Your postpartum body: What’s normal, what’s concerning + how to feel better

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You probably expect your post-pregnancy body to look and feel different after you have your baby, but it can be hard to know if what you are experiencing is normal, or concerning.

Unfortunately, far too many women feel like they need to tolerate symptoms and issues that they shouldn't have to, believing that they are the normal and expected consequences of having babies. Please know that you deserve a body that works, and that feels good for you and that with the right help, most postpartum symptoms can be alleviated.

Leaking, pain or lack of confidence are not factors you need to just accept as "as good as it gets" because you decided to have babies. You deserve so much more!


You have a right to understand when your new body is normal and okay, how you can heal and strengthen, and when you should get checked out by a healthcare provider.

Whether your most recent birth is your first or your fifth, no experience is ever the same. Remember that however your birth played out, and however strange it all feels right now, your body is a wonder which can heal and strengthen given time, rest and love.

Let's discuss what's normal and what's not—and what you can do about it.

Five perfectly normal (if not entirely awesome) symptoms and feelings your early post-pregnancy body may experience:

1. Postpartum soreness

Your body may feel sore and tender, especially in your pubic area, hips, back, neck, tummy and around your scar if you had a C-section.

Your healing remedies? Sleep and rest, hydration, great nutrition and (very) gentle stretching and massage. Nourishing self-care will facilitate healing, and your body needs time, rest, water, nutrients... and plenty of TLC.

Don't remain in an uncomfortable position, even if you're feeding your baby (we've all been guilty of this!). Use plenty of pillows, shift position or stretch, have someone bring you water, tea, or a snack, so you can both settle in comfort.

Bathe any stitches with plain warm sitz bath water every day, and if stitches are sore, check in with your doctor or midwife.

2. Worrying about going to the bathroom

When you go to the bathroom in the first few days after birth, you may feel like your insides are going to fall out. They won't! But they may feel like they're going to.

Tenderness and lack of sensitivity mean that you can't quite feel what you're doing, so using the toilet may feel frightening or out of control. Drink plenty of water to keep your urine diluted, and eat fresh fruit and vegetables to ensure adequate fiber intake and avoid constipation.

Try not to strain when pooping, and if you have stitches that feel sore, holding a pad of clean tissue over the stitches as you go may help.

3. Postpartum baby blues

You might cry a lot—happy crying, sad crying and even why-am-I-crying crying. Mama, this can be normal. You had a baby—it's a hormonal and emotional ride. Get support, ask for help, and talk about how you're feeling to your partner, friend, therapist or medical caregiver.

If you think you might be experiencing more serious symptoms such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks or flashbacks, then please seek professional help. If you ever feel like hurting yourself or the baby, call 911 or go to an emergency room right away.

4. Mild postpartum bladder leaking

Your ability to control the flow of urine, stool and gas may be less than ideal. You may leak or fart without warning, or when you cough, sneeze or laugh. In the very early days, this can be a normal result of a lack of sensitivity and tenderness.

However, lack of pelvic floor control is not something you need to put up with or accept. Gentle restorative breathing exercises to help you reconnect to your core and pelvic floor muscles will help you to regain control and strength.

5. Difficulty getting comfortable

You may find that it is difficult to get comfortable. You will need to shift your body about when you sit or stand. Be patient with yourself, and use pillows, gentle stretching, rest and support as you need it.

What you should do during this period of healing and beyond to help heal your body

1. Stretch

Release your muscles with these stretches:

  • Stretch your calves and hamstrings by squatting down a little, holding onto a heavy table leg or stair rail for support. Only go as low as you can while keeping your feet flat on the floor.
  • Clasp your hands behind your back and lift your hands towards the ceiling to relieve your shoulders.
  • Try lying on your back with your legs in the air and shuffle your bottom right into the wall, then let your legs drop gently to one side, then the other.

These stretches are super beneficial to improve circulation and encourage muscle release.

2. Pelvic floor exercises

Very gently draw your belly button inward on a long, slow exhale while lifting your pelvic floor. Try to think of it not as a squeeze only at the front, but a deep lift, right in the middle. Imagine you're drawing a tampon up inside you as you breathe out. As you exhale and lift, also focus on your rectum, as if you're stopping yourself from passing gas. Keep your shoulders and chest relaxed.

Take a few deep breaths like this whenever you remember, relaxing everything as you inhale, then contracting again as you exhale. Note: Don't push away on the inhale, just let go.

