My Post-pregnancy Body – a month-by-month diary of the physical changes my body went through the year after giving birth

post delivery body changes
“Motherhood is glamorous,” said no one ever.

I remember reading Jenny McCarthy’s book Belly Laughs” on our babymoon in Cabo and dying of laughter as I related to all the insane things that were happening to her body during her pregnancy. Seriously, The Blue Twinkies and Pig in Pasture chapters had me falling off my beach chair.

post delivery body changes
I recommend reading this book at the end of pregnancy

The book ended with her delivering her son…but obviously in real life, the crazy shit doesn’t end there. Not even close!

I want to recap some of the unexpected and not-so-fun things that took place after delivery, after Jenny’s book ended. But it’s hard to figure out in what way to write this post…there’s a fine line between being real and honest versus sounding negative and bitter. My goal is the former.

I’ll start with a disclaimer: I am very aware of how lucky I am. Even though the following is a list of unconformable, sometimes scary changes, I am fortunate. My baby is healthy, I am healthy, and although the first year was hard in many ways, it was absolutely worth it and I would do it again – and probably will!

I’m curious by nature so even before I was thinking about getting pregnant, I loved to hear the stories of my friends’ wild deliveries or difficult recoveries. I always wanted to know the down-and-dirty details so that I felt prepared and wasn’t shocked when something crazy happened to me.

And once I was going through it, I loved to compare notes with other moms – misery loves company, right?!

So whether you’ve gone through it, are going through it now, or will go through it in the future, I hope there is something interesting or relatable here for you!

So here it goes… a month-by-month diary of the physical changes that took place during the first year of motherhood.

postpartum body changes
Sleep will never be the same again

Month 1: What the hell just happened? I can’t really move, let alone walk on my own. I pushed for only 45 minutes – how the hell am I this swollen? I’m not sure what is what down there so I just won’t look. I guess my “medium flow” pads won’t be enough, can I bring some of these Depends home with me? How can it be that I’m both engorged and leaking milk everywhere at the same time? Somehow my nipples have become sprinklers, it’s actually quite amazing the distance they can project. My preferred outfit is a swaddle blanket tied around my chest. Baby won’t latch well and we spend every waking minute working on her technique, as if I wasn’t exhausted enough. My nipples bleed. I’m crying all the time – sometimes out of happiness, sometimes out of sadness, and often out of guilt for feeling sad and overwhelmed. Is this the new normal??

Month 2: I can’t tell when I need to go #2 because it’s still totally numb down there. My butt seems seems extra saggy and flat, like it literally “fell”! I couldn’t do a kegel if my life depended on it. I have night sweats, so between that and the leaky milk, I really should be washing my sheets daily. Wait, what was I saying? I forget. Because I have “baby-brain” and because I’m not sleeping enough.

Month 3: I’m so soft, everywhere. And not in a good way like the baby is soft. I can’t work out too hard because I’m nursing. I can’t eat everything I want because I’m nursing. I have carpal tunnel in both wirsts, probably from the way I’m holding the baby while…nursing. And when she’s not nursing, she’s still in my arms, her preferred place to sleep, which means an achy back and shoulders, and a messy house too.

Month 4: Everything hurts, my joints, my hips especially, they ache. It’s a deep pain, like in my bones. Makes sense once I read that it’s because they’re moving “back into place” – seriously so uncomfortable. There were real tears the first time she bit my nipple, chomping down with her crazy-strong gums. What happens when she gets teeth?

Month 5: My hair is falling out in clumps, it’s terrifying. I’ll never forget the look on my father in law’s face when I showed him the handful of hair that had just come out in the shower. It didn’t make me feel better. I worry that I’ll run out of hair before it starts growing back. It’s always only in a ponytail so the receding hairline is nice and noticeable.

Month 6: I miss chocolate but Ellie has reflux so I’m limiting my intake as much as possible. Chocolate would sure make me happy. And, sex drive – wait, what’s that?

Month 7: My hormones may be affecting my immune system because I seem to be constantly sick. Is that a thing or do I just blame daycare? My skin seems to be breaking out more than usual. Hormones are to blame for everything, I’ve decided.

Month 8: I’ve officially stopped nursing, which is bitter sweet. What’s not sweet is my tender, bumpy nipples that leak fluid, and my deflated boobs. They were never big, but now I would settle for my pre-pregnancy breasts…nope, time to buy a smaller bra. Boo!

Month 9: I started my period again. I would’ve been fine without it for a little longer. And of course it came back with a vengeance – crampier and heavier than ever before. Fantastic.

Month 10: Although I’m back to my pre-baby weight, my body just has a different shape and a lot of my pre-pregnancy clothes don’t fit like they used to. And I’ve noticed slight stretch marks on my hips. Grrrrrr.

Month 11: Not to complain about my hair growing back, but these side bangs are not so cute. And they’re curly too – definitely not cute.

Month 12: I’ve come to understand that my “pelvic floor” is not what it used to be. It’s apparently very weak. I pee every time I sneeze. And don’t make me laugh too hard either! I tried jumping on a trampoline with my friend’s kid – big no-no! I have to do “modified” jumping jacks in exercise class. And I don’t want to talk about what happened during yoga the other day – I can’t even say the word (it starts with a “q”), it freaks me out. I thought I might die of embarrassment.

