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NOTES FROM DEANNA

Body After Baby – Will I Ever Be The Same?

Body After Baby - Will I Ever Get My Body Back?Maybe it seems shallow or selfish, but it’s perfectly normal to wonder, will I ever get my body back after baby?

The answer is yes…and no. So many changes take place to your body after you have a baby. For some the changes are subtle, for others they are extreme. This all depends on genetics and lifestyle.

Here are a few changes you can expect that may or may not be permanent, depending on those factors:

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Loose Skin

After baby, you may have some loose skin around your midsection. It will be more profound at first, then tighten up over the first year postpartum. Some women have greater elasticity in their skin and you may not even be able to tell they’ve had a baby. Some women, like me, have less elasticity and the skin will stay loose. Sticking with a healthy lifestyle from the very beginning of pregnancy can lessen the severity of this. Drinking lots of water, using coconut oil on your skin daily, and gaining weight slowly will help improve your skin elasticity. No amount of sit-ups or crunches will tighten up this skin once it has been stretched. Even when I had six pack abs before this pregnancy, the skin was loose from my first three babies. It didn’t stop me from wearing a two-piece at the beach 🙂

Diastasis Recti

Pregnant women experience a separation of the abdominal muscles towards the end of pregnancy when the growing uterus stretches against them. The problem usually corrects itself within the first year following birth, however sometimes the separation does not close completely, leaving a little tummy bulge. To help heal the separation, there are a few exercises you can try:

  • Core contractions – seated in a chair sitting straight up, pull your belly button in towards your spine, contracting your core for 30 seconds. Repeat 10x.
  • Kegels – Just like when you were pregnant, continuing these exercises will help to strengthen your pelvic floor. If you’ve never done a kegel, stop your stream of urine while you’re using the restroom – these are the same muscles you will squeeze to do a kegel. Do these for about 10 minutes a day. I usually do them while I watch tv at night.
  • If you do have diastasis, AVOID all crunches or any other exercise that makes your abs stick out, like a cone shape. This can actually make it worse.

Stretch Marks

Mostly genetic, however, just like loose skin, you can minimize stretch marks by following a clean diet and not gaining weight too quickly. You may also be able to help prevent stretch marks by keeping your belly, thighs, and breasts slathered in coconut oil. These will appear red at first but over time will fade and look like scars.

Body Fat

You’ll probably put on fat in your thighs, rear, and arms when you are pregnant, and if you breastfeed, some women will continue to store extra fat in these areas. If you follow a healthy diet and stay active during pregnancy, you can minimize the amount of extra fat you store. Once you have the baby, beware of following a diet TOO low in calories, as it will actually trigger your body to hold onto that fat for dear life, because it will assume you are experiencing famine.

You absolutely can lose body fat postpartum. Exercise daily, stick to a mostly clean diet full of protein, fruits, veggies, healthy fats and complex carbs, and have some patience. If you’re breastfeeding you will probably fall into one of two categories: the mom who loses her baby weight seemingly immediately because of nursing, or the mom whose body doesn’t want to let the last 10 pounds go until nursing is over. This is yet another hormonal safeguard that is in place to keep a calorie reserve for the baby. If you really want to lose those last few pounds of fat, you can try adding in some high intensity interval training (HIIT) to your workouts (example – try doing 5 or 6 sprints once a week), cut your calories a little bit more (no more than 50-100 at a time while nursing) or lowering the amount of starch you’re eating daily. Read more about breastfeeding and fat loss here.

Around 4 months postpartum, your hormones will change once again, and you should experience a period of increased metabolism.

Read here for the six lessons I learned from my fit and healthy pregnancy.

Breast Changes

Whether or not you breastfeed, your breasts are going to be somewhat different post-pregnancy. They likely increased in size over the nine months, preparing for breastfeeding. And once your milk comes in, they will swell up once again. This can take a toll on the skin that once held your breasts so firmly in place, making them a little bit less buoyant. Wear a good-fitting bra during your pregnancy, and find an excellent nursing bra, and this should help minimize the stretching of the skin. Coconut oil rubbed on the breasts can help too.

Body Acceptance

Maybe it’s because I was 37 years old this time around, but I’m actually really tired of seeing women being held to any body standard after they have a baby. So many new moms are killing themselves with exercise they hate and diets they despise just because the message has been placed in their heads over and over again that only one type of body is acceptable, both before and after pregnancy. It has been so programmed into us that many of us have never even really examined why we’re working so hard to fit that body type. You know what I say?

Our bodies are INCREDIBLE. We make HUMANS. We should be celebrating stretch marks and tummies and boobs and start changing our attitudes towards the post-baby body. In my opinion, my body is better after four babies. I’ve been able to get in great shape, the best shape of my life, and I’m also completely in awe of what my body was able to do during pregnancy and childbirth. My stretch marks, loose skin and breasts are my medals of honor, my precious momentos of what my body accomplished, and I’m not letting anyone take away from that.

