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SI Swimsuit Models Share Their Personal Postpartum Experience

The three months after giving birth is the biggest adjustment period for mom and baby.

It’s the tale as old as time – you welcome your precious new bundle into the world and are immediately flooded with a wide range of emotions. You are elated, exhausted and everything in between. A normal, full-term pregnancy is 40 weeks. During that time there are apps to tell you what to expect and what fruit your baby is comparable to at that exact moment. It’s what happens when you leave the hospital with your pride and joy that needs to be discussed more candidly and openly. Welcome to the fourth trimester.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model and Tone it Up co-founder Katrina Scott had no idea what those three months would bring after welcoming her daughter Isabelle in October 2019. “I didn’t realize it was going to be the hardest trimester of all,” says the soon-to-be mother-of-two who shows off her baby bump in the 2022 issue. “From healing to adjusting to a newborn, losing sleep, breastfeeding (or feeding) and learning how to parent with your partner is a lot.”

Returning SI Swim model Hunter McGrady, who posed for the 2022 issue six months postpartum, agrees. “The fourth trimester is real. That’s the thing is that there’s so much that I don’t think people actually talk about,” says McGrady, whose son, Hudson, was born in June 2021. “I was wearing a diaper, leaking out of both breasts. I was just like ‘What is going on here!’ Hormones take a dive in a matter of minutes, and your mental health takes such a toll.”

Having this dialogue among women is the first step to understanding that however you are feeling in this time frame is completely acceptable. “It helps to talk to friends who have recently become parents so you know what to expect and can call them if you have questions,” Scott adds. “At the end of the day, you’ll be surprised how much is instinctual, too. Give yourself grace and time to be with your baby. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

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McGrady was fortunate enough to lean on SI model Anne de Paula for advice. “She has been so kind and amazing,” she says. “We really connected on that front. She was like, ‘Listen, here’s what I don’t think you need. Here’s what I think you need.’ We have to talk about it more to really normalize it so that when people go into the fourth trimester, they don’t feel alone.”

Dr. Daniel DiSabatino, D.O., FACOG of Cherry Hill OBGYN, which is a part of Axia Women’s Health, encourages his patients to have an open dialogue with their care team and fills his patients in on everything they can expect in this postpartum period. “As OBGYNs, we take into account the physical, emotional, mental and psychological effects that arise during this time period,” he says. “I first and foremost explain that it took many months for their bodies to accommodate the pregnancy; this period is no different.”

And just as no pregnancy is the same, the fourth trimester is very much similar in that aspect. “There are things that can be done during the postpartum period that can help the overall well-being of women,” DiSabatino notes. “Simple tasks such as eating a balanced diet, scheduling your postpartum/pediatric visits prior to leaving the hospital, listening to your body, knowing when something is off or just not right can severely decrease maternal morbidity and mortality. It is extremely important for women with comorbidities such as diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, depression and anxiety to follow up with the appropriate medical care providers postpartum.”

Once you make it through the 12 weeks that follow birth, you will begin to find your footing. “I feel now I am really blossoming and finding my ground,” McGrady acknowledges of life with her 10-month-old son. Adds Scott, “Everyone always told me that the days (and nights) are long, but the years are short. It couldn’t be truer.”