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Caring and loving your body after having a baby

Right now, you are most likely in one of two scenarios:

  1. Your belly is huge, your feet are swollen, and you feel immense pressure in that crotch area. Yup! You are about to give birth, congrats.
  2. Or maybe you just pushed a huge newborn out of your body. You are exhausted and feel like you just ran a marathon. You made it!

Whichever scenario you are in, your body must be stressed. Things must seem crazy for you at this time.

Whatever you do, do not neglect your body!

You must love and care for your new mom body. One thing that women tend to do is put their body in the back burner after birth. But that can hurt you and your baby in the long run.

Taking care of yourself is vital and is just as important as taking care of your baby. It is what will keep you going when things get rough and overwhelming.

Loving yourself is essential too.

It is easy to get frustrated with your aching body, but instead, love it for creating your baby. Be thankful for everything it has done for you. Treat your body right. It may seem like an impossible task, but it is attainable.

Hopefully, this post will help you understand what a woman’s body feels like after birth, and the steps you can take to care and love your body.

Your new mom body woes, what you should expect and may experience

This is just an overview of what your body may go through after giving birth. If you had complications during your pregnancy or during labor, your body after birth might go through a bit more than other women.

Possible body scenarios:

  • You know that belly you grew over nine months? Well, you may still look a bit pregnant once the baby is out.
    • Most women agree that you look like you are about 5-6 months pregnant after giving birth. The only thing is, it is not that tight circular bell you are used to. It is more of a jiggly ball…think of a large amount of dough. As you know, dough is mold-able, so how your bundle of dough looks vs. others will be different.
  • You will still feel your uterus contract as it shrinks back to its regular size. It feels similar to painful period cramps. It also contracts or feels weird when you breastfeed.
  • Going through labor and giving birth is equivalent to walking a 50-mile hike – so you will be exhausted. Plus, having a new baby is sleep-depriving. The weeks after giving birth will be one of the most challenging times of your life.
  • Your boobs will fill up with milk. You will feel them stretch to their limit, and the pressure of all that milk can be painful if you do not let the milk out.
  • If you do end up breastfeeding, you will feel the sensation of your “let down,” which is when your milk starts to flow out for your baby. It feels tingly, sometimes it can be mild pain, but it is more uncomfortable than painful. You feel it in both boobs (the boob not feeding the baby will usually leak when this happens, so have a burping cloth at hand)
  • Breastfeeding can be painful. Just be aware of this. Even though medical professionals say it should not be painful, for most of us women, it is. It can also be exhausting holding your baby for such long periods at a time when your body is already exhausted.
  • Back pain occurs for many women after giving birth (and during pregnancy).
  • If you give birth vaginally, you will be bleeding for a few weeks down there.You will need time to heal in the crotch area, especially if you tear or get an episiotomy (when they cut you to make the opening larger for your baby to come out).
  • If you get a c-section, you will need to care for your surgical incision and allow yourself to heal, which takes a few weeks too.
  • Your bladder control may still feel weak. I think it took me a few months to regain decent control of my bladder.

You will most likely not feel well for a few weeks. Do not feel like something is wrong with you if you do not bounce back immediately. Think of everything your body just went through, it is a lot for anyone.

 

1. Caring starts with resting

I am sure by now, you can imagine the positive effects rest can have for your recovering body, but it is much easier said than done when you have a newborn. However, it is vital to your health and in taking care of your baby.

With that said, here are some tips on getting more rest after having a baby:

  • Take people’s help – After having a baby, people tend to come around and offer help. Take that help! Say “yes” and let people know what they can do for you. It is easy to act strong and deny it, but in the end, you may regret not taking help.
  • Rest in shifts – If your partner or someone is around to help you out, take shifts on getting rest during the day. Even if its a few power naps that are about 15-20 minutes, those mini-breaks can help keep your energy going.
  • Hire a sitter – Even if it is for an hour or so and you stay home. If you are exhausted and can’t keep going, pay someone to watch your baby in your living room while you nap in your room, it could be a sanity-saving $20 you spend once a week or so.
  • Stay on top of the baby basics – Feeding, diaper changing, napping/sleeping, these are the basics a newborn needs, if you stay on top of their needs, it can reduce the crying outbursts and help ease your frustration and help you sleep better. This gets much easier once you get to know your baby and her cues.
  • Don’t try to fool yourself by saying you got rest – rocking your baby, holding your baby, breastfeeding, watching your baby sleep – when you do these things, it is not the same as getting rest or taking a break, so do not count it as such. When you take a break, make it count, no distractions, close your eyes, and allow your body and mind not to do anything.

