Menu
megan-markle-baby

We are so thrilled for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex as they welcome their first baby, and the newest addition to the royal family we love.

The internet is, of course, abuzz: everyone's love of Megan Markle, Harry's adorable announcement, and sweet baby Archie's name revelation. And lots of people are focusing on Megan Markle's body—specifically that she still looks pregnant.

While generally speaking, it's best not to comment on women's bodies, and to remember that despite her fame Megan Markle is a person who deserves privacy and respect, this does bring an important concept to light, that will hopefully help women feel more supported and empowered after giving birth.

Yes, you still look pregnant after you give birth.

Here's why:

First, a quick overview of anatomy and birth

The uterus is a (fabulously amazing) hollow organ, made of muscles. Before pregnancy, the uterus sits nestled into the pelvis and is about the size of a fist (three or four inches long). When pregnancy happens (yay!), the embryo (aka tiny soon-to-be-baby) implants into the uterus, which then houses the baby throughout pregnancy.


Motherly

In order to do this, the uterus grows… a lot. In fact, it is believed that the volume of the uterus increases by, wait for it, 500 times during pregnancy. (Side note: Yes you DO deserve that serving of pie.)

Motherly

During labor, the uterus contracts, much in the same way that your bicep contracts when you make a muscle. Rhythmic contractions soften, thin (efface), and open (dilate) the cervix—the opening of the uterus. When the cervix is fully dilated, the contractions along with the woman's effort of pushing, work together to bring the baby into the world. Yay!

During a Cesarean section, the baby is born via an incision that is made in the uterus.


What happens after birth

Despite all the hard work it has just done, the uterus still has much to do after the baby is born. It must give birth to the placenta and then it must do the Herculean task of healing.

Healing from birth (vaginal and Cesarean) means a few things:

  1. Bleeding. The placenta grows on the uterine lining, and when it detaches at birth, there is essentially a fairly large wound inside the uterus that now needs to heal. Women often have period-like bleeding for a few days, followed by lighter red flow, then pinkish brown, then white, and finally clear. This can last anywhere from two to six weeks. (Important note: If you are postpartum and bleed heavily, filling a pad in an hour or two or pass a clot larger than a golf ball, seek medical attention right away.)
  2. Involution. Involution is the process by which the uterus "shrinks" back down to its pre-pregnancy size. It does this by contracting (again). If you have breastfed a newborn, you likely felt some cramping when the baby latched those first days. This is because your body releases oxytocin (the love and contractions generating hormone) every time you nurse, which then, in turn, makes the uterus contract. This was very intentional on Mother Nature's part because this decreases your risk of bleeding too much.

The shrinking of the uterus, involution, takes about six weeks. And this is why Megan Markle—and every woman ever—still looks pregnant after giving birth.

If you've given birth recently, you can lay on your back and feel the top of your uterus (this is called your fundus). Immediately after birth, the top of the uterus is at the level of your belly button, and then it will lower about one centimeter a day during pregnancy.

But again, this is when you are laying down.

When you stand up, it looks entirely different. Hence still looking pregnant.

The uterus spent the last nine months—280 days—getting bigger (and more awesome). In order to do this, it's needed the support of the rest of the body, which stretched, shifted and, yes, gained some extra pounds. It is going to take time for all of those changes to reverse.

Also, in order to accommodate the growing uterus, the abdominal muscles usually separate to some extent—this is called diastasis recti. Normally, those muscles form the barrier wall between the organs and the outside world. But because they have been stretched and separated, they are not able to "hold back" the uterus (which remember, is still big). The bump may not have a baby in it anymore, but it is definitely still a bump.

The extent to which the postpartum bump lasts depends on a few factors: what number baby this is (it tends to be more exaggerated with each pregnancy because everything's been stretched out before), pre-existing strength of the abdominal muscles, and body type in general.

Generally speaking, we don't recommend getting back into an exercise routine until about the six or eight-week post-birth mark, but some fitness experts can work with you on some simple and safe ways to rehab your core before then.

If your diastasis recti is significant, your provider may recommend physical therapy. But be sure to discuss this with them first.

So, here are the takeaways:

  • Congratulation, Megan and Harry!
  • Let's try not to focus on Megan's (or anyone's for that matter) body too much as she goes through this very normal process.
  • It is really important that we change the message that is pervasive in our culture right now: Pop out the baby then bounce back quickly. Growing and giving birth to a human is a massive undertaking. The body (and mind) needs a significant amount of time, nurturing, and patience to heal.

Let's shift this together, and appreciate women's bodies for the extraordinary things that they are.

You might also like:

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.

$70

Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.

$65

Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.

$45

Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!

$23

Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.

$30

Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.

$39

'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."

$35

Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.

$24

Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.

$22

Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!

$25

Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.

$32

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.

$105

Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.

$17

Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.

$68

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

One of our main goals as mothers is to encourage our children to learn, grow and play. They start out as our tiny, adorable babies who need us for everything, and somehow, before you know it, they grow into toddlers with ideas and opinions and desires of their own.

You may be hearing a lot more of "I do it!" or maybe they're pushing your hand away as a signal to let you know, I don't need your help, Mama. That's okay. They're just telling you they're ready for more independence. They want to be in charge of their bodies, and any little bit of control their lives and abilities allow.

So, instead of challenging your toddler's desire for autonomy, we found five of our favorite products to help encourage independence—and eliminate frustration in the process.

EKOBO Bamboo 4-piece kid set

EKOBO bamboo 4-piece kid set

This colorful set includes a plate, cup, bowl and spoon and is just right for your child's meal experience. Keep them in an easy-to-reach cabinet so they'll feel encouraged (and excited!) to get their own place setting each time they eat.

$25

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Before you know it, your little one will be asking (okay, maybe demanding) to fill their own water cups. This amazing 4-pack of cups attaches directly to the fridge (or any glass, metal, tile or fiberglass surface) making it easier for your child to grab a cup themselves. Just be sure a water pitcher or dispenser is nearby, and—boom!—one task off your plate.

$29

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

These beautiful blocks, made from sustainably-sourced wood and water-based, non-toxic, lead-free paint, will keep your little one focused on their creation while they're also busy working on their fine-motor skills. The puzzle design will encourage patience as your kiddo creates their own building, fitting one block in after the next.

$18

Lorena Canals basket

Lorena Canals Basket

This *gorgeous* braided cotton basket is the perfect, accessible home for their blocks (and whatever else you want to hide away!) so your kiddo can grab them (and clean them up) whenever their heart desires.

$29

BABYBJÖRN step stool

BABYBJ\u00d6RN Step Stool

Your kiddo might be ready to take on the world, but they might need an extra boost to do so—cue, a step stool! An easy-to-move lightweight stool is the must-have confidence-boosting tool you need in your home so your growing tot can reach, well... the world.

$20

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

Because parenthood is challenging, we can sometimes forget how to just be happy in the midst of it all.

Keep reading Show less
Life