How Your Body Changes After Pregnancy

February 1, 2019
Do you know how your body changes after giving birth? Some of the most common changes may surprise you.

After giving birth your skin changes. You may also find yourself sweating excessively, and retained liquid disappears almost like magic… these are just some of the many ways your body changes after pregnancy.

Some of these changes may surprise you or be confused with health problems, so here we’ll list the most common ones. This way you’ll be aware of some of the transformations your body may present as a result of hormonal changes. 

Don’t worry, these symptoms will gradually disappear. Although some may become permanent, such as stretch marks, they can be managed and prevented with correct pre- and post-partum care.

After nine months of hormonal and physical  changes, it’s normal for your body to be different after you give birth. You’re swollen from the expansion of your uterus, your abdominal muscles are weakened, and your hormones continue to be altered and focused on producing milk.

In general, it will take between 9 and 12 months for your body to return to the way it was before pregnancy. Of course, every body is unique, and will take its own time.

Don’t be concerned if you recover more slowly or quickly than average. Medical exams will help you with this process. However, the physical shape you are in (nutrition, activity level, etc.) will be a determining factor.

Below you’ll find a list of ways in which your body changes after pregnancy. Not only will this help you become familiar with what to expect, but it will also help show that this is a natural process and you can recover your pre-pregnancy appearance to a significant degree.

How Your Body Changes After Pregnancy

If you’re reading this while pregnant, keep in mind that during this stage you may experience, as Astrid Olivar indicates, “changes in skin pigmentation and in genital mucous, or hyper-flexibilityin the joints.”

Also pay attention to other, more significant changes such as those in the “cardiovascular, urinary, digestive, respiratory, coagulatory, and reproductive systems.”

Let’s return to post-partum changes.

How Your Body Changes After Pregnancy

Most Common

1. Weight Loss

Most women lose half the baby weight around 6 weeks after birth, according to Medline Plus. Did you know that while giving birth you lose between 10 and 15 pounds?

2. Swollen Abdomen

The uterus is somewhat dilated, and it takes a little more than a month to return to its previous state.

3. Vaginal  Pain

Vaginal pain is most intense for women who had natural birth, but can also be an issue after a cesarean. Symptoms include dryness, inflammation, discharge called lochia, and inability to have sexual contact.

We’ll start with the good news: after delivery you eliminate retained liquid, and your uterus beings to retract, reducing its weight by half. This means that right off the bat you’ll lose a few pounds. You might not return to your ideal weight just yet, but it’s a good start.

4. Swollen Legs

This can last several weeks, but will go away with gentle massage and regular exercise or short walks.

5. Excessive Sweating

This is a response to hormonal readjustments. As the body no longer needs to retain liquids, it expels water via the sweat glands.

6. Back Pain

This is one of the most common complaints. It’s related to weakness in the abdominal  muscles, putting extra stress on the lumbar muscles as they have to hold up the entire waist area. Getting a massage from a professional can help relieve the symptoms.

7. Breast Swelling and Sensitivity

This is due to milk production. Afterwards the breasts may become somewhat droopy and stretch marks may appear. Apply lotion regularly and wear an appropriate bra that doesn’t irritate you, because it’s also possible that your breasts will hurt. 

8. Urinary Incontinence

The distention of muscles during birth can cause urine to leak when coughing or laughing. Defecation can also be complicated if you had a long vaginal birth (KidsHealth). If you did perineum strengthening exercises during pregnancy, the problems should resolve.

How Your Body Changes After Pregnancy

Other ways your body changes after pregnancy:

  • Burning sensation when peeing
  • Urinary infections
  • Hair loss and brittle nails (associated with hormonal changes)
  • Constipation
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Acne
  • Dry skin
  • Varicose veins

Remember that all these symptoms are circumstantial and not all mothers have to experience them. Even when they do appear, they may be very subtle, or even completely unnoticed.

To conclude, we would like to offer a final reflection because we live in a society that is inundated with visual stimuli that emphasize aesthetic perfection. Perfect post-partum bodies show up on television and social media, but they only represent a tiny proportion of the whole.

When we see a celebrity show off her unchanged body a few weeks after giving birth, it’s clear that both surgical and Photoshop have been involved.

So don’t feel bad – it’s completely natural that your body changes after pregnancy. Don’t feel pressure to recover your figure immediately.

  • Canaval, G. E., Jaramillo, C. D., Rosero, D. H., & Valencia, M. G. (2007). La teoría de las transiciones y la salud de la mujer en el embarazo y en el posparto. Aquichan
  • Olivar Bonilla, A. (2002). Cambios biológicos, psicológicos y sociales durante el embarazo. Rev Fed Odontol Colomb, 37-51
  • La recuperación después del parto. Kidshealth.org. 2018.  https://kidshealth.org/es/parents/recovering-delivery-esp.html