There are a few things that you might expect to change when you find out that you are pregnant: your life as you knew it and your body. But while you get used to your new life and accept that body changes are a part of pregnancy, you might not know that there are a few things about your body that might not change back. Ready? Let’s get into it.
Hormones are interesting things. They cause your body, skin, brain and even your hair to change, especially when there are dramatic shifts in hormone levels. These dramatic shifts occur during puberty — many people experience changes in hair texture and volume then — and during pregnancy. This one can go either way. Your hair can get thick and abundant during your pregnancy, and then fall out postpartum. It can go from straight to curly, curly to straight, or some combination. Your hair is quite likely to change during pregnancy and often changes permanently.
While pregnant, you might discover that your memory isn’t quite what it used to be. The thing is, your brain is changing shape to accommodate your maternal brain connections. For example, while you might not be able to remember what you had for lunch, your brain is working incredibly hard at forming a strong emotional attachment with your baby. Your brain literally changes shape and composition in order to make you a better mother and these changes show up so clearly in brain scans that the computer can tell which women have been pregnant.
This is a funny one but it makes sense in the end. Although most women expect their belly to enlarge, women rarely expect their shoe size to go up. Here are a few things that might cause your feet to grow:
- Edema, or water retention, can make your feet swell and take you up a shoe size. Edema is quite harmless and can be treated by elevating the feet and drinking plenty of water to help flush out the retained water. It usually fades after delivery, though some women remain the larger shoe size after birth.
- Relaxin, a hormone that helps loosen joints and ligaments to prepare the body for birth, starts being released during pregnancy. It’s not concentrated in your pelvis though and can result in a loosening of the many joints and ligaments in the feet, resulting in an increase in shoe size.
Your pelvic floor
There’s a common perception that if you do not experience vaginal birth — ie. if you have an abdominal or cesarean section — then your pelvic floor won’t suffer during pregnancy. But that’s not necessarily the case. Carrying a baby to term (or even close to term) puts a lot of strain on a woman’s body, especially on her pelvic floor. The pelvic floor refers to the muscles that connect the bony parts of the pelvis, supporting the bladder, bowels and the uterus in women. A strong pelvic floor ensures control over bowel and bladder functions, whereas a compromised or weak pelvic floor can result in leakage. Because carrying a baby in your abdomen puts a strain on your pelvic floor, it’s important to ensure that it’s healthy. You can do so by visiting a women’s health physio for an exam either during your pregnancy or postpartum and following their advice to ensure the health and strength of your pelvic floor after pregnancy.
Women usually expect changes to happen during pregnancy, but don’t always know that they can be permanent. This can create a lot of mental anguish when they don’t ‘bounce back’ from pregnancy. We’d urge you to be gentle with yourself and know that although these changes may be permanent, they aren’t necessarily bad and can sometimes be mitigated. The experience of growing and birthing a human is an enormous one and you should pat yourself on the back not beat yourself up. We hope this has helped shed some light on some of these changes so you can give yourself some grace in the postpartum period.
- Pregnancy Causes Lasting Changes in a Woman’s Brain: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/pregnancy-causes-lasting-changes-in-a-womans-brain/
- Here’s why your shoe size changes during pregnancy: https://www.thehealthsite.com/pregnancy/reasons-your-shoe-size-changes-during-pregnancy-d0116-358466/
- Post partum pelvic floor changes: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3279110/