9 Long-Term Effects that Pregnancy Has on Your Body

happy pregnant woman
Photo By Artem Varnitsin/shutterstock

Pregnancy is a beautiful thing, and it brings with it a number of incredible changes to your life, morals, and spirituality. It’s likely that you already know about the immediate changes that happen to the body over the course of a pregnancy, from general discomfort to strange eating and sleeping habits.

But what are some of the long-term effects that pregnancy has on your body?

From hair loss to abdominal shifting, the body undergoes strange stressors thanks to hormonal changes and the act of giving birth.

Added Weight

It’s expected that you’ll gain weight over the course of your pregnancy, but some women will end up keeping the weight even after giving birth. A number of women will usually hold onto the weight following the pregnancy, usually around 10 or more pounds.

If your daily caloric intake has increased while carrying your baby and you do not decrease the caloric load following giving birth, it is likely that weight will be gained. A few pounds might not sound like a lot, but it can add up after having one to three babies over the course of a few years.

Increase in Shoe Size

Over the course of your pregnancy, it is likely that your feet are going to increase in size. There are two common reasons for this: (1) weight gain during your pregnancy will exert more weight onto your arch, flattening it and increasing your shoe size; (2) during pregnancy, the body releases a hormone called relaxin, which helps relax the ligaments and bones within the pelvis, thus making pregnancy easier.

This relaxation and increase in weight will lead to the ligaments in your feet becoming looser, thus increasing the length of your feet. The larger shoe size might feel worrisome, but it’s worth remembering that it’s just a part of pregnancy.

Abdominal Shifting

A common condition that occurs during pregnancy is that of diastasis recti abdominis. This condition causes the muscles in the abdominal wall to separate, creating a gap in between stomach muscles. This can lead to some discomfort or core weakness following pregnancy, so it can be useful to continue training said core muscles after giving birth, as it can help to ensure that the muscle group remains strong.

Sagging Breasts

Medically known as ptosis, breasts will begin to droop during pregnancy due to the stretching of ligaments and fatty tissues. The depressing fact, for some, is that once breasts sag they will not perk up again. But, like other effects, it is a commonality of pregnancy that shouldn’t be worried about.

Hair Growth and Loss

Many women notice during their pregnancy that the hair on their head appears stronger, denser, and lusher. But what happens after pregnancy? Well, the initial changes in the characteristics of your hair are due to an increase in hormones, which leads to you losing less hair while you are carrying. Yet,once your hormone levels return to normal, your hair will begin feeling as if it’s thinning and falling out.

You aren’t that crazy if you feel that way. Due to the overgrowth of hair, the body will begin shedding hair rapidly, primarily due to the sudden decrease in bodily hormones. This thinning and hair loss will continue for up to a year or more for most women, but there are ways to manage the changes in your hair health.

Various products on the market can be used to increase the health of your hair, either to increase the volume or its strength. But patience is key. Things will eventually return to normal, but you can undertake certain interventions to maintain hair health in the meantime.

Rectal Issues

During childbirth, it is possible for rectocele to happen. This is a common condition where the rectovaginal septum—the thin tissue of skin between the rectum and vagina—will hernia and possibly tear. This is more common to happen to women giving birth to larger babies, but it should be remembered that this happens to many women for various reasons, and recovery is a simple process.

Related | Why French Women Look So Good After Childbirth

Decreased Sex Drive

Because hormonal changes and breastfeeding, it can take over a year for a woman’s sex drive to return to normal. The common cause for this is due to estrogen levels being lower than normal. Moreover, fatigue caused by caring for the child might cause disinterest in sex for the foreseeable future.

Changes to Your Skin

Pregnancy brings about a number of changes that will appear all over your skin. One of the most well-known changes is that the common “black line,” traditionally called the linea nigra, which will run over the top of the belly and down to the pubic region. Other factors that women will begin to see is a browning of the face or the appearance of moles and dark spots around the skin.

The cause of this is an internal increase in melanin, which naturally adds color to both your skin and hair. While these dark spots, sometimes called melasma, might appear on your skin just during the course of your pregnancy, some women notice them even years after giving birth. If you’re noticing any skin changes, the most important thing is to keep an eye on them. And, if you plan on spending time outdoors, remember to wear suitable sunscreen.

Read Next | Healing After Vaginal Birth

Stretch Marks

While your skin might undergo some darkening during your pregnancy, it’s also likely that you’ll notice some stretch marks appearing around your skin.

Stretch marks aren’t solely caused by pregnancy itself—it is caused by fluctuations in weight, when the skin stretches and relaxes over time. Stretch marks will be most noticeable when first appearing, as the skin will have just stretched around that time, but it’s good to know that they will begin to fade with time, becoming less noticeable as your body relaxes into an even weight.

pregnant woman doing yoga
Read Next | Pregnancy Yoga Poses to Alleviate Common Side Effects of Pregnancy

Sharon McCarthy is the Content Director for Capillus, the world’s first, clinically-proven, FDA-cleared laser cap to treat hair loss. Sharon works to share informative and engaging content based off of the struggles and prevention of female hair loss and thinning. In her free time, she enjoys being on the water with her two daughters and husband.

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