Despite the fact that your body may have felt out of control during the 40 weeks of pregnancy, you’ve managed to survive it and even get through childbirth as well. Now you can happily get on with motherhood and put all the strangeness behind you, right? Wrong. Hold on to your babies, ladies--things are about to go from strange to weird, faster than you can diaper a squirming newborn.
If you thought your hormones were wreaking havoc during pregnancy, wait 'til you get a load of their mischief once you’ve entered the postpartum zone. Now your hormones are truly running amok and, as a result, you will be saddled with a mixed bag of side effects. Some are kind of cool (as in point #7), some are kind of gross (see point #10), and some are just straight-up bizarre (like point #2).
If you’re lucky, you’ll only be affected by one or two of the following by-products of childbirth but it’s probably best to be aware of them all just in case. Read on for information on 23 downright bizarre symptoms following childbirth.
23 Your Fertility Is Through the Roof
Be aware--just because you’re feeling exhausted after having harbored a human being in your womb these past 40 weeks and are now struggling to maintain a sense of equilibrium in your life, your ovaries may have other ideas. They’ve had a period of rest and relaxation these past months and may be ready to kick-start back into action!
Experts remain divided on whether the period immediately following giving birth is an extremely fertile time for women or not. There is also plenty of misinformation out there as to whether or not it is possible to become pregnant if you are nursing your newborn. Most breastfeeding women experience something called lactation amenorrhea which means they have extremely light periods if any at all. However, they may still be ovulating.
If you prefer not to raise a couple of Irish twins, your best bet is to play it safe and use contraception at this point in time.
22 There's a Phantom Menace in Your Womb
Picture this: you’re lazing on your couch with a cup of tea when you feel the familiar fluttering of your little peanut somersaulting inside of you. While at any point over the past several months this may have been a moment of comfort and intimacy between you and your baby, it can be downright shocking when said peanut is snoozing in a bassinet beside you!
Although it doesn’t happen to everyone, many new moms experience a phenomenon known as phantom kicking. While the exact cause still remains a mystery, experts have offered up several plausible explanations including:
- A residual effect caused by nerve and muscle memory
- Similar flutterings caused by gas and/or indigestion
- The fact that pregnant women have been so attuned to the inner workings of their bodies these past several months that they notice even the tiniest of twinges
That said, there is another, albeit less likely, scenario to consider. After reading the info provided in point #23, there is a very slight possibility you are pregnant again!
21 Motherhood Has Literally Modified Your Brain
You just got through 40 weeks of enduring baby brain. Now prepare yourself for the indefinite affliction known as mommy brain! For years, behavioral changes have been documented in new mothers. It seems to have finally dawned on the scientific community that there is more going on than simply a flood of hormones. Scientists have recently connected the dots and have pinpointed actual neurological growth and change within the brains of new mothers.
Brain changes occur specifically in the areas of your gray matter that manage empathy, anxiety, and social communication. Fundamentally, these developments serve the purpose of helping new mothers be attracted to and forge a bond with their child.
As a result, you may notice distinct emotional changes as well as amped up feelings such as fierce love, unrelenting protectiveness as well as persistent worry where your newborn is concerned. If someone comments on your over-protectiveness, simply shrug and tell them your behavior is backed by the scientific community.
20 Ain't Your Feet Grand?
You may not yet qualify as a Sasquatch but don’t be surprised if your shoe size increases by a half or even full size after your bundle arrives. Throughout pregnancy, you may have noticed your shoes seemed tighter and that is mainly due to weight gain and swelling from fluid retention. However, a relaxing of the ligaments also contributes to this phenomenon and this often tends to be permanent.
During pregnancy, your body releases a hormone fittingly called relaxin. The purpose it serves is to loosen pelvic joints in order to prepare your body for impending birth. However, relaxin can also spill into your feet, loosening their ligaments resulting in your bones spreading. So, while your feet aren’t actually growing, the ligaments just aren’t as tight as they were pre-pregnancy.
