Having a baby is one of the most amazing and life-changing experiences anyone on this planet can have … but it can change more than just our lives (ha, just). We also experience all sorts of interesting biological changes during pregnancy and afterward. Some of them are reversible (au revoir, gigantic, milk-filled breasts) while others are permanent, or at least can be (what on earth is going on with the fact that our feet are an entire size larger than they were before we had kids)?! But whatever we go through, we can at least know that we are far from alone in our experience — plenty of women have dealt with something similar (or in many cases, identical) to what we have, and while we might not love that our hair changed texture or we absolutely positively cannot figure out why our teeth are getting more cavities, we know it’ll be OK.
It’s not just us regular mamas who gets body-shamed after having a baby (thanks, MIL!) celebrities also get body-shamed post-pregnancy. And the process of giving birth isn’t generally as pretty and neat as some make it out to be, and the reality is probably vastly different than what we imagined it would be. Despite the drastic changes our bodies undergo after having kiddos, some women fight back and have reclaimed their bodies. For anyone who’s feeling shame that they don’t "have their body back" after having kids, know that some moms are flaunting their postpartum bodies, and have accepted that our bodies are amazing, magical things and that having a kid is incredible and we don’t need to judge ourselves after doing this.
Avoid Tampons for the First Period
Once periods return after giving birth, it may be time for pads in a while — yes, even if we haven’t used them since we were 12 years old. This may be recommended by a physician because of the potential for infection.
There’s a Chance Some Hair Might Fall Out
Yeah, really. The bad news is that all that lustrous pregnancy hair that came in over the past nine months may not be permanent — in fact, three months postpartum, it’s pretty standard for a lot of it to fall out. The good news is, it’s temporary, and will grow back soon.
Menstrual Cycles Can Take Weeks to Resume
For women who aren’t breastfeeding, the menstrual cycle will often return six to eight weeks after their baby is born. For women who do breastfeed, it can take even longer because the hormones that cause breast milk to come in can suppress our hormones.
Shoe Size May Change
Not necessarily, but it can happen — yes, this means kissing all the old favorite pairs bye-bye. Apparently, the extra weight that’s carried around can flatten out our foot’s arch, which is why a larger shoe size is necessary.
Incontinence May Be a Real Issue
Yep, for any mom who has been peeing just a little bit whenever she sneezes, laughs, jumps, or just … does anything, join the club: Having some pelvic floor issues post-pregnancy can cause us to lose some bladder control.
Weight Can Come Off Fast the First Week
A combination of peeing all the time and sweating a lot means that for week one, expect to see the scale dip due to just lost water weight. And for those who breastfeed, that number can be even higher — it’s an activity that burns a ton of calories, so make sure to stock up on some good snacks and water.
Long-Term Weight Gain Is Common
For anyone out there beating herself up for not being able to drop back to pre-pregnancy weight, just stop hating for a minute. A woman’s body is an amazing thing, went through something incredible and also traumatic, and to be honest, it’s totally OK to not be the same weight as we were before that. After having a baby, women are frequently several pounds heavier, and stay that way — and that’s OK.
Breasts May Get Larger & Smaller Again
The larger cup sizes we got to enjoy (or had to deal with, depending on where they were to begin with) that come with pregnancy don’t stay with us. They usually shrink back to where they were pre-pregnancy.
Stretch Marks Are Here to Stay
Our good old friend the stretch mark may come and visit our bellies, butts, and thighs during pregnancy — and unfortunately, they won’t ever go away entirely, but they will get significantly lighter over time.
Hair May Also Change Texture
A good friend of ours had fine, stick-straight hair before pregnancy, but it got wavy a few months in, and five years after her baby was born, it’s still kept its pregnancy wave. This is totally normal — some women get straighter hair, some curlier, and some will stay the same.
Tooth Decay Is More Likely
Yup, it doesn’t happen for everyone, but some people will experience tooth decay and gum disease after pregnancy. The body’s response to plaque changes, which can lead to some serious issues with our gums. Fun!
Diabetes Risk May Increase
Yes, gestational diabetes is totally a common thing, but up to half of the women who experience gestational diabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes at some point later in their lives. It’s not fair, is it? Those who deal with it during pregnancy should be immune!
Sex Drive Levels Can Be Unpredictable
Most women don’t want to have sex for a while after giving birth, which is understandable. However, once that initial period is over, some women find they have a huge spike in their libido, while others may take a year or more to get their groove back.
The Vagina Can Be Pretty Swollen
The vagina may swell after a vaginal birth. This also makes a ton of sense, right? A lot of women choose to make "padsicles" to help deal with the swelling, which means taking a heavy-duty overnight pad, soaking it in witch hazel and aloe, and popping it in the freezer until it’s ready.
C-Section Gas Pains Are Real
After a cesarean section, gas pains can be frankly excruciating. Within about a week, everything will start moving normally again, but for that first few days, stool softeners and anti-gas medications are going to be a new mama’s best friend.
Uterine Contractions Are Totally a Thing
When we’re pregnant, our uteruses expand to accommodate our growing babies. But after giving birth, they contract, which can lead to significant pain, similar to the pains of a heavy period (but worse, tbh). For moms who are breastfeeding, some painkillers are safe for that, too — so check with the nurse.
The Tummy Is Going to Look Baggy for a While
It’s totally normal to look about six months pregnant for some time after giving birth, and specifically, for the stomach to look baggy and puffy while the uterus contracts. Remember that this is a time when we should be especially kind to ourselves — we deserve self-love after putting our bodies through so much!
Crying Randomly Totally Happens
However we’re actually feeling, it’s perfectly normal to just start crying randomly after giving birth — like, for weeks and weeks after giving birth. This is a process that majorly messes with our hormones, so our hormonal reactions to things can be strange for us.
It’s a Good Time to Buy Lube
When the sex drive does kick back in, anyone who had to get some stitches may have a hard time enjoying herself for a longer time, and when it does happen, it’s a good idea to use a gentle lubricant for the first few times, even if that wasn’t normally part of the routine before.
Peeing Is Probably Going to Burn
This may be one of the worst side effects: not even peeing is relaxing anymore (not for a while). There’s probably going to be a burning sensation at least for the first few days, if the birth was a vaginal one and not a C-section.
These things that can happen to your body after giving birth are normal. Save it for your knowledge.