We all know that pregnancy changes your body, but just how much can cause a lot of stress for mamas-to-be, especially with all the misconceptions out there. We address some of the most common worries along with some dos and don’ts for getting back to yourself post-baby.
Concern: All my hair will fall out.
Well, no. Not all of it. But you will see more hair on your brush and in your shower drain (ew) than usual. The good news? Everything’s likely to even out again within a few months.
DO tell your hair stylist that you just had a baby, so she knows not to trim too much.
DON’T freak out or do anything drastic to your hair until a few months post baby.
Concern: My skin has gone bonkers.
Most pregnancy-induced skin conditions fade within a few months of giving birth, but some can linger. Spider veins and moles can be lasting reminders of pregnancy, as can a dark line running down the center of your belly called linea nigra. You might also see those dreaded stretch marks, which start out as red lines but eventually fade to a silvery white.
DO drink plenty of water, take warm—not hot—showers and wash with a gentle cleanser to keep your skin healthy. DO consult a dermatologist if your skin problems persist several months after giving birth.
DON’T use any acne treatments or creams containing Retin-A or alpha-hydroxy acids without your doctor’s OK. And DON’T waste your money on fancy stretch mark creams; they don’t work.
Concern: Breastfeeding will give me saggy breasts.
Many women worry that breastfeeding will cause their breasts to sag, flatten or change shape, but the reality is that a lot of the changes happen because of pregnancy, whether the mother ever breastfeeds or not. Your age; BMI before, during and after pregnancy; and the number of pregnancies you’ve had actually play more of a role in how your breasts will look post-baby.
DO get professionally fitted for bras at a store like Bosom Buddies before, during and after your pregnancy, especially if you breastfeed.
DON’T freak out if your breasts change; try to remember to appreciate the amazing things your body had to do to bring your baby into the world.
Concern: I’ll never have a flat tummy again.
You only have to look at a few photos of celebrity moms to know that isn’t totally true. But most women do see a slightly bulging belly post-baby, even after their weight is back to normal, because of stretched and weakened abdominal muscles. What’s more, lots of women experience diastasis recti, a painless separating of the central abdominal muscle. In most cases, the gap will close up on its own in a few months, but women can do special postpartum exercises to speed up the disappearance of their paunch.
DO seek help from a postpartum exercise professional, like the women at healingyourcore.com.
DON’T do regular situps, which can actually slow the healing process.
Concern: My feet are going to get bigger.
The hormone relaxin that helps open up the pelvis for birth also opens up other joints, including the bones in the foot, which can spread out, increasing your feet by as much as a whole shoe size.
DO get your feet measured at a reputable shoe store like Brown’s Shoe Fit Company post-pregnancy to find out your new correct size.
DON’T try to cram your feet into your pre-pregnancy shoes if they’re too small; you could cause serious foot problems in the long run by wearing the wrong size.
These special postpartum moves can help you get back into a shape you recognize after baby. Just be sure to get the go-ahead from your doctor before you start any exercise plan.
1. Start on your back with your knees bent. Tighten your lower abdominal muscles and slowly slide one leg down to the floor until flat, then bring it back into a bent position and relax your ab muscles. Repeat, alternating legs. Move on to the next exercise when you can do 20 reps with each leg.
2. Tighten your lower abdominal muscles and raise one bent leg until your calf is parallel to the floor. Extend your leg straight out without touching the floor, then return to the starting position and relax your abs. Repeat, alternating legs. When you can do 20 reps with each leg, move on to the next exercise.
3. Tighten your abdominal muscles and raise both legs into the tabletop position with calves parallel to the floor. Touch one toe to the floor, then bring the leg up again. Repeat, alternating legs. Move on when you can do 10 reps on each side.
4. Start in tabletop position as in exercise 3. Extend one leg straight out without touching the floor, then bring it back to the starting position and repeat with the other leg. Work up to 20 reps on each leg.