Motherhood changes you, in more ways than one. Did you know that some of these changes could be permanent? When we consider starting a family or are pregnant, we think about the changes our bodies go through during that time period. When we think about our lives after, we think about what dynamics may change in our households, careers, or even if we need to purchase a new vehicle. But, what about our bodies? I’ve created a list of ways your body may permanently change after having a baby, because that conversation tends to be overshadowed by the blessings we create.
Now, before I start my list I want to make sure that I highlight this: bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Pregnancy may be easy or may be hard, and the way it changes you after delivery may be easy or hard on your body. Each person is different, and it is always important to remember that you are beautiful, and that what your body did was amazing. With that being said, this list is more about the “annoyances” that come with pregnancy and postpartum, and I want to make sure it isn’t taken for something it’s not. And here’s the list of Ways Your Body May Permanently Change After Having a Baby:
Did you used to have curly hair? Well, that may change after you have a baby. Yes, I’m speaking from experience! During pregnancy, your hair may grow and may not fall out as much. After pregnancy, it is pretty common to notice some hair loss. However, your hair texture may not be quite the same. The fluctuation in hormone levels from pre-pregnancy, pregnancy and after birth may actually affect the structure of your hair. So, if you had curly hair, your hair may be straight after a baby. If you had thick, luscious hair, your hair could end up being dull, limp or even fine!
Sorry if this photo makes your skin crawl, but your skin may do some gross things post-baby. I’ve joked that having babies has sucked the life out of me, but it also happened to my skin. Some of you may get dry skin, some may have oily skin, and some may be stuck with stretch marks. You may see skin discoloration, or even varicose veins. There’s no telling what your post-pregnancy skin may be like!
Breasts & Nipples
Between pregnancy and breastfeeding, your breasts and nipples may permanently change. During pregnancy, the areola and nipples tend to darken, thanks to the increased hormones. This tends to stick around postpartum, and can even be permanent. You may also notice more tenderness, and nipple size enlarged, especially if you breastfeed.
During pregnancy, you have a lot of pressure on your bladder. If you aren’t strengthening the muscles that keep you from urinating yourself, they may become too weak, even after birth. Combine this with the act of childbirth, this results in urinary incontinence. In other words, if you cough, sneeze or jump, you may leak. Without continuously exercising the muscles, you can permanently lose strength. So keep up those kegel’s!
When you are pregnant, your body produces relaxin, a hormone that tells your cervix to dilate and prepares the uterus for labor. It also relaxes the pelvic ligaments. But, it doesn’t just affect that region. It actually can affect ligaments in your entire body- that includes your feet! If you once had high arches and narrow feet, you may notice that you lose your arch, and your feet become flatter.
Your hips don’t lie post-baby! Some women make miraculous recoveries, and their hips go back to their pre-pregnancy shape. For others, those curves may stay. Those pesky hormones (relaxin) are to blame for hips expanding during pregnancy and childbirth [to make way for the baby]. If you breastfeed, your body continues to produce amounts of the same hormone, keeping your hips open and relaxed. If you aren’t doing anything to bring your hips together, your body will eventually hold that shape. Ps. This is why postpartum girdles have gained popularity, and they do make a difference!
I know, this isn’t much of a surprise. Your stomach and belly changes inside and out. Your body shifts organs, in order to accommodate the baby. It causes constipation, acid reflux, and all sorts of annoying ailments to make room for the baby.
Did you know your eyes can be affected by pregnancy? No, I’m not saying your eye color is going to change. While that would be pretty interesting! I’m referring to your vision. Vision can change well into your adult years. Pregnancy hormones change a lot of things, and they can even make your vision worse. Now, it may not be significant enough to warrant a change in contact or glasses prescriptions, but the changes could stick around. Vision changes are common during pregnancy, but some vision changes signify concerns (seeing floaters or dark spots that are large and don’t go away).
We talk about the physical transformations a woman’s body makes, but what about the mental transformations? A study revealed that during pregnancy, a woman’s brain goes through significant rewiring that can last up to two years after giving birth. For example, pregnancy brain turns into mom brain. Ok, I can’t give an exact science behind the mom brain, besides the fact that now our attention is divided by all the tasks we have to complete, plus keeping a human alive. But, the brain can be deprived of important chemicals- which contributes to depression, anxiety and other disorders. The thought that postpartum depression typically lasts a year isn’t always the case, and can affect women for years or longer.
Admittedly, I’ve experienced postpartum depression and anxiety, and I wrote about my experiences three years ago. It’s not something one should deal with alone, and calls for support, regardless of ‘severity’. If you are struggling, please reach out to your OB and/or a therapist. Remember, YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB, MAMA!
While there is no guarantee you can prevent these symptoms from being permanent, here are some items that can help treat problems and/or may lessen the severity of them:
Pregnancy, motherhood and the human body is amazing- how did your body change after pregnancy?
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