Post Pregnancy Body Update {9 Months}

Author: Charlotte O'Shea

This last week has been the first time I’ve felt that my body is truly “mine” again. I don’t want to confuse “mine” with the same as it was pre-pregnancy (is anyone’s body ever exactly the same?) but I just wanted to be honest and black and white about how the journey has been for me personally.

Throughout my pregnancy I exercised, some might say more than most. Pilates classes twice a week up until 34 weeks and the Tracy Anderson specific pregnancy workout DVD anywhere between 3-5 times a week up until 38 weeks. From my 6 week sign off I then continued my pilates classes twice a week plus another hour or so at home and the Tracy Anderson specific post pregnancy workout DVD (notice a theme here?) 3-5 times a week for 5 or so months. For the last few months I’ve moved on to the beginners method 3-4 times a week. I do workout 1 – the cardio dance routine with weights which is only 30 minutes. Once you “know” the routine you can fast forward a lot of the talking/instruction aspect which brings the time down to under 25 minutes, for me that’s manageable. I also do a mat pilates class once a week and a reformer pilates once a week, plus as much pilates practice at home that I can fit in (which recently has been virtually none).

I enjoy exercise. I like to feel fit, strong and healthy. I didn’t expect to simply “snap back” to my former shape and size and as I’ve shared before, I wasn’t hung up on immediately losing every bit of baby weight super quick either, I wanted to enjoy my first born, and besides, even after my six week sign off, my abdominal area and core felt far weaker than even I expected after a c-section.

All of the above said and done, I didn’t expect returning to pilates to be quite as difficult as it was. Pre-pregnancy I was doing most of the moves at an advanced level, post-pregnancy I was struggling with basic beginners. And I don’t mean for the first month or so either, I mean a good 6 months down the line. It was beyond frustrating, and something I simply didn’t seem to be able to control. Or improve.

I still have a fairly noticeable linea nigra, admittedly nothing like it was a few months ago but absolutely 100% there. The skin around my abdominal area is looser (no, I didn’t expect anything else after growing a 8lb 7oz human) but seems to be improving every day. I have extra broken/thread veins. They are not particularly obvious with a bit of fake tan and shimmery body lotion. I am undecided as to whether I will venture into having these removed.

The area immediately above my c-section scar is still slightly swollen and numb. My scar is white on one side but still fairly pink on the other.

My ribcage is as I affectionately refer to it “on the wonk”, particularly my left side, again, this month I am really noticing an improvement and my bras are digging in significantly less.

My bust looks the same (well at least I think so.) My inner thighs are NOT the same, I feel as though mother nature decided I needed some extra timber there to support Mabel in those last few weeks (!) – I’ve been doing some specific exercises to target that area. I was doing quite well up until chocolate-orange-gate. It seems every single segment has taken up a permanent residence at the top of my legs.

As with the actual pregnancy journey, the post pregnancy journey is entirely different for everyone. I truly believe it’s absolutely true what they say though, it takes AT LEAST as long for your body to recover as it does for your body to create another person in the first place, plenty of exercise or not. There are no “quick wins”. Images of XYZ in the media looking amazing in a bikini seemingly weeks after giving birth don’t do anything for anyone’s confidence. And no it’s not a realistic comparison, and no there shouldn’t be a comparison with anyone at all. But it happens.

What I wanted to summarise with is that in reality there are days when it can be incredibly tough to get motivated, especially when there appears to be little to no improvement. It was/is for me and as a general rule as I mentioned above, I thoroughly enjoy taking some time out “brain” wise and engaging myself fully in exerting some energy.

The last nine months have flown by, an amazing and exhilarating introduction to motherhood. All said and done actually the “body” aspect is such a small part of the adventure in the grand scheme of things. Gentle and frequent exercise is undoubtedly beneficial but it takes time, and that’s perfectly ok.

If I am lucky enough to have a “next time” I would concern myself with progression far less.

I’ve probably left out hundreds of details so please feel absolutely free to ask whatever you fancy in the comments box below. And if you are willing to share your own experiences then that would be super, and so useful to the wider readership.

