As if the bizarre changes to your body during pregnancy weren't enough, there's an entirely new world of differences to adjust to after you've given birth. Don't worry, though, because you're not alone. There are plenty of weird things about postpartum that every woman goes through. Sure, you probably already know to expect a shift in your weight, but what about the strange effects having a baby does to you that aren't exactly popular to discuss? Trust me, every woman has Google searched a bizarre symptom in the middle of the night, convinced they're the only ones who must be going through such an odd experience.
But, if you're fortunate enough to have friends whose collective vocabulary does not include the phrase "TMI," then you may have already gotten a sneak peek at what's in store after you have your baby. I'm thankful to have open, genuine friends who will unabashedly tell me about every unusual place they've found hair growing and what there nipples looked like after a marathon session of breast feeding. So check out some of these weird things about postpartum that every woman goes through to get rid of any worries or stigma about a totally natural experience.
1. You Still Look Pregnant
If we're being completely honest, I was shocked when I looked down after giving birth to see that my stomach was about as big as when I was five months pregnant. But don't worry, that's completely normal. Dr. Melinda Johnson, a dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, told The Huffinington Post that a woman's body, "took nine months to get there; it should take at least that long to get back to their fighting weight." So it turns out that even though it may seem weird to still have a baby bump postpartum, that's OK.
2. Your Hormones Fluctuate
You've probably heard of the "baby blues" — the emotional first weeks a new mother experiences due to hormonal changes — but you may not know exactly how strange things can become. According to the American Pregnancy Association, women can expect insomnia, mood swings, and unexplained crying postpartum as their hormone levels readjust to their pre-pregnancy state. However, if your thoughts ever turn to harming yourself, your baby, or your emotions feel unbearable, call your physician immediately to talk about postpartum depression and anxiety.
3. You Loathe Urinating
If you had a vaginal delivery, you already know how delicate you have to be to avoid pain or injury. But if you're freaked out that it hurts to pee, don't worry. OB-GYN Dr. Nancy Herta told Self, "if you have any kind of tear when you have a baby, it burns horribly when you urinate." Thankfully this doesn't last long and can be alleviated by pouring warm water on the region while you go to the bathroom.
4. