Childbearing is a beautiful and rewarding journey but can ultimately take a toll on a woman. Pregnancy, the birth of the child and breastfeeding can all alter the appearance of a woman’s body. From their breasts starting to sag and their abdominal muscles weakening, these are some common issues that many women are faced with after having and raising a child. Many women believe they have to settle with the physical alterations that pregnancy can cause, but many are learning that they don’t have to.
Among these women is Brittany, a 36-year-old mother of two and a resident of Charleston who underwent a mommy makeover at Crantford | Costa Plastic Surgery to regain her confidence and physical appearance. The treatment utilizes a combination of surgical procedures devised to suit a woman’s unique circumstances after their pregnancy and to restore a woman’s body into a more youthful image.
Brittany’s mommy makeover consisted of breast augmentation and tummy tuck. Her reasons are personal because she was faced with many physical struggles after pregnancy, including the separation of her abdominal muscles. She also underwent three C-sections in less than two years because she was diagnosed with placenta accreta, a terrifying and rare condition that few women experience after their pregnancy. The series of surgical procedures caused her body a significant amount of trauma, leaving her to wonder if she would ever regain the functionality of her body.
Since undergoing her treatments, she has been able to live her life again without the inflictions her former pregnancies had on her body. Her mommy makeover has transformed her life for the better.
This is Brittany’s story.
Life as a Gymnast
Brittany is an active woman. Gymnastics defined her early life, and that level of activity has stayed her entire life.
“I’ve been active my entire life. In fact, my parents said they chose to have one child because they needed to sleep at some point in their lives,” she says. “I was a level-9 state champion in gymnastics. I trained 4 ½ hours a day. I pretty much went to school and trained my entire life.”
Brittany’s life as a gymnast would come to an end when she entered college, where she became more interested in the party scene, but her joy for being active would remain. Skiing on weekends and biking to the beach were common activities. Her active lifestyle melded with her now-husband of seven years.
“Almost everything we did had some level of activity to it,” Brittany says.
After a short five months of being together, Brittany married her husband in 2014. And soon later, she would have her firstborn, a daughter who is now 6, and another, a son who is now 4. Children changed her lifestyle. But she remains just as active.
“I do a lot of chasing my children,” she laughs. “I joke and tell people I no longer have a personal hobby. My hobbies are whatever my children want to do. Whether it’s soccer, T-ball or gymnastics – my new hobby is scheduling and planning family events.”
Brittany loves being a mother. But when she was going through her pregnancies, she was faced with outcomes that would ultimately influence her decision to undergo surgical procedures. Her former past as a gymnast and active lifestyle may have also potentially led to her pregnancies being different than most.
“I believe being pregnant was different because I took gymnastics. It was different for a lot of reasons, but I think it is what led to me having my mommy makeover.”
Brittany’s pregnancies were very different from each other.
“Having my daughter was an easier pregnancy,” she says. “I gained all the weight in my hips and my legs with her. They say girls steal your beauty, and she did,” Brittany says while laughing. “I got a lot of acne and had a lot of breakouts. I craved a lot of sweets.”
With her son, the weight distribution differed, and she felt sick frequently.
“For him, I was completely sick and gained all of the weight in my abdominal area,” she says. “He was all belly.”
However, the pregnancies were similar because Brittany had to undergo a C-section for both of her children.
“My daughter was a week late, and my water broke,” she says. “I did an emergency C-section, which lasted 36 hours.”
Brittany’s troubles after birthing her son came about because of her past as a gymnast, she believes.
“When you are a gymnast, your muscles are a lot tighter, and maybe that’s why I had trouble dilating for a natural birth,” she says, explaining why she had to have a C-section for her son. “My abdominal muscles were really, really tight, and I always had a six-pack my entire life, even after I had my daughter.”
While Brittany didn’t experience a significant bodily trauma after giving birth to her daughter, aside from her C-section, her second pregnancy would have a considerable impact.
“With my son, it was completely different,” she says. “I think that pregnancy just broke the abdominal muscles. They didn’t flex very well. I ended up with diastasis recti.”
Diastasis recti is a common condition that occurs for approximately 60 percent of women during pregnancy. The condition occurs because the uterus stretches the muscles to accommodate a baby, which can potentially cause the large abdominal muscles to separate.
“When I would do an ab exercise, they would protrude in such a way that you can tell that they were broken,” Brittany says.
The Abdominal Trauma Continues
Brittany’s body went through a significant amount of trauma after her two pregnancies, but the trauma would continue shortly after the birth of her son.
