How to Get Away with Murder star Aja Naomi King recently welcomed a baby and she announced the big news in a stunning photo shoot that's gone viral.
In the photos, King, 36, can be seen smiling broadly as she poses next to a palm tree in maternity underwear—and she takes the opportunity to talk about her "gorgeous" postpartum body.
"No, this is not a pregnancy Before picture. This is the After," she wrote. "After days of labor. After experiencing what felt like my insides being ripped apart, no lie. After experiencing the unimaginable beauty of childbirth, this is what is left behind. This Gorgeous Body!"
People were here for it in the comments. "Congrats beautiful!" said Being Mary Jane star Raven Goodwin. "Wow!!! Congratulations," said Run the World star Bresha Webb.
While women rarely talk about it so openly, it's actually common to still have a belly after giving birth, Christine Greves, MD, a board-certified ob-gyn at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies, tells Health. "It takes time for the body to return to its pre-pregnancy status," she explains, adding that even the uterus doesn't shrink back to its former size immediately.
It also can take a while to lose pregnancy weight and fluid, Dr. Greves says. "The average person gains 25 to 35 pounds in pregnancy and not all of that is fluid or the baby," she says. "It takes time to lose that as well."
Because a swollen belly tends to stick around for a few weeks, many women will even need to wear maternity clothes for a while after giving birth, Dr. Greves says. "I certainly did," she adds.
As for how long a postpartum belly will stick around…it really depends, Jessica Shepherd, MD, ob-gyn, CEO and founder of Sanctum Med Wellness, tells Health. "Usually, I quote 12 weeks to six months, depending on the condition of the woman prior to the pregnancy," she says. Other factors, like pregnancy complications, having more than one baby at once, and whether this is a first-time or subsequent pregnancy can also play a role, she says.
According King, she wanted to share the photos as a "celebration" of herself and her body's accomplishment. "No make up, no editing, no filters," she wrote. "Just me…a woman in awe of her Body and her Baby!"
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