If there’s one thing that all moms can agree on, it’s this: pregnancy changes the body in crazy ways. Besides the obvious baby bump, there are so many physical changes that a woman endures when she is pregnant: hair sprouts in odd places; the skin stretches in ways that seem impossible; the girls go up a cup size or more, and skin can even change.
While a lot of the physical changes that women experience as a result of pregnancy are temporary and go away within a few months after giving birth, there are some changes that can stick around for good.
While it’s easy to overlook these permanent changes at first, eventually, as time goes on and the baby is approaching her first birthday, many moms may be shocked to find that some of the changes to their body that they thought would go away are, well, still there. In an effort to prevent new moms from freaking out, here’s a look at some of the ways your body may never recover from pregnancy… And remember, these lasting changes are well-worth it in the end; for moms who experience them, wear them proudly – many women would give anything to experience lasting changes to experience motherhood.
15 The Kim-K Hips
A lot of women say that it feels as if their hips are wider after they have had a baby. In actuality, their hips aren’t wider, the structure of their pelvic bone has changed.
During pregnancy and delivery, a lot of stress is placed on the pelvic bones. They stretch out to accommodate the growing baby, and to make it easier for the little one to pass through the birth canal during delivery. It's actually the ligaments that support the bones that stretch out. They weight of the baby, coupled with gravity, also play a part in changing the structure of the pelvic bones.
As a result of all of this strain and stress, the hips can feel and look wider, and those can be lasting changes. But we say, rock your new curves! You don't see Kim-K letting her wide hips slow her down.
14 A Bigger Shoe Size
It’s not uncommon for a woman’s feet to swell and get bigger during pregnancy. All of that fluid she is retaining, and the effects of gravity, are responsible for both the swelling and the enlarged foot size. In fact, many women have to buy new shoes when they are pregnant because their feet are noticeably bigger.
For many women, their feet go back to their pre-pregnancy shoe size; however, there are a lot of moms whose feet actually remain larger long after pregnancy is over. I can attest to this lasting side effect. I have never had a wide foot in my life; in fact, my feet were narrow – until I had babies. Now, I have to buy wide shoes, and can’t even dream of squeezing my feet into my pre-pregnancy shoes! Wave buh-bye to your beautiful shoe collection!
13 The Rib Cage Might Not Shrink
Another permanent body change that women can experience as a result of pregnancy is an expanded rib cage. I know it sounds crazy, but it really can happen. How do I know? – Because it happened to me! My second son was the culprit for this lasting change. He sat so high up in my ribs for most of my pregnancy that I guess my ribs just spread out and never returned to their normal shape. My right rib was in awful pain the entire pregnancy because I gather, he was hanging out up there. I still try, in vain, to zip up a dress that I wore before having him, but can’t get the zipper past my ribs! And no, it’s not because of weight gain; it’s really because my ribs expanded!
12 The Pregnancy Brain
Having a baby can also change the structure of a woman’s brain. Recent research has found that the increased levels of estrogen and progesterone, the hormones that help a woman’s body prepare for building and supporting a baby, actually alter the size and the structure of certain regions of the brain, particularly those areas that are involved in understanding and relating to others. These changes can help a mom focus more on nurturing and protecting her children, but they can also reduce her desire for intimacy. So, not only do women tend to not want to have sex after giving birth because they have so many other things on their mind, but their minds literally change! So far, research has found that those changes can last for up to two years, but it is suspected they can last longer.
11 A Wider Nose
There are lots of old wives’ tales surrounding pregnancy, from signs that predict the sex of the baby, to stories that indicate when the baby will be born. Some old wives tales are weird, some are true, and some are both weird and true. A wider nose? – That one is weird and true.
Many women may laugh when they hear there’s a chance that their nose could become wider when they are pregnant; however, when they realize that it actually happens to them, they may be completely shocked!
Those dang pregnancy hormones can actually cause your nose to swell and change shape, making it appear wider. This change can actually stick around for several months, to several years, and in some cases, it can be permanent!
10 Stretched Out Lady Parts
It really comes as no surprise that the lady bits of women who deliver vaginally stretch out a bit. For many women, a stretched out V will bounce back in a few weeks or months; however, for others, it may never go back to the way that it was prior to childbirth.
There are many variables that can impact the amount of stretching a woman will experience, and how long it will last. Things like the size of the baby, how many deliveries a woman has had, and whether there was tearing or an episiotomy, are all factors that can impact the shape of the V after pregnancy.
Pelvic floor exercises can help to improve the “tightness,” but it may never be the same again (though usually only a doctor will be able to tell).
9 Dreaded Toilet Problems
Urinary incontinence is an issue that a lot of women experience during pregnancy. For many, the problem goes away after they deliver. And by a year after birth, it’s like there was never an issue at all. However, there are several women who have ongoing issues with incontinence. Women whose babies were very large and who delivered vaginally are particularly prone to this issue. When they sneeze, cough, laugh too hard or put pressure on the bladder in any other way, they might end up feeling a little bit wet. Good old Kegel exercises can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and help improve the issue; however, if incontinence is an on-going problem, it’s best to speak to a doctor to find out how to get some relief.
