Are you worried about your postpartum body? Comparing yourself to models or pop stars isn’t fair since they have trainers and chefs to help them stay fit during pregnancy and slim down afterwards. Instead of holding yourself to unrealistic expectations set by the stars, go your own way. “It takes nine months for your body to stretch and grow to make room for your baby, so give yourself a year to completely bounce back,” says Anita Sadaty, M.D., an ob-gyn in Great Neck, New York.
Many of the celebrities who get trim so quickly keep their weight gain under control while they’re pregnant (docs suggest women who start at a healthy weight gain between 25 and 35 pounds for a single birth, and 35 and 40 for twins). After the baby arrives, they’re logging a lot of time at the gym. “One of my clients would do cardio in the morning and then weight circuit-training in the afternoon,” says Andrea Orbeck, a fitness guru who’s helped the likes of Heidi Klum get back in shape. However, most moms shouldn’t push it that hard. Two to three weeks after a vaginal birth without complications (or four to five after a C-section), you can start walking workouts and work your way up to jogging or another activity you enjoy within about a week or two. From there, Orbeck suggests 30 minutes of vigorous exercise five or six days a week.
Because the muscles and fascia in your abdominal wall have stretched out to make room for the baby, your belly could still look the way it did during your first trimester even six months later. Doing yoga and Pilates can help, but some women may be left with a little roll of skin that just won’t budge. “You can do all the crunches, planks, and sit-ups in the world and still not get the results you’re looking for,” says Orbeck. We’re pretty sure that babe in your arms is worth more to you than a flat stomach, anyway.
If you’re like Jessica Simpson, who flaunted her ample bosom throughout her last pregnancy, going up a bra size or two is a lovely perk. Higher levels of progesterone and estrogen prepare your body to produce milk, making your breast tissue swell. Once you wean your baby, or if you don’t nurse, your hormones will level off and your girls will likely return to their normal size (though perhaps with some stretching and sagging) within a few months. Limiting weight gain during pregnancy can also help them bounce back. “Extra pounds often end up in your chest,” says Orbeck. While nursing speeds weight loss for many women, it’s not an instant fix. “Prolactin, the hormone needed for milk production, may slow your metabolism,” says Dr. Sadaty, “which explains why many patients aren’t able to lose the last 10 pounds until they’ve stopped breastfeeding.”
Remember Kim Kardashian’s pudgy piggies before North West’s arrival? Nearly 75 percent of pregnant women experience swollen feet. Moms-to-be retain more fluid, so their tissues can expand as their baby grows; gravity causes the fluid to accumulate in feet and ankles. But don’t put your shoe collection on eBay just yet — you’ll likely fit back into your pre-pregnancy slingbacks within a year.