3. Nourish your body

Your body needs excellent nutrition and plentiful hydration to heal and gain strength. If you're breastfeeding your baby, it needs these even more. Drink lots of water and focus on real, natural foods like vegetables (especially green leafy ones), fruits (berries are perfect) and high-quality proteins.

The vital nutrients most often missed are fats, and your body needs a ton of good fat right now! Oily fish, nuts, avocado, olive oil, coconut oil and seeds are all great sources.

4. Rest, rest, rest.

Recruit other people to bring you food and tea. They will, you just have to ask.

5. Move

Every day, take a walk outside if you possibly can. Fresh air and movement stimulates healing and improves your mental wellbeing.

You can't strengthen muscles until you have found and connected with them, and this connection is the vital first stage. The exercises and stretches above are exactly where to start.

What symptoms are not okay post-pregnancy?

Although it takes up to a year to heal from pregnancy and birth, by the 8-week mark, your body should feel much better.

At that point, and with your provider's blessing, you can gradually start to increase your levels of activity—but nothing should hurt when you do. You should have stopped bleeding, you should have stopped hurting, and you should be able to pretty much control your bladder and bowel.

If any of these issues are still going on, it's time to see your doctor or midwife.

These symptoms are sadly widespread, and so many women just live with them. They're common—but not okay. You don't have to put up with this stuff, and the right corrective exercise and strategies can make a BIG difference.

Once you get to the 6- or 8-week mark postpartum, the following five symptoms require medical attention—though please note: You do not have to wait that long. If you are concerned, call.

1. Leaking urine when you sneeze, laugh or cough or leaking as you're rushing to the toilet

While in the very early days, these symptoms may be normal, know that you do not need to endure pelvic floor weakness or dysfunction beyond this immediate post-birth period. Whether you are a few months postpartum—or even years—these symptoms can be improved with the right foundational core and pelvic floor exercises. Build your core and pelvic floor strength with the right restorative exercises before you return to any more intensive or high impact exercise. Ask to be referred to a pelvic floor physical therapist to assist with this.

2. Pain

Pain in your back, pelvis, abdomen, hips or legs could be a sign that something is wrong. If something hurts, you should seek professional medical help, period. A women's health physical therapist may be a great resource or you, as muscle imbalances or alignment issues could be hindering your efforts to strengthen and causing discomfort.

3. Bulging in your abdomen or pelvic floor

If you feel any bulging in your belly or pelvic floor, feel internal pressure like you're bearing down, or can't keep a tampon in, you could be experiencing a pelvic organ prolapse. Consult with your provider to determine your situation and to get guidance on exercise and movement adaptations as well as treatment options.

4. Painful sex

Intimacy shouldn't hurt so don't suffer in silence. Talk to your partner and see a women's health physical therapist. Painful sex may be caused by hypertonic (too tight) pelvic floor muscles or by a whole spectrum of interconnected physical and emotional issues, including trauma.

Communicate and connect—with your partner and with a physical therapist who can help.

5. Lack of confidence or self-esteem

You deserve better, mama. You deserve zero judgment and zero pressure. You deserve support, guidance, communication and credible, evidence-based information about your body and how you can feel better. Find your village, and get the help and boost you need. If you're concerned about depression or anxiety, seek the help of a therapist.

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When we buy baby gear we expect it to be safe, and while no parent wants to hear that their gear is being recalled we appreciate when those recalls happen as a preventative measure—before a baby gets hurt.

That's the case with the recent recall of Baby Trend's Tango Mini Stroller. No injuries have been reported but the recall was issued because a problem with the hinge joints mean the stroller can collapse with a child in it, which poses a fall risk.

"As part of our rigorous process, we recently identified a potential safety issue. Since we strongly stand by our safety priority, we have decided to voluntarily recall certain models of the Tango Mini Strollers. The recalled models, under excessive pressure, both hinge joints could release, allowing the stroller to collapse and pose a fall hazard to children. Most importantly, Baby Trend has received NO reports of injuries," the company states on its website.


The strollers were sold through Amazon and Target in October and November 2019 and cost between $100 and $120. If you've got one you should stop using it and contact Baby Trend for a refund or replacement.

Four models are impacted by this recall:

  • Quartz Pink (Model Number ST31D09A)
  • Sedona Gray (Model Number ST31D10A)
  • Jet Black (Model Number ST31D11A)
  • Purest Blue (Model Number ST31D03A

"If you determine that you own one of these specific model numbers please stop using the product and contact Baby Trend's customer service at 1-800-328-7363 or via email at," Baby Trend states.


