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26 women share the most surprising thing that happened to their body after having a baby.

This post deals with postnatal depression and might be triggering for some readers. If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from depression, contact PANDA – Post and Antenatal Depression Association. You can find their website here or call their helpline on 1300 726 306.

What is a ‘post-baby body’ meant to look like?

By definition, it’s a body that has delivered a baby, whether that be out of a vagina, through an incision or by whichever way was necessary to keep mum and child safe.

WATCH: Tiffiny Hall speaks about post-baby body expectations in the video below. Post continues after video.


Video via Mamamia

It’s an incomprehensible achievement, but more often than not, post-baby bodies are presented to us as an ‘after’ photo, acceptable only once returned to their pre-baby state.

It’s for this reason we asked 26 Aussie women to help us shine a light on the reality of postpartum bodies. Because as we found out, a lot of surprising stuff happens to your body when you have a child.

Like postpartum hair loss and ginormous nipples. And not being able to breathe without peeing yourself, or tearing your clitoris. Or for a few, nothing at all.

Keep scrolling to see images and read stories from women who were surprised by what happened to their bodies (including their brains) after having babies.

1. Alana, 31.

“My melasma pigmentation was so bad. The photo doesn’t do it justice.”

Image: Supplied.
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2. Amy, 27.

"I developed gallstones after being pregnant and had to have my gall bladder removed when my son was three months old. Not only was the surgery complicated due to the inflammation, but I had to go in for a second surgery that same week due to a stone that was left over and causing pain. They also had to manage my pain while keeping my breastfeeding in mind. It meant I couldn’t have any of the normal pain medications!"

Image: Supplied.

3. Nicole, 31.

"My mothers group chat loves sending photos of our postpartum hair loss fringes to each other - the ones we don’t remember having cut, but frizz out like we’ve been electrocuted. I can actually style it into a nice, wispy curtain fringe these days. The little rat tails are fun, too!"

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4. Adele, 29.

"My abs now have separation anxiety. It's called diastasis recti and is the separation of the abdominal muscles. Yet another wonderful gift some people are blessed to receive after pregnancy. You can see the video on my Instagram of them caving in when I breathe out."

 




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5. Amanda, 29.

"I had my clitoris tear in half while delivering my third child. One year later and it's still really uncomfortable to touch. I had no idea that could happen... I won't let my husband near it."

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6. Caroline.

"I think one big thing which isn't physical is the feeling of losing a part of yourself. You gain so much after having children - unconditional love, pride in what you've accomplished, but you also lose a little. I have three children, each one has taken a little bit from me. You can’t quite put a finger on what it is that you've lost, but there's just an... absence."

7. Rita.

"I had quite bad vulvar varicosities (varicose veins on my vulva) in the last three months of my pregnancy. Not only was I in a lot of pain if I stood for more than an hour, but my vagina looked so awful, I cried on multiple occasions about it. Three hours after having my little man, it was amazing how quickly the blood vessels had shrunk. I can happily say I'm the only person I know who has looked at their vagina post-childbirth and thought how much better it looked than the weeks before!"

8. Beth, 30.

"I had a forceps delivery. I had a tear and my vagina was cut. Almost eight months later, I'm still seeing the physio regularly because sex is so painful! At my last visit, they handed me this dilator. Not only had I never used a sex toy before, I had no idea what this was or how to use it for a scar. Also, the one thing no one told me is that you might no longer have control over your flatulence. I remember the first time I went to an event with my work colleagues post-baby - I said to my husband, 'I can’t do this, it's not worth it if I can’t hold farts in'."

Image: Supplied.

9. Hannah, 33.

"After pains are a cruel joke. It's when your uterus decides it’s time to shrink back to some kind of normal size (whatever that is now). It’s like period pain, BUT WORSE! Every time I fed my baby, I felt contractions again. Haven’t we been through enough??"

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Image: Supplied.

10. Alena, 31.

"This photo was taken when my baby was about four weeks old. I remember trying to smile, but feeling like a fraud for pretending to be happy when I wasn't. All the physical changes meant nothing to me compared to the deep mental hole I fell into for the first six weeks of motherhood. I remember thinking, 'why do so many people have children??!!' I cried all the time - when I ate, when I showered, when I tried to sleep. Looking back, I definitely think I was depressed. I had so much support from my husband and my mum and I think that's what got me through. My daughter is now four months old and I'm completely in love with being a mother. Women are told they should have this instant feeling of love and contentment when the baby is born, but sometimes, it takes time to come to terms with your new life."

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11. Marina.

"Mainly, I was surprised by how my love-hate relationship with my body intensified. I'm in awe and appreciate it for what it made, but my strange hair, weak abs, and high-low hormones are a shock and hard to manage."

Image: Supplied.

