It’s a given that a mum-to-be’s body will change in astonishing and wonderful ways over the course of pregnancy, but many women assume that it will all go back to normal once your baby arrives. There are actually lots of interesting ways pregnancy may transform your body long-term, and sometimes permanently.
Here are five ways your body will change during pregnancy, some of which will be permanent, and others which will go back to normal once your baby is born.
5 pregnancy body changes for mums-to-be to expect
1. Enhanced emotions
Many new parents notice that the arrival of their baby begins to change their perspective on the world in general. Now that they are their child’s guardian and protector, suddenly the weight of everyday tragic events comes into sharp focus. Every capsised boat, every road incident, every freak accident is much more distressing than before because you can’t help but remember “That’s someone’s baby!” But it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s equally possible that you’ll experience increased joy, gratitude, and purpose once your baby has arrived.
2. Rips, snips, and tears
You’ve built a whole new baby inside of you… And now it’s got to come out. And there’s a very real chance that you’ll end up with a little bit of scarring. Perineal tearing (when the skin between the birth canal and the anus splits) can happen during childbirth. If your LMC or doctor thinks it’s necessary, they may even give you an episiotomy, where they make an incision before there’s a chance for the skin to tear. Even if you opt for a C-section, it still takes time to recover from having to cut through those muscles. Let’s just say you may experience some discomfort.
3. Thanks for the mammaries
Women’s breasts go through a lot of changes during pregnancy and for a time after giving birth. As your body is preparing for breastfeeding, you may notice your breasts, areola, and nipples get darker and larger. It’s also possible that you will be able to see some of the veins under the skin of your breasts more obviously. Some of these changes will reverse following the birth of your baby, but it’s true that your breasts won’t be exactly the same as they used to be.
4. Time for new shoes
A lot of women experience swelling in their feet and ankles during pregnancy, partly because the body produces an extra 50% of blood and bodily fluids to help the baby develop. But when there’s extra weight, that means extra pressure on your feet, and this can sometimes result in your arches being affected, giving you flatter, slightly longer feet. But hey, who doesn’t like an excuse for new shoes?
5. Sprung a leak?
Pregnancy can put pressure on your bladder, making those near-miss toilet dashes much more frequent. Pregnancy-related incontinence is very common, and is often caused by the pressure of your baby’s head pushing against your bladder, weakening the pelvic floor muscles. Unfortunately, the muscles mightn’t return to normal following childbirth without some extra effort on your behalf. There are 1.1 million New Zealanders who do not have full bladder control, so if you experience post-pregnancy incontinence, talk to your LMC or GP for advice and exercises that will help you get some or all control back.
Preparing for childbirth? Check out Breastmates’ range of helpful maternity aids to set you on the right track for a more comfortable birth experience.