The Postpartum Body – The Stigma & The Truth About These Possible Pregnancy Body Changes (One By One)
The Postpartum Body – The Stigma & The Truth About These Possible Pregnancy Body Changes (One By One)
My little loves are 4 years, 1 month, 1 week & 6 days old.
This is going to be a long one, so hold on for the ride if it is of interest to you 😉 .
I was just reading an article that would scare the pants onto most any woman. The Mommy After: 10 Postpartum Body Surprises. The after-effects of pregnancy, as if for everybody every one of them is inevitable. FALSE! But that is how the article comes across. And some comments were more disturbing than the false information. One in particular from a husband which I hope was a phoney one for his poor wife’s sake. Many of the comments though, are from women WITH babies who are giving personal experience that is encouraging, and are bashing the article in a whole.
Below I will list and go through the pregnancy after-effects that were listed, but let me talk a little bit first. (Oh, and if you choose read the highlighted article do so with caution, and definitely read this article FIRST!)
Granted, there may be a rare women who have all of these after-effects of pregnancy happen, but I am certain that they are very, very few and far between. Some may have a few of the ones mentioned on the list, some a couple, some one and some none of these after-effects of pregnancy at all. I don’t think it is fair to generalize. You can make note of the ‘possibles’, but to kind of ensure that these changes will happen is not fair to women who wish to have a family or are pregnant now. And though a woman’s desire to have a child may be deeper than her fear of these things, and well it should be, it does NOT mean that for most women, zero fear exists. Why should we heighten it?
You can be real, but also there are two sides to every story, and we aren’t always shown the other side. The positive side of things. It’s always gloom and doom across the Internet. After twins I felt compelled, actually FORCED to come out of the woodwork and share the light. It became my job to combat some of the negativity out there. I had zero hope with two in tow. I can’t even paint a picture of what I expected thereafter, but I was along for the ride and holding on tightly. I cannot deny my fears, especially after learning my abs had split for certain. This is why I had to let women know there is a positive outcome, in all facets of pregnancy, childbirth and surviving the great (yet sometimes difficult) beyond.
2 days after my 1st child. I gained 50 lbs.
With my first two children I had no friends who had been in my boat to compare myself to. I had no Internet to scare the life out of me. I had nobody around with their stories and experiences to share. I was naive and in the dark. It was a really good thing in hindsight. And since I noticed nothing odd from my 1st pregnancy, my second that came pretty quickly (5 and 1/2 months postpartum) I didn’t think about anything the second go round. My thoughts were only on being healthy and having a healthy baby. I was very lucky to NOT have all of this information. I think when people over-share war stories, which of course are out there on any and every topic, and with the Internet, we will run into all of them. It kind of sucks out a bit of the joy in the pregnancy experience, which isn’t right. Come what may, all women have the absolute right to enjoy their pregnancies.
I don’t think it is vain at all to have worries about your postpartum body. As long as it isn’t say the only reason you don’t ever want to have kids, or like a friend I USED to have, didn’t want to chance ruining her perfect bikini figure and hence used abortion as a form of birth control. THAT is extreme vanity. Whether you worked hard for your body or are just the average woman with your own regular proportions…it can be sad to think about permanent changes to your body, regardless of your size and shape to start with. However, this is most scary to women who have yet to have a child because they don’t yet realize how the love of her baby is worth anything and everything. I just think it’s sad to scare women.
I don’t want to provide women with tons of false hope, but I do have some experience here (5 kids) and have since had many friends who have experience here who are average ‘everyday women’, and I know what I have seen, heard, and have even seen through friends I have made here who have bought belly binders, the one I used and now promote like crazy as a postpartum miracle, because it just is one…and I see their pictures. I’m not talking about models with airbrushing, their own dieticians and personal trainers. I’m talking about the real deal. Every day women.
I know that this article I was reading is not the whole truth. It doesn’t seem to say ‘possible’ at all. It just seems to say this is what happens..blah blah blah. It could make a woman who really wants kids and never had a child to know what happens or what doesn’t happen, and the love that makes everything worthwhile if a little something did happen..very fearful. Or especially one like me who finds themselves older in life, pregnant with multiples. Don’t terrify women. It’s ok to inform about possibles, but don’t make promises that may not ever happen. This was shared in an unfair and scary way. I’m going to break it all down for you and hopefully help ease some fear in this.
The changes that were noted in the article are all are considered to be body changes related to pregnancy.