{Contributors}

Photography by Lisa Jordan at Little Beanies

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Purveyor of short shorts. Make-up junkie. Hopes to grow old disgracefully.
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34 thoughts on “Post Pregnancy Body Update {9 Months}

  1. Loved this Charlotte.

    My baby girl made an unexpected early arrival last week and was born via caserean section.

    To say I’m struggling with my post pregnancy body is an understatement. I know it’s only been a week but I’m swollen, battered and bruised and when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror it’s like looking at a stranger.

    Still, she’s more than worth it! πŸ˜€

    1. Huge Congratulations Lynsey!

      I remember being very swollen for a good month afterwards, perfectly normal – it’s major surgery after all. Just take it easy and don’t do too much lifting (I did) as you need to not over compensate your lack of stomach muscles with your back xx

    2. Congratulations Lynsey! I just wanted to say I felt exactly like you as I waited a week to really have a proper look at myself in the mirror! I don’t know about you, but I was so unprepared to see such bruising on me, not sure why? I was in a fair bit of pain for a couple of weeks after the birth of my son, but I found walking round the block helped a lot! It would have normally not taken any longer then a couple of minutes pre-pregnancy, but after it took me at least half an hour! Just take it slow! 6 months on and I feel almost back to normal and am only now starting to exercise properly to get rid of the last pregnancy stone! ( I put 2 stone on!)

  2. I would totally 100% agree with the theory that it takes as long for your body to recover as it does to grow your tiny human. My body felt quite alien to me up until Leo was about 10 months and then all of a sudden I found that actually, I was pretty much back to normal (albeit with slightly smaller boobs {which actually I was really glad of} and some additional skin on my tum).

    Reflecting back upon my post pregnancy body now I feel like I could’ve done more to get back into shape more quickly. But I think that lies in not really knowing what to do in order to achieve said back-in-shape body. I was never a great gym goer but now I have really experimented with different forms of exercise that if I were to be pregnant again I would know exactly which routes I would take in order to get myself back to a fitter state of self. And like you say, I think now I know that my body isn’t really capable of springing back, I wouldn’t worry too much that I’m not doing enough perhaps until the baby reaches 6 months. Small workouts and keeping generally fit and healthy but not worrying that nothing seems to of changed because I believe your body really does need time to rest and recuperate.

    I find exercise is a great way of having some me time, a way of achieving something for myself… A great way to let off some steam. And I now realise how important it is to have a strong and healthy body. Chasing an 18 month toddler around is tiring work and those upside down leg presses are worth the hard work when Im sprinting up and down after him.

    In summery I think, take it easy, don’t be too hard on yourself if things don’t pop back into place. Give yourself some time to rest and seek advice from professionals about the best ways for your body to take back some of it’s former glory. I’d be totally lost if I’d not enlisted a personal trainer. It’s what they’re there for and they are worth every penny in my eyes.

  3. Oh my, your exercise regime during pregnancy was very disciplined! I gave up exercising – running and religious use of the Davina DVD’s – when I got to 10 weeks and this cloud of intense tiredness arrived! It’s yet to leave and I am 33 weeks tomorrow..

    The only exercise I do now is walking.. I walk about a mile and a half a day to work and then more when I go to meetings. It’s not much but it stops me from feeling like a complete heiffer!

    A lot of people have commented that I don’t seem to have put weight on anywhere apart from the bump, which is nice to hear when you feel so large. People seem almost disappointed to say it though, like they were looking forwards to me balooning! However, I know that my bum and thighs have definitely taken the toll of my lack of exercise and cellulite seems to be appearing.. I actually can’t wait to get back to doing squat jumps!

    The thing I will miss is how much I don’t mind showing off my stomach now. Pre pregnancy, my stomach was in no way my favourite area and I would never wear a tight lycra top for example. Now, for the first time in my adult life, I feel my stomach looks exactly how it should for this time in life – round and firm – and I show it off a lot in tighter tshirt dresses and tops! Post baby, I am fully aware it will be like before, but WORSE!

