Most mothers describe pregnancy as a fantastic adventure that takes them through a journey of self-discovery and love.
But, for anyone who has experienced pregnancy, the journey to motherhood isn’t always an easy one. Indeed, pregnancy puts a lot of pressure on your body, and, as a result, you can experience a variety of uncomfortable symptoms. The most common of all is morning sickness, which can affect pregnant women during the first 12 weeks. While not every pregnant woman will experience nausea, you’ll be hard pressed to meet a woman who hasn’t!
Additionally, weight gain is a typical complaint when it comes to making peace with your postpartum body. It doesn’t matter how much you love your baby. As a woman, it can be challenging to accept that your body has changed dramatically. Weight gain is normal during pregnancy. But as a mother, you accept that putting on weight is a necessary consequence when you have a baby. Therefore, you are also aware before getting pregnant that you will probably have to work out and get back in shape in order to fit into your old clothes again.
Nausea and weight gain are known facts about pregnancy. They are things that you may not be looking forward to, but that are part of your mental journey ahead of pregnancy. You know to expect these issues, and you find yourself tolerating them. But if you’re going through your first pregnancy, you are discovering the full range of real pregnant bodies problems. These are the top 7 things that every woman agree she wasn’t prepared for:
Having a baby weakens you
It would be unfair to describe the female body as a baby-making machine, but it is fair to say that your body is ultimately coded for reproduction. Pregnancy and labor put a lot of physical pressure on you. But your body is designed to cope with those. Don’t fool yourself, however, into believing that it will a child’s play. Having a baby is exhausting. Without having experienced pregnancy before, you can’t begin to comprehend how drained you will feel towards the end of the pregnancy and after birth. There’s a reason why doctors recommend to boost your fitness regime if you are planning to get pregnant. Carrying a baby is a lot of work. Even if you work hard to improve your overall fitness, your strength, and your endurance, you will find yourself way behind your former fitness levels after birth. The best way to recover is to help your body rebuild strength through a moderate activity such as walking. Indeed, motherhood means little to no sleep, which makes it harder for you to recover physically. Building up your fitness levels through walking also helps to increase your recovery process.
What happens to my body?
While weight gain is a consequence you can accept, you might struggle with other issues such as stretch marks. Indeed, these long and narrow streaks that develop on your skin tend to appear on your stomach, hips, and breasts area during pregnancy. The clue is in the name; they are caused by the extensive stretching of your skin, which occurs when you’re carrying a baby. The good news is that they are harmful to your health. The bad news is that they are not aesthetically pleasing. Many women who are not ashamed of their weight gain feel embarrassed about stretch marks. They fear the lines in their skin make them ugly. First of all, most stretch marks can fade over time and become less noticeable in the first year after giving birth. Regular massages with a healing oil can do wonders. Similarly keeping your fitness regime can also help the skin to stay toned.
You’re way larger than you used to be
Another odd thing you might not have been prepared for is that, even if you love all the weight you’ve gained, you still may not be able to fit into your pre-baby body. Indeed, when we say that pregnancy puts a lot of pressure on your body, it’s not an exaggeration. Your hips and pelvis are designed to accommodate a growing fetus. As such, the pelvic joints and ligaments loosen and expand to prepare for delivery. But, what you might not know is that this natural body response can also widen your hips. In other words, your skeleton can be transformed by pregnancy. You can find ways to shrink back your hips to a smaller size and sometimes recover your pre-pregnancy hip width. The most common strategy is a combination of exercises and a compression belt. However, the results are not always guaranteed. You need to be prepared for the fact that your body might change a lot more than you can imagine.
You lose gray matter in the brain
Your brain consists of gray matter, which are the cell bodies, and white matter, which are filaments from the cell bodies. As a rule of the thumb, the denser the gray matter is in a specific area of your brain, the better you are at developing and maintaining skills and various abilities. If you’re a fan of Hercule Poirot, you’ve probably heard his famous saying “the little gray cells” when referring to his intelligence. Indeed, the denser the gray matter, the more likely you are to rank high on an intelligence test. So, you’d be surprised to know that pregnancy affects your gray matter. While the effect is not permanent – but it can last up to two years after the birth –, your pregnant brain experience a loss in cell bodies to activate areas that are related to maternal attachment. While your brain will go back to its full function, having a baby makes you dumber for a short period of time.
Your hormones are going through the roof
You don’t need to be pregnant to have heard about postpartum depression. As we, as a society, become more aware of mental health issues, postpartum cases have gained awareness. But, it’s essential to understand that it’s more than a matter of mild depression. Postpartum occurs as a consequence of the hormonal imbalance that follows childbirth. Indeed, women experience an estrogen dominance, which typically regulates itself after birth. However, when the imbalance remains, your thyroid functions are affected, which can lead to fatigue, inability to lose weight, menstrual problems, weak immune system, and depression.
Forget cravings; nothing tastes the same
The typical story about pregnancy and food is that pregnant women tend to crave strawberries. In reality, cravings are the last of your worries. Pregnancy can affect the way food tastes. Some pregnant women recall loving food that they would have usually turned down or the opposite. But what hides behind this strange phenomenon is a change in your tasting abilities. Indeed, pregnancy changes the way the brain handles information, meaning that it receives more data about taste. Some foods seem more intense to the point of becoming overwhelming.
Eating for two is a lie
Last, but not least, you’ve heard the piece of advice that pregnant women should eat for two. The truth is that you shouldn’t. You should eat twice as healthy, but you shouldn’t increase your quantities dramatically. Experts agree that you need only one extra snack a day during the second and third trimesters. Overeating is likely to affect your overall strength – which makes labor and recovery more challenging. But it doesn’t help your pregnancy. And, of course, nutrition still matters once you have given birth. You need to make sure that you are giving your body what it needs to support your own health and recovery, as well as give you what you need to support your baby’s growth and development. You may wish to look into best postnatal vitamins as soon as you know you are expecting so that you can get these in place long before you need them and give yourself one less thing to worry about once the baby is born.
Your pregnant body will experience a lot of transformation. But understanding what is normal and what to expect in physical, mental, and emotional areas can help you to maintain your sanity. You can never be too prepared!