The female body is a wonderfully, beautifully complicated enigma. For many women, it takes years to feel comfortable in their own skin and appreciate all of the uniqueness their body has to offer. However, when women that choose to have children become pregnant, they are met with a barrage of new bodily elements, many of which are surprising. So many women see the adorable bump announcements and gorgeous pregnancy photo shoots, and it all looks beautiful and blissful. Let’s get one thing straight, being pregnant is hard, very, very hard. It is hard on your body, your mind, your relationship, and everything else you can think of in your life. Some may dream about becoming a mother and feel as if it is their purpose, but it is important to do a little research. Know what you are getting into and be ready to do one of the hardest things you will ever have to do both physically and mentally. Pregnancy does some shocking things to the female body, and here are just a few that could potentially happen. If you don’t encounter any of these, consider yourself the luckiest mother in the world. Or this list might just solidify your decision not to have kids.
You might be surprised to find out that even things that you probably never thought much about, like your feet, also change during pregnancy. As a woman’s body changes through the stages of pregnancy, all of that extra weight gain can be very hard on pretty much everything. From knee pain to back pain, the body you have always known is now inflated and swollen. However, the one thing that puts up with all that weight is your feet. They carry around your growing body day in and day out, and they must adjust to that extra weight. Carrying around all that weight makes them start to spread and grow wider like play doh being smashed down. There is also a lot swelling in the feet and ankles that also affects their size. Before you know it, you might have to buy all new shoes, two sizes bigger. Even after pregnancy, that extra spreading doesn’t go anywhere. Look on the bright side, you at least get to go shoe shopping.
Do you think your belly can stretch out like a basketball has been shoved in there, and the skin won’t look any different? Not so. While not everyone gets stretch marks, stretching the skin out like that does change it. Some people get back into shape like nothing, and their belly may look the same, but the skin is changed. It loses some of its elasticity and doesn’t quite react like it once did. It is more gooey and seems to puff out more when you sit or wear jeans that are too tight. If you work out enough, it doesn’t seem to be noticeable to other people, but you will notice how different the skin feels. However, it is more than just your belly. When you gain weight during pregnancy it goes into a lot of different areas, and when you lose the weight, there seems to be a deflated feeling. Unless you start packing on muscle, it is just another side effect of the miracle of birth.
You might be the most happy go lucky person in the world and have never had a day of sadness in your life, but pregnancy could completely change that. During pregnancy, your body is going through so much physically which is very evident, but people who have never been pregnant, might not grasp how much is happening emotionally. So many different hormones are going through the body and being pregnant in general is anxiety inducing. From thinking about the baby’s in utero health to fearing the birth and considering everything that comes after the baby is born, pregnant women have a lot going on. Then, when the baby finally does arrive, your body experiences such a major physical event, and then there is an emotional let down as hormones begin to shift yet again. Sleepless nights and frustration over caring for a baby can turn even the strongest, most capable women into a crazy person. Postpartum depression is a very common side effect after birth.
You know how you see those commercials for bladder leakage? Women are all discussing it openly and seem relieved that others have the same problem and finally there are products to help. Well, it is true. It happens to a lot of women during and after pregnancy. When pregnant, that baby is pressed right up against the bladder and the bigger it grows, the more pressure it puts on the bladder. It makes it difficult to hold it for very long which leads to embarrassing but very common accidents. Then, after delivering the baby, pretty much nothing is the same down there and all of that trauma to the area leaves it more difficult to hold in urine. It’s not like it is uncontrollable and you pee your pants at the drop of the hat, but it happens. Sometimes while sneezing or being physically active it is unavoidable. Sometimes it is just a little urine and sometimes a lot more.
So as you have gathered from the other items in this article, everything changes during pregnancy. Your breasts change even if you don’t breastfeed. At the beginning of pregnancy, hormones cause them to swell and become very sensitive. It can be uncomfortable to have anything touch them including a bra. All of those hormones can also make areolas bigger and darker. As pregnancy progresses, there may even be the appearance of small bumps known as Montgomery’s tubercles that produce oil. Near the end of pregnancy, they might even start leaking. After delivery, if you don’t breastfeed, you might notice less elasticity in your breasts after all of the swelling and eventual deflation. If you breastfeed, it can make them droop more and all of that nursing will make nipples look completely different. It can elongate the nipple and completely change the appearance. In addition to new shoes, you are going to need some new bras.
