A List Of Unexpected Postnatal Body Changes That May Shock You.
Pregnancy and delivery change your life in every way. A lot of these changes happen to your body; from putting on the extra weight to getting bigger boobs and everything in between. We all know about these changes. However, other changes will happen to your body after you give birth that a lot of moms do not see coming at all.
Here is a list of unexpected postnatal body changes that may surprise you.
1. Your belly will still look pregnant
Your belly will still look pregnant for a while after you give birth. It usually takes 6 to 8 weeks for the uterus to go back to its normal size. This is why you still look pregnant for a few weeks postpartum. You can speed up the process of getting back in shape by exercising and eating a balanced diet.
2. Your feet will become bigger
Remember all the changes your feet went through during pregnancy? Well, the increase in size that occurred can sometimes become permanent after you deliver. This means you may notice that you need a larger shoe size for the rest of your life. This happens because all the extra weight that you gain during pregnancy puts a lot of strain on your feet. This can cause the arches of your feet to flatten, resulting in you needing an extra half-inch to one inch in your shoe size.
3. Your cup size will change
Your breasts go through a lot of changes during pregnancy and after delivery. First, they will become bigger as your breast milk starts coming in. They will be at their largest size about two weeks after delivery, especially if you are breastfeeding. Once you stop breastfeeding, your breasts will start becoming smaller. You may lose up to a cup size after pregnancy and breastfeeding.
4. You may lose your hair
For some women, pregnancy brings with it a period of shiny, luscious hair that’s beautifully thick and strong. Everything returns to normal after delivery, but the process of things going back to what they were before can make it seem like you are losing a lot of hair. The way this occurs is pretty straightforward: you have high estrogen levels in pregnancy, which prevents hair from coming out as quickly as it usually does. After delivery, the estrogen levels go back to normal, and your hair growth rate also goes back to normal. This means your hair needs to grow faster to catch up, which it does by falling out. When everything evens out, you’ll stop shedding. Postpartum hair loss occurs 3 to 4 months after delivery and everything evens out in 6 to 12 months.
5. You will have heavy vaginal discharge
A lot of women expect lochia after delivery, but what they do not expect is for it to be so bloody. Lochia is a type of vaginal discharge that is made up of uterine blood, mucus, and tissue. Most times, the flow is heavier than your period, and it occurs regardless of how you deliver. Avoid using tampons for lochia. Instead, go for heavy-duty pads. You should expect to change your pads every few hours during the first few days after delivery.
6. Your sex drive will drop
If you’ve always had a high sex drive, you may be surprised to realize you are rarely in the mood after giving birth. It may take up to a year for you to get back to your usual high sex drive. This usually happens for several reasons: you are exhausted, you do not feel sexy, your estrogen levels are returning to normal, and your mind is so preoccupied with the baby that sex is the last thing you think about. Don’t worry, though, just give it a bit of time and your sex drive will soon go back to normal.
7. You may get varicose veins
40% of women experience dilated blood vessels near the skin’s surface during pregnancy and after delivery. This typically occurs on the calves and thighs and is exacerbated by hormones. Hereditary factors, and how much pressure is put on the veins by pregnancy weight. While varicose veins will improve after birth, they may not disappear entirely.
8. You may experience body aches
After delivery, you may experience abdominal pains and flutters, which feel like menstruation cramps, as the uterus shrinks back to its pre-pregnancy size. These flutters will become more pronounced if you opt to breastfeed. You may also experience general body discomfort and fatigue for a few days after delivery, usually as a result of all the pushing and contortions your body had to undergo during labor.
9. You may have intense back aches
Your abdominal muscles go through a lot of stress during pregnancy. After delivery, these muscles put a lot of strain on your back muscles as they recover, which may result in a backache. You may also experience backaches if you did not maintain a good posture during pregnancy. Luckily, these issues should resolve themselves within about 6 weeks after delivery.
10. You may experience vaginal pain or tearing
If you had a vaginal birth, you are likely to experience some tears in the perineum (the area between the vagina and the anus) or an episiotomy, which is a surgical cut through the perineum. Both of these will take about six weeks to fully recover.
11. You may pee a little when you laugh
After giving birth, you may notice that you leak urine a little when you cough, sneeze, laugh or lift something heavy. This is because your pelvic floor muscles, which support bladder control, have become weakened after all the months of your baby’s weight resting on them. You can strengthen these muscles once more by doing kegel exercises.
12. Your arms will be weaker
This is yet another unexpected result of giving birth. Because you do not typically get a lot of exercise in your upper body during pregnancy, once you give birth, your arms will feel sore, flabby, and weak. This also occurs because your body releases the hormone relaxin during pregnancy, which weakens the joints. You can start exercising around six weeks after pregnancy to tone and strengthen the muscles in your arms, back, and shoulders.
13. Your thighs will be thicker
Most of the extra weight you gain will go to the areas of the body where women accumulate body fat, including the butt, the hips, and the thighs. It can take up to a year to shed this extra pregnancy weight. Exercising and eating healthy can help speed up the process.
14. Your experience with stretch marks might surprise you
A lot of women expect to get stretch marks when they get pregnant, but not many women understand just how much they can vary from woman to woman. Some women only get minimal stretch marks while others get so deep that their stretch marks start to bleed. Whether or not you get stretch marks will be determined by genetics and how quickly you gain weight during pregnancy. Luckily, most stretch marks will start red but gradually lighten and fade within a year or so.
15. Your skin may get discolored
70% of pregnant women get melasma, which is also often referred to as the mask of pregnancy. Melasma occurs as dark patches on the forehead, upper lips, and cheeks as a result of hormonal changes. It will disappear on its own after a few weeks once your hormones balance out.
Motherhood is a transformative experience in every way. While most physical changes that you go through are only temporary, a few of them are permanent. Hopefully, you are now better informed on what to expect when it comes to some of these unexpected postnatal body changes.