They say having kids keeps you young. It may even keep you slim in the future: According to a recent study, breastfeeding helps keep your body mass index, or BMI, (the number that indicates how much fat you have) down when you’re in your 50s and later on. And, of course, having kids changes your life.
But how can having kids – how can having a baby –change your body? Here’s what you may not have heard:
Breasts: During pregnancy, your breasts grow and prepare to produce milk. The Cooper’s ligaments in the breast loosen with the growth of the breast. The result? Possibly lower-hanging breasts that may feel “deflated” or appear smaller. What you can do: chest exercises, such as push-ups.
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Skin: Melanin is increased when you’re pregnant, skin tags result from extra skin growth during pregnancy, and stretch marks result from elastic fibers in the skin stretching during this time.
This may lead to discolorations, including stretch marks, on your breasts, hips, stomach, brown patches on your forehead, cheek, upper lip, and nose, and/or that your moles have become bigger and/or darker, and skin tags. What you can do: Retin-A cream can help fade some discolorations.
Hips: Ligaments connected to the pelvis get softer due to hormones released during pregnancy, allowing more room for your baby to grow. Bottom line? Your hips can get wider. What you can do: Nothing. Or, enjoy your more-curvy figure.
Veins: Extra blood circulates to nourish a growing baby. At the same time, increased progesterone relaxes your blood vessels. The result? Your blood vessels must work harder when you’re pregnant, which may cause varicose veins or spider veins. What you can do: Treatments such as sclerotherapy. Or, forget your “spiders” and just enjoy your rug rats.
Bladder: Muscles that hold the bladder can be weakened by pregnancy and vaginal childbirth due to extra weight and hormone changes. After childbirth, you may leak urine during physical activity, such as exercise, laughing, or coughing. What you can do: Kegel exercises.
These are just some of the changes that may or may not occur, after having a baby. Just as having a baby can change people’s lives in different ways, it can change women’s bodies differently; or even not at all.
When it comes to body changes after childbirth, as Eileen Schnitger, Director of Public Policy at Women’s Health Specialists notes, “It depends on the woman.” “In our experience, it just seems like women have a lot of different experiences.”
What changes have you experienced after childbirth?
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Anna Katzman is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in psychiatry, certified in child and adolescent mental health. She is a regular contributor to GalTime. You can visit her blog for additional information.