The ability to create another human is a nifty superpower, but the process of carrying and bearing a baby can be pretty intense and hard on your body. If you’re struggling to return to your pre-pregnancy energy level and wardrobe, be aware that there may be things that won’t come back.

1) Feet

If you had any ligament pain toward the end of your pregnancy, you may have noticed that your feet widened and flattened, too. For some women, this widening and flattening becomes permanent. If you struggle with foot pain or just don’t fit into your shoes the way you did, go up a size or a half-size to see if bigger shoes are more comfortable.

The hormones that loosened up the ligaments in your pelvis also worked on your feet. You may now need bigger shoes and better arch support going forward.

2) Breasts

What swelled up will eventually come down, and some women find that their cup size actually drops after they wean their baby. This change can also lead to looser breast tissue and sagging. It should be noted, however, that breastfeeding isn’t the only cause of sagging. A high level of body fat, aging, and smoking can also lead to a loss of elastin and sagging breast tissue.

3) Tummy

It takes several weeks for the uterus to return to its normal size. As it shrinks, you may find that your tummy is still pooched. You may also be suffering from Diastasis Recti or abdominal separation. Pregnancy puts a lot of pressure on the abdominal muscles, and if the abdominal wall separates to the left and right, there’s only a thin layer of tissues holding your internal organs in place.

The wrong form of exercise can make the separation worse, and a tear in the remaining tissue can lead to a hernia, which can be quite dangerous. Avoid movements that will cause increased abdominal strain, such as getting on all fours or doing hard crunches and sit-ups. Diastasis recti repair may require a workout with a splint or a customized workout from a professional.

4) Hair Loss

A lot of women notice that their hair thickens and looks really healthy during pregnancy. This thickness is actually the effect of estrogen; what’s going on is that you’re not shedding hair as you ordinarily do. When you give birth, the corresponding drop in estrogen means that your hair loss catches up, and you shed a lot of hair in the first five months after giving birth.

If you have long hair, try to avoid putting extra pressure on it by pulling it back into a ponytail; hair loss along your forehead and the side of your face can be worrying. For those who actually see the scalp after this shedding, a short haircut to allow your hair to regrow under no pressure may be a good idea.

5) Hemorrhoids

The pressure on your abdomen isn’t the only thing you need to worry about during your pregnancy and after you give birth. Hemorrhoids hurt and can really cause anxiety and steal your joy in the early days after delivery. Take care to increase your fiber and water intake. Try to eat raw fruits and veggies at every meal and snack to prevent constipation. Take a warm bath two to three times a day to soak the hemorrhoids, and wrap a cold pack in a damp paper towel or disposable cloth to cool the inflamed tissue.

You may feel anxious about bowel movements if your hemorrhoids are very painful. Try to wait until the need to go has intensified to avoid straining. Clean the area with hypo-allergenic wipes every time you use the restroom, and make sure the wipes contain no citrus or other acid. Ask your doctor about medicated wipes, which could not only clean you but cut down on your pain. If you’re still dealing with hemorrhoid pain four weeks after your delivery, contact your doctor.

Getting back to your pre-pregnancy weight doesn’t mean that you’ll be back to your pre-pregnancy body. You may notice that your hips are bigger than before your delivery, no matter what you weigh. When your ligaments stretched, the pelvis expanded, and that structural change may well be permanent.

About the author

Samantha Higgins

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