Now when people ask why we aren’t pregnant with number two yet, I’m going to point them to this post. I’m sort of kidding…but really, that was a long year! And I know I got off lucky compared to a lot of other moms, but still!

Now for the part that won’t come as much surprise – I would do it all again. Why? Because my baby girl was worth it. And most of the crazy stuff doesn’t last. And the changes that do stick around, well, you get used to them, and learn to be proud of them. Because that’s what it took to bring a baby into the world. And those of us who have been through it should feel extreme pride more than anything else.

Now I think: I DID THAT! I gave birth to my child, I fed her and kept her healthy – and my body went through a million hilariously gross changes to do it. It might have been far from glamorous but it was real and it was amazing. And now that I’ve shared my month-by-month diary, I’ve given everyone 12 more reasons why Moms are freakin’ amazing. You’re welcome.

Ok moms, what months did you most relate to? What did I miss? It helps to talk about it, am I right!?

25 thoughts on “My Post-pregnancy Body – a month-by-month diary of the physical changes my body went through the year after giving birth

  1. This is pretty much the best post ever. So candid, so funny, and SO TRUE. I can relate a lot of what you wrote! Seriously, us moms need to stick together! We go through so much and each have our own challenges, struggles, and experiences. I appreciate you sharing because like you said many don’t talk about it! And the Belly Laughs book during pregnancy was one of my faves. Hilarious. 🙂

    1. Thank you Leah! Funny that I took a journal of all that stuff, it was all so crazy. I love talking to Moms and relating about all the changes, the ups and the downs and the wild ride that Motherhood is. I’ll be following along on your journey as well – glad to have found each other! XOXO

  2. OMG you have me cracking up right now!!! I can relate to all of this! I still need to know what “q” is hahaha! But thanks for sharing! This post was too funny. For me at about 10 months to a year post partum my pre-pregnancy brain came back. So glad that first year is over but I wouldn’t trade that for anything!

    1. I love that I’m replying a year later, sorry about that!!! And here I am, month three into this postpartum year again. Sigh. At least I know what to expect. When are you gonna do it again, Mama? 😉

  3. Holy night sweats, I didn’t realize you dealt with ALL those things, and for a year! Thank you SO much for sharing and being real about your experience. Should I ever decide to have kids, I’ll at least know the potential of what’s to come! You moms are amazing for what you’ve been through for those adorable kids! And thanks to Jill for the info on kegels. Good to know! I guess I’ll hold off on purchasing those kegel weights! 😉

    1. Hilarious book that came at the perfect time since I had already experienced a lot of what she was making fun of! I can’t believe I thought medium pads would be enough, DOH!

  4. Sneezing, jumping, aggressive cough. I leak, too! I think I told you what happened when I visited a trampoline park. Clean up on Aisle 4. The post about no kegels inspires me to continue not fixing the issue. 😉

    1. Yes! I remember! And totally relate. I feel like I need to tell my sculpt yoga teacher why I can’t do certain cardio exercises… I might be the only “mom” in that class. Just wait, girls, just wait!!!!

  5. Great post! I can relate to so many of these things. When my milk came in and my boobs were HUGE, veiny and hard-as-rock balls, I remember saying to Eric, “Who would ever want big boobs?!” Now, that I haven’t nursed DJS for almost 8 months and my boob are saggy, little sacks, I am kicking my saggy, droopy A$$! My hair fell out after I stopped nursing, and I have the short, curly side bangs. Thank goodness it’s coming back, but WTH?! Losing the baby weight was easy and fast, but my body is a flabby shell of loose skin. 🙁 As you said, it is ALL worth it! All of it! And maybe I’ll consider doing it all over again. Oh and stop doing kegels! http://breakingmuscle.com/womens-fitness/stop-doing-kegels-real-pelvic-floor-advice-for-women-and-men love you bunches!

    1. Love you too!!! I agree, the weight came off “easier” than expected but things are not where and as tight as they used to be (not even like I was “tight” before, haha!) And I’ve heard the no-kegel thing before too. Interesting! I don’t do them anyway but I feel like I should be doing SOMEthing to help because I still can’t sneeze or do jumping jacks without .. you know… leakage. 🙁

  6. My baby boy is 15 months now, and I can totally relate to everything you said! Right now my hair is STILL growing out and I’m starting to think it’s not going to stop being this annoyingly awkward length anytime soon! And deflated boobs 🙁 whyyyyy?
    Even after all that I would love to do it again! Most crazy and amazing experience all in one 🙂

  7. I love this! My little girl is 13 months now so I can definitely relate. It’s been a crazy year in so many ways but still the best year ever. Motherhood is an amazing thing 🙂

  8. This post is pure perfection. With my first, I was so focused on the pregnancy that everything that happened afterwards took me by complete surprise. I expected to feel sexy and “normal” at the least….not crying from how bad my boobs hurt and like a zombie unable to remember the last time I put on mascara 😉 BUT you’re completely right that it’s worth it. I’m almost a month post-Partum with my second and so far it’s been MUCH easier.

    1. I’m so relieved to say you’ve had an easier time with the second! I keep telling myself that has to be true, if not only for the fact that you KNOW what to expect. The hormonal stuff took me by surprise most I’d say, I’ve never felt so out of control with the way I felt. Thank goodness that part only lasted a couple weeks for me but it made my sympathize with anyone who gets the baby blues and postpartum depression. I love being able to look back at that year with some distance now and laugh more than anything! 😉

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