Pregnancy is a miraculous thing. When we think about how a woman carries another human being from conception to a fully grown human being, it's incredible. Her body goes through so much in the nine months leading up to childbirth. There are physical changes, hormonal changes which affect her psychologically, as well as other changes that she goes through socially during pregnancy. It's easily one of the biggest things that ever happens in her life and it affects everyone around her, too. She is now preparing for being in charge of another human being until adulthood. While she navigates the changes happening in her body and mind in the present, it becomes an awe-some responsibility.
But what about the changes that happen after baby is born? Not many doctors or other people talk about these changes and how they will affect her physically, emotionally, and spiritually. These are the changes that leave her body permanently altered and often times her personality too. They mark her for better or worse - hopefully better. Her body is physically changed on the outside, and her personality often changes on the inside, too. She will not be the same woman she was prior to becoming a mother due to all of these changes. She grows literally and metaphorically in this experience. This is where Moms need support from those around them and information on what to expect. Here are the 15 permanent changes from pregnancy:
15 Changes In The Girls' Size And Shape
We are all familiar with the fact that breast size goes up during pregnancy. For those women who are smaller chested and always wanted a bigger cup size, this often is met with excitement and exuberance. They may be sore, but dang it, they look great! The shape of breasts changes too as hormonal changes are occurring and preparing them to be the main nourishment source for babies. These changes continue after baby is born when Moms experience their breasts getting even bigger as the milk supply starts being produced. It’s a strange feeling feeding baby this way at first, but many new Moms adjust in no time. Then of course, when Moms decide to wean baby off breastfeeding there is the decrease in size and shape. The thing is, often breast size and shape do not go back to pre-pregnancy. As the saying goes, “what goes up, must come down.”
14 Changes In Foot And Hand Size
Another change new Moms can expect and often do see are changes in hand and foot size. Don’t forget, due to swelling of most parts of the body during pregnancy, this affects many of the organs. Though most return to their pre-pregnancy state after a few months to a year, many women report permanent changes to foot and hand size. The feet are the ones that carry the whole body weight and the pressure of the pelvis. It’s no wonder they are usually wider and go up a size. Hand size goes up too due to the body readjusting after the weight that was put on. Many women need to have their rings re-sized after childbirth and notice a difference in size and length of their fingers. This is all normal, and due to the postpartum changes in the body. As long as she is consulting her doctor to make sure there is no serious swelling after baby arrives, this is perfectly safe.
13 Changes In Waist Size
New Moms also notice changes in waist sizes due to the very obvious problem of that area of the body having expanded exponentially in nine months to accommodate baby. Of course, it will affect the new Mom’s size, and short of extremely intense exercise every day in the abdominal area at her core, she will inevitably be left with some remnants of her pregnancy expansion in the waist area. Clothes will fit a little more snugly, or will need to be altered. This is fine. Women need to remember that they are beautiful no matter what, and as long as they are in a healthy weight range, they have nothing to worry about. If they have any doubt or concern and feel they can’t lose unwanted weight that is a health hazard, they need to see their general practitioner or health care professional. The important thing is to be healthy and active after baby so they can be at their best.
12 Changes To Menstrual Cycle
A lot of new Moms find that their menstrual cycle has changed for the better. For example, women who had irregular cycles are now often one hundred percent regular every month. Some women who experienced endometriosis and fibroids see their symptoms lessen after baby is born, and even temporarily disappear if not completely. Some women even notice decreases or disappearance in PMS symptoms and physical cramping postpartum. It is nature’s way of saying thanks for carrying life for the planet. Regardless, this is something a lot of women look forward to and enjoy after baby is born. It is especially nice as they are dealing with so many other negative or stressful side effects. At least this is something positive for them to have in their life. New Moms are juggling a lot and it is not an easy time to take care of someone else. The fact that many women do it and do it well, shows the strength of women across time and ages.
11 Changes To Bone Structure
This can be something a little more serious. If a woman did not (or could not), have much calcium during her pregnancy, she may have developed weaker bones postpartum. The damage to some of them may not be able to be reversed, but the good news is that she could still re-strengthen her bones again by eating a balanced diet with calcium at the front of the line, and speaking to her family doctor about possibly supplementing with calcium pills to get her bones stronger again. Eating a healthy diet and exercising can strengthen the body once again. Even if she does not go back to pre-pregnancy strength, she can be the strongest she can postpartum for her and baby. That is essential so that the next phase of her life she is as her best for herself and for her baby. A Mom’s gotta do what a Mom’s gotta do!
10 Changes To Thyroid
Some Moms will develop a thyroid problem after childbirth due to hormonal changes in the body, especially if they are genetically predisposed to them. Hypothyroidism would mean she would have issues losing weight and would be more prone to depression, lethargy and tiredness. How is this different from motherhood one may ask? Well, it’s hard to tell. Which is why women would have to keep close tabs on her own health changes and seek out medical advice if she is concerned. Many women develop a thyroid condition after childbirth due to the hormonal fluctuations. It's important she learns to read her body’s health signals really well. It's also common to develop an over and under active thyroid in the months following childbirth. The problem usually goes away, but for a select few it says. She needs to make sure she gets treatment if she is in that select few.
9 More Brain Power
Contrary to what many women themselves call “Mommy Brain” where they are in a fog and can’t think straight after baby is born due to sleep deprivation etc, new Moms’ brainpower is actually increased after having kids. Before the brain had to multi-task to get adult tasks done in a twenty-four hour period, but now the female brain has to multi-task adult and childcare responsibilities. A new Mom has to be able to do what she did before AND take care of baby in the same twenty-four period she had previously. She learns to be that much more adept and quick at fixing things and moving forward with plans, keeping things running smoothly and efficiently. At first she may not notice it due to her overall exhaustion, but really it's amazing what a woman’s brain can hold and the information stored in there for future reference.
