When you’re pregnant with your first baby, you’re likely well aware that your body is going to change. You’re going to develop a bump, gain a little weight, and hopefully experience the fabulous hair and nails that many women claim they enjoy during pregnancy. All in all, you knew that pregnancy would change your body, but you concluded it would all be worth it.
When you hold your baby for the first time, you’re sure it was all worth it. As you contemplate this moment while still pregnant, it can be easy to assume that you know what’s coming. Sure, your body has changed, but when you’ve given birth you should be able to get back to normal pretty quickly… right?
Not necessarily. Pregnancy changes a woman’s body, and some of those changes are permanent. That doesn’t make the pregnancy any less worth it, but it does mean that you might be in for a few shocks. No one warned you about your post-baby body; all the changes that are discussed revolve around the pregnancy itself.
So, let’s try and prepare you for what might happen to your body when you’ve given birth.
Your Feet Are Larger
No one is entirely sure why this is; there are theories, but no definitive conclusions. Nevertheless, thousands of post-pregnancy women report that their feet are now much larger than they were prior to pregnancy. This issue is common during pregnancy, and many women will find their feet return to size when they have given birth, but others discover that the change is permanent.
If you experience this issue, it can be incredibly frustrating. First and foremost, your existing selection of shoes no longer fit, meaning that you have a lot of useless items taking up space in your closet. Secondly, you have to replace all those now-useless shoes with newer versions that fit to your new size.
If you experience swollen feet during pregnancy, it’s best not to presume that your feet will return to normal post-birth. Ensure you have a selection of comfortable, reliable shoes on hand for after the birth; the last thing you want is to be rushing around the shops during the fourth trimester!
You Experience Hair Loss
Well, sort of.
Many women experience what they believe to be hair loss after giving birth, but the issue is rarely actual hair loss. Instead, you’re losing hair that you otherwise would have lost had you not been pregnant.
Around the second trimester, the natural hair loss we all experience will cease. This is one of the reasons that pregnant women report delighting in thicker, more voluminous hair during pregnancy. When you have given birth, all the hair that wasn’t lost during the last six months of pregnancy begins to fall.
This can be rather alarming; new mothers find themselves shampooing with their hands emerging from the lather covered in huge clumps of hair. However, it’s important to remember this is a natural process; it’s your body correcting itself back to how it normally would be. If you experience continued high levels of hair loss for longer than six weeks, it’s worth asking your doctor for their advice– you may have a vitamin deficiency that is causing the problem.
Your Breasts Lose Their Volume
Most women know that when you fall pregnant, your breasts will usually enlarge. This is partly due to weight gain, and partly due to the fluid retention that goes hand-in-hand with pregnancy. Usually, your breasts will return to their pre-pregnancy size shortly after giving birth, especially if you choose to breastfeed.
However, this sudden change in size — enlargement and then reduction in quick succession — can mean that your breasts are not as firm to the touch as they once were; they may also sag more than they did before. If this is an issue that you find distressing, you may want to investigate your surgery options; you can see more here if you think this is something you will want to pursue.
Outside of surgery, there is relatively little that you can do to improve the volume of your breasts. You may find that exercise improves any issues you have with sagging, so it’s worth pursuing exercise options if you are experiencing this issue.
You Experience Loose Skin
As with breast volume, loose skin after pregnancy is due to the rapid increase in your weight and then a sudden decrease. You are most likely to experience loose skin problems around your abdomen, where your bump was, though any area where you gained weight is liable to suffer from this issue.
Loose skin is a tough issue to tackle, so if it’s an area you find concerning, you may want to try a multi-pronged approach. Exercising the muscles beneath the loose skin will definitely be beneficial, though you may need to consider surgery to obtain a complete return to how your body was before. Some women use topical creams which are designed to encourage cell regeneration, but be wary: these are rarely clinically proven, and may be a lot of expense for very little reward. Exercise and surgery are the only options that will definitely see results.
You May Experience Back Pain
When you are pregnant, your abdominal muscles will loosen and relax to accommodate your growing baby. When you have given birth, you may experience a shock at just how weak your core muscles are as a result. As a result of this weakness, the muscles in your back will have to work overtime to accommodate for the weakness in the abdominals; this can result in back pain and spasms.
The best way to improve this issue is to undertake exercise that is designed to strengthen your core. Yoga and pilates work well for this, so it’s worth exploring these options to help alleviate the pain you experience in your back.
Of course, all of the above is 100 percent worth it as you embark on the journey of motherhood– but it’s good to know exactly what might be in store for you.