How did your body REALLY change after giving birth?

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Photo by NWCORAZÓN Photo and Video.
Photo by NWCORAZÓN Photo and Video.
I know that I can expect my body to change after giving birth — it’s kind of obvious to me that growing a human, gaining 30-60lbs, and then pushing a human out of my body will do that.

I’m curious about the REAL CHANGES — not just what happens on the surface (stretch marks, acne, etc.).

What changes did your body experience after giving birth throughout the first year of your child’s life?


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We’ve talked about what post-partum life is like practically, and you guys were all over the post-partum period discussion… but we’ve never REALLY delved into The Body Talk.

So we want Offbeat Families readers to tell us: How did your body change after you gave birth?

We think the comments on this post are pretty enlightening… here are a few we especially love:

Fact is my body was completely changed by child birth. The reality is you must come to accept this new you or consistently struggle to get back to the old. Because no matter how much you work out,you will never be perfect (even if you were a super models before kids). Yep, my body at least, is still going to look like Freddy Krueger ripped his way out of my belly. This after children me is ME. and I’m still pretty damn sexy. — Mia
Your physical body does bounce back pretty quickly with a healthy diet and some regular exercise. I still have stretch marks and some skin sagginess, and my poor boobs will never be as perky, but I am actually in better shape after my daughter than I was before. My daughter has made me way more conscious of my diet because I want to be a good role model for her. I don’t want her to struggle with the same PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) issues that I did for years. — Jessica
My experience of post baby body – not too bad! My girls, even after b/f twice for a year+ each time are in pretty good shape (and height off the waist). My belly will never ever be the same, but really pretty happy generally. I think having a partner who tells you regularly how hot and sexy you are (and believes it) probably counts for a lot!!! As for baby weight – I gained 20kg first time, and took it all off walking up and down hills with my baby on my back. Second time not so much, but I was too exhausted to do the hill walking (see above!). — Annie

We love the comments on this post but please try to avoid disparaging your mama bodies! We think you’re beautiful.

Comments on How did your body REALLY change after giving birth?

  1. I’m still getting to know my post-pregnancy body.

    Before I share some of the changes I’ve observed, a bit about me. My son is currently 10 months old and he’s still breastfeeding. My delivery was a vaginal delivery at 38 weeks; I had a very minor first degree tear that required just a couple stitches. I gained 24 pounds during my pregnancy and was back to my pre-pregnancy weight in about 6 to 8 weeks.

    First, my hips are wider. In the grand scheme of things, it’s probably minor. But I’ve noticed the pants that fit me before I got pregnant no longer fit the same. Some (the ones that fit me on the small side) are harder to get up over my hips.

    As others have mentioned, it’s a bit harder to hold it when I have to pee. This is probably the most annoying thing. I keep wondering if doing kegels more regularly will help, but I never manage to do it.

    My core still feels a bit like jello. Part of this is the fact that I haven’t added a concentrated core work out routine yet, but getting back muscle tone in my core is taking the longest.

    The areolas around my nipples are bigger and the nipples themselves are more pronounced (I think this is partially from breastfeeding and partially from pregnancy). The consistency of my breasts feels different too. It’s not really saggy vs. perky, but they feel less firm.

    The biggest changes I’ve noticed has to do with the changes to my lady parts. Some of the changes were brief (the first six months of breastfeeding meant stuff didn’t stretch the way it used to. Uncomfortable). But the more lasting changes are hard to explain. Trying to explain this on a web forum would be like trying to explain the ways that your best friend in high school had changed when you saw her at your 10 or 20 year reunion (uncomfortably intimate and hard for others to understand). The changes are not OMG horrible… stuff’s just changed. But at first, it was a bit like I was a stranger, so having sex with my husband was like trying to have sex with a stranger (I was the stranger, not him). My body responded different, felt different. Now, the first time was disconcerting, but I (and my husband) quickly figured out this is like the exciting period of discovery during a new relationship.

    There are a couple small things to: I’m much thirstier (probably from breastfeeding). The first 6 weeks I could not keep enough water in me. (Which was annoying – see change 1). My energy levels seem lower. I suspect that the energy levels are a combination of changed sleep schedules, getting up with my son at night, breastfeeding, recovery, and the fact that I haven’t been as active during my postpartum period as I would like. My body is being used in different ways now, so my energy levels are different too.

  2. I experienced a seemingly-permanent weakened bladder, spider veins (though they have since been removed via LASER!), chronic hemorrhoids from pushing that kid out, postpartum depression which I guess is now just regular depression since it’s been 2 years and I still need the medication, longer menstrual periods (sometimes over a week), and cavities! I never had a single cavity for the first 32 years of my life. After having my baby, I had 5 right away and 2 more since then. She totally stripped me of my calcium, I guess. Oh, and of course, the saggy, deflated boobs which now necessitate a push-up bra to look normal.