[Editor's note: While Motherly loves seeing and sharing photos of baby Archie and other adorable babies when the images are shared with their parents' consent, we do not publish pictures taken without a parent's consent. Since these pictures were taken without Markle's permission while she was walking her dogs, we're not reposting them.]

Meghan Markle is a trendsetter for sure. When she wears something the world notices, and this week she was photographed wearing her son Archie in a baby carrier. The important thing to know about the photos is that they show the Duchess out for a walk with her two dogs while wearing Archie in a blue Ergo. She's not hands-free baby wearing, but rather wearing an Ergo while also supporting Archie with her arm, as the carrier isn't completely tight.


When British tabloids published the pictures many babywearing devotees and internet commenters offered opinions on how Markle is holding her son in the photo, but as baby gear guru Jamie Grayson notes, "it is none of our business."

In a post to his Facebook page, Grayson (noted NYC baby gear expert) explained that in the last day or so he has been inundated with hundreds of messages about how Markle is wearing the carrier, and that while he's sure many who messaged with concerns had good intentions he hopes to inject some empathy into the conversation.

As Grayson points out, these are paparazzi photos, so it was a private moment not meant for world-wide consumption. "This woman has the entire world watching her every move and action, especially now that she and Harry are leaving the umbrella of the royal family, and I honestly hope they are able to find some privacy and peace. So let's give her space," he explains, adding that "while those pictures show something that is less than ideal, it's going to be okay. I promise. It's not like she's wearing the baby upside down."

He's right, Archie was safe and not in danger and who knows why the straps on Markle's carrier were loose (maybe she realized people were about to take pictures and so she switched Archie from forward-facing, or maybe the strap just slipped.)

Grayson continues: "When you are bringing up how a parent is misusing a product (either in-person or online) please consider your words. Because tone of voice is missing in text, it is important to choose your words carefully because ANYTHING can be misconstrued. Your good intentions can easily be considered as shaming someone."

Grayson's suggestions injected some much-needed empathy into this discourse and reminded many that new parents are human beings who are just trying to do their best with responsibilities (and baby gear) that isn't familiar to them.

Babywearing has a ton of benefits for parents and the baby, but it can take some getting used to. New parents can research safety recommendations so they feel confident. In Canada, where the pictures in question were snapped, the government recommends parents follow these safety guidelines when wearing infants in carriers:

  • Choose a product that fits you and your baby properly.
  • Be very careful putting a baby into—or pulling them out of—a carrier or sling. Ask for help if you need it.
  • When wearing a carrier or sling, do not zip up your coat around the baby because it increases the risk of overheating and suffocation.
  • Be particularly careful when using a sling or carrier with babies under 4 months because their airways are still developing.
  • Do not use a carrier or sling during activities that could lead to injury such as cooking, running, cycling, or drinking hot beverages.

Health Canada also recommends parents "remember to keep your baby visible and kissable at all times" and offers the following tips to ensure kissability.

"Keep the baby's face in view. Keep the baby in an upright position. Make sure the baby's face is not pressed into the fabric of the carrier or sling, your body, or clothing. Make sure the baby's chin is not pressed into their chest. Make sure the baby's legs are not bunched up against their stomach, as this can also restrict breathing. Wear the baby snug enough to support their back and hold onto the baby when bending over so they don't fall out of the carrier or sling. Check your baby often."

Meghan Markle is a new mom who was caught off guard during a moment she didn't expect her baby to be photographed. Every parent (no matter how famous) has a right to privacy for their child and the right to compassion from other parents. If we want people to learn how to safely babywear we can't shame them for trying.

Mama, if you've been shamed for wearing your baby "wrong" don't feel like you need to stop. Follow the tips above or check in with local baby-wearing groups to get advice and help. You've got this.


At one of the most important nights of their career, celebrities made sure their hairstyles stayed put at the 26th Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards. As a collective, the hairstyles were beautiful—french twists, bobs, pin curls and killer cuts filled the red carpet on the night to remember.

And surprisingly, the secret wasn't just the stylist team, mama. For many of the celebs, much of the look can be attributed to a $5 hairspray—yes, you read that correctly.

Dove style+care micro mist extra hold hairspray was one of the top stylist picks for celebs for a lightweight, flexible finishing spray, leaving tons of body and bounce. Unlike most hairsprays that can take several minutes (even a half hour) to set the look, this extra-hold one contains a fast-drying, water-free formula that helps protect your hair from frizz in minutes. As a result, celebrities were able to hold the shape of their styles with mega volume.