I know the annoying advice, “sleep when your baby sleeps” ugh, it’s like the only time you have to actually get things done.

Instead of sleeping while your baby sleeps, you can take short five minute breaks while your baby sleeps. So if you need to do laundry, do what you need to do, then take a five-minute rest, then do your next task and then take another five-minute break (if your break lasts a little longer that is perfectly fine).

2. Slim down at your own pace

I think many of us tell ourselves, ‘as soon as this baby is out, I am going to work hard to get my old body back.’ That is fine if you want your body back, go for it! You can do it too!

It is just best to do it at your own pace.

With celebrities (or someone you follow on Instagram) losing their pregnancy weight within a week of giving birth, it may mess with your perception a bit. Or make you feel like a failure if the exact same weight loss does not happen to you.

I want you to know that we all lose our baby weight at different rates. Those first few months after having a baby are dedicated to taking care of that baby, learning to be a mom, and trying to recover from giving birth. If going to the gym daily does not fit your schedule, then welcome to the club! There are thousands, if not millions of us who are going through that right now.

I did not think about weight loss until my baby was six months, and even at that point, I was still not dedicated to working on it. However, when I was ready, I did my best – but I was not so hard on myself.

Going on yoyo diets or following the latest weight loss fad is not the best move to make after you have a baby. Especially if you are breastfeeding.

Instead, take care of your body by nourishing it with lean meats and lots of veggies. Also, drink plenty of water, it will give your body life. Remember, your body needs water to function.

Besides a yoyo diet being dangerous to your body – getting back to your pre-pregnancy weight does not mean your body will automatically look like it did nine months ago. Your breasts will be larger (and less perky for some of us), your skin’s texture may be different, and your stomach may take some time getting used to.

 

Your body is going to be different regardless of the number of the scale.

Instead of “dieting,” try to nourish your body with healthier things like:

  • Fish such as tilapia or tuna
  • Hard-boiled eggs, they are an excellent snack to eat while nursing and eggs, in general, are good to eat
  • Lean chicken and turkey
  • Healthy fats like avocado and olive oil
  • Veggies like asparagus, cauliflower, spinach, cucumbers, peppers, and beans

My hands-down favorite snack to eat post-pregnancy (and while non-stop nursing) was apples with almond butter. They are yummy and kept me full. I remember pumping at work and eating that snack while chugging down plenty of water.

Snacking is good, and eating small meals often is great. You have to keep yourself fueled for your baby and to produce healthy milk.

3. Love yourself by setting realistic expectations

The reality of having a newborn is having every type of bodily fluid on your body at once:

  • Urine or poo from you your baby because the diaper leaked (or your urine if your bladder is weak)
  • Spit-up from your baby
  • You are bleeding and may have vaginal discharge
  • Your nipples are leaking milk
  • If you are sick, you could have a runny nose with mucus dripping
  • I know at one point after having my baby I also had tears coming down my face

I went through this myself, and it may seem extreme, but it is true. Every woman’s experience is different. In fact, every day is different too.

I had some wonderful, amazing days with my husband and daughter, days I would not trade for the world. Then I had some that I would not want ever to relive again.

That is why it is essential to be realistic about your life after having a baby.

Here are things you can “let go” and not feel so guilty about:

  • Cooking from scratch (have someone cook for you)
  • Putting on makeup
  • Getting dressed in general (I lived in my robe and went out in leggings)
  • Socializing
  • Cleaning the house
  • Getting out of the house
  • Smelling good
  • Hobbies
  • The latest news stories and your social media feed

In fact, some of these things can be a bit of an escape when you do have a minute or two to yourself. But do not feel pressure to get dressed, put on a full face of makeup, and have your hair styled just to take your baby to the pediatrician.

