What No One Tells You About How Motherhood Changes Your Body

olive chan —  January 17, 2013 — 4 Comments

With pregnancy, I expected certain changes to happen to my body. The nausea, the fatigue, the hunger, the weight gain… these were all part and parcel of growing a baby. What I was surprised about was that a year after giving birth, my body was still undergoing changes. Sure, I might look the same to the casual observer but I’m really not inhabiting the same body as I had pre-baby.

How Motherhood Changes A Woman's BodyExcuse my candidness, but from head to toe, here are some of the ways motherhood can change a woman’s body:

Hair: From about 5 to 11 months postpartum, my hair fell out in bunches. I’m told this shedding is normal, as your body doesn’t shed as much during pregnancy so somehow it needs to make up for it after the baby is born. Then, I got a new crop of hair that sprouted up seemingly overnight. I woke up one morning astonished to see a lion in my mirror. Some people also say their hair texture changes post-baby – it get’s curly, or straight, or thinner, or more brittle.

Eyes: Pregnancy hormones can change your vision. My eyesight got worse. Some people’s get better after the baby is born. Mine didn’t.

Skin: My skin became very sensitive to the sun when I was pregnant. That sensitivity remains. I can’t be out in the sun for more than five minutes without developing a rash. Also, as I lost my pregnancy weight, I became like a molting snake shedding its skin.

Breasts: Not surprisingly, breastfeeding changes the size and shape of a woman’s breasts. Pregnancy can also permanently increase the width of the rib cage.

Belly: Obviously, the most drastic change happens in the midsection. Post-birth, the belly is flabby and muscle tone is lax. Regaining former shape and tone requires a lot of work (which, personally, isn’t on my priority list!).

Uterus: For a lot of women, ovulation and menstruation post-baby is more painful and feels worse. I hadn’t been aware of this unfortunate reality.

Feet: For some women, their feet go up a size while they are pregnant. Sometimes, the feet don’t return to pre-pregnancy size.

Hormones: I was totally floored by this one. When I stopped breastfeeding, I went through a wild hormonal swing. One evening, as Tim and I were making cookies, he mentioned to me that I could make my cookies smaller. I started bawling. He was shocked, and so was I. No one warned me about that!

To be fair, no one tells you about how fatherhood changes a man’s body either. They gain weight (from sympathy pregnancy symptoms, like getting hungry more often) and get sore muscles (from carrying and rocking the baby, who gets heavier and heavier).

How did motherhood change your body? Answer in the comments.


photo credit: marsmet546 via photopin cc
  • Lisa Ting

    I concur with everything you said, Olive. Oh, except the hormones. That’s just you. (Kidding!)

    Mostly, I’m just grateful that ALL of my old clothing fits. It might not fit exactly as it once did (shoes), but I can wear it all, and it looks presentable. An optometrist confirmed for me last month that my eyesight has certainly deteriorated (fabulous!) and a dermatologist told me last week that my mystery rash (on my eyelid, of all places) was due to stress and sleep deprivation, and she instructed me to get more rest. My five-month-old is teething. Say that again?

    • olivechan

      Haha, Lisa. It reminds me of the doctor in Beijing who told me fresh air might help me cope better with depression… Uhm, yes. In theory, yes.

      I do hope you’ll get more sleep soon. Glad your clothes all fit!

  • Zee

    I never knew it is proven that pregnancy permanent increases the width of one’s rib cage! I noticed that a few of my clothes couldn’t fit my upper body and was very confused since I am actually back to pre-pregnancy weight. I just thought it was quite impossible for one’s rib cage to expand!

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