We’ve all seen the headlines of some celebrity stepping out, looking thin, flawless, and well-rested after just having a baby. Of course what we don’t see is the team of nannies, nutritionists, personal trainers, personal chefs, et al that may or may not be behind the scenes of these super moms.

For some, these images may be motivating and inspire new mothers. But often those pictures can have the opposite effect on the self-esteem of overwhelmed moms whose bodies have just gone through incredibly drastic changes. While it’s completely OK to aspire to get fit post-baby, it’s important to know what you can expect after you give birth.

1. You might not be able to workout for at least 6 weeks after giving birth.

Every situation is different, but on average most women should wait for 6 weeks after giving birth. Various factors may increase or decrease that number, such as if you’ve had a C-section or if you had a vaginal birth without incident.  Whatever your situation, discuss your fitness history with your doctor both pre and postpartum before participating in any exercise or diet program. Keeping an open dialogue will help you manage expectations as well as ensure you minimize the risk of injury.

2. You may experience hair loss

About 50% of women experience what is called telogen effluvium, which is hair loss that is typically triggered by shock to your body. Pregnancy causes a spike in hormones and childbirth puts a lot of stress on the body resulting in hair loss up to 6 months after giving birth. Eating foods high in protein, iron, zinc, flavenoids, antioxidants, and silica can help offset this.

3. You might breakout

That pregnancy glow goes away once you give birth, and in it’s place may come acne. While pregnant, the increased blood flow causes pores to dilate, giving you healthier glowing skin. But after giving birth, the change in hormones , lack of sleep, stress, and decreased blood flow may have the opposite effect. Using products with benzoyl peroxide or glycolic acid can help.

4. Breastfeeding may help you lose weight

It’s true, breastfeeding an help you lose some of the baby weight. When pregnant, your body creates new fat so you will be able to breastfeed. Eating a healthy, balanced diet after giving birth in addition to breastfeeding will help you lose the weight safely. However, if you crash diet, skip meals, or exercise too hard too soon it may impact your ability to breastfeed. Speak with your doctor to find the right balance for you.

5.  You will have loose skin and weakened abdominal muscles

If you want a flat stomach after childbirth it may be possible, but just know that it may not be, too. Genetics do play a role in how your body bounces back after baby, and while diet and exercise will help ( at least with strengthening your abdominal muscles), there may always be loose skin around your stomach. There are a number of factors that come into play like your pre-pregnancy diet and exercise habits, your skin’s elasticity, age, etc.

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