Pregnancy is different for every woman. While some of us have an easy and joyful time while growing a young one, others find themselves meeting up with their doctor for pain and complications — which can be a little terrifying. Especially since it’s tough to predict how each individual pregnancy will go. But one thing remains true — there are ways pregnancy changes your body forever, and while some of them seem scary, they’re often worth the payoff. (Seriously, the second your baby smiles at you, you’ll remember that those stretch marks are just a meaningful tattoo he or she gave to you to commemorate the experience!)
If you’re willing and able to carry a child, you’ve probably seen a few changes along the way. The most obvious and talked-about is the growing bump — when you see it emerge, you’ll probably document each week with a bunch of photos. But you might not want to photograph your larger feet or unrecognizable chest. They’re there, but they simply aren’t as, well, shareable.
Should any of these changes convince you not to have a child? Of course not. While children aren’t for everyone, and many of us are childfree by choice, for those that want kids, these body changes should be seen more as a reminder as to how powerful our bodies can be — not a deterrent.
Here are just a few ways pregnancy changes your body that you may want to prepare for.
1 Wider hips
It makes sense as to why hips widen — and for many of us, they’ll stay that way after the baby. According to SELF, that’s because your pelvis has changed since giving birth. While you might be pretty sensitive about it, especially if you can’t wait to change back into your regular, non-maternity jeans, just know that it’s not a change that’s always visibly obvious.
2 Bigger feet
Again, this isn’t something that all women face — but with certain pregnancies, shoes go up a size and happen to stay that way. Back in 2013, LiveScience reported on research that studied pregnant women’s feet both during the pregnancy and five months after delivery and found that between 60 and 70 percent of those studied had longer feet and shorter arches.
3 Darker areolas
If you’re a new mom who chooses to breastfeed, you’ll become pretty well-aware of your boobs. While they’ll also change sizes, it’s fascinating to know that your areolas may darken permanently. Parents magazine noted that hormones are to blame for these types of pregnancy changes. Some women do see the coloration go back to normal after a few months, so — as with all pregnancy symptoms and situations — it may not happen to you.
4 Hair changes
A ton of women report that their hair falls out after giving birth — and many women often feel like their hair gets a little greasy during pregnancy itself. But sometimes hair changes textures. Curly hair starts falling a little flat, or vice versa. Pregnancy means that estrogen is present, so hair can often feel thick and wonderful while you’re carrying your baby. Everything afterward is often an adjustment which seems a lot more severe than it really is.
5 Your tummy
During your pregnancy, it’ll expand — of course. That’s one of the obvious ways that pregnancy changes your body. But after pregnancy, you’ll still have what people call a “pregnancy pouch” for awhile. But don’t be hard on yourself, since you grew a really incredible person in there. Plus, there are certain ways to help tone the area a bit if it’s something that’s important to you — it’ll just take some time.
6 Emotional changes
Technically it’s a body change, since as you’ve probably watched (and cried to) Inside Out a bunch, you know that emotions are all part of your overall makeup. Once again, you can blame the hormones while you’re pregnant. But even afterward, you may find yourself tearing up at stuff you’d have ignored prior to. Whether it’s an episode about family dynamics on This Is Us, or a sad local news story, you may feel some waterworks. Those who cry and feel hopeless should get checked for postpartum depression by their physician, which is a very real and serious condition that affects a lot of new moms. But if you feel like you’re just emoting a bit more, it’s because your baby just reminded you how precious life is.