1) Breast changes
OK, the article basically says that women end up with flap jacks after having A baby. ‘Deflated balloon boobs’ the author called them. How nice! Especially if the woman ever breast feeds. Do I need to show a nude photo to prove that this is certainly not always the case. Might it change your breasts a little. The shape, size. I think mine may be a slightly smaller now after 5 kids. I don’t recall the first 2 having any impact at all on them, and I breast fed my 2nd for quite some time and my 1st for awhile. My 3rd I pumped but ended up giving up. I wasn’t producing enough milk.
I had lost and gained weight and lost weight again very quickly a couple of times in between babies number 2 and 9.5 years later with #3. Those incidents had more effects on my body than any pregnancy ever did. That is why I believe supporting the breasts with underwire bras before, during and after pregnancy, even during breast feeding helps A LOT! The only change I can note is the darkening of my nipples. They were a pink and now bronze. I like them. (So does my husband, so all is good.)
Do women report some lowering of their breasts after breast feeding? Yes, some do..but certainly not all. Supporting them is the key. That goes for even women who never had children. The term pancakes and flap jacks is off base for most women and I find it rude. Even if that did happen, breasts are beautiful, milk-producing miracles in which we are able to feed our children. They shouldn’t be referred to as a breakfast food no matter what happens, but don’t assume that anything bad will happen for certain. I do have pics of myself that I easily looked back on and if it is a mis-truth for me, it can be a mis-truth for you.
**Note: Some women are perkier by nature, and some women like my husband’s ex are the opposite without having had any children. I think support helps everybody though. One of my friends never wore a bra in her life and it has always shown long before she had kids. One of my friends breast fed for 13 months and 14 months with her two kids always wearing a nursing bra, and supporting her breasts. I saw them *blush* they look awesome.**
2) Vaginal changes
With my 1st three I noticed nothing, not even any color change. With the twins I noticed nothing BUT a slight darkening of my lips ‘down there’. My sex life is great, my husband swears that I am just as tight as ever. There are exercises (kegels) that can be done for those who worry about vaginal loosening post childbirth. I have taken mirrors to my vagina after my births. I know this is TMI, but heck..I am here to tell all so you can know all, and I have even inserted a finger inside to clench and feel what I felt, and it has always felt the same to me, and my husband always raves about my snugness during sex. His ex who had no children at all was loose he swears, so it ain’t about childbirth. There must be more to it. And I have looked at the ‘opening size’ if you will. No visible change I can see. I know others do worry, so I am being blunt and honest here.
All of my children were vaginal including two breech births and two episiotomies. I say without an unrepaired tear, or a poorly repaired one…most all women go back to normal again. Even with a bad tear you can strengthen it back up again. It’s a muscle like any other and can be worked out and made right again, just like your core. IF a woman notices an issue the answer is free. Exercise and strengthen the pelvic floor. Do it during pregnancy to. It helps with labor, pushing and recovery I have found. With my 1st two I did nothing, and it just went back. Kegels I learned about later on. Things were fine and I always quizzed my ex as well. Don’t make women feel like they are going to turn into loosey goosey. It is NOT a fair thing to say, but it is a huge fear among women. Been there.
3) Varicose veins
I don’t know where that one even comes from because though I have heard of it online, I personally have never had them or have known anybody who had them due to pregnancy, only due to advanced age. My mom now has them, but never when she was younger. Maybe women on their feet a lot who gained a lot of extra weight. I don’t know. I’m not too familiar with the reasoning behind this possibly pregnancy symptom, but have I heard of it and believe it’s possible? Yes. It is published in too many places to not believe in it, I just don’t think it’s a very common thing. And worst case, a laser can zap those suckers away if they don’t fade on their own, which I read that they usually do.
4) Stretch marks
That is the color they end up. They don’t stay red.
This is the #1 fear among pregnant women, as far as body changes are concerned. I mean I came out of 3 singleton pregnancies without any, but I never expected that to happen with twins. I mourned my stretch mark-free belly, and came to peace with it (mostly) that this was just going to happen. I was destined to get them. It’s all I saw and read online. (Another mistake of mine.) But in reality I did grow much faster and ended up well larger. Do all women pregnant with twins end up with stretch marks? No they do not. I found out that through my own stomach, and through stomachs I had seen in person and from Squeem customers thereafter. Seeing them first would have been more helpful, but it isn’t the worst thing in the world.
