Everyone knows your body is going to go through some massive changes after becoming pregnant. In the short span of nine months (though, thank goodness it isn’t longer!), you’ll grow a human being about the size of a watermelon. Clearly that takes some stretching of skin and squishing of organs, but the rise and fall of hormones can cause some unexpected changes, too. What’s leftover after baby enters the world? Here are 18 weird ways your body changes after giving birth. (Plus, share your experiences in the comments for a chance to win our new Bubbly Bunny Gift Set!)
#1 Your rib cage might be wider.
During pregnancy, your rib cage expands to make room for more lung capacity and for your growing uterus. After pregnancy, the expansion can stick around even after you lose all the baby weight. And some women report having one rib stick out farther than the other.
#2 Your nose gets bigger.
All those raging hormones can plump up your proboscis. Luckily, according to an AOL interview, New York City plastic surgeon Steven Pearlman says it’ll go back to normal six months to a year after the baby is born.
#3 Your hair isn’t like your hair anymore.
According to Dr. Sears, “Though you are likely to have more hair during pregnancy, it may be different. In pregnancy, dry hair can become drier, oily hair more oily, curly hair may become straight or straight hair may curl. Individual hairs may become finer or thicker. Hair will take a perm and color differently, too.” Some women’s hair reverts to “normal” several months after giving birth, but others say their hair was never quite the same again.
#4 You grow hair in unexpected places.
You won’t like to hear this, but you might grow hair in areas you really wish it wouldn’t – like your abdomen, back, and face. For some women, the hairs drop out quickly after birth. For others, it takes a few months. And for women who are already naturally pretty peach fuzzy, it might never go away.
#5 Your bust size shrinks.
Many women look forward to the little boost in the bust area that can happen during pregnancy and breastfeeding, but sometimes the opposite occurs. After weaning, some women’s bust size shrinks – a grave disappointment to some and cause for celebration for others.
#6 Your breasts tingle whenever you hear a baby cry.
You might be anticipating this while you’re breastfeeding, but the response could linger. According to Marianne Kavanagh in the Huffington Post, “even if you’ve stopped breastfeeding and the baby isn’t yours, you may well end up having an automatic response to hearing a newborn baby cry for years afterwards. Luckily, you can keep this completely private.”
#7 Your feet get bigger.
A University of Iowa study published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation showed that during pregnancy the arch of the foot flattens out, which increases the size of the foot. First pregnancies caused the most changes and for roughly 65 percent of the women in the study, their feet became both longer and wider.
#8 Your skin doesn’t behave like your skin anymore.
“Expect mad skin changes in the weeks and months after you’ve had a baby,” says Kavanagh. “As your hormones settle, you may end up with anything from dry skin to spots – and the lack of sleep won’t help. None of this is permanent. Some women also report changing reactions to sunlight – they either burn or tan more easily – and this seems to stay.”
#9 You sweat excessivley (especially at night).
This is one of your body’s ways of getting rid of all the extra fluids it retains during pregnancy and it can last for several weeks. You may want to sleep on a towel to prevent soaking your sheets every night.
#10 You might lose bladder control.
Dr. Mary Rosser, an assistant professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology and women’s health at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx says, “pregnancy and childbirth can weaken the pelvic floor muscles and, in some cases, cause damage to the nerves controlling the bladder — regardless of how you deliver. Kegel exercises (think tightening your pelvic muscles as if you were trying to hold in urine) can help. You can start kegel-ing almost immediately after birth, with the caveat that it shouldn’t hurt. If it does, hold off until everything’s healed.”
#11 You might not know when you need to “go.”
“Right after a vaginal delivery, the idea of anything coming out ‘down there’ feels a little traumatic,” the team at Owlet Baby Care. “Your entire pelvic area will experience some shock in the first few days, including the bladder. You likely will not be very sensitive to your urge to pee in the first few days. Go anyway. If your bladder gets too full, it can actually prevent urination. The upside is that after about a week of all this, most women have lost another 4-6 lbs in water weight.”
#12 You might still feel some phantom kicking.
Olivia Gordon of Parent Dish UK explains it as such: “There’s no officially agreed reason for this, but there are two theories. One is that the uterus can take a long time to stop contracting and settle down after giving birth. The other is that because once you’ve been pregnant and come to recognise sensations in the uterus for the first time, you are then able to notice random twitches there which happen even when you’re not pregnant.” For some women, this phantom kicking continues for years after giving birth.
#13 You might continue having contractions.
Though not nearly as painful as those you have during labor, your uterus will continue to contract in order to return to its normal size. They will be strongest immediately after giving birth and then they’ll begin to feel more like cramping. On average, your uterus will be back to its original size in about six weeks.
#14 You might not want to sit down.
After everything that your pelvic area has gone through, it could be painful to sit for a week or two. If you had any tearing, it could be a quite bit longer.
#15 You may develop a “pregnancy mask.”
Also known as chloasma or melasma, this patchy mask is caused by an increase in the production of the skin pigment melanin during pregnancy. It’s much more common in women with darker skin and the condition reverses itself and slowly starts to fade several months after giving birth (potentially not until after weaning).
#16 You may experience “hot flashes.”
No, you’re not going into early menopause. The majority of women will experience hot flashes for the first week and potentially for a few months after giving birth due to fluctuations in hormones.
#17 Your brain might be bigger.
In a study published in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience, researchers found new mothers had larger brains – particularly in regions of the brain that play roles in functions such as emotional processing, reasoning, and maternal motivation. As reported by the American Psychological Association, “the authors speculated that hormonal changes right after birth, including increases in estrogen, oxytocin, and prolactin, may help make mothers’ brains susceptible to reshaping in response to the baby. In particular, the mothers who most enthusiastically rated their babies as special, beautiful, ideal, perfect and so on were significantly more likely to develop bigger mid-brains than the less awestruck mothers in key areas linked to maternal motivation, rewards and the regulation of emotions.”
#18 Your hips might be bigger.
Even after losing the baby weight, many women find their jeans are still a little snug. That’s because your hips expand during pregnancy. “A woman’s body, and particularly the pelvis and hips, are uniquely designed to accommodate a growing fetus and to deliver the child in childbirth,” say the experts at UpSpring. “To prepare the pelvis for delivery, the hormone Relaxin is released during pregnancy to help relax the pelvic joints and ligaments as well as soften and widen the cervix. By relaxing the pelvic joints and ligaments, they loosen and expand so baby can pass through birth canal. The pelvic area most affected by Relaxin is the Symphysis Pubis and Sacroiliac Joints. Due to this natural occurrence, some women do experience wider hips after pregnancy.”
What unexpected things happened to your body (or your partner’s) after giving birth? Share them in the comments for a chance to win our new Bubbly Bunny Gift Set (ARV $35.99)!
UPDATE: Congratulations to our lucky winner Laura Knight! Thanks to everyone for participating — watch our blog for our next giveaway launching soon!
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Here’s how to enter…
In the comments below, share any weird ways your (or your partner’s) body changed after giving birth. (If you’re pregnant, feel free to share which of these changes you think would be the worst.)
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