night sweats, hot flashes, sweating, vaginal dryness, and skin dryness.
Your abs will split.
When you’re pregnant, your ab muscles split so that your belly and baby have room to expand. This is called diastasis recti. “After childbirth, it takes a while for the connective tissue that lies in between the two six-pack muscles to stiffen up again and pull the two six-pack muscles towards each other,” Ryan says. She recommends using some type of abdominal support garment, such as an elastic t-shirt, for a month or two after giving birth to help bring things together. Make sure they’re not too tight as that can cause more harm than good.
You might have a leaky bladder.
One of the many joys of becoming a mom is dealing with a leaky bladder after giving birth due to the trauma of vaginal delivery or manipulation of the bladder during a c-section, Dr. Bickman says. The good news is that this is normal and will only last a few weeks. If it doesn’t resolve itself, Ryan says it might be due to weak pelvic floor muscles and she recommends seeing a physical therapist for pelvic physical therapy.
Your skin will change.
After giving birth, you might also see some changes in your skin. Dr. Bickman says these changes can include stretch marks, dryness, and even acne. Your nipples might also get darker and larger. Luckily, the symptoms will subside on their own once your hormones settle down and you get back to your normal menstrual cycle.