8 A Lasting Baby Bump
A bigger belly is the most obvious physical change that a woman experiences during pregnancy. It doesn’t disappear right after birth, either. It can take several months for that bump to go away, as it takes time for the uterus to shrink back down to its original size. Many women, however, look like they are a few months pregnant even years after giving birth. Why do some ladies look perma-pregnant? There are two reasons why:
- The uterus never actually shrinks back down to its original size and makes the belly protrude.
- The muscles of the abdomen (the rectus abdominis) stabilize the core and hold the internal organs in place. During pregnancy, these muscles can separate, causing a condition known as diastasis recti, which can result in a pooch, or a permanent “baby” bump.
7 The Spider Veins May Never Go Away
There are a lot of undesirable side effects of pregnancy, including spider veins. Those unsightly little veins that literally look like spider webs often appear on the legs. They are the result of raging hormones, as well as a serious increase in blood volume, which puts tremendous stress on your blood vessels. As a result of that stress, even the tiniest veins can swell, which can cause the appearance of spider veins.
While spider veins can be temporary, for many women, they are a lasting side effect of pregnancy. Genetics can predispose you to them, so if your mom or grandmom have them and you develop them while you’re pregnant, there’s a pretty good chance that they will stay after the baby is born. Just think of them like a family heirloom being passed down!
6 Damage On The Pearly Whites
Believe it or not, pregnancy can actually affect a woman’s oral health, and those effects can be long lasting.
Everyone knows that during pregnancy, a woman’s hormones surge like crazy. Those hormones can affect more than her mood; they can also affect her mouth. Hormonal changes can actually lead to a condition that is known as pregnancy gingivitis, a condition that leads to tenderness, swelling and bleeding of the gums. Hormones can also increase the risk of developing dental caries, more commonly known as tooth decay.
If these oral health conditions are left untreated, they can actually lead to tooth loss. For that reason, it’s important to make sure that your dental health is in tip-top condition during pregnancy (as well as before and after) to prevent lasting oral problems.
5 Anxiety May Never Go Away
Expectant moms have a lot to contend with. The simple fact that they are completely responsible for someone else’s life is stressful enough, but add to that all of the other stresses that come along with parenting and a mom is bound to develop some sort of anxiety.
Anxiety, the body’s natural response to stress, is actually a good thing; however, it can become problematic and even debilitating if a person experiences high amounts of stress for prolonged periods of time. Given the fact that new moms have so much to deal with, and add to that all of the raging hormones, it’s no wonder that postpartum anxiety is a problem so many women endure. It often goes away, but for many women, anxiety is a lasting side effect of pregnancy.
4 Hair Can Change Forever
One of the most desirable side effects of pregnancy is thicker, fuller, lusher hair. The reason? – Hormones! But instead of being a nuisance, this is a welcomed side effect of pregnancy hormones.
Hair goes through two phases: growth and resting. Obviously, during the former phase, it is growing, and during the latter phase, it falls out. During pregnancy, however, high levels of estrogen prolong the growth phase and delay the resting phase. This translates to thicker, fuller hair. Hormones can also change the texture of the hair (it can be more coarse, for example) and even change its color! Weird, right? One of my girlfriends had straight blonde hair prior to having kids; when she was pregnant, it got wavy and darker. And now years later, it still is!
3 The Mask Of Pregnancy
The skin is prone to some pretty wild changes during pregnancy. For many women, that flood of hormones can make their skin look like they are back in high school.
Hormone swings can make the skin more oily, which can lead to the development of blemishes. In fact, pregnancy acne is pretty common.
That’s not the only way that being pregnant can change the skin, though; hormones can also darken the skin. “The mask of pregnancy” (medically referred to as melasma) can cause the development of brown spots on the face, primarily on the cheeks, the nose and the forehead.
Most women who experience skin issues during pregnancy will find that they fade away in the weeks or months after delivery; however, for some, blemishes and darker skin may be lasting.
2 The Labor Scar
For those moms who give birth via a C-section, the most obvious lasting change that they will experience is a scar. I proudly gave birth to both of my boys via C-section (the first was an emergency and the second was planned) and years later, the scar is still there. At first, I really noticed it because, well, it was never there before; however, nobody else did because it is so low that it sits underneath even a low-cut bikini bottom (not that I wear one!). As time has gone on, the scar has faded from bright red to white, and now it just looks like a line by my pubic bone. Honestly, I don’t even notice it anymore, but it’s definitely there, and it will be forever. And you know what? – It’s really no big deal!
1 The Girls Get Smaller
During pregnancy, the breasts usually grow a cup or two larger. However, after pregnancy, they can actually deflate.
When a woman is pregnant, her girls get bigger as a result of excess weight. They are also preparing themselves for breastfeeding. Women who don’t breastfeed may notice that their girls are smaller after pregnancy, and that smaller size is usually permanent. That’s because they have lost fat under their skin, which causes sagging, and their breasts are no longer producing milk. As a result, the ladies are certainly smaller than they were during pregnancy, but they may even be smaller than they were prior to being pregnant. Doing exercises that strengthen the muscles in the chest can help to perk up those sagging girls, and could even make them look bigger!