It is said that being a mother brings about a lot of changes in a woman’s body. This is absolutely true as growing a new human requires a woman to adapt to these bodily changes. After all, her heart pumps 50 percent more blood when she’s pregnant, and she will also experience brain changes among other things.
While a lot of changes disappear after birth, a few of them can be permanent. Here are some things during pregnancy that can change a woman’s body forever:
- Bigger Feet
Due to changing hormones and weight gain, women experience a change in their shoe size too when they’re pregnant. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), women of normal weight should gain between 11 to 16 kilograms weight during pregnancy. Carrying this excess weight around when you’re expecting and even after giving birth can cause the foot’s arch to flatten out. This is why some women gain about half an inch shoe size during pregnancy. The hormone relaxin also plays a role by helping relax ligaments and bones in the pelvis. It also affects ligaments all over the body, including in the feet, which can cause a woman’s feet to loosen and spread out. These changes are often permanent, even after a woman loses weight and relaxin production stops.
- Bladder Changes
Giving birth can put some mothers at an increased risk for incontinence, or loss of bladder control. This is because vaginal delivery can weaken the muscles needed for bladder control and can even damage bladder nerves and supportive tissue, leading to a dropped pelvic floor. This can happen for C-section deliveries as well. Women can practice Kegel exercises to strengthen these pelvic floor muscles to avoid bladder issues.
- Dental Problems
The increased blood flow during pregnancy can cause dental problems such as enlarged and bleeding gums. If women have morning sickness, the acid from vomiting can wear away the enamel on teeth. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can also affect the bacteria population of a woman’s mouth. Therefore it is very important to practice good dental hygiene during pregnancy. Woman should see their dentist when they’re expecting and get their teeth cleaned regularly to avoid other problems postpartum.
- Breast Changes
A woman’s breasts go through several changes during and after pregnancy. They get bigger at first, as the dormant fat tissues in the breast get replaced by functional tissue in preparation for breastfeeding. However, after a woman stops breastfeeding, the changes stop and the breasts aren’t as large as before. If a woman gains a lot of weight after pregnancy, she will replace those fat cells in her breasts. There may also be changes in the shape and firmness of her breasts, causing them to sag or droop. Once this happens, they will not perk up again as this is due to stretching of the ligaments and elastin that hold the fatty tissue in place.
- Stretch Marks
Pregnant women may notice pink or red stretch marks on their skin during pregnancy. Although this condition can happen at any time, it is more likely when you’re expecting and witness a drastic increase or decrease in weight. While these stretch marks will not go completely, the good news is that they will get much lighter over time. They usually fade out in a year or two. However, if a woman gets pregnant again, or gains or loses too much weight, these stretch marks may become more noticeable.
- Hair Growth
Women experience dense and more beautiful hair on their head during pregnancy. This is due to the increased levels of hormones that can cause hair fall to reduce over the course of a woman’s pregnancy. This is why women may have thicker head of hair when they are expecting. After hormones levels return to normal after pregnancy, they may start losing hair. This is temporary and hair loss will resolve on its own by about 12 to 18 months.
- Skin Changes
There are so many skin changes that happen during pregnancy. For instance, linea nigra is a common occurrence that most women experience when they’re expecting. It refers to a dark, vertical line that runs over the belly to the pubic hair region. Women may also develop melasma, which are brown patches that color the face. They can also get freckles and moles during this time. Linea nigra and melasma are caused due to an increase in melanin, the pigment that adds color to your skin and hair. The dark areas fade after the woman gives birth but some may have melasma for a couple of years after. Using sunscreen or wearing hat can address the dark patches.
Several women experience a spike in their sugar levels during pregnancy. This leads to a condition known as gestational diabetes. After giving birth, up to half the women who had gestational diabetes are likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life. Usually, those women already know they’re at risk because they have family members that have diabetes. If a woman has gestational diabetes, it is important that she maintains a healthy weight and diet, monitor her blood sugar, and get screened for diabetes in the years following her pregnancy so that she can be aware if she’s becoming prediabetic.
- Abdominal Separation
Yet another common and permanent change associated with pregnancy is a condition called diastasis recti abdominis. This is when the abdominal muscles separate, creating a gap between the stomach muscles. All women will have this separation at a later stage in their pregnancy to make room for the growing belly. More than two-thirds of women will retain some separation between their abdominal muscles after a year postpartum.
- Wider Hips
Some women may experience their hips are getting wider following childbirth. This may be due to the deposition of fat into areas of the body that have extra fat cells. Although, many women think this is due to relaxin, a hormone responsible for relaxing and softening the joints and ligaments in the pelvis to help make the birthing process easier. However, this may not be the real reason behind wider hips.
These are some of the many changes that you will experience even after you’ve given birth. To know more about ways to stay healthy during and beyond pregnancy, meet our doctors at KIMS Cuddles.
*Information shared here is for general purpose Please take doctors’ advice before taking any decision.