    My post pregnancy plan is to do a lot of power walking with the buggy. Where we live is very hilly so that will help. And to then get back on the Davina DVDs for some general toning. One day I might run again as well. One day..

    I think you look awesome Charlotte! Xx

    1. Bless you thanks Jennifer, how I look in clothes is very different to how I look out of them! ha ha.

      Walking is excellent, especially power walking with a buggy. Now Mabel is older/heavier I feel as though just carrying her up the stairs is a workout in itself!

      Your stomach will not necessarily look worse after, I recommend pilates/core work rather than abdominal crunches though, it really “flattens” the torso rather than just making it muscular x

  4. I think most people are the same as you Charlotte. I have always been very conscious of my weight and so during pregnancy I exercised as much as I could – running till 12 weeks, my usual workouts, on our crosstrainer as much as poss and yoga. I found I put on weight after having my little girl as I went from running around manically at work and doing lots of exercise to basically sitting and eating sugar to overcome the tiredness. I exercised when I could but it wasn’t often and after about 12 months I had managed to loose some weight and was starting to feel a bit better. Then I got get pregnant again (not planned)!!! This time I found exercising harder. I was back at work and looking after a toddler so I was shattered. Again I put on the weight after having Alice, especially as I could do nothing as the little monkey wouldn’t be put down. I hated not fitting in my clothes so made a conscious effort and managed to shift the first bit of weight and get more energy for exercise. After 9 months I really tried to increase the exercise and healthy eating. 18 months on I still have a bit to loose but it seems to be a constant battle. I find I put on weight really easily now and if I’m not good 100% of the time (which I’m not!) it jumps back on. I also find the weight seems stuck in places it never did before, like my arms. Ho hum, off to stock up on salad leaves! x

    1. I find I get bloated REALLY easily now, seriously – all I have to do is look at a bowl of pasta or a slice of bread (!)

      I have no idea what it would be like to have two but I imagine trying to make time to exercise is nigh on impossible. I put weight on my arms a bit, it took a long time to shift as well x

  5. Your honesty is so refreshing and much appreciated Charlotte. I’m 5 months and gyming twice a week which is what I was doing pre-pregnancy. I got the Tracy Anderson pg-workout DVD after reading one of your blogs but tried it in a haze of extreme exhaustion during the first 12 weeks and am ashamed to say I haven’t gone back. 5 times a week is SO impressive!! I take my hat off to you. You have inspired me to think that as well as my twice weekly gym sessions I could surely pop a Tracy Anderson into the mix as well?! We’ll see!
    Anyway – I think you look absolutely amazing. If I look like you 9 months post baby then I will be absolutely delighted.
    Lx

    1. Hi Lisa! I literally fit Tracy in when I can. Sometimes in my “lunch break” sometimes after Mabel has gone to bed, sometimes as late as 10pm….but it doesn’t take too long and I always feel better afterwards.

      I gave up the gym as I found I was no longer getting results and it was quite an effort to get there/get home, different exercise works for different folks though, I enjoyed it for well over a decade x

  6. Great post Charlotte. My little man made his appearance two weeks ago, 11 days late via emergency c section. I am two weeks into my recovery and just starting to feel steady on my feet again, albeit a bit slow. I have a really baggy, saggy tummy with crinkly stretchmarks all over (as a petite 5’3” mama I grew a 9lb1oz baby measuring 63cm tall!!) I had a huge amount of fluid retention at first but luckily that’s going now and my face looks like mine again but my body is that of an 80yr old lady! It’s great to hear your post pregnancy journey, I’m not putting pressure on myself to snap back, I exercised lots during pregnancy up until about 34 weeks, did yoga once per week, personal training session once per week and swimming and Tracey as much as possible in between, I’m hoping having a healthy pregnancy body will help me recover from the op quickly. It’s weird though, pre baby I would say I was quite hung up on my body and did a lot of exercise to look good, I would have thought the scars and saggy skin would upset me, but it doesn’t, not really, baby Felix is literally the most amazing thing I have ever done, my body created him, the scars are a reminder of just how much of a privilage it was to grow this lovely person. x

    1. Hi Georgina! Congratulations! So excited for you!

      I wasn’t expecting the water retention but yes, now you mention it – mine stuck around for what seemed like ages but I didn’t care too much at the time, Mabel was far more interesting!

