9 Unexpected Ways Your Body Can Change After Giving Birth

Giving birth is both a significant life-changing and body-changing experience, on account of the whole “growing a baby and then having a baby” thing. Most of the ways your body changes after childbirth will likely come as little surprise to anyone who knows even one thing about pregnancy. However, seeing them all listed in one place is kind of mind blowing in a “bodies can do that?!” kind of way.

Recently, Reddit user Brooklyn1997 asked people on the subreddit r/AskWomen, “In what ways did your body permanently change after giving birth?” Some answers are silly. Some are serious. All of them reinforce the very scientific facts that 1) women’s bodies are powerful forces to be reckoned with and 2) anyone who gives birth deserves a trophy made of pizza and hundred dollar bills.

Of course, no two bodies are the same. The ways in which one person’s body responds to childbirth is not going to be identical to another person’s birth experience. Additionally, these changes may be temporary for some and more permanent for other. Aside from being and feeling healthy, there is no “right” way for a body to look after having a baby. Whether you’re curious what changes your post-childbirth body may go through or you just want to feel awe-inspired by anyone who’d given birth, here are nine ways bodies can change after having a baby, according to Redditors.

Stretch Marks

One of the top voted responses to the question includes getting stretch marks, which likely comes as little surprise. Because they’re associated with weight gain and loss, it makes sense that stretch marks and pregnancy would go hand in hand. Whether stretchmarks disappear or stay depends on a number of different factors, like the kind of treatments someone uses if they choose to go that route.

Stretch marks are incredibly common. Studies show anywhere between 50 to 90 percent of women have them. It seems silly not to celebrate stretch marks, something so common that also tells a story about yourself and your body.

Breast Size and Shape

The top voted response also mentioned “boob sag” as a way their body changed post-pregnancy. Again, probably not a huge surprise that boobs get bigger with breastfeeding and pregnancy. However, it’s important to note that science has stated breastfeeding will not make your breasts sag. The pertness of a person’s chest has more to do with age and genetics than anything else.

Menstrual Cycle

Maybe the most surprise part of the top-voted comment mentioned a significant change in the person’s period. “The thing I didn’t expect was my periods became a joke after having a child,” Redditor Anadorei wrote. “They were terrible before and I had to take off work occasionally. Now I barely notice I have them.” Another user said the opposite happened to them, “What. My periods used to be crazy light and now I can’t stand up without a waterfall for three days.” Because your period has been M.I.A. for nine-ish months, it makes sense that you may see changes in your menstrual cycle after pregnancy.

Hip Width

“My hips grew much wider,” one Redditor wrote. A handful of others also listed widened hips as a way their body changed post-childbirth. Wider hips was your body’s way of getting ready to have a baby. As states, “Pregnancy hormones cause the ligaments holding the pelvic girdle together to soften, allowing the birth canal to widen during labor and delivery.” Also, weight gain in your hips is a normal part of the pregnancy progresses, which may linger after you give birth.

Foot Size

You’ve likely heard that feet can swell during pregancy. However, a number women in this Reddit thread say their feet stayed big post-pregnancy. “My feet grew a size and a half, and never went back to their original size,” one Reddit user wrote. Another said they “went from a 6 1/2-7 to a size 8.” So, I think that basically means you get to reward yourself with some new shoes after giving birth.

Hair Texture

One of the weird things pregnancy does to your body is change your hair. Hormones like estrogen often give you voluminous, Shampoo commercial-like locks while you’re pregnant. For some, that may impact how your hair is after you give birth. “My hair wants to frizz/halfway curl all the time now, which was NOT its original texture,” Reddit user Veggiesaur wrote. One Redditor had the opposite happen. “My hair was super frizzy/wavy/annoying before kids,” they wrote, “and now after 3 is pretty much straight and smooth.”

What Feels Good During Sex

Figuring out how to have a sex life after childbirth is a normal part of post-pregnancy for many women. Understandably, pushing a human out of your vagina might make things feel different down there. “Sex from behind feels completely different,” one Redditor shared, “the [angles] feel weird, often painful.” Finding out how to have pleasurable sex for all parties will likely require some communication. (Frankly, pleasurable sex regardless of whether you’ve given birth requires some form of communication.)

Another Reddit user offered a word of advice for partners of people who’ve given birth: “My husband said "Wow, it's a lot different down there", the first [time] we had sex, after I had my first child. That's not ever an appropriate thing to say to your female partner. Just, not ever.”

Sense of Smell

You can blame pregnancy hormones, like estrogen, for your basically bionic sense of smell when pregnant. That heightened sense of smell, likely caused by increased blood flow, stays for some women. “Smells that really bothered me and made nauseous while I was pregnant still bother me. Especially air fresheners!” one Redditor wrote.

Food Cravings

Weird pregnancy cravings are an expected, if not stereotypic, part of having a baby. For some women, those cravings remained even after giving birth. Two different Redditors shared that they “developed a taste for butter” after childbirth. (If the way I eat popcorn is any indication, I have had a baby and didn’t know.)