If this happened to you during your first pregnancy, be prepared for it to continue throughout any subsequent pregnancies you have. You may want to postpone the purchase of those Louboutins until all is said and done with your baby-making.
19 What Happened to Your Hair?
Once again, the influx of hormones is the culprit behind any hair changes you may experience during pregnancy and into the postpartum period. In most cases, the changes are positive as many pregnant women welcome the fact that their hair feels fuller and looks glossier. There’s a reason pregnancy is known as the hair honeymoon for a woman.
Sometimes women with pin-straight hair suddenly acquire a pronounced wave or curl to their locks or vice versa. The color may even change as many postpartum women have noticed pronounced highlights or an increased number of gray hairs.
However, hair changes aren’t always welcomed by new mothers. You may notice your hair becoming frizzier, more straw-like or oily.
Once you give birth, typically any hair changes revert back to the way it was before you became pregnant but this is not always the case. Sometimes the hair changes you experience are there to stay.
18 You've Got a Mouthful of Bacteria
Pregnancy has the ability to transform the inside of your mouth into a bubbling chemistry set full of bacteria and this can easily stretch into the postpartum period as well. That said, you cannot in good conscience place sole blame on your innocent fetus. This may have something to do with your new eating habits, any morning sickness you may be experiencing, as well as your own laziness in brushing and flossing regularly now that you have more pressing issues on your mind.
Whatever you do, do not put off seeing your dentist during your pregnancy. You may require their preventative expertise as well as extra-strength cleaning now more than ever. And following the birth of your baby, your calcium supply will be in high demand especially if you are nursing. So, don’t let exhaustion get in the way of you maintaining good care of your teeth and gums.
17 You're Soaking Your Sheets
So, you’re sweating like you just completed a marathon. The only thing is you did not just complete a marathon. Basically, you’re not doing much else than recuperating from childbirth and caring for a newborn.
Relax and take it in stride as extreme sweating as well as night sweats are a common occurrence in women who have just given birth. Blame it on hormones. While they are instructing your body to retain extra fluid in order to nourish your fetus during pregnancy, they are now notifying your body to flush the superfluous fluid out.
If you are nursing your baby, this may be a contributing factor as well. Lactation results in a higher than normal body temperature which can often lead to excessive sweating.
If you are being plagued by extreme sweating, be sure to drink plenty of fluid; otherwise, you run the risk of becoming dehydrated. From there it’s simply a waiting game until your body finds a balance and the sweating tapers off.
16 Your Voice Rivals That of James Earl Jones
Take advantage of your new husky tones and earn some extra money working for an adult chat line. Many pregnant women report vocal changes including a deepening or huskiness that occurs. Most often, vocal changes first become noticeable during the third trimester of pregnancy.
As you should have already figured out by now, pregnancy affects your entire body and your vocal cords are no exception. The reasons for this sudden change in octave are varying and include:
- Swelling that occurs in your vocal cords (like in just about every other area of your body!)
- A decreased lung capacity from the baby pushing on your diaphragm
- A decreased stomach capacity
- Changes and/or possible swelling occurring in your nasal and sinus passages
- A shift in posture
- An increase of hormones, specifically progesterone and estrogen
- The additional six pounds of fluid your pregnant body will retain coupled with excess mucus near your vocal cords
- Increased fragility of your vocal cords
Most often, any vocal changes will return to normal following the birth of your baby but this is not always the case. Many new moms have reported experiencing permanent vocal alterations.
15 Your Boobs Have Minds of Their Own
Are you familiar with the scientific advance of Pavlovian conditioning? Basically, in the late 1800s, a Russian physiologist by the name of Ivan Pavlov was studying the salivation of dogs as a response to being fed. Through his work, he was able to condition them to expect food at the sound of a bell. Eventually, whenever they heard a bell, they’d salivate like crazy as they were expecting a meal. Following the birth of your baby, something very similar will happen involving your breasts.
