You’re bound to look different after your baby. After all, your body’s done a lot of hard work making and growing your baby, and getting him or her out into the world.
It’s normal to have more fat on your breasts, hips and thighs after birth, and to have a ‘floppy tummy’. During pregnancy, your body lays down extra fat stores to tide you and your baby over during breastfeeding, which requires calories. The muscles in your abdomen need to stretch to accommodate your bump, and it takes time for them to regain their tone.
Give yourself some time to get back to your pre-pregnant body. About nine months to a year is about average, and don’t expect to look exactly the same if you are over about 30 or so (you’re a year older than you were, and pregnant or not, you’d have changed!). You can help things along by exercise and healthy eating.
But while all this is happening, how do you feel about your image? Do you worry that your partner’s affected by the way you look?
The majority of men are far less bothered than their partners think about their body changes. Talk to your man and ask him if you feel worried. You may feel reassured. Yet some changes can affect your sexual relationship – and it isn’t a question of self-esteem or your confidence when you look in the mirror:
If you’ve had stitches or a tear in your perineum, which might make penetration difficult or painful see your doctor and ask for an examination if healing is taking longer than a few weeks, or if pain or discomfort persist beyond a couple of months after the birth
- Breastfeeding can cause sore nipples and tender breasts – check the position your baby is in at the breast, or ask your health visitor if thrush is causing the soreness. Mastitis or blocked ducts cause painful breasts – get treatment
- Piles (haemorrhoids) are a painful side-effect of pregnancy and birth, and they make you feel decidedly unsexy! Treatment from the doctor, plus attention to diet to avoid constipation, can speed up their disappearance
- Caesarean scar and a tender tummy after a section can make you feel tender in man-or-woman on top positions. Avoid ’em and do it in a different way (now – you don’t need me to tell you, surely!) disturbed hormones can lead to vaginal dryness temporary in most cases. Use a lubricant such as KY jelly.