A well-lived life comes with many transformations. But few of those will ever be a dramatic as pregnancy. From the moment you’ve carried a new life, you’ve hit the point of no return.
Isn’t it funny how people talk about “getting back to your old self” after giving birth? As if that were even possible. Having a baby changes your body and some of those changes can literally last forever. In a lot of ways, you’ll never be the same post-baby, and here are just a few of the ways pregnancy might change you forever.
1. Tiger Stripes
Let’s go ahead and get this one out of the way early. For many, if not most of us, the growth we experience during pregnancy leads to stretch marks. Contrary to popular belief, stretch marks can appear on many places other than the belly — your thighs, butt, breasts, and even arms are all fair game.
They look pretty awesome painted though.
2. Weight Gain
It makes sense to talk about the second most obvious change next. For many women, pregnancy comes with a permanent weight change. Kathleen Rasmussen, a professor of maternal and child nutrition at Cornell University, told Live Science on average women can expect to hold on to 2.5 lbs to 5 lbs post-baby and one in four women will keep 11 lbs or more. For many of us, that change is *clears throat* a bit more.
During pregnancy, your breasts grow thanks to an increase in the fat tissue being stored. Whether you plan to breastfeed or not, it’s common for your milk to come in and create huge, round albeit tender boobs.
But after your supply regulates (or your body figures out you have decided not to breastfeed), they will shrink again. For many of us, this loss of fat tissue leads to breasts that have lost their perk and gain a sag. Don’t fight it; embrace the sag.
4. Your feet
Remember how pregnancy caused you to toss your favorite heels and wedges in favor of something better suited for wide feet? Well, that’s totally a thing.
Plenty of women report changes in both the width of their feet, as well as shoe size, during pregnancy. Apparently, this is caused by the pressure caused by carrying extra weight for nearly a year flatting our arches. Like it or not, those new feet are often here to stay. But hey — now you’ve got an excuse to go shoe shopping!
5. A leaky faucet
Unfortunately, a potential consequence of a vaginal birth, especially if your baby was on the larger side is urinary incontinence. If you find yourself having leaks, your first step should be a doctor or a certified pelvic rehabilitation practitioner. Thankfully, regular pelvic floor exercises might help alleviate some of this.
6. Wider Vagina
In addition to a risk for peeing when you cough, delivery will likely leave you with a wider vagina. Which makes total sense when you consider what happens during labor.
For some, the discussion on wider vaginas even causes unethical procedures like “the husband stitch” where doctors add an extra stitch to tighten the vagina and make sex more pleasurable for future partners. And let’s just be clear, this is not okay. AT ALL.
7. Changes in skin pigment
Remember that time we talked about melasma or “pregnancy mask” that’s caused by increased hormone production? Well, for some folks, that mask leads to permanent dark spots on the face. A similar phenomenon happens with the darkening of our areolas. Who knew?!
8. Your hips might lie
During pregnancy, your body had to adjust to growing a human. After pregnancy, that same human your body had to adjust to for nine months has to come out. If the baby travels through the birth canal, your bones have to readjust a bit more to allow them to pass through.
There’s a possibility that bone adjustments will have long-lasting effects. So it’s not just you, those jeans do fit a little different.
9. Tooth Loss?!
Apparently, the American Journal of Public Health found a correlation between having more children and tooth loss. The study revealed figures ranging from women with one child losing an average of two teeth to women with more of more losing an average of seven. It wasn’t a matter of dental hygiene. But it was potentially related to the increase in blood flow that happens during pregnancy and causes gum bleeding and inflammation.
10. Your Brain
In late 2016, researcher Elseline Hoekzema conducted a study that examined differences in women who had given birth, women who hadn’t given birth, and men. The MRI results revealed that women who had been pregnant and had children showed less gray matter — the neurons that process information and the cells that support them — on the brain than the other groups.
The study wasn’t as comprehensive as we would have like, so we don’t know the long-term implications of the findings. But Hoekzema suggests that grey matter changes aren’t bad since they are mostly in the areas involved in understanding the thoughts, emotions, desires, and motivations of others. It appears to be one example of the body getting fine-tuned for motherhood.
11. Reduced Chance of Breast Cancer
Studies show that women who breastfed saw a permanent reduction in their chances of developing breast cancer, and most studies suggest a roughly 4% reduction in risks for every 12 months one nurses.
12. Your Heart Grows
Okay, so this might be figuratively speaking, rather than in the literal and scientific sense. But think about how much our lives change for the better when we see our children for the first time. Sure, they can be worrisome, but they are the first thought we have every day and the last thought we have each night. It’s a type of love we never expected to feel — and one that makes all the other changes so very worth it.