If you are nursing, you may notice that a cry from a baby (and not even necessarily your baby!) will result in leaky breasts usually during inopportune moments. Basically, your breasts are Pavlov’s dogs and a baby’s hungry cry is the bell. Prepare yourself and stock up on breast pads because soon after the birth of your baby, your boobs will have minds of their own!
14 You Find Hair in Peculiar Places
Not to be an alarmist but many postpartum women have noticed hair growth in areas previously as smooth as their baby’s bottom. You barely have time enough to shave your legs and armpits, and suddenly new areas requiring your razor’s attention may crop up such as: in between or on the sides of your breasts, on your chin, cheeks and around your belly button. Noticeable hair may even decide to sprout on your upper lip!
Some new mothers notice wonky hairs growing up from their head at strange angles at odds with the rest of their hair. You may even make a downy discovery of new hair growth at your hairline.
You guessed it--once again hormones are the cause for this hairy freakishness. Typically, once your body regulates, this annoying situation will right itself or hopefully at least fade considerably. Otherwise, head to your local circus and find out if they are in need of a bearded lady.
13 Prepare for a Period of Gargantuan Proportion
You may have sailed through the last nine months enjoying your little period vacation. Well, brace yourself. This mini respite does not come without a steep price. Once your baby pops out, you will be in for one long, gargantuan period that may require mattress-sized sanitary pads to stanch.
If you plan on nursing your baby, then you will soon be in for another temporary hiatus from menstruation. But be prepared for some noticeable changes when it comes to your monthly flow as soon as you are back on track. Many women report permanent period changes ranging from longer-lasting or shorter to heavier or much lighter flows.
Again, just point the finger at hormones as they are behind this phenomenon. The hormonal surges that your body endured throughout pregnancy can often have a permanent effect on your period even after all is said and done with childbirth and nursing.
12 What's That Foul Odor? Oh, It's You!
That strange, funky smell that you just can’t seem to shake may actually be emanating from your very own pores. Not only are your sweat glands working on overdrive but post-pregnancy hormones are wreaking their own personal havoc on your delicate pH balance. Until your body adjusts to motherhood, do what you can such as:
- Shower regularly
- Don't skimp on the deodorant
- Steer clear of certain foods known for causing B.O. like garlic, onions, curry, red meat and junk food
- Avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
Also, do not discount the fact that your sense of smell is extremely heightened at this point in time. A heightened sense of smell is sometimes an early predictor of pregnancy yet many women have reported their super nose ability continuing even after going through childbirth. That said, your funkiness may not be as bad as you believe. Play it safe though and ask your partner or close friend if you pass the sniff test.
11 You See Spots . . . All Over Your Skin
Don’t panic. You most likely are not allergic to your new baby! Many new moms experience what appears at first to be an allergic reaction following childbirth but, in fact, may just be a case of postpartum hives. Yet again, this unfortunate reaction can mainly be attributed to those mutinous little buggers--post-pregnancy hormones.
Postpartum hives tend to occur on your arms, feet, and back. And while typically, hormones are the main source of blame, there are other possible reasons a new mother could break out in hives including:
- A pre-existing medical condition
- A food or medicinal allergy
- Skin exposure to extreme temperatures, heat or the sun
- An insect sting or bite
- A number of environmental sensitivities
Fortunately, postpartum hives tend to disappear six to eight weeks after delivery. In the meantime, relieve your itchiness with cool compresses and/or baths. Check with your healthcare provider to find out what over-the-counter medications are safe for you to take as well.
10 Add "Taking a Poop" to Your To-Do List
You may have taken it for granted pre-baby but after childbirth, going poop may be something you have to pencil into your calendar. Many new moms experience constipation as well as hemorrhoids which can make it difficult to drop the kids off at the pool so to speak. If you know this going in, then do what you can to be proactive and don't let pooping problems get the better of you.
That means making high fiber, dried fruit (such as prunes or figs), fresh fruits and veggies, legumes and beans and a dollop of olive oil mixed in with your meals part of your regimen. Drink large amounts of water to help get your plumbing flushed out. And if need be talk to your healthcare provider about stool softeners and mild laxatives.
