Body After Baby: What Happens & How to Deal

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I shared my thoughts on Beauty After Baby with Yahoo Beauty three months after my son as born, and then again one year later. I learned a lot in that year, so I also wanted to share which products and services helped me heal and find myself again. I felt like if I was a guinea pig, I should at least share my experiences to help other new moms, so I wanted to share that article here to help even more of you figure out how to get your body back after baby…

As featured on Yahoo Beauty on June 4, 2015:

Here are some of the best solutions to handle everything from your c-section scar to hair loss.

Nothing changes you more, both inside and out, than having a baby. In the months leading up to birth, there is so much information about what happens to your body during pregnancy. However, I found that there is a lot less about the dozens of changes that happen in the year after you give birth. With every milestone my son hit this past year, I, too, was keeping track of my own progress, celebrating the healing, or lamenting over yet another beauty/body challenge. I’m lucky enough to work in the beauty industry and had access to many incredible products, tools and professionals to help me tackle every issue that came up. However, despite me being a certified beauty junkie, I’ve never tried and tested so many cosmetics, creams, and gadgets than after I had my son. Head to toe, my body went through so many radical changes, so I took it upon myself to scour the market to find the best products that deliver quick and noticeable results. In the spirit of moms helping other moms, here are the best solutions to handle everything from your c-section scar to hair loss.

LOSING YOUR HAIR

Yes, it is true. Your hair falls out after you have a baby. From what I understand, it is the hair you were supposed to shed during pregnancy that you held onto because you were taking prenatal vitamins.  So, now that your hair is falling out by the handful, what can you do? I went back on prenatals and starting using Aveda invati, which left my hair thick and full. (They have a three-step trial pack that you can sample for only $8 before you splurge on the entire hair care system.) When hair starts to grow back in, note that you will have annoying baby hairs and fly-aways. Since they stick straight up, I tamed them by applying a heat protectant (Bumble & bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Heat/UV Protective Primer) and then curling them down, followed by a pomade or styling crème. I learned not to flatiron them too much, as that will cause breakage and set you back in growing them out.

SENSITIVE SCALP

As if hair loss wasn’t enough, my scalp became very sensitive as a result of changing hormones, reacting to all shampoos with itching and flaking. I started washing my hair once a week with Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo, and turned to Aveda Scalp Benefits, which helped eliminate my dry, itchy flaky scalp after the first wash.

BREAKOUTS & SCARRING

Hormones flaring caused lots of breakouts, and the acne left scarring because my pigment had changed. My go-to was Clinique Even Better Spot Corrector to treat dark spots (spot treat only), MD Skincare Alpha Beta Peel twice a week to keep skin clear, and Bobbi Brown EXTRA Repair Serum for dry patches. I also swear by the Clarisonic Mia 2 because it erases all bumps and dry skin, clears my pores, and leaves my skin fresh and glowing.

DARK CIRCLES

Sleep deprivation can take a huge toll on a new mom – it made my already dark circles look like bruises. After long, sleepless nights, I would use Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Eye in the morning, and would layer Bobbi Brown corrector and concealer on top to lighten the under eye area and make it appear as though I got at least 5 hours of shut eye.

ECZEMA

Post-baby, I developed a case of eczema on my hands and fingers. Turns out, my son suffered from it as well, so I had already tested almost 20 eczema creams for his benefit. I found one called Good On Ya’ on Amazon.com, which instantly cured his and my eczema. Our cracked, itchy, red skin disappeared in 3 days.

KERATOSIS PILARIS

While we are on the subject of skin, those damn hormones cause yet another skin condition that covered my arms and upper thighs in little bumps called Keratosis Pilaris. I found relief using DERMAdoctor KP Duty Dermatologist Formulated Body Scrub every other day in the shower followed by KP Duty Dermatologist Moisturizing Therapy on the affected areas.

STRETCH MARKS

I spent my entire pregnancy trying to prevent stretch marks by slathering on lotions and potions by the gallon, but I lost that battle. So far, I have seen the best results after using a combination of coconut oil and Crème de La Mer, which I alternate each day/night. Laser therapy is really effective as well, but is pricey, so I will hold out until I know I am done growing my family.

LINEA NEGRA

The Linea Negra is a stubborn mark as well, which I thought would never go away. It ended up disappearing before the stretch marks after religiously applying Dr. Jaliman Triple Action Cream every night after my shower. It’s essentially a bleaching cream, so I just applied on the line itself and it’s vanished.

C-SECTION SCAR

Talk about a battle wound, c-section scars can be itchy, numb, sensitive, and sometimes even painful long after you have a baby. A year later, mine doesn’t look much different than it did days after I gave birth. The red, raised smiley face reminds me daily that healing takes time and a lot of patience. It also takes work. Coconut oil and Scar Away for C-Section Silicone Scar Sheets can only do so much. To speed up healing, I have recently started scar therapy (think physical therapy focused on and around the scar) coupled with laser light therapy to break up the keloids (scar tissue), which is crucial. As the scar tissue can attach itself to organs and/or limit your movement, it is extremely important to make sure you nurture your scar and fully heal.

DIASTASIS RECTI

During pregnancy I had Diastasis Recti, more commonly referred to as “mummy tummy” or “baby pooch,” which is a separation of the abdominal muscles causing your belly to stick out. When the ab muscles move aside like this, the uterus, bowels, and other organs have only a thin band of connective tissue in front to hold them in place, which becomes dangerous because the tissue may tear, and organs may poke out of the opening, otherwise known as a hernia. Diastasis Recti can also cause lower back pain. It is important to address and takes serious commitment to fix. Regular PT can help at first so you know what exercises to do to protect and strengthen your core. Eventually, I ended up practicing the Tupler Technique and wore a brace daily, taking it off only to shower, in an effort to keep everything in place and protect my organs. I now practice the Dia Method for maintenance and have a few more months left before my abs completely come back together. Until that happens, Spanx are a wardrobe staple.

