Pregnancy changes you – and not just because you’ve now got an extra tiny human to look after. From hormonal changes to actual permanent physical changes, pregnancy leaves some weird (and not always wonderful) marks on your body. Here are five, 100% real after effects of pregnancy that you should know and be prepared for.
Even if you deliver via Caesarean, pregnancy can leave you with wider hips. This is because a number of changes take place in your body during the later stages of pregnancy, relaxing and loosening up your pelvic area to make it easier to push a baby out. The cervix widens, and pelvic ligaments are softened and relaxed. A hormone called relaxin is released, which actually makes your hips softer and more malleable, causing your hip joints to be pushed out and the size of your hips to increase. Although you can expect some shrinkage post-birth as the relaxin leaves your body, your hips are unlikely to ever return to their pre-baby size. But hey – curves are cool. Embrace your new shape.
During pregnancy, you’re likely to have noticed significant changes in your hormone levels. The bad news is that post-pregnancy, your hormones are likely to stay out of whack for a good few months afterwards. Although not all women experience postnatal depression, most experience “baby blues” in the first week after birth, brought on by a dramatic reduction in oestrogen and progesterone levels. Oxytocin levels skyrocket, to promote bonding between mother and baby – but can also increase anxiety, as it ‘switches on’ mothering behaviours, including the ability to see danger at every turn. Some women also experience issues with thyroid hormones after giving birth.
During pregnancy, you might have noticed your locks grow thicker and more luscious. Triggered by hormones, hair growth dramatically increases in pregnancy. When your hormone levels drop (normally about three months after giving birth), you can expect rapid hair shedding. Although it can be quite scary, loss of up to a third of your hair is totally normal and nothing to worry about. Sometimes it comes back and sometimes it doesn’t. There’s information on hair loss on the internet but you can speak to your midwife too.
One of the weirder effects of pregnancy is an enlarged nose (no, we’re not joking). Thanks to increased fluid retention, weight gain, and higher oestrogen levels, many women report chubbier cheeks in pregnancy and even a chubbier nose. The effects are most likely to appear in the last trimester of your pregnancy, but don’t worry – this isn’t a permanent change, and you should see your nose go back to normal a few weeks after giving birth.
Changes to your skin
Remember we said your hormones are likely to stay out of whack for a while? This affects your skin, and many women experience changes such as dry skin, discolouration, or acne after giving birth. Weight gain on your belly and legs may cause permanent stretch marks. Look after your skin by moisturising it daily and drinking lots of water, even if it’s just to help with your confidence.