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What Every New Mom Should Know About Postpartum Body Changes

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Inside: As a new mom, you may not be prepared for the hair loss and engorgement that comes after having a baby, so here’s a peek into those postpartum body changes! 

I inspected my brush after running it through my dark brown hair.

And what I saw shocked me!

Huge clumps of my hair were coming out every time I brushed, washed, or styled my hair. 

Even more so than normal.

I took to the internet and discovered that hair loss was one of several common postpartum body changes and it would likely last for months.

I had no idea.

I’ve been through the postpartum recovery period three times now (including the hair loss), so I decided to share some postpartum body truths as well as some recovery tips for all of you new moms.

RELATED: Everything You Need To Know As A First Time Mom

How does your body feel after giving birth?

Honestly, it depends on how your labor and delivery went and what baby number it is.

With my first, I was in a crazy amount of pain after giving birth; mostly because I had been in labor for 36 hours and I didn’t take my pain meds.

But with each subsequent delivery, the recovery has gotten easier and easier.

After my third and most recent delivery, I’d say it took about a week for my body to start feeling normal (and note that I said feeling normal, not looking normal).

With every delivery, there will be some amount of pain, because that’s just how childbirth works.

Plan to be in some sort of pain in some part of your body for at LEAST the first week and often all the way until 6 weeks.

Postpartum Body Changes

Mom holds newborn baby.

1. You’ll still look pregnant

I totally thought my stomach would shrink back to normal size after I pushed that baby out of me.

Oh no.

It’s actually worse after you have the baby because instead of being huge, your belly is huge AND squishy.

I did find that one item that helped my stomach return to a normal size was an abdominal binder. It’s essential for postpartum body care.

I stick that thing on 24 hours after giving birth and wear it non-stop (except for sleeping) during the first week and it does wonders!

I did notice that with baby #2 my belly did not shrink back to size quite as quickly, but I think that’s because I had some minor diastasis recti.

But now that I’ve been exercising and strengthening my core, I’d say my stomach is almost back to its original size.

Here’s a postpartum body before and after. The first picture is my 4 weeks postpartum belly in July. The second picture is from February.

2. Your body may have changed

Mom holds newborn baby and kisses her head.

And while we’re talking about squishy stomachs, your body, in general, may look different.

I remember looking at myself after having my first baby and realizing that there was weight around my hips that wasn’t there before, and I had the dreaded mom “pooch”.

Exercise can help with toning and tightening some of these areas, but your body is probably going to look a little different from here on out.

So many moms struggle with their postpartum body image, but hopefully you’ll learn to love your body for all it is capable of.

3. Walking is hard

Walking is also a little weird for the first few days.

Think about it…

You’re sore from having a baby AND you’ve been used to doing the pregnant waddle for the last 9 months, so walking may seem a little foreign to your postpartum body, but you’ll get back in the groove in a few days.

4. You’ll probably get sore nipples

If you’re breastfeeding your nipples are going to be sore!

They’re a super sensitive part of the body for new mothers and take some warming up to having a little hungry human sucking on it 8 times a day.

The best postpartum care nursing tip is to lather on the Lanolin.

It usually takes me 3-4 weeks for my body to adjust to the feedings, but it may be longer or quicker for you.

Until then, use Lanolin and protect those nipples in the shower. Something about the water hitting them…ouch!

5. You’ll experience engorgement

Two melons in front of a pink background.

And while we’re on the subject of nipples…there’s a lovely event called your “milk coming in.”

Holy cow ouch again!!!

It feels like you’re sleeping on rocks and your chest is going to explode with milk. There’s no better way to explain it.

This lasts for a much shorter time than the sore nipples, but it’s still super uncomfortable and one thing to know about breastfeeding.

To help with the pain, I usually take a heating pack and apply it directly to the breast to help with the pain.

I’ve also heard cabbage leaves help, but I’ve never tried it.

You can also use a silicone breast pump to relieve some of the milk from the breast you’re not feeding on. But you don’t want to use an electric pump or empty the breast out completely or you’ll keep making a ton of milk and be stuck in a painful cycle.

The only way to get through engorgement is to nurse often and just wait it out.

