Pregnancy does all kinds of things to a woman’s body, and some of them — like weird cravings, “pregnancy brain/mommy brain” or the need to pee all the time — are temporary. Gestating a baby for nine months is full of surprises and so many emotions as well. Here’s what no one told you about carrying a child.
Morning sickness or all day and night sickness
People talk of morning sickness as a common symptom. Like you throw up once in the morning and spend the entire day feeling chilled. And that it ends in four weeks. Not so for some women. There are women who have experienced severe morning sickness also known as “hyperemesis gravidarum”, which basically means “excessive vomiting during pregnancy”.
It usually follows a timeline similar to morning sickness, but it often begins earlier in the pregnancy, between 4 and 5 weeks, and lasts longer. As other symptoms become less severe as the pregnancy progresses, severe morning sickness could be experienced throughout the entire pregnancy. For many who have this experience, it can be alienating, isolating and miserable, especially for first timers.
The post-pregnancy belly problem
Six out of 10 women experience a pudgy look six weeks after childbirth, even after going back to their normal weight. While 3 out of ten women will have it a year after birth. There is a term for this condition — diastasis recti (DR). Diastasis recti is a condition where a woman’s abdominal muscles stretch so much that they separate and her body is not capable of putting them back without physical therapy. Many women have not heard of this condition. Diastasis recti is usually misdiagnosed, under-reported, under-treated, and also severely under-researched.
Even though DR can affect anyone — women, men and children, clinicians who treat DR in post-pregnant women say it often occurs in women who carry large babies or twins, have given birth multiple times, are petite or short-torsoed, or have tight abdominal muscles prior to pregnancy. Other women at risk include those with a history of surgery, C-section, constipation, or weak connective tissues.
It can affect women even years after pregnancy and childbirth, and can lead to all kinds of complications and pain — like pelvic organ prolapse (when organs drop into the vagina), urinary and fecal incontinence, loss of stability, breathing and digestive problems, pelvic girdle pain, back pain, and pain or reduced sensation during sex.
Weird body changes
No shit? Yes, for a short while hopefully. You may not be able to take a dump as things get clogged up. Your bowel movements or a lack thereof, slows down as a result of progesterone which terribly slumps down digestion. Constipation is a pretty common side effects that thankfully abates after some time for some people.
Taking up more space
Your body is going to feel alien to you. You may struggle with your increased “visibility”. Do not fret revere in your newly found status. To produce milk to feed your baby, your boobs will take on a life of their own. Be prepared to go up two or three sizes or more from your normal bra size. As the breasts grow, you may experience tenderness or sensitivity and also notice that the veins are darker and the nipples protrude more than before pregnancy.
You may also develop stretch marks on your boobs, particularly if they undergo rapid growth. Most women begin producing and even leaking, small amount of a thick yellowish substance around the second trimester. This yellow substance is known as colostrum.
During pregnancy, women experience higher estrogen levels which keep their hair from falling out at its normal rate. However, after pregnancy, when estrogen levels drop and return to normal, the hair has to play catch up. This leads to shedding. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the heavy shedding period occurs one to five months after pregnancy. This temporal hair loss, usually returns to normal within 6-12 months.
Sex drive dive or spike
The changes women experience in pregnancy may affect their sex drive. Some have reported being out-of-their mind lusty and in love with their husbands, especially in the third trimester or even right after birth. Others, with the change in estrogen levels, experience a pretty low sex drive. It will take time, but will eventually rebound.
A woman’s body undergoes a lot during pregnancy. It may even be difficult for the body to keep up with the changes. And while not everyone will experience the joys of pregnancy, it is important to find someone who you can share some of your frustrations with — spouse, family, friends, midwife or doula, or your medical provider.