  3. I just want to peek my head in for one second and remind squeamish childless readers who might be thinking “vulva stretch marks? Ruined assholes? Sock boobs?! I’M NEVER HAVING KIDS!” of one thing:

    Whether you have kids or not, your body is going to age and change. Then you’re going to die. Yes, pregnancy and childbirth can change your body (significantly, for some people). But your body changes through-out your life. That’s just the simple reality of being human. The sooner you understand this, the sooner you can release some of the fear about the natural process of time passing. I recommend this post: Fierce At 50 Is Way Better Than Pretty At 25

    This is all to say, freaking out about bodies changing is a quick way to make yourself really unhappy. Bodies: THEY CHANGE REGARDLESS OF WHETHER YOU BIRTH KIDS. Just ask adoptive mothers or dads. (Or fuck, any of the millions of child-free people who get old and die every year.)

    • I spent a significant amount of my teenage years and early 20s struggling with anorexia. But I was as recovered as I was ever going to be by 27 when I started trying to get pregnant–ate healthy, felt okaaaay about my body, wasn’t obsessive about exercise, etc.

      Still, I was worried that the body changes brought on my pregnancy and childbirth could send me spiraling back into the dark place. But I realized for myself what you’re saying here–my body is going to change whether I have kids or not, so I either fulfill a dream by having them and deal with the changes sooner or let go of my dream just to stave off the changes that will inevitably come. Once I saw it that way, there wasn’t much of a choice.

      The good news is while I have some stretch marks, a varicose vein or two, plus hemorrhoids and such, (all things that would have come with age anyway) I feel so much more comfortable in my body now–even more so after my second kid. Partly it’s that whole wow-look-what-my-body-did thing, partly it’s that I’m crazy strong from lugging around two huge babies/kids, and partly it’s that I just don’t care anymore.

      I really can’t even remember why it was so important to have a flat stomach or smooth thighs. Seriously, who the f cares? My kids don’t. My partner doesn’t. And finally, neither do I. I’m got way more important and interesting things to obsess over now. 🙂

    • Oh god, I am one of those people who is now terribly nervous about having kids. I think it’s the horrible suddenness of it – ok, you get 9 months to prepare, but if you don’t have kids things change much more gradually.

      All I know is that if my hips get any wider there is no freaking way I’ll be able to find pants!

      • Don’t worry about the hips. That can’t happen in every case. I had 35 inch hips before I got pregnant, and went back to 35 inch hips after both babies so far. They get bigger while I am pregnant obviously, but then go back to original size.

    • I can see your point but I think it’s important to recognize that for some people these concerns are serious and should not be dismissed. For some childless people the anxiety of having your body change at 20 or 30 is too much to handle, and while they may be ok with changes due to the age (because there is not a lot to do about them) they are not ok with directly provoking these changes to themselves. There are also women who spend a lot of energy to preserve their younger self, through dieting, exercise, plastic surgery and so on, and this is a valid choice (if they do it for themselves and not for others) as much as giving birth and embracing change. Bodies change, but you have a saying in how. p.s. a big part of why I am childfree is because I don’t want my body to change when I can still have years of having it how I like it. This doesn’t mean that I will be devasted when age kicks in and it starts changing. I have a choice and I choose not to add another change factor to my body (there are also many other reasons of course).

    • Hell yeah, I’m proud of my mangled vagina and asshole!! Those are trophies of my un-medicated birth to my perfect son!! Even knowing the outcome, I’d do again in a heart beat!!

  4. I saw some people posting positives so I think I will too. Besides the obvious (KID!!), I have stronger, thicker hair which doesn’t need to be washed as much. My skin isn’t as oily. My arms have never been so toned. I actually think my metabolism sped up a little because I still eat the 3 meals and 2 snacks that I needed when I was pregnant and I am below my pre-preg weight. Also, I think it’s easier for me to have an orgasm during intercourse for whatever reason. Some of these things may be a coincidence, but I’m giving the credit to having a baby. 🙂 Also, I am a LOT more patient and less judgmental overall. My mantra when things get hairy is “It is what it is”. That has helped me a lot.

    • Yes to the easier to orgasm! I have a much easier time with it post-baby and it was never even that difficult before I had babies. So I mean SUPER easy. I have been slowly accumulating spider veins since I was 13 and have quite a few, but I don’t include that in my pregnancy changes. They accumulate wether I am pregnant or not. I figure I will get them removed as a 40th birthday present (I am 30 this year).

