It’s time to talk about bodies after birth, and not just stretch marks

September 25, 2019

The impact of pregnancy and birth on the body is immense, yet we rarely discuss the ways it impacts women’s lives, says Emily Writes.

Before writing this piece on pregnancy and postpartum body changes  I ran a short survey that I shared in a small Facebook group. Within half a day I had more than 100 responses. By the end of the day, 260.

I asked people who had been pregnant how their body had changed through the process and after birth. Those who answered were mostly pragmatic about how their body had changed – and for most, it had changed a lot:

I have no feeling around my C-section scar. More spider veins. Boobs are bigger, but flatter. Weak abdominal muscles, despite targeted weight training…so my stomach pooches out more. Skin is drier. More fine wrinkles. Stretch marks. My periods are heavier but shorter. My joints tend to get sore more easily.

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I am a fairly fit and skinny person, but the excess skin I now have around my tummy makes me sad every day. It will never go away. Neither will the tear in my abdominal muscles, regardless of how much yoga I do. Giving birth vaginally to a breech baby was also fairly damaging, and carrying them caused my uterus to flop onto my bowel, so sex is now painful in certain positions. Really puts a dampener on your marriage.

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Change in how my stomach sits, have an overhang now after C-section and surgeries. I had an obstetric fistula which has resulted in bladder damage and painful periods.

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I gained 25kg during first pregnancy then lost 35kg the year after. Fell pregnant again and gained another 20kg, then lost it. And now having gone back to work, I’ve gained it all back and then some! So my poor body has been constantly changing over the last seven years.

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My boobs are saggier and have lost their density on the top. My labia are longer. My cervix is lower. I have grey hair now.

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Boobs saggier, anus higher up (hard to explain but that’s the best I can do), saggy skin on stomach, deeper voice, weaker core, much more prone to nerve pain in lower back, less comfortable during periods, and much worse ovulation pain mid cycle.

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My back is weak, my pelvic floor destroyed, my teeth have degraded, I’m exhausted and my joints hurt, especially my pelvis.

It’s like a list of car crash injuries. And it seems unlikely that someone recovering from a car crash would be expected to lose weight immediately, get on some dick and/or love their stretch marks. Yet the prevailing focus on postpartum bodies is squarely on weight loss or “loving your body” or having penetrative sex.

What lies in between? Where did this focus come from and how can we turn the tide? What even is body image when your body feels broken? Click here to read more https://thespinoff.co.nz/partner/womens-health-action/24-09-2019/its-time-to-talk-about-bodies-after-birth-and-not-just-stretch-marks/

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