      It sounds as if you kept yourself very fit and healthy during pregnancy and that’s all you can do, fingers crossed for a speedy recovery x

  7. Wow, I’m in awe of your exercise regime, that’s amazing and you look fantastic! The plan was to always do some exercise but a very difficult pregnancy fraught with health problems meant the exact opposite…most days it was all I could manage just to get through the day! I’m now 8 months post pregnancy, the change to my body has been a shock, I’ve always been petite but a big baby combined with no exercise and a long hospital stay afterwards has meant my body has changed a lot. Like you I had a c-section and unfortunately my health issues during pregnancy have proved more problematic post delivery. Finally though, I think I can see a little light at the end of the tunnel, you’re spot on- it absolutely takes a good 9 months I think for your body to feel a bit like your own again and in fact medically I found out from a Dr the other day it takes 18 months for it to completely recover. I wish I hadn’t beaten myself up for quite so long about my post baby belly- I was shocked at how swollen I was but it’s slowly going down and the rest of my body (bar my bust which has definitely taken a battering!) is def looking more like me. My tummy will no doubt never be quite the same but that’s ok, I’ve been doing reformer pilates too these last 2 months and I love it! x

    1. Angela I think folks underestimate just how swollen you are after a c-section, I felt like it was always a bit swept under the carpet – I still looked very pregnant almost a month afterwards but then it did go down quite a bit.

      But yes, it’s been a nine month process – and I do think the reformer aspect has really helped to feel normal (ish!) at even this point!

      LOVE reformer SO MUCH!

  8. You’ve inspired my with all your DVD’s Charlotte. Can anyone recommend a DVD that doesn’t have much jumping? I live in the top flat of an old (and noisy!) house and don’t think my neighbours will appreciate all the thumps on their ceiling!

    1. Hi Hannah! Hmmm, no jumping. The beginners Tracy isn’t TOO bad, it’s more kicking actions than anything – I avoid anything jumpy due to my rubbish knees x

  9. It is great to hear some honesty about this. It took me nearly a year to lose the 2st 10lbs I put on in pregnancy. Despite buggyfit classes and lots of walking and moderately healthy eating, for the first 10 months I barely shifted a pound. I don’t know if this is because I wasn’t breastfeeding, but it made me feel even worse about that minefield than I already did. I felt quite fat and miserable about it really. Then all of a sudden around 11 months on I had a very stressful (unrelated) time and the weight literally fell off in a matter of weeks, which was all very strange. However superficial it sounds, the ability to wear nice clothes and feel mysef again was amazing and it made all the adjustments of having a baby feel a lot easier overall. I do worry that if there is a next time, I won’t be able to lose the weight at all, which again, should be a minor worry in the grand scheme of things, but in the interests of honesty it is an issue for me. I don’t want stress to be the only way to lose it!
    Oh, and I also have ribs that are ‘ on the wonk’ Charlotte, which no-one else I’ve spoken to has experienced! It doesn’t really bother me, but they have definitely moved still protude 21 months on. Weird. Thanks for the post. x

    1. I’ve just realised I do sound particularly vain and body obsessed which I definitely wasn’t before! Of course, I was so happy to have my lovely baby boy, who was healthy and wonderful, but it was a shock to me that I felt so awful about the body issues. I wasn’t expecting to and thought that the weight would slowly but surely drop away by just returning to normal healthy eating and regular exercise and it was a big shock when it didn’t!