I realize in reading this, the thought of what having a baby does to your body might be a bit scary. Keep in mind, this is my story. Every woman has a different, personal experience. What we do share is the fact that, no matter what beauty challenges we face, we’d do it again and again (and most of us do) to be able to be mothers.

#MOMLIFE

Beauty After Baby: One Year Later

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A year after I wrote Beauty After Baby: The Honest Truth, Yahoo Beauty asked me to come back and write about how I felt one year later. Did anything change? Did I feel better? Worse? Did I regret writing the initial piece? Was I maybe experiencing postpartum depression? They wanted to check in at the one year mark to see where I was at. The truth is, I was excited to share more thoughts and experiences. I felt great. Some things got better, and some things did get worse. No, I didn’t have PPD, but I would’ve been happy to share even if I did. So, I put pen to paper, so to speak, and wrote this piece about beauty and confidence a year later. If you read my last post about Part 1, I mention it gets better. Here’s my story…

As featured on Yahoo Beauty on June 24th, 2015:

It’s been exactly one year since I opened up to the world and shared some very personal “Beauty After Baby” struggles that I was experiencing as a result of just having birthed my first child. At the time, I wrote on Yahoo Beauty: “ I have to admit that I resent what pregnancy has done to my body. I understand that the stretch marks, scars and baby weight are badges of honor, but it doesn’t really change how I feel. Personally, I no longer feel pretty. In fact, I’ve never felt less pretty than I do right now. I’m not happy with how my body looks. I’m embarrassed to be naked in front of my husband. I’m afraid I won’t lose the baby weight and that the scars and stretch marks will never fade. I’ve lost my sexy and I’m scared I won’t get it back.”

In sharing these feelings, I sparked a conversation that, of course, involved a lot of criticism and name-calling, but mostly an outpouring of gratitude for admitting what many women don’t want to admit – our bodies, our looks, and our perspective change radically after a baby, and sometimes those changes are tough to deal with. In my mind, that doesn’t make us self-centered. It makes us self-aware.

As shocked as I was about what I was experiencing, I was almost as surprised by the response I received. My post started trending on Yahoo, Good Morning America called to film a segment, followed by The Today Show. My inbox was flooded with e-mails from women all over the world—some thanking me for putting into words what they had been feeling, while others instantly felt like I was a girlfriend they could confide in. I received stories about breastfeeding woes, hair loss, weight struggles, sex after pregnancy, pancake boobs, cracked nipples, stretch marks, c-sections scars… all the things we new moms may experience and have to learn to accept and work through. The common denominator was that we were all dealing with something and not feeling like ourselves, and we were all blindsided and totally unprepared. So, for every person who called me a narcissist for sharing my story, each one of these e-mails was my redemption song. Through these newfound connections, I learned that one of the best ways to deal with post partum issues is to talk about them with other women who are going through something similar. I quickly realized that my post automatically signed me up to be that person who offered a safe place with no fear of judgment. It’s truly been an honor.

So, here I am a year later receiving many e-mails asking how I feel now. In short, I feel better, but I am just starting to get to a place where I feel like a semblance of my original self. Truth is, I won’t ever be the person I was before I had my son. My body is different in ways I cannot affect. I am learning to accept that, mostly through shifting my mindset and focusing on getting to a place where I feel comfortable with how I look now, versus trying in vain to get back to my old self. It makes the goal much more achievable. If I want to dig a bit deeper, I’ll admit it’s frustrating at times to look at other women who bounced right back, and I’m not talking about celebs—do yourself a favor and completely ignore them. I mean women without trainers and chefs and flexible schedules and a lot of help. I envy these real women in the sincerest, and most admirable way possible, but accept that we all recover on different timelines.

I recently celebrated my son’s first birthday, and while I cannot believe how quickly this year flew by, there’s another part of me that sometimes feels like time just stands still, mostly because many of the pregnancy wounds and scars that I first wrote about haven’t fully healed. I often wonder if certain scars and marks shouldn’t be gone by now, especially the c-section scar that still looks back and smiles at me in the mirror, but I try not to be too hard on myself. Some of the body after baby issues are superficial, but most are about true healing, overall health, and regaining confidence – all crucial to being the best mother I can be to my son.

To tackle the surface beauty issues (hair falling out, itchy scalp, dry skin, keratosis pilaris, etc.) I spent the year as the beauty industry’s guinea pig, scouring the market for the best products that delivered noticeable results. To address my health issues, like diastasis recti and lower back pain, I committed to PT and partnered with great doctors and healthcare experts to set realistic goals. What is most important when you’re going through all of this, however, is support. I feel so blessed to have a loving partner who will sometimes catch me sucking in my stomach and tell me not to be ashamed—that my stomach is beautiful because it is where I carried our baby. And I cannot forget my friends and my new mom friends—the ones near and far who I lean on and share battle stories with, because let’s face it, for as beautiful as motherhood is, it is hard work.

So, a year later, marks are fading, scars are slowly healing, I got a sassy new haircut (mostly so I don’t notice how much of it is still falling out), and I’m bringing my sexy back. I look at my son and my heart explodes, which makes me just fine with my new normal.

#MOMLIFE