Do more women get marks than not with multiples…I believe so, but there are others out there, so don’t assume anything. And yes, there is a genetic component to stretch marks and getting them, but my mom had them…I never did. Let that give hope to somebody who is worried. Do lube up your belly, drink lots of water, take your prenatals and do light exercise if you are able to during pregnancy. Try not to gain too much excess weight, though with twins you will usually gain more. It’s a steady gain, not rapid gain that helps out. Don’t eat too many useless calories (like 3 slices of cheesecake), and try and lose weight steadily yet slowly AFTER the baby or babies. This helps avoid stretch marks. If you do get them, they will fade quite a bit..know this, and become a silvery-white color over time.
There are over the counter creams and oils that you can use on stretch marks that women swear by too much to deny their working power on fading them faster. And also losing weight and your pouch in front, shrinks them down all the more. Plus, last resort, and I am all for making yourself feel better when it is needed, there are lasers, as technology is getting better and better. They really can help you a ton. Let all of these things give you hope IF you do end up getting them. Your baby or babies are well worth it, but it is OK to admit that they bother you, and do what you can for them. Self-esteem is very important in women. The world is tough enough on us.
5) Flat butt
I will say that after babies #4 & 5…I did notice my butt flatten a bit, but it was nice and plump during the pregnnacy, so I was comparing the then to now. I guess I’d have to look back in previous photos, as I never really photographed my hiney on purpose, ha ha. I wasn’t really working out at all. I still haven’t really, but with summer coming I’m about to set my challenge and stick to it. I had worked out some previously so even photos might not help. I may even try that Brazilian Butt Lift program, IF I can find the quiet time at home to do it 😆 . With time, my age itself is beginning to take more of a toll on my body than any pregnancy ever did. I’ll fight it as best I can, but I don’t have trainers and such. I’m just an average woman. I will talk more about my ‘get fit’ challenge shortly.
There are exercises for this problem, and I never had a very voluptuous rear to start with. Plus, when I lose weight it comes from my butt and boobs right off the bat (WAH!) So, I guess shaping up right now is way more important to me than to lose any weight, to keep it where I need it. Also, I sit on my butt for hours a day working. I’m sure that doesn’t help things. I didn’t notice anything with my 1st 3, so you may or may not. But when you can get back to working out, you can do specific exercises to plump that butt!
**Note: I have no proof that this was pregnancy-related. I may just have been neglecting my backside as far as exercise is concerned.**
6) Loose skin
The second biggest fear of the postpartum period, especially from mothers of twins or more. Lax skin or what is called twin skin. I was sooo dreading this one with twins. Some loss of skin elasticity in the postpartum period IS normal. It may be so slight you don’t even notice it, but it is common. This change is a reality for many women because the belly grows at a rapid rate and then shrinks down very fast postpartum. You can’t control how fast or large you will grow, you can only control over-gaining.
I over-gained with my 1st two, but I had youth on my side. The only body change noted from those two pregnancies, which I didn’t notice, my mother pointed it out (thanks mom) was that my belly button was a little wider. I couldn’t have cared less, in all honesty. Nothing changed with my skin elasticity that I was able to notice, though I wasn’t obsessed with looking, with my 3 singletons. With the twins, the diastasis recti I believe is what caused my skin to be more lax thereafter, though I did not get any dreaded twin skin that ‘hung’ as I expected. Some women who carry multiples will get it…some won’t. It takes time after childbirth to regain that slight loss of elasticity that most women get. This usually doesn’t involve twin skin, just not as tight as previously noticed. It takes more time than it takes for the pouch to go down for this to get regained in many cases, but don’t dismay. My skin went back to normal, and most will have a similar experience if they follow some rules, most especially…though time does heal many wounds on its own.
I believe avoiding improper exercises like crunches, which I DID NOT do and paid the price, to help avoid the abdominal separation issue, staying very hydrated, not over-indulging in too many empty calories, staying somewhat active (even though if you are on bed rest this won’t be possible) you still have a chance. Keeping your skin hydrated by avoiding harsh soaps in the shower, using moisturizing body washes and tummy butter afterwards, and even eating certain foods during pregnancy and afterwards can help maintain skin elasticity or regain it I have learned. These are some great steps to take during your pregnancy. Afterwards, supporting the skin, which is soo important, and if there is a separation of the abdominals, closing up that gap and bringing the muscles back together, will really impact the skin in a positive way. I don’t care what you used, but I swear by the Squeem Perfect Waist (or Miracle Vest model has the same magical materials etc. but just adds breast support and covers up bat wings better, if that is a problem area.) I can’t help but say such wonderful things because I truly believe without it, I would never look this way in my mid-section.