  5. Well, it’s only been a month since I gave birth- but my butt definitely looks saggier. My boobs are HUGE- and I’m a bit worried what will happen once I wean the baby…

  6. Most interestingly, my body fat placement has changed most specifically on my stomach. I used to have definite rolls but now there’s no rolls, just protruding stomach that’s flat instead of rolly.. does that make sense? Even though I’m the same weight I was post pregnancy with my previous two children, none of my pants fit me anymore because of my changed stomach. Weird.

  7. I am extremely flexible now. I always was before I had (3) children, but having three in 4 years and then breast-feeding for 6 years combined, it’s really turned me into quite the contortionist. It makes me feel like a total rock star in yoga class, but having your hip slip out of socket during sex is not quite as sexy 😉

  8. Well, there’s the stretch marks (not so bad, really) the slight weight gain (I’m 5lbs above my prepregnancy weight) etc etc.

    My period is lighter. Nice perk.

    I actually feel more positive about my body overall. I still have those, “Ugh!” moments, but I also have a lot more, “Wow!” moments. I’m amazed at what my body did.

    It was actually close to a month before I could sit down like a normal person. I had tearing and stitches and that was very unpleasant.

    I’m stronger all around. My arms, my legs, and my spirit. 🙂

    My breasts are more tender, even though I stopped nursing a month ago (and before that was nursing only twice a day.) I no longer experience arousal when my husband touches them, which kinda sucks.

    Sexually, things are awesome.

    That’s all I can think of.

  9. My son is only three months old but I haven’t really noticed any major changes with my body. I had a csection and only gained about 22 pounds so that probably makes a difference. I’d say that the changes I have noticed are related to breast feeding. Like my boobs are soft and sort of deflated after a feeding (but then they fill back up before the next feeding.) Sex is a bit more uncomfortable because breast feeding sort of dries things up, but that’s easily remedied. Obviously, I’m a bit more tired than before from those nighttime wakings but I’d say my body has adjusted nicely to the lack of sleep.

  10. Besides having a road map on my belly… I piddle like a puppy every time I jump, stand up, sit down, cross my legs, un-cross my legs, cough, sneeze, laugh, or blink.

    BUT my little Pickle is worth every stretch mark and change of skivvies!

  11. My boobs are kinda deflated after my 2nd child. My hair is definitely thicker, I have more energy because I’m eating better than prepregnancy. Easier orgasms as well. Definitely a plus.

  12. My face changed. My nose looks different. I gained a lot of weight and perspective that led me into years of enjoyable exercise and a much healthier diet and lifestyle.

    I’m proud of all the things my body has been capable of. I’m happier with myself physically and mentally than I ever was in my early 20’s.

    So yeah, I have stretch marks but I don’t care. I’m pregnant again right now, and ordered a really cute bikini for this summer! Stretch marks and all. The only physical change that stands out is that my nose is a little different.

  13. I have two very different experiences.

    My first was born when I was 21. I weighed 118lbs to start and gained 35lbs. It was an uncomplicated pregnancy, I was working a very active job and craving heaps of healthy foods and my son was born weighing 9lbs 10oz at 24 inches long. I had a slight vaginal tear (thank goodness for perineal massages). I went the adoption route and didn’t eat much for the first three months as I was dealing with an emotional rollercoaster. I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight seventeen days after giving birth, my body settled on a pants size larger, a half a shoe size bigger, and I was no longer able to tolerate coffee. I developed large stretch marks on my hips which I very much enjoy.

    My second was born when I was 27. I started at 125lbs, but an extremely toned 125lbs (amateur weight lifting). I gained 40lbs and had some complications – due to previous miscarriages and a low lying placenta, I was on light duty at work and forbidden to work out. My daughter was born weighing 5lbs 5oz at 18.5 inches. This was only six weeks ago, so I’ll let you know where things settle. Currently, I’ve lost 20lbs and have gotten the okay to start working out and have modified my old work out to incorporate the baby. My previous stretch marks only darkened this time. My pants are four sizes larger than they used to be, my feet have grown a whole size, and I can now tolerate coffee again (but not spicy foods). My husband expressed surprise with how quickly the lady bits bounced back (yes, he got a stink eye for vocalizing that).

    If I may be so bold as to give some advice to women out there… every body is different, amazing, and beautiful. Buy clothes that fit your new shape after giving birth, and you will feel sexy and awesome.

  14. I am 4 years out from having my last kid. I’ve had 3 over the years, and here’s what I’ve noticed. My stomach will never be the same. No matter how much I exercise (and many mama’s are the same) you will always have a “pooch” to it. That’s just cause of the way pregnancy messes up those muscles and it can’t be changed. Feet – it’s very common for your feet to get bigger. The bones spread and they never go back. So you may need to look at wider shoes or just bigger shoes in general. Boobs – mine are HUGE now (DD) and pre kids they were like a B cup. However that may be cause I put on a ton of weight over the years in general. I’ve always had spider veins, now they’re worse. I still have the stretch marks, but those do fade over time. Luckily the men folk who knocked us up in the first place don’t seem to care. Really! However, if they did care, no one would ever have more than 1 kid!