12. Anna, 29.

"I was so scared in the lead-up to my birth based on everything you read. But the most surprising thing to happen postpartum? My body was fine. I didn't need all the things I had stocked up on, nothing scary or weird happened. My midwife even encouraged me to use a mirror to check it all out down there as I was so worried and big surprise - it looked the same! I feel like we are not supposed to say birth can be beautiful and that bodies can be fine after (and that sex is just as great) as it in some way means we don't respect those who [have] shared their traumatic experience."

13. Sarah, 39.

"Our bodies are pretty amazing and I felt like a total goddess after I gave birth to my two beautiful daughters. BUT WOW. Lots has changed to my body. I had a prolapse and when I first went for a run after birth, literally, my vagina walls started falling out. Fast forward five years and I’m back to more intense exercise and loving it. But I had another surprise just the other day, apparently jumping UP to hang off monkey bars also makes me pee. UP. With no impact on the ground. UP!! So unfair."

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14. Hayley.

"My feet are one size bigger than they were pre-baby and nobody told me this was a thing. I kept hoping it would be temporary, but my baby is 14 months old now and it’s not looking good. Back before I had kids, and when I had money, I bought some beautiful Christian Louboutin shoes and now they don’t fit. Well, I can cram my feet into them but I'd need to cut off my big toe for them to fit my postpartum feet."

15. Georgina, 31.

"I need all the ice packs. Here's my little teeny vagina ice pack. I also need ice packs on my boobs because they're so huge and engorged. It hurts to move or breathe and the only thing that helps is feeding, but that's also the most painful thing I've ever done. And I just gave birth to a tiny human."

Image: Supplied.

16. Sally.

"I had some lovely bruising after my c-section. Thankfully, it healed and feels a lot better now."

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17. Bec, 32.

"Here is my scar one week after my caesarean. I was surprised because it healed much better than I thought it would."

Image: Supplied.

18. Shay, 29.

"It may seem like an overreaction, but I swear my nipples were almost the size of my newborn's head. Six months on, they’re still huge. I've also found my boobs have become uneven. I’d read about women wearing bracelets to keep track of which side they fed from to keep alternating, but I thought it was more of an anxiety strategy. Little did I know, my left breast would become the bread winner while the right is on notice. There’s almost a cup size difference."

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19. Sara.

"I had hyperemesis gravidarum with both pregnancies so was vomiting 20+ times a day. Now, my teeth don’t like me very much and I've had to have a lot of dental work. Apparently, I also left my 20/20 vision in the labour ward - I've been wearing glasses ever since I was discharged!"

20. Gem, 38.

"I had a difficult labour in which forceps were used. I had a third degree tear, which is a tear from the vagina to the muscles around the anus. Although I knew women could “tear” during labour, the reality of it was a total shock. I could barely move, and when I had to do a poo a couple of days later, I actually thought my body would split in two. The worst bit was the psychological impact of it, though. A nurse told me I “looked like a train wreck” down there. My self image plummeted. Thanks to psychologists, women’s health physios and a friend who went through something similar, I'm much better emotionally these days - it’s been a journey!"

21. Keisha, 29.

"This photo was a week before I was voluntarily admitted to a mum and baby hospital unit that helps new mums with severe postnatal depression. At first, I thought I was doing OK as my son slept a lot and I didn't spend much time with him other than when I was breastfeeding. It was only when he started having more awake time I realised something was wrong. I felt like a robot, keeping him fed and changed, but not interacting with him. I made an appointment to see a mental health nurse and he knew straight away I needed help. I left the ward feeling much better after getting the help I needed and the continued support."

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22. Mia, 30.

"These are my little C cups the day my milk came in! The instant boob job would be pretty amazing if they didn’t hurt so damn much."

Image: Supplied.

23. Ashley, 34.

"The postpartum hair loss is reeeeal."

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24. Miki, 25.

"I have stretch marks on the top of my vagina. And my hair loss is so bad I wouldn’t be surprised if my husband coughs up a hair ball one day."

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Image: Supplied.

25. Kizz.

"I had postpartum night sweats for two weeks after my first baby. I was losing an insane amount of fluid. Going to bed involved taking a towel and changing PJs overnight, and I had to sleep on a kids' waterproof bed mat. I'd towel myself off to do feeds, and I’m not even usually a sweaty person. Even my arms were wet."

26. Donna.

"Gross alert, but that first poo after labour... it was literally like giving birth to another child!"

Thank you to all the women who shared their postpartum experiences and images, and for reminding us there's no 'right' way for a body to be after pregnancy.

If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from depression, contact PANDA – Post and Antenatal Depression Association. You can find their website here or call their helpline on 1300 726 306. Some names in this story have been changed to protect their identities. Feature image: Supplied.

Want to join the conversation? What was the most surprising thing that happened to your body after pregnancy? Share a photo and tell us about your experiences in the comment section below!

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