Did I notice any change in skin elasticity with the twins? Yes. Especially before my diastasis recti was closed up. That takes a lot longer to go back to normal or far closer to it than any pouch, especially if you are binding..the pouch will go down much faster, but the skin does get better and better over time. You have to be patient with it. Is there times when twin skin is so bad it can be helped but not enough to go back to normal completely? It can ALWAYS be helped and improved, but some cases are very severe. This is most prominent with higher order multiple pregnancies, but in some cases twins. I say do all you can and wait let some time pass regardless of severity. You may be surprised and end up not needing anything further. But did I expect to get twin skin? Totally. Did I think I’d need a mommy tuck eventually, especially to repair my diastasis to, which I expected to never heal up without surgery…YOU BETCHA!
My husband is very thankful that he avoided a large bill, and since I never had a section with any of my 5 kids, I was very happy to not need to be cut. But would I have saved every penny until I got it if I needed it? Sure would have. Look at Octomom. Nobody was more stretched out than she had to be with 8 babies. I don’t like her at all, but body wise, her tummy was fixed up despite how ENORMOUS she got. And not a visible stretch mark now either.
I’m just glad we at least have these options should our self-esteem suffer that much, but do know that for most all singleton moms and many mothers of twins, there is hope of regaining this elasticity, at least enough to be happy within yourself. For singleton moms it is easier and far more common to come out unscathed, but I am proof positive that it is NOT impossible for us multiple mommies either. Some women don’t care at all and call their stretch marks and loose skin battle scars. I got to admit, I admire these moms most! I love confidence! I just happen to be obsessive in nature about myself due to bullying, abusive relationships, etc. etc. I get more excitable about changes than your typical woman, but I still wanted to have babies, nonetheless.
Something nobody else will notice, but maybe you when you squeeze your skin together or bend a certain way, may be all you see as far as your skin is concerned. Over time with age, eventually things start to go on us anyway (WAH) …the saddest part of life and aging. Don’t freak out. There are things you can do, and I try and slow you these things so you know there is hope. I’m in it with you my friends. I just hate this article, making it seem hopeless. It’s sooo NOT!
7) Back Fat
I have never heard of this as an after-effect of pregnancy. I disagree. I think back fat is from being overweight and/or not exercising at all and/or simply being out of shape. Some people are too thin to have back fat at all and have had babies, and I just think this is something on many women that just has nothing to do with babies unless it’s before they lose the baby weight. I don’t think it’s a major fear in women to start with. I find it pointless that they even bring it up.
8 ) The pouch AKA ‘mummy tummy’
Most every mom will leave the hospital with a pouch. I think it is abnormal NOT to. Some are yes bigger than others, but this is the most fixable problem. (Don’t let this pouch you leave with scare you. It is totally normal and won’t be permanent.) Postpartum belly binding is the key. For centuries women have shrunken their waistlines and flattened their bellies using wraps. It is nothing new. We have just come a long way with our materials and our options. The materials we have today in certain binders far surpasses what were used years ago, but still something is always better than nothing. Check out my article on the top 5 belly binders.
Again, any wrap is better than no wrap at all, just make sure you do do it! I had no knowledge with my 1st 3 kids. I’m glad I did with twins, or I’d still be looking months pregnant, I’m sure of it. It is never too late if you find yourself still looking pregnant months or more after childbirth. Know there IS a fix that does not involve surgery at all. Also, if you breast feed that pouch will shrink down faster, as the uterus contracts back down quicker to its former state. Combine that with belly binding, and you may be back into your swimsuit and skinny jeans sooner than you might think. Breast feeding also helps you lose extra baby weight to. It’s a beautiful thing all around.
Look at this spare tire that was HUGE under a very loose-fitting night gown. There was no hiding this one. My mom made comment, my friend made comment, even my then 4 year old made comment. ”The doctor left another baby in there mommy. A triplet.” 😥
I never even heard of this being a possible after-effect of pregnancy. After researching hormones and a possible link to cellulite, it may make some sense. I looked it up only because not long ago I noticed some cellulite on my thighs that sent me over the edge because I never expected it at my age, and my weight isn’t high anymore either. However, I was on birth control pills for the 1st time in life, and was on them (YAZ) for about 2 years. This is when I started noticing a little something, looked it up, and found women that swore that birth control pills caused cellulite to appear on even model perfect bodies (unlike my own.)
