8 Possible Ways Your Body Might Permanently Change After Pregnancy

Here's what could be in store for your body next after pregnancy.

Saying that your body changes during pregnancy is an understatement. "While most changes that happen during pregnancy are temporary, some women do experience lasting effects," Los Angeles–based ob-gyn Pari Ghodsi, MD, FACOG, said.

Some of these shifts—like stretch marks and loose skin—are common, and you may know to expect them. Others are more surprising. Not all postpartum individuals find themselves dealing with each one. But if you're expecting or plan to be in the future, here are eight body changes to prepare yourself for.

Your Hair Falls Out—Or It Changes Color or Texture

Pregnancy gives many people thick, shiny hair. "Increased estrogen levels during pregnancy support hair growth and prevent the typical shedding we experience when not pregnant," Susan Smarr, MD, an ob-gyn at Kaiser Permanente in Santa Clara, California, said.

But when hair cycles return to normal after pregnancy, some people naturally begin shedding about three months postpartum. So you should be prepared for postpartum hair changes, like how much hair falls from your scalp—washing down your shower drain every day is a lot. "It's important that women know to expect this increased amount of hair loss, so they don't get concerned that something abnormal is happening," Dr. Smarr said.

Many postpartum individuals also report that their hair texture or color (hello, new grays!) changes too, though these changes are less common. "These are anecdotal reports—it's not a recognized process that happens with regularity like the expected hair loss," Dr. Smarr said.

Your Breasts Shrink

If you choose to breastfeed, it can make your breasts swell and increase in size. But after your breasts close up shop and lactation stops, you might wind up a smaller cup than when you began, Dr. Ghodsi said. For example, a person who conceived their baby as a B cup might upsize to a D cup and then wind up an A cup. "You lose a lot of breast elasticity, so they're not as full as they once were," Dr. Ghodsi said.

Your Period Gets Heavier

Not only do you have to endure weeks of bleeding after having a baby (whether vaginally or C-section), but now your monthly period might be different, too, Dr. Ghodsi said. (Expect your periods to resume two months after you stop breastfeeding.) "It's not uncommon for women to see their periods get heavier after they have a child. We have no idea why that is—it's one of the weird mysteries about childbirth," Dr. Ghodsi said.

Your Body Becomes Wider

Sure, you expect your stomach to grow significantly bigger during pregnancy. However, you may not realize that your ribcage has to expand to accommodate your growing uterus. In addition, your hips also need to widen to provide an easier exit down the birth canal during delivery. After pregnancy, however, your ribs and hips may not shift back to where they used to be. "Some women report that even after getting back to pre-baby weight, the shape of their body has changed," Dr. Ghodsi said.

That Dark Line Down Your Belly Doesn't Fade Away

Thanks to hormonal changes throughout pregnancy, the skin of certain body areas, like your nipples, might become darker. You may also develop a dark line that runs down your abdomen, called the linea nigra. "Once hormones go back to normal postpartum, this usually goes away, but for some, it's permanent," Dr. Ghodsi said. If yours has not faded and it bothers you, talk to a dermatologist about your options to diminish this discoloration.

Your Favorite Pumps Pinch Your Feet

When you're pregnant, everything swells up, which can make fitting into your shoes a sport. So, while you might look forward to the day when you can slide back into your favorite pair, we've got news for you. There's evidence that during pregnancy, "the arches of the feet tend to fall, and the length of the foot increases," Dr. Smarr said. Sometimes, this means a permanent change in shoe size. So consider it a great excuse to go shoe shopping and get some new kicks.

Your Rings Won't Fit on Your Fingers

Pregnancy may cause your hands, including your fingers, to swell. But you may notice that your rings still don't fit even weeks after delivery. It might even look like your knuckles have changed shape. However, Dr. Smarr said that no data show that the swelling or knuckle changes are long-term or permanent.

It may take some time, but if you lose weight gained during pregnancy, you should be able to slide on your bands again. As an alternative, you can always get your rings re-sized. Bodies undergo significant changes before and after pregnancy, and fluctuations in weight are perfectly normal.

One Glass of Wine Makes You Feel Buzzed

You likely didn't drink alcohol during pregnancy. However, once you are postpartum, if you start having alcohol, such as a glass of wine at dinner or while socializing, you may not be able to get through half a glass without feeling a significant buzz.

"This comes down to a frequency of use: If you went 40 weeks without alcohol, your tolerance would vastly decrease," Dr. Smarr said. Lack of sleep can also make you more sensitive to alcohol. If you have a newborn at home and aren't well-rested, this could be a culprit. However, if you resume your social drinking habit, your tolerance will eventually go back up, Dr. Smarr said.

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