Pregnancy is an exciting, daunting and miraculous thing, but it’s also pretty tough on the body. After giving birth, there’s a number of changes which occur that can come as a pretty nasty surprise. Therefore, it can really help if you read up and prepare yourself for the possible changes your body may experience.
Here, we’ll look at some of the main changes you’re likely to notice after pregnancy so you know exactly what to expect.
1. Your Hair May Fall Out
Ok, so it won’t fall out completely, but it will shed, a LOT. This is all thanks to the changing hormone levels and it’s so common it even has its own medical reference – postpartum hair loss.
When you become pregnant, your estrogen levels increase dramatically. This causes the normal hair growth cycle to stop in its tracks. Usually, there are three phases in the growth cycle. First, the hair grows, then it rests and then finally, it falls out. The increase in estrogen causes the hair to rest for much longer than it usually would, resulting in hardly any shedding throughout the pregnancy. Then, once you’ve given birth, those estrogen levels drop and the resting hairs begin to fall out.
This is why many pregnant women report having the healthiest looking hair they’ve ever had. Then, they’re shocked when months after giving birth, they start to notice large amounts of hair falling out. It can be devastating, but the good news is it’s temporary. You won’t lose all of your hair and it will grow back. So, if you notice your hair has become significantly thinner, or you’re losing way more than you should be, relax and remember it will soon pass!
There are also things you can do to minimize the problem. Topical treatments are readily available, while many new moms also choose to cut their hair shorter which does disguise the issue pretty well.
2. Your Uterus Will Shrink
Right after giving birth, you’ll be able to feel your uterus. This is because it starts to detach the placenta from the walls of the uterus. So, you’ll essentially feel cramps which are often referred to as after pains.
You’ll typically feel the uterus around the belly button area for a few days after the birth. After approximately one week, the uterus weighs roughly one pound, which is half of the weight it was when you gave birth. It takes two weeks for the uterus to shrink to approximately 11 ounces, and go back solely into the pelvis. It finally reaches its original pre-pregnancy weight of just 3.5 ounces within four weeks.
So, it’s a temporary change, but it can still come as a surprise as it isn’t something you typically learn about when you’re pregnant.
3. Discolored Skin
Another surprising change which can occur after pregnancy is discolored skin. Usually, there’s a tan-colored area surrounding the eyes, but after pregnancy this can start to fade. It’s often called the “mask of pregnancy”.
Many women also suffer from either extremely dry skin, or a red rash can develop around the chin or mouth. All of these skin issues should start to go after a few weeks.
4. Your Sex Drive Will Become Almost Non-Existent
You might associate your sex drive as more of a psychological issue, but it’s also partly down to changes which happen within the body during and after pregnancy. The decline in estrogen levels causes your sex drive to decrease. This, along with the fact you no longer have time for yourself and you’re busy taking care of baby, sends sex to the bottom of your priorities.
It’s completely natural to lose interest in sex for weeks, if not months after giving birth. However, as with many other changes to the body, it is only temporary and your sex drive will return to normal when the tiredness and the initial overwhelming sense of responsibility dies down.
5. You May Experience Back Pain
When you give birth, your abdominal muscles stretch significantly. This makes them really weak and unable to support the body the same way they did before. So, until the abdominal muscles strengthen again, your body starts to put more pressure onto the back. This in turn can cause backache.
Another reason you may suffer with backache after pregnancy is down to poor posture. When you’re pregnant, your posture may change significantly due to the extra weight you’re carrying around.
Whatever the reason for the back pain, it should rectify itself within six weeks. If it doesn’t, you should visit your doctor to see what’s going on and how the pain can be managed.
6. You’ll Likely Still Have A Lot Of Stomach Fat
It’s common for women to think the stomach will automatically shrink down to its pre-pregnancy size right after giving birth. Unfortunately, this often doesn’t happen. As mentioned earlier, the uterus is still pretty big right after giving birth so this does push the stomach out a little (or in many cases a LOT).
It’s not until the uterus shrinks, which can take a total of four to six weeks, that the stomach will return to normal. Also, it will depend upon your diet and exercise routine as to how quickly you get back into shape. If you spent the majority of the pregnancy eating junk food and double the portions you usually would, it’s obviously going to take you a little longer to reach your pre-pregnancy weight as you’ll need to first lose the weight you gained.
Another factor which contributes to many women still looking pregnant after giving birth is the fact the abdominal muscles have been stretched. This means your stomach isn’t going to look as toned as it once did.
So, don’t expect your stomach to be instantly flat right after giving birth. It takes time and most likely a healthy diet and regular exercise routine to get back into shape.
7. Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are a pretty common side effect of pregnancy, along with swollen legs. After giving birth, they do tend to become a lot less visible. However, it’s very rare for them to go away completely. This is one of the few changes to the body which can be permanent. However, the good news is there are treatments available which can help to eliminate them.
It’s actually pretty important to seek treatment for varicose veins as they can become progressively worse. It’s a common misconception that they’re completely harmless and solely a cosmetic issue. In rare cases, they can even cause fatal blood clots to develop, so seeking treatment is definitely advisable.
8. Your Feet May Be Larger Than Usual
By far one of the most surprising body changes which can occur after pregnancy is the size of your feet. It’s common for the feet to swell up during pregnancy, but did you know the feet may never return to their pre-pregnancy size?
Your shoe size could be permanently different now and it can come as quite a shock. You’d assume the feet would simply shrink back down to their original size but that’s not always the case.
So, why does the shoe size change? Well the additional weight you carry around throughout the pregnancy puts an awful lot of pressure onto the feet. This can cause the natural curve of the foot to start to flatten out. If it does, your feet could become up to ½ an inch longer. It’s not just the additional weight which is the problem however. It’s also down to a hormone known as Relaxin. This is produced by the body in preparation for childbirth. It literally relaxes the ligaments and affects the entire body.
So, you may need to invest in some bigger shoes once you become a new mom!
9. Your Hips May Become Wider
If you feel like your hips are wider after childbirth you aren’t imagining it. As baby passes through the birth canal, it can slightly change the pelvic bone structure. So, your hips may be permanently wider as a result.
This doesn’t happen to all new moms, but it’s definitely worth being aware of. It can be difficult to accept you now need to wear larger size jeans, but it is a possibility you should prepare for.
10. Change In Breast Size
Did you know that regardless of whether or not you breastfeed, your breasts can still become deflated? This is down to the body storing excess fat in the breasts during pregnancy and they also fill up with milk. After giving birth, if you don’t breastfeed, the breasts will automatically start to lose the excess fat and milk and you could be left with sagging, deflated breasts.
It’s also possible to be left with larger breasts, too. According to some experts, a third of women end up with larger breasts, a third end up with smaller breasts and the final third find their breasts go back to normal.
So, there you have it – 10 ways the body changes after pregnancy. Some can come as a bit of a shock but they are entirely normal. If you are worried about any changes in your body, it’s a good idea to get checked by a doctor. Even if the changes are considered normal, it’s still worth seeking a professional opinion if you’re concerned.