Do that if you have time, if it makes you feel better or if you are going on a date with your partner. It is just not something you need to worry about doing every day.

Luckily, those around you love you for who you are, not how you look.

Sometimes there is pressure to be “Super Woman” or “Wonder Woman” for all 10,084,322 aspects of your life, at work, at home, in public, etc. But in reality, what does being that perfect woman get us? Well, we get burned out and overwhelmed eventually.

If you have visitors after having your baby, remember, they are there to visit the baby, do not feel obligated to “host” them anywhere beyond offering them something to drink. If they are hungry or want to be entertained, they can go elsewhere.

4. Get familiar with your new mom body

Not only do you have a new body, but a new part of you kind of comes out of nowhere. It is a bit weird when you first start to call yourself “mama,” but let me tell you, that becomes your new normal fast.

You kind of just go from being a woman to mother, and it happens over time, and it feels right once you start caring for your child.

Your new body is kind of a different story.

While you get used to the changes that occur during pregnancy, you have 9 months of watching the changes happen slowly. Labor and giving birth usually occurs within a day, and then you have this whole new body to deal with afterward.

It can be overwhelming.

Here are some things you can do to slowly get used to your body:

  • Check yourself out in the mirror – this is your postpartum body, it is still going to change over the next few weeks for the better.
  • Thank your body for its accomplishments, you created life, you deserve praise and love
  • See what is going on in the stretchmarks department, moisturize your body to help it out
  • Does your bra still fit? You may need to get some new ones
  • What size of clothing can you wear now? It may be exciting to wear something different
  • Are you retaining water? If so, drink more water to stop it
  • Can you eat foods you were unable to during pregnancy? Enjoy them!
  • Is your nausea gone? Celebrate that!

5. Care for your hair

This tip may sound silly, but when you are trying to do a million things a day, skipping little things may feel useful at the time, but they can backfire.

I pretty much stopped brushing my hair!

Gross, I know. All I did was keep my hair up in a bun for months.

The downfall of it all was two things:

  1. Not brushing out my hair led to it being tangled really bad.
  2. My hair started to fall out (which is normal after you have a baby), but not brushing out my hair made the tangles even worst! I think I lost even more hair than I should have as a result.

I also found that nursing while lying down on my bed was the easiest way to breastfeed my baby, so my hair was against the pillow for hours a day, and this made the state of my hair even worst and more tangled.

So the time I “saved” was not really saved when it took hours for me to detangle my hair and deal with the mess I made. Not to mention the pain too.

Then I ended up paying quite a bit for a haircut.

Many women opt for a “mom hairdo,” which is usually a short cut, but for me, short hair is harder to manage. So I kept my hair long enough to put up in ponytails and buns. I now make sure to keep it detangled.

Try your best not to neglect your hair, spend those five minutes or so to maintain it, so it remains hassle-free as much as possible.

6. Count your non-scale victories

There are plenty of things to be proud of after having a baby that goes beyond losing weight. It is important to recognize the other things going on with your body. By the way, if you avoid your scale for a few weeks after having your baby, that is good for you too, you do not need scale stress.

Over time you should be able to celebrate a few of these victories like the ones listed below, as your body improves, and you start to feel more like yourself again:

  • No longer wearing pregnancy clothing (yay)
  • Feeling comfortable in your new body
  • Being able to bend or squat again
  • Feeling stronger and being able to lift heavy items
  • The first time you get “checked out” as a mom
  • Feet are no longer swollen
  • You have a resurgence of energy
  • You stopped getting those crazy pregnancy food cravings

All these little victories add up, and what they are telling you is that your body is healing and recovering from what it just went through. If you are seeing your toes for this first time in 3 months or so, celebrate it and thank your body for being amazing.

7. Remind yourself where you were a few weeks or months ago

As you progress into motherhood, it is always a good idea to document your life, how you feel emotionally, and how your body feels physically. Keep tabs of it, even if its a short note in a journal or a few sentences in your notes on your phone.

You will want to do this so you can look back and see how far you have gone. Take pictures too, especially with your little one. It is great to see your body transform as your baby grows (and they really do grow so fast).

