The miracle of growing a life within your body is mind-altering, literally. Yes, having a baby actually alters the grey matter in your brain. I’m sitting here, pregnant with baby number five, wondering just how ‘out there’ my brain is at this point.
Yes, I said baby number five. My body has expanded and had its organs rearranged five times. So from personal experience I can tell you: There is so much to be thankful for; there is so much to cherish, and there is so to be weirded out by! I’m talking about physical stuff that occurs in pregnancy, that is a little less breathtaking, and a little more strange.
Of course most of these changes aren’t permanent… (I’m slowly backing away before you realize that a few of them may be your new normal.) Let me break it down for you, since I’m kind of an expert by this time around.
1. Hair Changes
Yes, your locks typically will grow more lush, full, healthy, and shiny while pregnant, but, um, that extra hair growth doesn’t stop on your head. Facial hair, arm and leg hair, even back hair may appear and grow thicker than ever before. There may also be a change in hair color or change in texture. While hair growth will level out by the time baby is one, there is a ridiculous amount of hair loss postpartum, and your hair color and texture may never be exactly what it was pre-pregnancy.
2. Feet Changes
That closet full of pre-baby shoes may become this year’s donation box. May women experience longer, shorter, or wider feet by the end of a pregnancy, and while they assume it is just a hormonal pregnancy thing, the feet can permanently change size. What’s even harder to believe is that it may occur with another pregnancy in the future too. There is no guarantee with this one, though: One pregnancy may cause foot changes and another may not. You may be kissing those beautiful shoes good-bye a few times before you are done having babies.
3. Nose, Eyes, and Teeth Changes
Nose growth and nose bleeds surprise many women during pregnancy. While the nose bleeds tend to subside, the growth may stick around (yep).
You may reach for the sunglasses and contact lenses may become unbearable as your eyes become more light-sensitive.
Your teeth can become more sensitive, gum issues can arise, and enamel can weaken. Teeth can even shift and any un-pulled wisdom teeth can be triggered to grow. Seeing a dentist in the second trimester pregnancy is a must to help keep that smile healthy.
4. Skin Changes
The dreaded “pregnancy mask” that looks as though you have the most awkward sun damage across your face can begin appearing in early pregnancy and last throughout. Other common changes in the skin include acne, stretch marks, new beauty marks, mole color changes, varicose veins, skin tags, and the linea nigra down the center of the abdomen. Some women will also experience belly button hernias, rashes, and odd bumps here and there,
5. Genital Area
It’s not just childbirth that changes things around down below. Women commonly describe their labia and vulva as somewhat swollen during pregnancy–not to mention after giving birth, even with those who have a c-section. Most of these issues will dwindle throughout the first year after baby is born.
In the meantime, there is quite a silver lining, There are better orgasms to be had while pregnant—thank you, increased blood flow.
6. Body Systems
The Immune System may experience changes in allergies with a weakened personal immune system to protect the baby; this means there can be constant cold symptoms. Grab the tissues.
The Digestive System may experience indigestion, heartburn, and IBS that has never been felt before. The Nervous System can be impacted during pregnancy in many ways. Your speech, memory, and organizational skills can be thrown off, and simple tasks can seem impossible! The Skeletal System includes all the bones in the body, especially the pelvic area which spread apart to accommodate the pregnancy. This means that the lower back and pelvic region may take a while to feel normal again.
The Muscular System is at risk of weakening throughout pregnancy. ‘Mother’s Wrist’ or weakened ankles occur often, as does a splitting of the abdominal muscles known as diastasis recti. The kegel muscle is also prone to stretch and weaken, causing you to pee your pants when you’re laughing too hard.
7. Breast Changes
Pregnant people may encounter leakage, swelling, visible veins, larger and darker areolas, and the dreaded deflation that every woman assumes won’t happen to her. Alas, it does. While the body makes milk, your breasts continue to change. The changes level out during the breastfeeding journey and resume again after milk production ends (think deflated balloons).
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OK, if you’re not horrified yet, remember this: The upside of all these changes is that our bodies are preparing to sustain life. So while they changes can put an occasional damper on the magic of pregnancy, they don’t seem to stop most women from having a second (or third–or in my case a fifth) child.