Pregnancy and you blog

Body after baby: What happened?

By Mary M. Murry, R.N., C.N.M. January 15, 2013

It's time for your six-week postpartum appointment. By this time, you thought you'd have your old body back. But instead, your breasts are bigger than ever. Your abs of steel seem to be abs of flab. You have stretch marks in places you didn't know stretch marks could appear — and don't even try to get a look at your behind. It still looks like someone else's.

As if that's not enough, the list continues.

You're losing so much hair that you're thinking about buying that special shampoo advertised to prevent baldness. Ironically, though, the hair that appeared on your tummy during pregnancy has remained stubbornly in place.

And let's not forget your lady parts. Will your labia look the same? Is your vagina a gaping hole? Will it all work the way it used to?

There's no magic timeline for returning to your pre-baby form. You were pregnant for many months, and it might take at least that long — if not longer — for the changes in your body to fade. Some changes might be permanent.

For example, the hair you're losing is normal. While you were pregnant, your hair stopped its cycle of growing and falling out and instead held on to the hair. Now it's trying to reestablish the pattern. Eventually your hair will return to its pre-pregnant rhythm.

If you're breast-feeding, your new cup size will stick around as long as you nurse your baby.

The stretch marks you might have acquired on your breasts, abdomen and hips will gradually fade and not be quite so red. There are many creams that claim to make stretch marks disappear, but I'm not sold on their reliability.

Now what about those lady parts? Even if you had a C-section, gravity and the pressure from the baby's weight in your pelvis will have caused some changes. You could find that you lose urine if you don't get to the bathroom right away or if you cough or sneeze. Doing Kegel exercises every day will help with that.

You might also worry that your partner will notice a difference in your vagina. Honestly, I don't think that'll be an issue. Your partner will be so happy to make love again that nothing else will matter. You might even be one of those women who find that their sexual response is greater after pregnancy and birth.

Give yourself and your body time to recover from pregnancy and birth. Love your new body. The changes you can map on your body are there because of the miracle known as your baby.

I would love to hear from all of you about the changes you noticed after having a baby. How long did it take them to go away? Were there any changes you wanted to keep?

Jan. 15, 2013