"Dove hairspray works well by holding curls in place with maximum hold and ultra shine, while still maintaining soft, touchable texture that is easy to brush out," says Dennis Gots for Dove Hair, who styled Phoebe Waller-Bridge for the SAG Awards. Translation: It's great for on-the-go mamas who want a shiny hold that lasts, but doesn't feel sticky.

Here are a few awesome hairstyles that were finished with the drugstore Dove style+care micro mist extra hold hairspray at the SAG awards:

Lili Reinhart's French twist

"I sprayed Dove style+care micro mist extra hold hairspray all over Lili's hair to lock in the shape and boost the shine factor, making the whole look really sleek," says stylist Renato Campora who was inspired to create the look by Reinhart's romantic gown. "Lili's look is sleek and sharp with a romantic twist."

Cynthia Erivo's finger waves

"This look is classic Cynthia! I knew I wanted to keep it simple, but it's actually quite detailed and intricate up close," says stylist Coree Moreno. "While the hair was still wet (yes—I needed to work fast!) I generously spritzed on the hairspray for all night hold without flaking. The hair continued to air dry perfectly while she finished up makeup."

Nathalie Emmanuel's curly high pony

"Nathalie wanted a retro Hollywood glam for the SAG Awards, so I used her natural texture and created a high pony with loose tendrils framing her face and neckline," says stylist, Neeko. "I finessed the look with the hairspray to lock in the style while keeping her hair looking and feeling touchable."

Phoebe Waller-Bridge's slicked back bob

"I used duckbill clips on different areas of her hair to keep the shape and curl while the hair air dried. Air drying the hair allowed for maximum shine and then I sprayed lots of hairspray all over to truly lock in the sleek shape and enhance the shine," says stylist Dennis Gots, who was inspired by a 90s vibe for Waller-Bridge's look.

Dove Style+Care Micro Mist Extra Hold Hairspray

Dove Style+Care Micro Mist Extra Hold Hairspray

Who doesn't want a hairspray that makes your hair feel as good as it looks? Dove Style+Care Extra Hold Hairspray holds body, volume and enhances shine. It gives your hair touchable hold while fighting frizz, even in damp or humid conditions.


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

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We often think of the unequal gender division of unpaid labor as a personal issue, but a new report by Oxfam proves that it is a global issue—and that a handful of men are becoming incredibly wealthy while women and girls bear the burden of unpaid work and poverty.

According to Oxfam, the unpaid care work done by women and girls has an economic value of $10.8 trillion per year and benefits the global economy three times more than the entire technology industry.

"Women are supporting the market economy with cheap and free labor and they are also supporting the state by providing care that should be provided by the public sector," the report notes.


The unpaid work of hundreds of millions of women is generating massive wealth for a couple of thousand (predominantly male) billionaires. "What is clear is that this unpaid work is fueling a sexist economic system that takes from the many and puts money in the pockets of the few," the report states.

Max Lawson is Oxfam International's Head of Inequality Policy. In an interview with Vatican News, he explained that "the foundation of unpaid work done by the poorest women generates enormous wealth for the economy," and that women do billions of hours of unpaid care work (caring for children, the sick, the elderly and cooking, cleaning) for which they see no financial reward but which creates financial rewards for billionaires.

Indeed, the report finds that globally 42% of women can't work for money because of their unpaid care responsibilities.

In the United States, women spend 37% more time doing unpaid care work than men, Oxfam America notes in a second report released in cooperation with the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

"It's an economy that is built on the backs of women and of poor women and their labour, whether it's poorly paid labour or even unpaid labour, it is a sexist economy and it's a broken economy, and you can only fix the gap between the rich and the poor if at the same time you fix the gap between women and men," Lawson explains.

According to Lawson, you can't fight economic inequality without fighting gender equality, and he says 2020 is the year to do both. Now is a great time to start, because as Motherly has previously reported, no country in the world is on track to eliminate gender inequality by 2030 (one of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by 193 United Nations member countries back in 2015) and no country will until the unpaid labor of women and girls is addressed.

"Governments around the world can, and must, build a human economy that is feminist and benefits the 99%, not only the 1%," the Oxfam report concludes.

The research suggests that paid leave, investments in childcare and the care of older adults and people with disabilities as well as utilizing technology to make working more flexible would help America close the gap.

(For more information on how you can fight for paid leave, affordable childcare and more this year check out

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