It’s imperative not to let poop play its insidious mind games with you. You may be nervous to push when you are still healing from childbirth and that’s to be expected. But when you feel the urge to go, act on it!
Most importantly, don’t be jealous of your newborn and the way they can effortlessly let loose their bowels numerous times throughout the day.
9 Hand Expansion
Throughout your pregnancy, you may have noticed your slender fingers turning into chubby little sausages. Most often your hands and feet bear the brunt of pregnancy fluid retention which is normal so if you can’t wear your rings, don’t panic. However, it’s important to keep in mind that extreme and sudden puffiness in your hands and feet can be a possible sign of preeclampsia. This condition can prove dangerous so if you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to take them straight to your healthcare provider.
The hormone relaxin can do a number on hand ligaments just as well as it does on your feet and pelvis. As a result, the ligaments loosen and your hands appear bigger than normal. Oftentimes, this can be a permanent side effect from childbirth, and your hands may continue to grow with each subsequent pregnancy.
So don’t be surprised if after giving birth you not only have to get your rings re-sized but dry your enormous hands on beach towels!
8 Say "Farewell" to Jumping Jacks
Following childbirth, many women bid adieu to doing jumping jacks and sneezing . . . at least in public anyway. You may have noticed that it is virtually impossible to cough, sneeze, laugh or jump up and down without peeing a bit. This is usually a result of weakening muscles around the bladder and pelvis caused by pregnancy and giving birth. Of course, a shrinking uterus, as well as hormonal changes, can create chaos for your innocent little bladder as well.
Pregnancy and childbirth often result in the weakening of your pelvic floor muscles which is why you may spring a leak from time to time. Kegel exercises are simple and easy to do anywhere and at any time. They can help strengthen the muscles that support your uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum. As a result, they may help decrease your leaky situation as well as help intensify your future orgasms! ‘Nuff said.
7 Vanishing Ailments
Maybe you are the beneficiary of a modern-day miracle but more likely you are experiencing yet another mysterious outcome of pregnancy and childbirth. Many women have reported the disappearance of syndromes they have suffered with for years all thanks to pregnancy and motherhood. New mothers have made claims of pregnancy and childbirth being the miracle cure for a spectrum of conditions ranging from mild to severe.
Women who had resigned themselves to their conditions were pleasantly surprised by the sudden relief of maladies such as:
- Crohn’s disease - An intestinal disorder causing extreme diarrhea, fever, and fatigue.
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS) - A progressive disease with no known cure that causes damage to nerve cells in your brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include numbness, speech and coordination impairment, blurred vision as well as extreme fatigue.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - A painful condition in the hands and fingers that is caused by fluid retention, repetitive movements or compression of a major nerve. Symptoms include tingling, numbness and/or burning sensations.
- Arthritis - A painful joint inflammation accompanied by stiffness.
6 Cleavage Deflation
I remember soon after giving birth I noticed that my bras no longer fit as they should. When I had a fitting, I was delighted to have gone down a cup size as I mistakenly believed my weight loss regimen was paying off. What a dumb-dumb!
In the aftermath of pregnancy and childbirth, it is not unheard of for women to drop a full cup-size. And not from your voluptuous breastfeeding size but from your regular, normal breast size. You may have noticed your breasts have deflated, shrunk and sagged after giving birth, and regrettably this will continue with each subsequent child you have.
Pregnancy and childbirth will change your life as well as your breasts. And unfortunately, applying creams and wearing a supportive bra will only help you so much. If you are considering undergoing laser treatments for the red and purple stretch marks marring your previously perfect breasts, know that doctors are divided on whether it works or not.
But pregnancy and childbirth shouldn’t shoulder all of the blame. Genetics and age play a major part in this unfortunate phenomenon as well.
5 Dust off Your Pop-Bottle Glasses
Dry-eye syndrome is commonly experienced by women undergoing hormonal changes due to pregnancy, breastfeeding or menopause. While this may rectify itself as soon as your body achieves a hormonal balance, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t and wearing contact lenses becomes an activity from your past.
