What happens after childbirth is rarely discussed. Childbirth can transform your body in weird and not-so-wonderful ways. An old acquaintance met me recently and said I look the same after having 2 kids. It inspired me to write this article to share the ugly truth about what happens to your body after childbirth.
I thanked him for the very kind compliment but there’s so many things different about my body after childbirth that I’m not exactly excited about. More women should step forward and be brave enough, and honest enough to talk about the realities of a woman’s body after childbirth. So with no holds barred, here’s my take on it:
Your vagina will never be the same again.
Will my vagina ever recover? Will it be crazy loose? These are some uncomfortable questions but they are very real. During natural childbirth, there is a chance that the skin between the vagina and the anus will tear or have to be cut.
But it isn’t necessarily as scary as it sounds. During the birth of my first child, my gynae monitored my progress and allowed it to tear a little bit (instead of cutting) naturally and my recovery was quick.
For my second child, I had no tear and no cut at all. My gynae says it’s because we didn’t rush the whole pushing.
Regardless of whether you’ll end up with a tear or cut, your vagina will feel looser than before. That’s why kegels are important. While it won’t return to it’s exact pre-baby shape, it will gradually get tighter a few months after giving birth. This is normal. Before childbirth, your lips tend to cover the vaginal opening, but afterward, they’ll be more parted.
The shape & size of your breasts will change. Read: It MAY SAG.
This is one of my biggest urghs. My pre-baby boobs were young, firm and good enough for me. People around me always tell me how childbirth and breastfeeding will cause my breast shape to take a turn for the worst but I never did quite understand how and why it’s possible.
That is, until it happened to me. For most women, post-baby breasts are smaller and saggier, especially after you have stopped breastfeeding.
Every woman’s breasts will respond differently. Some end up with a larger cup, others shrink, and there are those who have to deal with saggy breasts.
Those stretch marks are real and here to stay.
Whether or not you’ll get stretch marks lies in the hands of your genes. You can apply creams to help reduce stretch marks and all but there’s not much else you can do about it. It’ll lighten over time, and you’ll get used to them.
Stretch marks can appear anywhere (breasts, hips, or abdomen) that your skin has stretched during pregnancy. For me, I had them all over my tummy and thighs. There are women who even had it on their breasts too.
That dark line down your belly will gradually fade.
Many women also have a dark line down their abdomen (called a linea nigra). It looks nasty but you’ll be slightly relived that while it may not completely disappear, the dark color of the linea nigra will gradually fade over a year. Lucky for me, out of this entire list, this was the only thing that went well for me. My linea nigra was quite light during pregnancy and faded away quickly after.
You may leak urine when you sneeze :O
Vaginal childbirth weakens the pelvic floor muscles and can cause urinary incontinence. In simple terms, you can let out a bit of urine accidentally, typically during a sneeze or a cough. It’s incredibly prevalent in moms. Fortunately, this will go away after a few months. Thank god.
You’ll get your period and then it won’t come anymore as long as you’re breastfeeding.
Your period won’t likely start as long as you are breastfeeding, but get this. Right after childbirth, you will bleed and keep bleeding (read up on lochia) for days, regardless of whether it was a natural birth or a C-section.
So remember to pack sanitary pads into your hospital bag!!
You will still look pregnant!
Once the excitement and the rush of delivery an actual human baby through your vagina fades, you will start to notice and feel a lot of things about your belly. First off, your belly will still look like you’re in your 2nd trimester. The baby’s out but your belly doesn’t go back to it’s pre-baby size immediately. My brother once asked me why my tummy still looks so big one day after I gave birth. It’s normal ladies. Give it a couple of weeks and it will gradually go away. Oh and don’t bother packing your skinny jeans in your hospital bag. Unless you are one of those lucky ones, you probably won’t be able to fit into it just yet.
For the first whole week after a natural vaginal delivery, I felt like I was all over the place. Like my tummy is really heavy and keeps pulling me down. What really helped was when my post-natal massage lady came and wrapped me up real tight in a belly binder and boy, I felt so lifted and it felt SO GOOD.
You will lose your hair
Yes, this is another hard truth. Hair follicles have a natural life cycle and will fall out after a certain amount of time. However when you are pregnant, the lifespan of the hair follicles are usually longer. Once you have pushed your baby out, many of your hair follicles will die all at once so you will notice a sudden increase in hair loss, and for some, even a bald patch (but it’s temporary!). Don’t worry though, it’ll all grow back in time.
I lost a lot of hair along my temples for both pregnancies and thankfully, a lot of baby hair started sprouting soon enough.
These are the truths about my post-baby body. Honestly, I still struggle over accepting my post-baby body at times. I won’t deny being jealous of other women with their perky boobs and smooth baby-like skin. Still, there’s no going back and it is what it is.
Instead of focusing on what my body has become, I try to focus on the joy being a mom has given me and continues to give me everyday. To Moms reading this, chin up and cheer up. :) Life is more than the imperfections we have.
- Don’t rush through the early days with your newborn
Dedicated to first time mummies, don’t make the mistake I did
- Why moms are always tired but they choose to stay up late anyway
Solitude is golden. Enough said.
Disclaimer: All content here should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.