I'm sure you've heard women say say this ambiguous statement before, "Just know, your body will look/be different after giving birth...", and then just left it at that. No further elaboration. No specific examples. Not letting you know HOW your body could look different or HOW your body could BE different. All in all, an ominous warning without any details or advice to help you mentally and emotionally prepare or cope.
All in all, an ominous warning without any details or advice to help you mentally and emotionally prepare or cope.
I'd heard the "your body will change" warning for years from various women, but nobody had bothered to go into detail about what those changes could look like. Sure, I knew that my boobs could become saggy, I could get stretch marks, I could gain an extra "pooch" that wasn't there before...but that was all I knew as far as possibilities for change were concerned. I understand that every woman's body is different, and every pregnancy journey is equally as different, but still. Come on ladies, we can help one another better than this!
I'm not saying every woman should write a blog post about how their body has changed postpartum like I am (though I do think more everyday women should blog). What I'm saying is that if you've given birth and this topic of how one's body changes after birth comes up, don't just give a vaguely ominous warning. Don't be cryptic--be specific. Give examples, and better yet, follow it up with some gentle advice.
I understand that every woman's body is different, and every pregnancy journey is equally as different, but still. Come on ladies, we can help one another better than this!
Now that I am nearly 5 months postpartum, I thought I would share some specifics in how my body has changed. But before I dive in, here's a quick disclaimer/warning:
- This is my experience. Again, every woman's body is different, and every ttc, pregnancy, labor & delivery, and postpartum journey is different. Just because this is my reality doesn't mean it will be yours.
- If you're a guy, don't read this. Please and thank you!
- If you are easily triggered by topics such as sex, genitalia, labor & birth, or stitches/medical topics, don't read this.
- I am not writing this to incite fear or make anyone hesitant towards giving birth. Without these changes to my body I wouldn't have Beckley, and she is 110% worth every stitch, scar, saggy boob, and wince. Don't get it twisted.
- I will be giving specific examples (in detail) of how my body has changed. This includes topics regarding my sexual organs, but I will NOT be giving specifics about my sex life. That all stays between my husband and I.
With that all out of the way, let's dive into how my body has changed after giving birth...
My Boobs Sag a Little
I wouldn't say that I have "saggy" boobs now, but they definitely aren't as perky as they once were. Before I got pregnant I lost a LOT of weight and my boobs shrunk significantly (from a size D to a B). I was officially a part of the "small boob club" and I loved it! Then, when I got pregnant, my boobs became enormous! Or at least, on my small frame, they felt enormous.
After giving birth they swelled to an even larger size (I didn't think this was possible) and stayed that way until I stopped pumping around 2 months postpartum. Now they have shrunk back to their pre-pregnancy size, but with a little sag to them.
If you get saggy boobs, don't beat yourself up over it. It's natural, and totally normal. I get that it isn't ideal (believe me, I do). Doesn't everyone want perky boobs that can go braless without an issue?! But if you get saggy boobs, it's okay. Find some comfortable silk or cotton bras without any padding or wires and it'll feel like you have nothing on anyways. THESE are my favorite!
My Torso is Shaped Differently
No washboard abs over here, but before giving birth I did have a "flat" torso. Now, postpartum, if you were to look at my torso from a profile it has a more curved shape. My back and stomach form more of a gentle "c" shape rather than straight down. I don't have a "pooch" as some women say they gain, more of an all around curve, my back included. This will probably continue to change as a get farther along postpartum and begin to get back into running in the near future.
I also have noticed that I get more "rolls" when I sit down versus before I was pregnant. For me, this isn't weight gain (I'm currently only 4 pounds heavier than before I got pregnant). It's more how my weight is distributed and how my body is shaped now that I've experienced pregnancy and given birth. I sit down and my stomach bulges a little more than it did before. Totally normal and completely human.
Tip: high waisted pants are your BEST. FRIEND. after giving birth. They're so much more comfortable that low-rise pants, very flattering, and so convenient for all that time you'll spend crawling on the ground with your little one.
I am Losing a TON of Hair
Postpartum hair loss is NO. JOKE. I'm surprised I have any hair left! I'm vacuuming our bathroom floor almost daily, and don't you dare look in our shower after I've used it.