I did not go off of the pill for that reason, but it definitely made me angry that I didn’t know about that sooner. I have severe endometriosis and the horrible pain that goes along with it. The pills helped SO much by avoiding my periods, but my blood pressure was high enough to put me on medication for it, and I was over 35 and highly encouraged to get off. Eventually I did and now am under pain management. instead. Do I think that caused my cellulite thighs? (Front & back no less). I do. So can hormonal changes within the body really cause this problem? It is possible, however, it’s not something most postpartum women complain about noticing …especially not due to their pregnancies. They may have had it already, or still did not have any. Plus, I never had any (looked back in pics) from any pregnancy either. So this one may be a possible but more rare side effect.
I think if I can decrease the fat in my thighs, which is where it seems to be stored SINCE the birth control, and work out and walk more with the nice weather, it will decrease the appearance of it, which is not hideous, but noticeable easily to me, and does affect my self-esteem…I won’t lie. Don’t think this is definitely going to occur due to pregnancy though. Never heard of that complaint personally. Follow my personal cellulite fight story soon to come! If only we could bind up our thighs for that problem. Boy that would help me feel better. This is going to be a harder fight for me than the belly by far.
**Note– Not sure about this pinch test. My twins are only 4 and I have tried this on them and it comes up like this. Hmm… Not as bad as my own thighs but still.. They aren’t chubby infants any longer. You may not want to do this one.**
10) Permanent body shape changes
This is what they say basically. ‘Motherhood can turn an apple into a pear or a skinny “boy” bod into that of a mushy mommy. Ladies may lose all the weight, but the parts shift and don’t necessarily fall back into the same places.’ I have never personally seen this happen to an entire body shape when the weight is lost. Maybe, due to inactivity during pregnancy or less activity anyway, muscle tone can be lost, which impacts the shape of your body, however getting it back is not impossible by building that muscle back up again through exercise. Plus, time does help on it’s own to, as again..muscles do have memory. The exercise (even the small stuff) will certainly help out. Binding will work for the mid-section to help shrink the rib cage and waistline again, then you can keep it going with light ab workouts if you did suffer a diastasis. Regular ab workouts if not.
This is my new goal (exercise) because I let myself go lately, I admit it. I haven’t taken time for myself, which is a big mommy mistake. You need to take time out for you and exercise helps improve not only your body but your entire mood. You can get your abs back with hard work. Even better than it was before. If you had a 6 pack..it can be brought back. You can get your jiggly thighs and butt back in shape. I have done so before, but right now..I need to motivate myself and do it. No better time than with summer on her way. And I believe every woman has the ability to get any ‘body shape changes’ back into shape.
Even if your breasts are affected by pregnancy, breast feeding, etc. There are even exercises for that. (That will be in my next YT exercise video.) It can only affect you forever if you allow it to in many, many cases. Not losing the weight, of course makes your shape different, and not toning back up. Some women are lucky and need not do anything to get everything toned back up and looking perfect again, but in case you aren’t one of those freaks of nature, do know..that you can get back most if not all of your former body back after baby with hard work, determination, and by following some of the tips provided above.
Don’t allow articles like the one in the link above to kill your spirit or make you lose faith. Everybody is different, but certain things can and do help ALL of us. One in the same.
PS- NOTE to the writers of the articles. If you are going to talk about postpartum body flaws and changes, as least picture people with the problems to go along with it. They are showing model bodies without imperfections. TSK, TSK, TSK! Bad message there!
I’m going to find and post some old photos and personally knock some of these theories right out of the water. Wait on that one folks. I may even turn in into a You Tube video as well.
God bless and enjoy your beautiful baby or babies! They are worth everything and than some, but you can fight the good fight and come out swinging. And remember no matter what you look like before kids, after kids, when you are 60 years old it has nothing to do with any of it. I know without any babies eventually gravity would always take it’s toll on me, and I’m seeing that on my face and such already. I will always fight the good fight. Just remember that ALL of the above can happen with just added time. (Not to depress, but aging is my sworn enemy.) Nothing stays perfect forever, but doing what you can do certainly can hinder the aging process on your body. You may have to work harder, but most of us know that already!
You’ll NEVER regret your baby! I swear :-P.
Don’t SQUASH the joy of a beautiful baby because of the fear instilled by this way too blunt, over-zelous writer, who likely doesn’t even have a child (or if she does) did not experience all of these things that she wrote about. If she did then she’s just angry and looking to frighten others. But that is just my 2 cents.
Happy Tuesday friends!