  15. After 2 babies, nearly 9 years apart, I’ve got saggy boobies (i’m still nursing), saggy stomach with lots of stretch marks, extra fat on my legs and arms. It’s all worth it!

  16. I have two kiddos, one is five and the other is 8 months old. With the first, I definitely bounced back easier.
    Yes, my breasts are saggy, and they will be even worse once I’m done breastfeeding, but they’re serving their purpose so I really don’t mind.
    I’d say my body is just softer than it used to be. I feel stronger, but things just aren’t as tight or toned.
    Also, the peeing thing, definitely! Panty liners have sort of become a must for me to catch all the, um, dribbles.
    I had a hard time with the changes at first, maybe because I’m so young and I felt like was losing my figure too early. But then I stopped thinking about it as “losing” my figure and thought of it as “changing” instead. So what if my pre-pregnancy clothes don’t fit as well, that’s just a good excuse to get to go shopping.

  17. Not sure if someone said this yet, but my ribcage has expanded! I noticed this when I was lying belly down in yoga. It’s super weird feeling and it’s gonna take some getting used to.

  18. Can I just say that it’s comforting to read about all of your experiences? I’ve been thinking that I’m the only one with weird post-partum body stuff (all my mama friends look SO GOOD) so it’s nice to hear that I’m not the only freak with “butt belly” and stretch marks.

    • “Here-Here”” To the butt-belly! I weigh less than I did before my three boys were born and come from a long line of thin people. Still, I have the saggy just under the belly button butt-belly. Oy!

  19. You know, all of these answers have made me realize that pregnancy impacts everyone differently. I know this should be obvious, but my mother’s family seems to constantly say that because x happened to them, it’ll happen to me the same way. But the thing is that I only have half of her genetic material and then my dad’s half, plus my environmental conditions and that adds up to a whole lot of beautiful unknowns – it’s nice to have a sense of what might happen, but feeling like you have a genetic destiny that you can’t change isn’t a good feeling either. Thanks everyone!

  20. My son is 7 and my daughter is 3. I have some stretch marks on my hips and boobs. They were dark but are now silvery and hardly noticable. I sm sbout 15 pounds over my prepregnancy weight. My nipples got bigger. My feet got 1/2 a size bigger. My boobs got a cup size bigger (and lower).
    When I got pregnant the first time, I was really worried about what my body would look like after having a baby. I was scared. Now, two babies later, I can say that I don’t give a crap. Becoming a mom changed my life. Being around my kids makes life so much more complete. And now I care more about what kind of person/parent/role model I am than how perky my boobs are. My husband still thinks I’m hot and I still enjoy hearing him say it. In fact, I enjoy it so much more now that I have stopped being so critical of my body. I got stretch marks. The world did not end. In fact, it got better than I ever imagined.

    Bottom line – totally worth it.

  21. My son was born via c-section 8 months ago. I gained a lot of weight during my pregnancy, and as such, my body is a lot different looking post-partum. Obviously my boobs and butt are bigger; but the shape of my body just -looks- different.
    I have lost about 50 pounds since having my son, and have about 30 left to lose. Losing the weight has been difficult. Ya know, not all women burn 500 calories a day while nursing!
    Being a mommy has changed the way I think about my body. When I was younger, I would never ever leave the house without makeup on. It’s not that I don’t care how I look anymore, it’s just that I have more important things to worry about.
    I have struggled with body image issues all my life, and while I at times find myself hating the way I look now, I just look at my son and think about what my body went through to bring him into this world. If my body never “goes back to normal” that’s OK with me.
    I have so much more energy and endurance now. That’s not to say that I don’t have pain. My back hurts, but I just keep-on-going. My feet are bigger, my hair is longer and seems to grow faster, and since I’m still nursing I still haven’t gotten my period (knock on wood).

  22. Ok, I’m 6 weeks out from my fourth birth and here’s the low down: I started off a short skinny girl…
    first baby: c section. bring on the scar *very weird, no feeling around scar*. and welcome my soon to be permanent belly pooch
    second baby: vaginal. lovely tear and stitching. my lady parts hurt for a LONG while. sex post baby was not fun.
    third baby: c section. infected scar by incompetent hospital. gained a lot of weight with this pregnancy. boobs shot up 2 sizes. post baby tummy pooch hangs down. ugh.
    fourth baby: all natural vag birth. no tears, lady parts back to normal within a week. weight gain was minimal (but the pooch is still there). feet grew one size. boobs are up to DD. while my body will never go back to it’s original state, i’m happier now with who i am. still working on losing weight, but i’m not obsessed.

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