Your post-baby body

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It seems like every other day some celebrity mama is proudly posting post-pregnancy selfies (or doing full, scantily clad double-page spreads in magazines) up on Instagram. These women invariably look thin, trim and have that luxurious glow that only comes from a full night of undisturbed rest followed by a day at the spa.

I did not look like this after giving birth. I am not Kim Kardashian.

Instead, I spent the next several weeks wearing baggy sweatpants and the biggest, flowiest beach dresses I owned while stumbling around in a state of sleep deprivation-induced delirium. The funny thing is though that I didn’t care that much. I had a brand-new life form to look after that trumped any self-consciousness I might have had.

Still, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t take me a little while to come to terms with the changes. I think it’s time for society to be a little bit more honest and understanding of how birth shapes a woman’s body. Here are a few things to expect and how to deal with them.

Stretch marks.

What you should expect: Stretch marks start as pink or purple indented lines, in this case primarily on the abdomen, which fade to white or gray with time. These are a perfectly normal response to your skin expanding rapidly. They will become less noticeable with time, but some women still feel self-conscious about them.

What you can do to minimize them: You’ve probably seen all sorts of moisturizing creams with vitamin E, olive oil or cocoa or shea butter. They won’t hurt your skin, but they aren’t going to do much to get rid of the marks either. That’s not to say that there’s nothing you can do. Laser therapy can stimulate elastin, melanin and collagen growth in your skin to help repair some of the damage, while microdermabrasion can gently polish the skin’s surface to get rid of some of the marks. Be careful of tretinoin cream or topical retinoid therapy though. They’re effective, but can be hazardous if you’re pregnant or nursing.

Weight gain.

What you should expect: All women gain weight during a healthy pregnancy, though the majority of this comes from the actual placenta, increased blood volume and other factors required to nourish the fetus. Although some of the weight will disappear on its own, most women report at least some difficulty in ridding themselves of those last few kilos.

What you can do to minimize it: The good news is that breastfeeding burns a significant number of calories and helps shed the excess weight. Physical activity is a great way to lose kilos and has the added benefit of working against postpartum depression. If you had a vaginal delivery without major complications, you can start exercising as soon as you feel ready. If you have had a C-section or other form of delivery, you should consult your doctor first. One thing that nursing mothers should watch out for is that vigorous activity can have a negative impact on the flavor of their milk. This is because lactic acid can build up in the body and give the milk a slightly sour taste. It isn’t harmful, but your infant may not like it very much. To avoid this, just feed your baby before working out or pump milk for later if you’re planning to hit the gym.

References.

1. Mayo Clinic Staff: Healthy Lifestyle – Healthy Lifestyle – Labor and delivery, postpartum care – Exercise After Pregnancy. Available from:http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/labor-and-delivery/in-depth/exercise-after-pregnancy/art-20044596. Accessed November 27, 2014.

1. Mayo Clinic Staff: Diseases and Conditions – Stretch marks. Available from:http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/stretch-marks/basics/definition/con-20032624. Accessed November 27, 2014.

Photo Credit: Steffie van den Akker via Flickr

ExpectingExpats.com

Expecting Expats is the online resource for parents in and around Thailand.

We provide lifestyle and medical content to our visitors, with new content posted daily. Our lifestyle contributors are themselves expat moms who share their experiences and lessons learned through blog articles. We also provide medical content from our partner doctors at Samitivej Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. Articles of interest span from before pregnancy through the toddler years and cover medical, behavioral and cognitive issues.

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