Pregnancy and childbirth are miraculous experiences that bring about significant physiological, psychological and physical changes. Whether you are a first-time mom or adding to your family, this article will teach you about postpartum body changes and discuss strategies for self and professional care. After all, acceptance of your mommy body as your new normal is healthy.

Understanding changes and care essentials

The shifts initiated during pregnancy continue after childbirth, resulting in numerous alterations in your postpartum physique.

Breast changes

One of the earliest changes you may notice in the postpartum is breast engorgement as the breast fills up with milk to cater to the newborn. This sometimes causes discomfort or pain. The good news is that the swelling goes down once the baby has established breastfeeding. Some helpful steps you can take are massaging the breasts to allow the milk to flow easily, using a cold compress to ease the pain and breastfeeding on demand.

Nipple cracks and sores are also a common issue if you are breastfeeding. These injuries are usually the result of your baby not being properly latched while breastfeeding. To ensure proper latch, you may want to start by using your nipple to tickle your baby’s lips so that the mouth opens wide to receive not just the nipple but also the entire areolar.

Pelvic and perineal changes

Regardless of the delivery method, postpartum women have vaginal discharge known as lochia. This is comprised of blood, mucus, and uterine tissue, serving as a natural aspect of uterine involution. The quantity and duration of lochia vary among individuals but generally decrease as the uterus returns to its pre-pregnancy size. Care tips for managing lochia include using absorbent pads, practicing good perineal hygiene, and continuing your routine hematinics.


After a vaginal delivery, individuals may experience perineal soreness and vaginal laxity. Perineal soreness can arise from tears or episiotomies during childbirth and may necessitate pain relief methods like ice packs, sitz baths, and analgesics. Vaginal laxity, if present, often improves with time. It can also be managed through Kegel exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles and/or via vaginoplasty surgery performed by an experienced vaginal tightening specialist.

Other body alterations

  1. Changes in shoe size. Carrying extra weight during pregnancy along with the effects of the hormone relaxin can flatten the arch in the foot, making the foot longer. Many women actually find themselves sizing up half or even a full shoe size.
  2. Stretch marks. These are a common result of the skin stretching during pregnancy. They may fade over time but often remain visible to some degree. Two ingredients that may help reduce the appearance of these marks are hyaluronic acid and retinoids. However, retinoids should not be used during pregnancy and caution is needed during breastfeeding. You should discuss it with your doctor first.
  3. Hair loss. Due to the falling estrogen levels postpartum, many women experience excessive hair shedding. While this may be distressing to most, it’s temporary and you should have your full, luscious locks before your baby turns one.

How long does it take for your body to return to normal after pregnancy?

There really isn’t a set time for your body to return to its pre-pregnancy state as you are unique and the concept of “normalcy” differs for everyone.

However, the following factors influence the timeframe for post-pregnancy recovery:

  • Mode of delivery. The recovery period varies depending on whether the delivery was vaginal or via cesarean section, typically with vaginal delivery involving a shorter recuperation time and cesarean section requiring a longer period due to the surgical procedure and associated healing.
  • Emotional well-being. Mental and emotional health are significant factors in postpartum recovery. Effectively managing stress, seeking support, and addressing any feelings of anxiety or postpartum depression are vital for overall well-being during this phase.
  • Physical condition. A woman’s pre-pregnancy health and fitness level can influence her postpartum recovery, with those who maintained an active lifestyle and good health potentially experiencing a quicker recuperation compared to individuals with preexisting health conditions or pregnancy complications.
  • Postpartum care. Adequate postnatal care, including rest, proper nutrition, and adherence to the healthcare provider’s advice, can expedite the body’s recovery process. Prioritizing self-care and promptly addressing any postpartum complications or concerns is essential for a smooth recovery.

Final notes

The key to postpartum convalescence is prioritizing self-care and understanding the individual nature of recovery. Whether the changes are short-term or permanent, embracing the new you and enjoying every aspect of the journey is essential for fostering resilience and well-being.