That said, some women have reported the exact opposite occurrence. Following pregnancy and childbirth, they are able to wear contact lenses comfortably for longer durations than ever before. Chalk it up to yet one more mystery surrounding the act of reproduction.
It’s also not uncommon for pregnant women to suffer from a variety of vision-related issues. The good news is that these particular symptoms generally clear up after you go through childbirth. The list includes:
- Experiencing auras which are jagged flashes or colored lights which can sometimes lead to a migraine
- Double vision
- Nighttime glare
- Extreme light sensitivity
- Flashes and floaters
Other vision issues that may crop up for you during your pregnancy, and can continue to follow you even after you have given birth include blurred vision, retinal problems and sometimes even tunnel or narrowing of your vision.
4 Postpartum Life Is Cramping Your Style
So, you got the baby out safe and sound in one way or another and you thought the painful contractions were over and done with. Think again. Postpartum contractions are a common occurrence that most new moms will endure at some point in time as their uterus shrinks back to its normal pre-pregnancy size. The pain may be mild, maybe even unnoticeable, for first-time mothers. But with each subsequent pregnancy and delivery, these cramps and contractions can increase in intensity and severity.
After delivering my third child, I vowed never to have another because of how painful these postpartum contractions were for me. They always occurred while I was nursing as a baby's sucking typically triggers a flood of hormones. On the plus side, I knew my body was doing what it was supposed to in order to get back to normal and as soon as my uterus was ship-shape, the contractions stopped.
3 Break out the Champagne--but Just One Glass
Just because during your pre-baby, fancy-free days, you were capable of drinking all of your friends under the table, don’t be surprised if newfound motherhood changes it all. Many new mothers report a lower tolerance to alcohol following childbirth. While there are no clear-cut definitive answers as to why, there are a number of likely possibilities which include:
- The fact that you were not drinking during your pregnancy (hopefully) and while nursing. According to medical research, a significant decrease in drinking will definitely lead to lower alcohol tolerance in the future.
- Following pregnancy and childbirth, your liver may function at a slower pace which would inevitably result in a lower alcohol tolerance.
- As we age and take on more responsibilities and stresses in life, alcohol will have more of an impact on us; this is just another fact of life.
There is a bright side to curbing your alcohol intake after the arrival of your baby, hangovers will be a thing of the past. The only thing worse than suffering a hangover is suffering a hangover while caring for a baby!
2 Hair Grows Faster on One Side of Your Body
Back on the subject of post-pregnancy hair issues, you may have noticed that hair on one side of your body grows faster than the hair on the opposite side. Strange? Yes. Abnormal? Perhaps not. Pregnancy has disrupted your regular hair cycle of growth, rest and falling out and following childbirth, it may take some time for your hair to return to its normal rhythm. As it struggles to balance itself out, it may take on a somewhat lopsided appearance.
You’ve probably already discovered the various oddities arising from pregnancy and childbirth so don’t be surprised if and when your hair starts acting strangely. It may fall out in clumps or change completely in terms of texture and color. Perhaps it will become oilier, drier or more brittle than usual, you might even suffer from dandruff. In some extreme and somewhat mysterious cases, it may tend to grow faster in some areas more so than in others.
1 You Have an On/Off Allergy Switch
Many new mothers develop allergies they did not suffer from during their pre-baby life. This may be a direct result of your immune system being suppressed during pregnancy in order for your body to not reject your unborn baby. Because your body has temporarily muzzled your immune system it is not in typical fight mode. If at this time you happen to be exposed to an unfamiliar allergen, this can easily result in the development of a new allergy following the birth of your baby.
As strange as this may seem, stranger still is the number of new moms who report the disappearance of previous allergies following childbirth. Some people swear that by making a few simple dietary changes or taking supplements, they have the ability to cure themselves of a wide range of allergies. Now you may be able to add pregnancy to this list of cure-alls! Of course, you also run the risk of switching a new allergy on during pregnancy instead of turning a previous one off.