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Body image after having a baby

4-minute read

Pregnancy and giving birth can change your body in many ways. It might take some time for your body to return to the way it was before you were pregnant. It’s even possible you won’t get your pre-baby body back. Still, there are ways you can help your body recover and get used to the new you.

Your body goes through many changes during pregnancy and labour, and you may experience:

Some of these changes will be temporary; and some may be permanent.

It took 9 months for your body to go through the incredible changes necessary for you to produce your beautiful baby, so it won’t bounce back overnight. But there are ways to adjust to the changes, both physically and emotionally.

Be patient and kind to yourself

In the media and online, celebrities always seem to have 'perfect' post-baby bodies. So it's little wonder that some women have unrealistic expectations of how their body should look after they have given birth. It can be tempting to compare your own post-baby body with those of your friends or other people online.

You might also experience pressure from your own group of friends and from social media. It can be tempting to compare your own post-baby body with those of your friends or other people online.

However, we are all different and someone else's post-baby body — celebrity, or friend on social media — is no guide to how you should look.

Be kind to yourself. Give yourself a break from social media if you need. Take time to exercise and eat well. It will help if you try to get as much sleep as you can.

Your weight after pregnancy

You will, of course, gain weight during pregnancy as your baby grows. But it is important for your long-term health to return to a healthy weight after pregnancy.

If you were overweight before you got pregnant and you would like to lose weight, talk with your doctor or see a dietitian. If you feel you're losing too much weight, it's also a good idea to talk with your doctor.

Eating well

It’s important to have a nutritious diet. This will not only help you lose weight but allow you to keep up your energy levels as you care for your new baby — and diet is especially important if you are breastfeeding.

Make sure you have enough calcium, protein, wholegrains, fibre (from fruits and vegetables) and iron. It’s important to drink enough water to help your bladder and bowels work well. Make sure you don’t skip meals, and try to eat small, nutritious snacks throughout the day to keep up your energy.

For more information on what foods to eat, see the Eat for Health website.

Returning to exercise

Exercise can help you to feel good and to get back to your pre-pregnancy shape. Walking is a great exercise after birth. Start with gentle walking and gradually increase how long and how fast you walk. Walking for just 30 minutes a day can improve your health and wellbeing.

As a new mum, one of the best things about walking is that you can take your baby with you in the pram, and newborns often go to sleep on a pram ride. Stop if you feel tired, unwell or experience pain.

Talk to your doctor about when you can start exercising again, especially if you had a caesarean. For most women, this will be 4 to 6 weeks after the birth. Try to avoid strenuous and high-impact exercises, such as weights, sit-ups or running, during your first 12 weeks after giving birth.

Sex after having a baby

After you have had a baby, having sex with your partner will probably be different and it may take awhile before you feel like having it again. This is perfectly normal and it's important to give yourself time to adjust to your post-baby body.

Information and support

  • Speak with your doctor if you have any concerns about changes to your body.
  • Talk to a dietitian for tips on how to manage your weight.
  • Call Pregnancy Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436, or video call, for advice and support.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: June 2021

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