“After my son, I had an emergency hysterectomy because I had something called placenta accreta that went undiagnosed,” she says.
Placenta accreta is a very rare condition that affects only approximately 0.2 percent of women. This rare condition occurs when the placenta grows deep into the uterine wall, which can potentially lead to severe blood loss after the birth of a child.
“Four weeks after having my son, I woke up in the middle of the night and shook my husband and said something is wrong,” Brittany says. “So we turned on the lights, and the bed was just full of blood. An ambulance came and took me to the ER. The bleeding wasn’t stopping, so they had to do a partial hysterectomy.”
Brittany had to undergo another C-section.
“I basically had three C-sections in less than two years,” Brittany reflects. “I think my body just went through a lot in a very short amount of time. And especially if you have children back to back, most people’s bodies do.”
Brittany was faced with a harsh reality:
“After these three C-sections, my body wouldn’t go back to the way it was before,” she says.
Getting Past the Stigma
Undergoing surgical procedures to alter the appearance of your body after pregnancy can be a tough decision. It’s common for people to assume that you should accept the appearance of your body afterward, a stigma that Brittany had to accept and get past.
“We definitely live in a culture where we think we need to accept the effects after birth or maybe even not dieting or exercising and accepting this is how it is,” Brittany says. “From the vanity perspective, that did go through my head, but I just don’t care what others think,” she laughs.
Brittany thinks that people judgmental about surgical procedures that improve your appearance after pregnancy don’t have the right mindset.
“I think when people say negative things, it comes from a place of jealousy and insecurity,” she laughs.
Still, Brittany’s decision to have the surgical procedures came from a position of health and the desire to function at her best.
“A lot of people think that a tummy tuck is just having your fat removed, but this is not the case,” Brittany says. “I was actually talking to the nurse for the surgery, and she said that people don’t understand that this is a much-needed surgery because if your abs are separated, it can cause a lot of issues down the road.”
Brittany considered these potential issues heavily when deciding whether or not to have her tummy tuck.
“It can cause hernias, and your pelvis can have side effects from separating from your abdominal muscles,” she says. “It can lead to issues down the road, so it is best to have it when you are young, so it doesn’t lead to issues later. I’m all about preventative health.”
Coming to the Final Decision
Brittany’s decision to undergo a breast augmentation was an easy one. She had the surgery performed previously in her younger years. But her tummy tuck came with hesitancy. However, doing research about her condition and how it made her feel made her more confident.
“I started doing research about the separation of the abdominal muscles because, you know, it would look weird and would puff out,” she says. “You could see the separation through my skin. And I was just becoming self-conscious about it because it was odd. You could see there was something wrong internally from the outside.”
Brittany had her breast augmentation and tummy tuck performed by Dr. Crantford. She became familiar with him because of one of her friends.
“One of my best friends worked at Dr. Crantford’s office,” she says. “I reached out to her, and I always trusted her. So, I went in for an initial breast augmentation consultation, and he had amazing bedside manners. I was impressed with his qualifications and fellowship. I looked through his Instagram photos, and he made me feel like I could trust and made me feel comfortable.”
During the recovery period for Brittany’s breast augmentation, she felt prompted to ask Dr. Crantford about her abdomen.
“As I was going through my post-ops, I started to ask Dr. Crantford to look at my abs because they just look weird,” she says. “And he looked and said, yeah, you’ve got the separation of the abdominal wall and umbilical hernia. And I said, I thought so, and I just needed someone to confirm.”
Dr. Crantford was the clear choice for her additional procedure to get her body back into shape after her pregnancies.
“After my first surgery, he obviously did such a great job that I felt comfortable about going back to him a second time,” Brittany says.
Brittany’s confirmation and discussion with Dr. Crantford helped reaffirm her belief that she needed to correct her abdominal muscles to regain her confidence and ability to function. She even felt confident letting her husband know and understand why she needed the procedure, which was difficult because he believed in accepting the body as it is after pregnancy.
“After that confirmation, I had to have a conversation with my husband who is part of that ‘let yourself be natural’ club,” Brittany says. He believes in not changing who you are and embracing it, but I had to let him know where I was coming from.”
Brittany’s husband eventually understood where she was coming from:
“When your body feels broken to you, and your body has been a tool your entire life, I think understanding that perspective helped him,” she says.
If you are a woman seeking to improve your body’s appearance and functionality after pregnancy and are a resident of the Charleston, SC, region or surrounding communities, please contact Crantford | Costa Plastic Surgery. You can schedule a mommy makeover consultation with us by calling (843) 722-5904 or using the online form.