Love yourself and take care of yourself. Find the exercise that makes you feel strong and proud but is fun too. Eat the healthiest foods that nourish you and make you feel great, but that you love to eat too. Your best body will be the result of this.

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  1. courtney

    September 18th, 2014 at 9:36 am

    this is really helpful. I’ve been wondering ever since the day I found out I was pregnant what was going to happen to me. I feel so different already but i’m ok with that 🙂 I especially love the last part because it’s so true. I’m so tired of magazine covers that make goddesses out of famous moms that get back in shape within a few weeks of delivery. that’s great for them but it’s not what will happen to everyone. I feel like i’m going through a rite of passage! Thank you for this.

  2. Deanna Schober

    September 18th, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Ah, yes that’s exactly it. It is part of our rite of passage! I love this. Thank you!

  3. JamieB

    September 18th, 2014 at 9:38 am

    Did you have any issues with your bladder after pregnancy? I keep reading about women who pee when they sneeze or laugh after they have there babies and I’m worried that this will happen to me. Thanks for such a great webiste.

  4. Deanna Schober

    September 18th, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Hi Jamie, I didn’t have any but yes this can be an issue after baby arrives. Usually it is mild enough to treat by performing kegels daily to increase strength of the pelvic floor, or increasing strength of the bladder muscles by “waiting” to use the restroom longer than you have to. Some women will have to have surgery to fix it but this is less common. Do those kegels every day 🙂

  5. Pregnancy

    September 24th, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    Great article! Women are all conscious of how they will look after giving birth but the truth is, they look absolutely amazing even after giving birth. The glow of motherhood just radiates on them. – Amy

  6. Deanna Schober

    September 25th, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Agreed! Thanks Amy!

  7. Nikki

    July 14th, 2016 at 9:59 pm

    Helpful article. My body feels like it went through massive changes this past week. My bump appeared out of no where. I feel guilty to admit I’m really depressed about my weight gain. I’m short so any weight gain shows. I’ve been eating okay and exercising moderately yet I’m putting weight on in my thighs, butt, arms and face, not just my belly. I’m depressed when I should be enjoying this experience (I think). I guess I can hold on to hope that my body will bounce back with some work post pregnancy.

  8. Chris

    September 8th, 2017 at 3:35 am

    Hi Nikki, same for me, three times at the gym per week and pretty much the same routines as before minus the weight ones; relatively good eating (most evenings only salads or freshly grilled veggies, less chocolate than before, a larger breakfast though). I also gained on the hips and arms, my doctor says it can be seen from my tissue that I have a predisposition to store more liquid in the tissue than others, and that I should prepare for gaining relatively much (if tables are accurate from my gain so far, it might be around 37 pounds or 17 kg).

    She says since it is most likely liquid and not fat from how it looks and feels, it will be gone soon after childbirth.

    I am now reading up on the likelihood to fully restore the belly and the hip width. Getting trully depressed over it.

  9. Chris

    September 8th, 2017 at 3:31 am

    Hmmm… I was almost 35 when I became pregnant, and often heard I had the body of a 19 year old. I had hoped discipline would help me get it back anyway, after all, what about those models on the catwalk several months after childbirth?

    I was shocked to know that for the majority of women, having the same body as before (and I am talking about literally the same – no loose skin on the washboard abs, same hip size etc) is out of reach, and so much seems to be due to genetic predisposition.

    I can see how many women might be consoled by the fact they “made” a human being and having a beautiful baby (good for them), I am not.

    I want my body back. Being in the 30th week with average weight gain and no stretch marks so far, I don’t think I would have done this had I known the odds.

    I am writing this comment for every woman who feels like me – there is almost no voice to be heard about women who feel this way. Which makes it even lonelier.

  10. Deanna Schober

    September 8th, 2017 at 8:52 am

    Your feelings are totally valid, as are all the other women who feel this way too. But as someone who has felt the way you felt, I have learned that if one thing is certain in life, it’s that everything changes. whether you had a baby or not, you were going to age, and your body would change no matter what you did. Also, you have so much more worth as a human being than what your body looks like! While I have completely been where you are and understand, I want to reassure you that there is “more” out there than how you look. Also, you haven’t yet held your baby and fallen in love…things will change, I promise. Hang in there! XO

  11. Mel

    March 29th, 2018 at 5:44 pm

    @Chris, I am feeling the exact same way. After carrying a baby for 9 months, watching every thing I eat and trying to be as healthy as humanly possible…. I kind of want my own body back. This may sound vain but I can’t help how I feel. ( and before anyone says anything or tries to @ me and call me selfish, because eating healthy and giving up your entire body/ sleep/ comfort to create and carry another human is pretty selfless to me)

    I’m totally happy and excited to be pregnant… but I feel like everywhere I look it’s women saying ” You earned those stripes !” … or ” You should be proud of your body it did this amazing thing!” And yes, it did… but not everyone feels like that, sometimes women want to feel good about themselves too, and I see 0 representation of those feelings anywhere. So I get what you’re saying…

    Im happy and excited to be a mother… but I also want to be happy in regards to my own self-esteem afterwards too.

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