May 16, 2023

Postpartum Body Q&A

Sophie Allen
Sophie Allen
Postpartum Body Q&A

It's you, but not quite the same. You might be one of the lucky people who doesn't care about their body after giving birth, but don't feel bad if it's not that easy for you. Your body just did something really amazing, but after giving birth, many women find it hard to deal with the changes that happen to them.

Here's how to understand the changes that happen to your body during pregnancy and the 4th trimester. When you know what's going to happen, it's easier to get ready! What you can expect is the following:

Why do I still look pregnant?

You might feel that way because your muscles have stretched out during pregnancy. This means that your stomach won't go back to how it was right away. It will be a bit less tight for a while.

How do I get better?

You might not know this, but breastfeeding can help. After all, it makes the womb smaller because it causes contractions and helps you lose weight. Your pelvic floor and stomach muscles can be toned with exercise after giving birth, and, of course, choosing healthier food options will also help.

Things to watch out for:

During pregnancy, your stomach muscles may start to pull apart. By the time your little one is eight weeks old, they should be back to normal. If they are still apart, talk to your doctor about getting a referral to a physiotherapist. 

If you would like to test if your abdominal muscles are separated yourself, try the following:

  • Put one hand on your stomach with your fingers in the middle of your navel.

  • You can do a mini-crunch by gently pressing your finger down and lifting your head up while keeping your shoulders on the ground.

  • Check to see if the sides of your muscles are still separate by touching them.

Will my pregnancy stretch marks go away?

You might have seen stretch marks on your stomach, breasts, and inner thighs when you were pregnant. They look like thin lines that are pink or purple. These should go away after birth.

How do I get better?

Stretch marks will get less obvious, but they probably won't go away completely. You can buy products that claim to get rid of stretch marks, but there isn't much proof that they work. If your stretch marks make you feel uncomfortable, you could consider laser therapy, but keep in mind that it can be expensive.

Is it normal to have back pain after giving birth?

Yes, after giving birth, a lot of women suffer from back pain.

How do I get better?

You must:

  • When you're breastfeeding, make sure your back is well supported. 

  • Kneel or squat to do simple tasks like bathing your little one.

  • Don't bend your back. 

  • Use a raised surface to change nappies. 

  • When you lift, keep your back straight and bend your knees. 

  • Keep your back straight when pushing a buggy, or use a well-fitting sling to carry your baby.

  • Talk to your doctor if the back pain doesn't go away.

Parents with newborn

Is fatigue normal?

Yes. It's common for women who have just given birth to feel very tired. Your body has been through a lot, and your little one may wake up more than once at night. But it will get better!

How do I get better?

Try going to bed early and taking a nap when your little one is asleep. Share the night feedings with your partner or another caregiver if you are using formula or both breast milk and formula.

Things to watch out for:

  • Talk to your health visitor if you feel a lot of anger, stress, or sadness. They might look for other causes, like depression after giving birth.

How common are headaches after giving birth?

During the first week after giving birth, about 39% of women will have a headache.

How do I get better?

  • Take paracetamol or ibuprofen and drink a lot of water.

Things to watch out for:

  • If you have a severe or long-lasting headache, especially if you had an epidural, you should see your doctor. It could be a sign of eclampsia, which is high blood pressure and may need more care.

And finally, a couple of other worries you may have after giving birth…

Caesarean section scar

  • Keep the wound clean; wear loose, comfortable clothes; and if you need to, take painkillers.

  • If you have any sign of an infection, like a discharge or a bad odour, you should see a doctor.

  • Your wound from a caesarean section will scar, but it will fade over time and often be covered by your pubic hair.

Deep Vein Thrombosis, or ‘DVT’

  • Deep Vein Thrombosis is more likely to happen to women who are pregnant or who have just had a baby in the last six weeks.

  • The signs are a painful, swollen leg and/or trouble breathing.

  • DVT happens when a blood clot forms in one of your leg's deep veins.

  • If the clot moves from your legs to your lungs, it can result in death. If you come back from a trip with a swollen, painful leg or trouble breathing, you should see your doctor right away or go to the nearest A&E department.


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