If you keep track of yourself, you can easily look back and see how much you have progressed in a variety of ways.

It will help you reflect on the struggles you overcame.

“I was terrified to change my daughter’s diaper, I thought I would do it wrong (which I did) or that I would break her in the process, but flash forward two years and she is a potty trained professional,” said Judy, mom of 2 year-old Ashley.

These things happen in a flash, and you accomplish so much so fast, it is worth keeping track of to remind yourself that you got through it and you will get through the next hurdle in your life.

You can do the same thing for your body.

Pretty soon, all the aches and pains of pregnancy will be just a distant memory. It is the progression and your endurance that will keep you going. It can be motivating to see how big you were at 8 months pregnant and see yourself now, not only as your body rebounds but as you become more motherly and confident in your new role.

Remember, you are working towards progress, not perfection. Keeping track of your progress and appreciating what you have gone through will definitely help you love your body.

8. Seek help if stressed

We all know about stress, it comes at the most inconvenient times, like when you have a new baby or when you have to go back to work after having your baby. Stress can be physical or emotional. If you get to the point that your stress levels are high and you feel like you are not going to make it to the next day, week, or month – get help. Having a baby is stressful, but there is a point when it becomes too much.

Stress can make you sick, mess with your mind, and so much more. Nip it in the bud. Seek professional help, or reach out to friends and family to help you out with the baby or whatever else may be stressing you out.

Pay attention to how you feel as well. I know you have read and heard all about postpartum depression, but it is worth mentioning this to you again.

If you have any of the following symptoms, according to Mayo Clinic, talk to your doctor about it:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Guilt
  • Hopelessness
  • Mood swings
  • Panic attacks
  • Crying
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Fear
  • Unwanted thoughts

9. Do not rush into having sex

Your doctor may say you are safe to have sex again after six weeks or whatever time frame they give you, but do not rush into it. Have sex when you are ready. I will be honest; it took me months to be in the mood to have sex, and even after those months, I felt discomfort during intercourse.

If it does not feel good or does not feel right, just wait until you are ready. Your body may not be prepared, and you may need lubrication (even if you never used it before) that is fine, just do not force it. Be honest with your partner about how you are feeling.

There are plenty of reason as to why you may not feel ready to have sex again:

  • It is hard to get into the mood
  • It hurts
  • You do not feel sexy
  • You are just plain tired
  • Never good timing
  • You are concerned about your body
  • You do not feel like you are fully healed

All these reasons are valid and common. Trust me if you try to have sex too soon, it may not be a pleasant experience. I think I tried to force it, and that just stopped me from trying again for a few months.

“I would say it took about 5 months for me to start enjoying sex again and to regain my confidence in the bedroom. Just as a little FYI sex after having a baby for me has been great, if not better. I feel more connected to my husband, and since we have been through so much; our love is even stronger. There is a lot to look forward to in this department!”  said Sarah, mom of 3 year-old Daniel.

Final thoughts

There are a thousand reasons not to love and care for your body after you have a baby. Lack of time and energy are two splendid examples.

However…

There are a million reasons to care for your body and to love it.

You just have to be mindful about actually loving and caring for it.

It is easy to put your body and life in autopilot, but when you take control of your well being, you heal faster and start feeling better sooner. This benefits you, your partner, your new baby, and the rest of your family.

Nobody else is going to take care of you the way you can take care of yourself, so do not expect someone to do these things for you. You may have lots of love in your life, but loving yourself can take your life to the next level. Caring and loving yourself will help you be a caring and loving mother.

In this particular moment, you may be overwhelmed, but if you take it day by day you will get through it.

Rest a little more each day, breath in deep during those stressful moments and keep recognizing the amazing things you are doing each day as a mom. Do not get caught up in your mistakes, we all make them. Learn from them and keep moving forward.

Summary
How To Love & Care For Your New Mom Body
Article Name
How To Love & Care For Your New Mom Body
Description
Loving & caring for your new mom body with a newborn is possible, here you'll learn about your postpartum body & find tons of tips on treating your body right
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Publisher Name
Not a Power Couple - Stay at home dad. Working mom.
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