8 Never Sleeping In Again
There is a funny baby meme that is often seen on Facebook (see above) warning parents that they will never sleep again. It’s not entirely untrue. A Mom will never sleep like her pre-Mom self. She will always be lying there with one ear open listening if baby needs her or not. She will also have changes to her sleep patterns. Perhaps she was a night owl, but now has an early bird child so must rise at dawn whether she likes it or not. And, forget about sleeping in for any new Moms. All newborns get up many times in the night during their first months of life, and then even when baby sleeps the whole night, they are up early in the morning. Even those Moms that get a sitter to babysit, still have to deal with early morning wake ups the next day.
7 Living In Fear
The world becomes a much scarier place after a woman becomes a Mom. She suddenly realizes there are dangers she didn’t think of before from strangers who could grab or hurt her child, to her child getting injured at playgrounds or playgroups, to sickness both minor and major. It's enough to give most Moms many scares and anxieties day in, day out. How will they survive this and not let on to their babies how frightened they are? This is also not an easy feat and one a lot of Moms, both new and veteran, juggle on a daily basis. The thing is a child is always a child in his/her mother’s eyes, even when they are grown up. Parents don't relinquish that title even when their kids are older, though obviously there is less or nothing they can do except be there for an adult child.
6 No Time For Drama Queens
A Mom’s quality and quantity of friends changes too after baby is born. If she was the type of woman who had a lot of “drama queen” friends prior to baby, she will find that she moves away from these kinds of ladies due to the fact she simply does not have time for drama, angst and other exaggerated emotional issues of ladies who’d rather complain than change their lives. A new Mom is tired and busy dealing with the logistics of raising a baby, who is helpless and needs her completely at the beginning. Her time and energy need to go there. And even as baby ages, it will always be her child that needs guidance to adulthood. That is her job. She also tends to stay away from toxic people who only suck the energy out of the room. She needs positive energy and uplifting thoughts and laughter. That will help her parent better.
5 Belly Remains Flabby Or Bulgy
Most women assume that when they lose the pregnancy belly after baby is born things go completely back to normal - physically at least. That is not the case. Unless she is vigorously exercising, doing crunches, weights and other activities, a little bit of belly bulge or flab will always remain. This is the hormonal change and its after-effects. It's not an easy thing to have to live with, but most women make their peace with it. After all, they have a beautiful baby boy or girl to show for it and it means that their body has done something incredible - house, grow and give life to another human being. This is not something to be taken lightly. It's something pretty incredible and life-altering. A woman who is able to see the whole picture, will eventually put aside the feelings about physical imperfections and see them as minor in the big scheme of things. Her body made a baby!
4 Need For Intimacy Changes
Often times, though no surprise, a woman’s sex drive changes after she has a baby. She may not be interested at first due to exhaustion and other hormonal changes. Afterwards, when the hormones are regulated, she could experience vaginal dryness which makes intercourse painful or not very pleasurable. As her desire to have intercourse comes back, she could look into other creams to increase her lubrication and make intercourse fun and pleasurable again for both her and her partner. These changes to the vaginal area are often permanent due to the hormonal changes that her body has experienced in pregnancy and afterwards. She needs to get a little creative with her partner to adjust to these changes. Her body will follow suit. Other things that could affect her sex drive are stress and exhaustion. If the woman has help at home and her stress is decreased by getting help, it will greatly help for her sex drive to increase.
3 Changes In The Nether-Regions
Another topic that most women don’t know or are embarrassed to talk about are that their vaginal area being bigger than before. This is due to it being stretched in pregnancy. And even though most of the body shrinks after pregnancy and goes back as much as possible to it pre-pregnancy shape, much of it is bigger than before and stays stretched long after baby’s birth. This area is one of which that is most affected, and similarly to breasts that droop, the stretch in this given area often remains. There should be no additional discomfort to the woman however. As long as she recognises she is fine and has no other health concerns or issues, she need not worry. It will not affect her life in any huge way, other than aesthetically. These are part of the side effects of housing another human being.
2 Baby On The Brain
Similar to the worrying a Mom does about her baby, never again will she be the first person she thinks about again in terms of comfort, sleep, sickness etc. Her first thought will always be about baby’s comfort, health, welfare. Every choice she makes, every decision will be based on how it affects her baby. If she does not immediately do that, then she will soon see how baby is impacted by her choices, good and bad, and will readjust her priorities and lifestyle. Dad will do the same thing, but there is something about a Mom’s bond with her baby that is universal. She has that physical and emotional bond with them, and life will never quite be the same again. She, of course, will find a way to juggle all the demands, but baby will always be first on her agenda and in her mind and heart.
1 Changes To Skin
Changes to a new Mom’s skin also happens. She may glow even after baby’s birth, acne that plagued her all her life could be gone forever or she could have some facial scarring or discoloration, small amounts due to the pregnancy. These are hormones at their greatest, and much depends on the woman’s genetic makeup. Hair could also become thinner, shinier or could fall out, though the falling out is temporary. These things will stabilise in a few months. The body is reacting to all the changes it has gone through in many months and will be readjusting itself. The important thing is for Mom to go with the flow, and know that no matter what, they are beautiful on the inside as well as on the outside. Too many new Moms beat themselves up when all of this is biology and don't have much control of it.
So there are the 15 permanent changes from pregnancy that many women experience. The important thing to remember is to reach out if Mom is nervous and uncertain about her bodily changes. She is most likely not the only woman feeling that way and it's important for her to realise she is not alone. The woman’s body is a complex and beautiful instrument. She needs to take care of it postpartum so she can be around to enjoy many happy and healthy years with her baby, family and friends.