      1. Sarah gosh don’t apologise! My best friend was VERY honest with me about the whole journey which in hindsight was so helpful as my expectations weren’t ridiculous (like me she is petite and always exercised a lot yet found it took a long time to feel like “her”)

        No one mentioned ribs to me either?! At least I don’t remember – if I breathe in my one side looks really quite odd! x

  10. I wish I wasn’t so concerned about this 10 weeks into my pregnancy … but I am! Before I found out I was preggers I had been eating everything that moves and could not control my appetite (now I know why – the joys of early pregnancy symptoms!) I had been gaining weight anyway (due to a distinct lack of exercise after the summer) and combined have put on almost 10lbs since September. I am now in the “all day nausea and exhaustion” stage, but eating makes me feel better and I see no let up in the amount I am eating on a daily basis. I have no idea where to start with an exercise regime, and although I am eating a lot it’s not all bad stuff per se. I had my first midwife appointment and they were not concerned about my weight although did say my BMI was at the higher end of ok. Obviously I am very excited about what this year will bring, but I am painfully aware that some level of fitness would help immensely with labour and recovery after birth! Help!

    1. Maddy, I just reached 12 weeks (scan today=best moment ever) and until a week ago I couldn’t stop eating, seriously, if I didn’t eat pretty much hourly I would feel like I was going to faint/ throw up and extremely tired since before I knew I was pregnant. I have done no exercise at all despite In my mind doing yoga/ DVDs/ walks in the countryside as I have just slept so much. However about a week ago it really started easing off and I’m now feeling about ready to try some DVDs and I’m going to get ordering. Fingers crossed you start yo feel a little more energetic in the next couple of weeks!

      1. Thank you Anna this is very encouraging! I’m in amazement as to how many different feelings and symptoms I have felt in the last few weeks so really am hoping I will see a difference in the weeks to come… The 12 week scan is the big goal for the time being and it would be fab to start feeling better then too. Totally relate to the needing to eat to avoid falling over or throwing up… Have just had my first day back at work since before Chrimbo and all my colleagues are very confused by my constant desk snacking despite joining in the “let’s all diet together” chat after the festivities!

  11. I was horrified when a week after my girl was born I was asked when my baby was due by a man in the hospital cafe. Luckily the look of horror on his face when I told him she was already born and well distracted me sufficiently not to care too much. It’s definitely a long journey to get some body confidence back. I find the weight is coming off at a reasonable rate (if only there wasn’t Christmas) but the shape somehow isn’t happening yet. More pilates for me it is then – still on beginners level like you Charlotte after 5 months so hopefully will see some progress soon.

    1. Kat I looked (very) pregnant for a good 3/4 weeks afterwards, I didn’t really go out much though so didn’t come into contact with rude people (honestly, why don’t people think before they speak?)

      The shoulder bridge for me was (is!) the worst, I use to be able to hold it for AGES, now I just…fall on the floor πŸ™‚ x

  12. Thank you Charlotte I love these little parenting posts. My baby girl, Everly, is 3 weeks today and I’ve spent most of the afternoon ( she was up all night so zzzz all day today) reorganising my wardrobe to store the clothes that I can’t wear a) because of breast feeding b) and that don’t have a hope in hell of fitting for a while. I’ve got a stone a half to loose to get back to before and I don’t want to start my day feeling down by looking at clothes that were really just for skinny days before I got pregnant, let alone now ! I too have a very prominent stripe down my tummy and a load of stretch marks that popped up right at the end as my bump was massive ( everly was 9 11) but one thing having a baby gives you in bucket loads is perspective and every time I look at her I forgot about my muffin top and fat arse ! Becky x

    1. Hi Becky! Pleasure, Everly – what a lovely name. I absolutely did a wardrobe overhaul before I went into hospital to have Mabel, anything I thought I wouldn’t get into I simply put in the loft and only left the flattering articles!

      I recommend the panelled leggings from Topshop (super comfy and “pull you in”) and the baggy-ish jumpers from Boohoo, cheap and “skimming” around your middle x

  13. Hi Charlotte, another fab post! I’m now 3 months post baby and frustrated at having lost none of the baby weight yet, particularly as my friends told me breastfeeding helps you lose weight in no time at all. Liars, ha! I swear my legs are bigger than during pregnancy. I’m also a little pilates obsessed which definitely helped when I was pregnant but I’ve tried the Tracy Anderson postnatal workout and found it way too hardcore so hats off to you for managing that one, especially after a c-section! You look fantastic so it’s great to know even you found it look a long time to feel back to ‘normal’. We all need to stop being so hard on ourselves, although my body isn’t what would be considered as good aesthetically as it was I’ve never felt so body confident- there’s something really empowering about knowing your body has done something so amazing! x

    1. Hi Carly! I have to admit, the Tracy post-pregnancy was very hard, I had to have a break several times during the DVD for the first few months! I find the beginners method much more manageable and if I was to do it again I would do that instead – combined with pilates.