This is probably why most women give up with breastfeeding because it’s so painful at the beginning, but don’t give up! The pain will pass and won’t even feel it when your baby is nursing.

6. You’ll experience the occasional leak

And no I’m not talking about from your boobs…

This is leaking that happens down there.

Yes, that’s what all of those Kegels were for!

I just wasn’t prepared for how weak those muscles would in my postpartum body.

You really have to retrain them on how to stop yourself from peeing your pants!

It’s definitely worth it to keep those Kegels up even after you’ve had a baby. I tried to do a few every time I breastfed in the first months.

7. Your hair will fall out

As I mentioned above, this was one of the more surprising postpartum body changes I experienced.

Yes, your hair will probably fall out leaving those lovely, wispy baby hairs that are short and stick out.

I’m dealing with this now myself so I just have to hairspray those pesky baby hairs down!

If you’re a brunette like me, this is the best root cover up to fill in any bare spots around your hair line.

8. Exercise could be difficult

Mom exercises in her healthy morning routine.

I worked out up until the day before I had my second baby and was pretty proud of that fact, so I thought I would just ease back into doing the intense workouts I was doing before I got pregnant.

Even with the exercise, I did during pregnancy, I was super winded and tired after exercising for 15 minutes.

You’ll definitely want to ease back into your regular workouts and take things slow. This is just another post-baby body reality.

Don’t feel bad if you’re not running a half marathon 6 weeks postpartum.

It takes time and at 9 months postpartum I feel like I’ve finally gotten my stamina back.

9. Sleep will be hard to come by

Exercise is tough after baby, but it’s even worse when you’re not getting any sleep.

Doing anything is tough when you’re not getting sleep!

Babies wake up during the night to eat for several weeks which means not a lot of sleep for mom. Just accept the fact that you may feel like a zombie during the first few days of postpartum recovery (or weeks, or months!).

And moms…I totally get it.

My first did not sleep through the night until he was 18 months! I was completely exhausted and so overwhelmed.

One thing that finally helped us was using Baby Wise. I wish someone had told me about it sooner!

I know it’s not for everyone, but I used it with my second baby (just to test it) and she was sleeping through the night at 10 weeks and has done so since then.

RELATED: The Best Ever Newborn Sleep Tips For New Moms

10. You may not feel like yourself

On top of the lack of sleep I wasn’t getting with my first, I slowly realized that I didn’t feel the way I did before I got pregnant.

I knew about Postpartum Depression and was looking for the signs, but I never felt sad or withdrawn or depressed so I didn’t think I had it.

But when the strange emotions crept back after my second baby, I knew something wasn’t right.

I started researching more and discovered that anger is an emotion commonly felt during Postpartum Depression.

That’s when I knew that’s what was happening.

I was just angry all of the time, at my baby for crying, at my toddler for disobeying, at my husband for the smallest things.

It wasn’t fun and I wasn’t enjoying being a mom. I would see all these other mothers posting about how much they loved motherhood, but I didn’t love it and that made me feel even worse.

I finally called my OB and got a prescription and things have been much better since then. It’s not that I don’t get angry still, but it’s a lot more manageable than it was, so if you’re not feeling like yourself, know that it’s common, but not normal and you should definitely talk to your doctor about it.

Calling my doctor was probably the hardest part of postpartum recovery for me, but I’m so glad that I did. 

You can see the medication I currently take here.

Want More?

If you liked this post, be sure to check out all my tips on how to lose weight while breastfeeding.

Your Turn

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A Pinterest image with text and a mom holding a baby with her pants unbuttoned.

Jessica Ashcroft

Friday 17th of March 2017

Thanks Tayler! It is so gross! Squishy stomach to the max! Good for you for running with a stroller! I could never quite master that...or the running part :p

Tayler Morrell

Thursday 16th of March 2017

Great post! I'm almost three months postpartum with baby #2, and I definitely have a pooch and mom thighs! YUCK! But, like you, I worked out throughout my pregnancy and I did some low intensity yoga a few weeks after birth. I'm not back to my stamina yet, but I'm a runner, and now I'm getting used to running in Texas weather with a DOUBLE stroller..haha.