Chances are, you’ve heard a lot about the changes your body undergoes during pregnancy — things like morning sickness, breast sensitivity, and weight gain, to name a few. But what about the lasting changes to your body after you give birth?

To get a sense of what postpartum bodies are really like, we asked seven moms what they wish they’d known beforehand about how pregnancy would change their bodies. Here’s what they had to say.

I wish I had known…

“That I would pee when I sneezed, jumped rope or jumped on a trampoline! Not that I really wish someone would’ve told me that, because what would it have mattered? But that surprised and horrified me a bit (still does). Also I had heard your feet sometimes got bigger but I didn’t believe it one it. Happened to me, though, and 10 years in, I still can’t get used to it.” — Beth (first baby in 2008)

My biggest surprise was…

“[T]he difference between my postpartum bodies. After my first, my weight dropped off immediately and basically stayed off until I stopped breastfeeding. I expected the same after my second pregnancy and boy was I wrong! A year and a half later, I’m still about 20 pounds heavier than I was when I got pregnant. Just like the adage, ‘Every pregnancy is different,’ we should also tell people, ‘Every postpartum body is different — including your own!’” — Lisa (first baby in 2015, second baby in 2017)

“Because I had complications from severe preeclampsia, there were a lot of surprises. One was that the natural birth I thought I would have turned into an emergency C-section. I was surprised to find that almost two years later that scar itches so so bad for a really long time. (Other moms have confirmed it’s not just me.) The weird side effect I had to deal with because of the medication they give you for preeclampsia was the insane amount of swelling that occurred all over my body. I cried for days thinking my body was ruined forever. My legs were so heavy I couldn’t lift them on my own. But amazingly I peed it all out (about 60 lbs worth) in about six days and was almost back to pre-baby weight really quick!” — Sarah (first baby in 2017)

I didn’t expect…

“How hard it [was] to lose weight while breastfeeding. Everyone say ‘oh the weight just falls off if you’re nursing’ and that’s not at all true, at least not for me. In fact, I gained weight while nursing my first [child], and I’ve had to work pretty hard to not gain weight while nursing my second. Apparently that’s pretty common too, but doesn’t play in to the ‘bounce back’ myths about being postpartum.” — Jen (first baby in 2015, second baby in 2018)

“The one thing that still affects me to this day and that I HATE (and that I know is common) is that clearly I have a weak pelvic floor or didn’t do enough kegels or am generally cursed, but I have to be careful about jumping or sneezing because there’s always a chance I may pee myself a little. I have to wear a panty liner everyday now just in case.” — Cindy (first baby in 2015)

I wish someone had told me…

“[T]hat certain parts of your body stay bigger after the baby, even following postpartum weight loss. I gained around 60 pounds with my baby, nearly double the recommended amount for a single pregnancy, but I’ve managed to lose a good chunk of the weight through exercise and healthy eating habits in the months after my son’s birth. But even with the weight loss, I still cannot wear my wedding or engagement ring out for very long because my knuckles and hands are larger than they were before the baby, and if my fingers swell even a little bit, the rings are tough to remove… There’s also the fact that your uterus goes from the size of a pear to a watermelon by the end of your pregnancy. It takes time for that to go down. I wish someone had told me that some things will always be bigger after the baby, even once you’ve shaved off your pregnancy pounds. Your body had to stretch out for nine months, so it shouldn’t be that surprising, but it was eye-opening for me as someone with bony fingers who suddenly couldn’t wear her rings anymore.” — Laura (first baby in 2018)

“Many people warned me about tearing and wearing the ‘mom’ diapers, but no one told me that I would be wearing maternity pants for as long as I did after… though, hey, they are comfy! But seriously, the most unexpected thing for me was the significant hair loss (mostly from the front temporal area) and the swelling of my ankles. I did not swell at all during my pregnancy, it was actually very healthy surprisingly. But two days after giving birth, both my ankles swelled up and it was uncomfortable to walk and move.” — Khara (first baby in 2016)

Elena Sheppard is a writer and editor in Brooklyn, NY. Currently getting her MFA in non-fiction writing at Columbia University, her work has appeared in the New York Times, Vogue, and Elle, among others. Follow her work on Instagram or Twitter @eleshepp.