Those hormones that keep baby healthy and growing really take a toll on Mom’s body from her head to her toes. While pregnant, the increased hormone production can create something known as pregnancy gingivitis. It can make gums more sensitive to the bacteria in plaque causing oral problems. The hormones can inflame the gums making them swell and hurt. Not only is it uncomfortable, but they can even start bleeding from everyday activity such as brushing or flossing. About half of expectant mothers suffer from this kind of gingivitis. In addition to all of that sensitivity, some women also develop lumps in their mouth known as pregnancy tumors (in fact, these can appear anywhere on the body during pregnancy but inside the mouth is most common especially in areas affected by gingivitis). Often painless, they usually disappear after the birth of the baby, but sometimes they may need to be removed.
In order to allow for delivery of a child, our bodies produce a hormone as birth approaches, and it softens the ligaments that hold the pelvis together. This allows for the hips to be more flexible and allow for the child to pass through more easily. It is pretty normal, but about one in 300 women will experience Symphysis Pubis Disorder which means too much of the hormone is released, and it can cause terrible pain often as if the pelvis is being pulled apart. Some women even have pain that shoots into their thighs, groin or buttocks. In rare cases, it can be such a problem that a c-section becomes necessary. It can also worsen after delivery and require medical intervention. You thought that delivery would make you feel like being split into two, but sometimes just being pregnant can make you feel the same way. Babies are rough on their mothers.
Carrying a baby inside your body forces it to change as that child grows ounce by ounce. As it gets bigger and puts more and more pressure on the internal areas of the body, your body will begin to react. For many women, hemorrhoids are just another part of the whole experience...Certainly, not one of the good parts. The are essentially a large vein or group of veins that swell and protrude from the anus. During pregnancy, all of that pressure from the baby can cause them as well as frequent constipation which women also experience during pregnancy. Not only are you uncomfortable from carrying that bowling ball around in front of you, but then you have painful, burning hemorrhoids to deal with as well. From sitting and standing to just trying to walk around, it can be almost unbearable. When you see a pregnant woman looking like she is about to give birth at any moment, be kind to her. She is probably pretty miserable.
During pregnancy, as the baby grows and pushes against the stomach, it can become so large that it actually pushes the abdominal muscles apart in a condition known as Diastasis Recti. It is a very common occurrence in pregnant women, and it is more likely when women have multiple pregnancies. The two lateral stomach muscles are stretched to the point where there is a gap between them, and all that is holding in and supporting the organs in the body is a thin layer of connective tissue creating a variety of potential problems. The lack of support from the stomach muscles can cause lower back pain, bladder leakage and constipation. In severe cases, a vaginal delivery can be very difficult because of the lack of strength the separation has caused. It usually will go back to normal after delivery, but it can take some women over year for it to move back into place if it ever does.
If you have never heard of this, you might want to skip to the next item because this is pretty scary. Uterine prolapse can happen after childbirth, and it is when the walls of the birth canal are weakened causing the uterus to sag into the birth canal. There is also bladder and rectal prolapse that can happen. There are a variety of treatments that can help treat it, but it is still very uncomfortable and troublesome. While it isn’t as common as a lot of other things mentioned here, it is just another potential side effect and another thing to worry about. Pregnancy is a natural occurrence, but it is very traumatic for our bodies. It isn’t something to be taken lightly, and that is why it is so important for women to constantly work on their health. The stronger and healthier a woman is before and during pregnancy, the better it is for their body and baby.
Sometimes it seems that the entire process of giving birth is really ineffective. The difficulty and complications are endless, and the effects it has on the body can be brutal. Often times, when women give birth the child is too large for the birth canal, and intervention is required to allow the baby to be delivered. In order to deliver the infant safely, the doctor must make an incision from the vagina to the anus in what is called an episiotomy. It doesn’t always happen during everyone’s delivery, and some doctors have even moved away from this procedure. However, it is still in practice, and even if a doctor doesn’t make an incision to make the birth canal bigger, the skin often tears on its own. As you can imagine, this is unbelievably painful, and those that took the epidural might be thankful they did because they didn’t have to experience the tearing of their genitals.
There are plenty of people that advocate for a drug free delivery, but it is beyond excruciating almost to the point of intolerable. That is why so many opt for an epidural, often at the last possible moment. A local anesthetic is inserted into the back before a needle is then inserted into the area around the spinal cord and a catheter (tube) is threaded into the epidural space. The needle is removed, and the catheter stays in to allow for periodic injection of medication to numb the lower half of the body. It is extremely rare, but some women have experienced partial paralysis, neurological complications or spinal cord injury from the epidural. Even though it doesn’t happen very often, it is frightening enough to make you think twice about an epidural. Then again, in the middle of labor, you might not even care if it could potentially paralyze if as long as it stops the pain.