As any woman who has had a child knows, pregnancy, childbirth and just being mummy changes your body.
Last week I was chatting to one of my mum friends about just how different our bodies are to pre-child days…
Oh we all joke about baby brain, but it’s real! Not only is your mind completely occupied with the colour and consistency of your child’s poo and their current sleep schedule (or lack of), there’s less of it too. According to one proper scientific study, women’s brains shrink with pregnancy – and stay shrunk.
2. Pelvic floor
And we all know that pregnancy can make sneezing slightly more dangerous.
We’re all told to do our kegels, but how many of us heed the warnings until we sneeze late in the third trimester and accidentally wee ourselves? Not just me, surely…
Just remember, it’s easier to do kegels now than deal with incontinence when you’re older… (she types while frantically kegelling in an attempt to make up for months of forgetting)
Another well known one – the mum tum. Now, I’m not fat and I didn’t really have any baby weight to lose after either of my pregnancies (I know, I know, sickening, right?) but my tummy definitely does not look like it did pre-baby. It’s not wobbly as such, and I don’t have stretch marks, it’s just a bit… looser than it once was.
I do, however, have stretch marks on my breasts, which now resemble deflated balloons. They were always small, now they have quite literally been sucked into a sagging nothingness.
My breasts have now been in service for over 30 months – that’s two and a half years of milk production. I’ll forgive them for looking a bit on the tired side.
I may never have had large breasts, but I always wondered where I inherited my rather large behind. My mum and grandma both had quite flat bottoms, whereas mine was not.
Two pregnancies later and my bottom has disappeared completely. Where? Who knows. But at least I don’t struggle to find jeans that will fit over my derrière anymore. I just have difficulties keeping them up.
The bottom shrinks, but the hips get wider… Well, actually I’m not sure mine have, but they were pretty wide to start off with! (My husband’s grandmother commented on my, ahem, “sturdy” hips the first time we met.)
One of the hormones that floods your body when you’re pregnant is relaxin, which makes all your ligaments loosen up, causing things to stretch.
Pregnancy hormones, carrying a heavy baby inside your body for a few months, giving birth and carting round this baby plus any other children you already have can cause a bit of back ache. Or a lot of back ache.
More positive, maybe, is the impact on your arms of having one or more small children to carry around with you at all times, as well as their equipment. Don’t worry about doing weights at the gym – lugging your child around in their car seat is more than enough.
I already had stretch marks from puberty, so I can’t blame that on the kids – but the varicose veins are all theirs. Mainly my son’s.
Also, your once-shapely ankles will possibly morph into cankles – and there’s not really any guarantee they’re coming back.
And it doesn’t stop there – pregnancy can change you all the way down to your toes. I’m very thankful that my large feet didn’t get any bigger, but not all women are so lucky. It’s that hormone relaxin again – not happy just to widen your hips, it might make you go up a shoe size too…
Are you feeling that pregnancy glow, yet?
From the tips of you toes to the top of your head, the changes are coming thick and fast – especially where hair is concerned. During pregnancy your hair doesn’t fall out as much, so it gets thick and luscious and you feel like you should model for L’Oréal because you’re worth it.
And then after giving birth, it all falls out and you get weird regrowth and want to wear a hat for the next few months.
Swings and roundabouts, as they say.
Some women get dry skin, some get acne, some lucky devils get both. I also got weird fat globules on my face and hips, which the doctor assured me were normal and may disappear. They have not.
And having a small child is guaranteed to give you wrinkles.
Pregnancy is draining in the most literal way. Baby takes what baby needs, so if you don’t have enough nutrients for both of you – baby gets them. And your teeth can suffer. Mine didn’t, but my mum’s did. She had to have loads of fillings because of us. Sorry!
So, make sure you go to the dentist! If you’re in England and Wales you get free check-ups until your child is one with the maternity exemption.
OK, this may seem strange, but once you’ve been pregnant your uterus knows what it’s doing. So if you get pregnant again, it stretches much more quickly, making you look pregnant much earlier on. Keeping my second pregnancy a secret from my in-laws for a few days proved absolutely impossible, even before I had to leave the dinner table to throw up.
And it’s not just your uterus that stretches. Pregnancy can change how you see the world in more than just a figurative sense. Your eyes can change shape, meaning you may suddenly need glasses or suddenly not need glasses or need a change in prescription. In any case, make sure you go to the opticians.
So there we have it! Fifteen ways your body changes during pregnancy. Delightful – and I didn’t even mention haemorrhoids!
But even though my body is unrecognisable from a few years ago, I’m more proud of it than I’ve ever been. Yes I’m a bit saggy, a bit achey, a bit wrinkly, but I’ve also grown and fed two babies – which is pretty incredible, when you think about it.