I now have borderline bald spots on the sides of my face at my hairline. I could very easily feel self conscious about these, but to be honest, I don't have the time to right now. 😂
If you lose a lot of hair postpartum (very likely) and are feeling really self conscious about it, here's a tip! There is makeup powder you can buy to fill in your thinning hairline and make it look like your hair is still think and luscious. Kim Kardashian supposedly does this! It's basically eyeshadow but for your hair. Here's a link to some I found on Amazon: for BLONDES and for BRUNETTES (more colors available on Amazon)
I Had Stretch Marks & Linea Nigra
I say "had" because these have since faded away for me. But after giving birth I had a few stretch marks on my hips, by my belly button, and I had a linea nigra from my belly button to my pelvis.
I honestly didn't mind these marks when I had them, and I assumed I would have them for the rest of my life. They've only just recently faded away. I want you to know that there is nothing wrong with stretch marks. If you get stretch marks, embrace them. Welcome them. Call them beautiful and recognize them for what they are: a physical mark showing what your body is capable of.
I Have Vaginal Scar Tissue
This is the change that is causing me the most discomfort and trouble currently, and probably will for the future. If you are not familiar with my BIRTH STORY and POSTPARTUM JOURNEY, I recommend you check out those blog posts. Long story short, I ended up getting 48 internal stitches in my vagina. A couple of these stitches resulted in some residual scar tissue.
I am currently using a cream given to me by my gynecologist to help this scar tissue heal. I'm going to be honest with you (because I don't believe being vague helps anyone)--vaginal scar tissue is painful. For me it feels like a very large and hard scab. When I insert anything into my vagina and it rubs against the scar tissue it feels like someone is grabbing the skin on both sides of the "scab" and pulling it taught. Not comfortable at all. Very painful, actually.
This scar tissue also makes pooping uncomfortable. Nothing like hemorrhoids (I talk about these in my Postpartum Recovery blog post), but still uncomfortable and mildly painful.
Based on my research, if I get to 6 months postpartum and there isn't any significant change I may have to look into either seeing a pelvic floor therapist or going to a gynecologist for weekly "massages" of my scar tissue to try and help soften it. 😬 I am still a month away from this, and a LOT can happen in a month, but I'm trying to prepare myself mentally and emotionally for this possibility.
Obviously this affects sex. My advice if you experience vaginal scar tissue would be to reevaluate what intimacy in marriage means/looks like, and how you can achieve intimacy outside of penetration in sex, especially if you're experiencing a pain level that makes this impossible for the time being.
Also, if this affects you a lot emotionally I would recommend a few things:
- Find ways to make yourself feel beautiful. For me, this means putting on some makeup and doing my hair. For you this may mean putting on a pretty sundress. Forget practicality and just make yourself feel pretty.
- Talk with your spouse/partner. Be open and honest with them about how you're feeling and how they can help.
- Consider therapy, physical or mental. I haven't gone this route yet but I may in the future. There is no shame in seeking professional help, especially when it comes to your body and your mental/emotional health.
Photos from 3 separate days when it made no practical sense to put on makeup and do my hair, but I did anyways because it made me feel good.
I Get Period Cramps Now
Before giving birth I was one of those lucky women who never (and I mean never) got period cramps. Periods were generally a cake-walk for me as far as pain and discomfort was concerned. Now that I've had 3 periods postpartum, I regret to inform you that this is no longer the case. I now get cramps the first couple days of my periods, and they've progressively gotten worse each period.
Keep in mind that I've only had 3 periods since giving birth, so this very well could change over time. But this is where I am at now.
As I conclude, a gentle reminder that this is my experience. Again, every woman's body is different, and every ttc, pregnancy, labor & delivery, and postpartum journey is different. Just because this is my reality doesn't mean it will be yours. And please remember I didn't write this post to incite fear or make anyone hesitant towards giving birth. Without these changes to my body I wouldn't have Beckley, and she is 110% worth every stitch, scar, saggy boob, and wince. Don't get it twisted.
But I do believe that being vague doesn't help anyone, and being open and honest can help many. This is my way of being more open with my struggles and journey in hopes that it helps at least one of you who are reading this.
The stats on Google will tell you you aren't alone, but until you know someone specific going through the same thing as you it can still feel very lonely and isolating.
Thank you so much for stopping by! If you know anyone who is expecting a baby, maybe share this with them to help them prepare. Or, better yet, if you know someone who is struggling postpartum share this with them so they know they aren't alone. The stats on Google will tell you you aren't alone, but until you know someone specific going through the same thing as you it can still feel very lonely and isolating.
If you enjoyed this post please give it a share on Facebook, and if you want to reach out you can always contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.