      My thighs are bigger – but then my over consumption of chocolate over Christmas didn’t help this issue πŸ™‚ x

  14. Ohh our bodies are very unique things aren’t they!? Each of my pregnancies have been really different but this time I put on very little during pregnancy even though I felt I was eating loads. Then towards the end saw a nutritionist to get me into a good routine for after the birth which I loved and started on straight away as it was great clean eating stuff and made me feel so much better during pregnancy too… then I just piled weight on after giving birth! No one seems to believe you when you say that but its true – I’m pretty sure I was the same weight after a couple of weeks post pregnancy as I was during and even I can work out that I should have been less without the 7lb 11 baby! I was active straight away, hardly sleeping, up and doing the school run (a daily 20 min walk) and carrying on normal life and eating super healthy… and piling on weight. After a while I started to monitor calories and noticed I was really undereating. Most days I was having less than 1400 calories, still active and going to the gym – and thats not enough. I was advised I was going into starvation mode and storing fat…so I chilled out and attempted to eat more…and stayed the same. Over the last 9 months I’ve had a whole spectrun of eating patterns, a few rubbish weeks of too much cake… but basically have just stuck at exactly the same weight… until this week when Niema hit 9 months old and the scales have just shifted down 2lbs! Finally! We are on the move!
    It’s got me really down at times but I’ve just come to terms with my body being really stubborn and will change when its good and ready. I’ve just locked away my jeans and nice small clothes and am very much opting for the baggy ‘skimming’ jumper option until things change!
    Well done Charlotte… and everyone else. Its already such an emotional time being a new mummy and most of us just like to feel ourselves and ‘ready for the day’ to be able to cope with all the challenges life throws our way. And for many of us that means knowing we’ve managed to slap a bit of make up on and know that we fit in our clothes well and look nice. It’s never fun to feel that your clothes are all riding up in the wrong places and you dont feel comfy!

    1. Amanda I have just ordered some lovely sweater type tops from H&M, stylish AND comfy! At the moment I’m so cold all the time I just want to wear a dressing gown πŸ™‚ x

  15. Charlotte, you look amazing and I take my hat off to you for making the effort!

    I’m 7 weeks into being a new mum and am trying to lose the extra stone I put on during pregnancy.

    I was never big on exercise before and developed SPD after 6 weeks so couldn’t even walk in the end but was planning on beginning a Fencing course before I fell pregnant and now I’ve had my daughter have re-signed up and can’t wait to get physical!

    I’m actually ok with my wrinkly belly but HATE my huge boobs which went from a DD to a G cup and are so difficult to dress. As I’m still nursing I’m trying to reconcile myself to these but they make me feel quite frumpy as I’m quite petite!

    I guess I’m inspired by everyone on here to remain positive about our changing bodies- after all, they made a person which is pretty awesome!

  16. These comments are all so encouraging. I have been putting off pregnancy for another year to get my head around my body changing if I do become pregnant. I suffer with disorderd eating and body image so find it very scary to purposefully do something that will change my shape perhaps forever. But I know having a child will melt all these fears away and I should probably just go for it!

  17. Postnatal body is certainly very tough. I think, however difficult, you really do need to hang on to the true blessing and miracle of your little one and the fact that your body made that person. I’m especially struggling with my post natal, post c section body as my twins passed away at 34 weeks. My body is stretched and sore 3 months on but I have nothing to show for it. I know it is so hard when our bodies ate not our own but, my goodness, what a fabulous prize you got for it!

    1. Really puts everything into perspective, Emily. Makes me feel pretty silly worrying about a bit of flab now as seriously I wouldn’t trade my little one for anything. Thank you for reminding me what really matters xx

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