When you are pregnant, your body undergoes many changes each day. It’s hard to keep up! Even after the baby is born, the body continues to change for many women. They may see permanent changes to their bodies and minds postpartum.3,4 If you are currently pregnant or recently gave birth, you are probably already prepared for the common postpartum symptoms, such as changing breasts, irregular periods, and even hair loss.3,5 But what about those postpartum body changes you may not be expecting? We discuss a few of them here!
5 Postpartum Body Changes You Don’t Expect
Here are five surprising postpartum body changes you may not know about:
1. Your Feet Size May Change
My own mother’s feet grew one size with each kid! After two kids, she had to officially throw out all her shoes and start her collection again. I thought this was unbelievable when I was younger, but it’s extremely common.6 When we’re pregnant, our feet swell.7 The ligaments and muscles that swell during pregnancy often never return to their original state.8 Many new mothers have said that even after they’ve lost the baby weight, their extremities, like their hands and feet, remained at their new, larger size.
2. Your Hair Color May Change
This is true for texture, too. Many moms have reported seeing their bright strands turn a bit darker or change from super straight to curly seemingly overnight. Hormones may be to blame for the hair change.3 However, with your body changing so much postpartum, it makes sense your hair would follow suit.
If you are concerned about your hair changing, don’t be! Blondes can keep their hair bright post-baby by seeing a colorist or trying at-home hair dye. Those who don’t want to reach for chemicals can use a purple shampoo, which helps brighten locks instantly with one wash. Regarding texture changes, invest in some hot tools, try out new hairstyles, and embrace the new you. You may come to love your new post-baby look.
3. You’ll Be Reaching for More Water
It’s a small postpartum change, but your body may never seem able to quench its thirst after giving birth.9 For breastfeeding women, the thirsty feeling may be intensified even more.10 This is likely to subside after a few weeks or so. In the meantime, the best thing you can do is always keep water near you! This includes while you are on the run; invest in a water bottle you love and take it everywhere. Not only will this keep you from feeling thirsty all the time, but it will keep you and your baby extra healthy.
4. That Confused Feeling May Not Go Away
Do you remember that feeling during pregnancy when you forgot things and felt slightly lost? This phenomenon is called “pregnancy brain,” and it’s not just for pregnancy! Pregnancy brain continues post-baby for many women — so many that it’s been dubbed “mom brain” instead. Your hormones are raging, your body is changing, and you suddenly have this huge, new responsibility, so it’s okay for your brain to have difficulty keeping up postpartum.11 If your mom brain gets to be too much, try meditating, taking deep breaths, and, most of all, giving yourself a break.
5. The Return of Fertility
This is one most new parents don’t even consider. You just had a baby; you aren’t thinking about having another baby yet! And maybe you’ve heard it can’t happen until after your first period returns, which may be a while. Fertility for most women doesn’t usually return until at least six weeks postpartum. On average, it’s been shown to return on day 74 postpartum.1 Breastfeeding has also been shown to suppress the return of fertility.2 But it’s essential for moms who aren’t breastfeeding to take precautionary measures to ensure they don’t get pregnant too soon.
Knowing more about the surprising changes your body goes through postpartum can help you feel prepared for — and maybe even welcome! — some of the changes. Did any of the body changes on this list surprise you? Have you experienced any of them after pregnancy? Let us know!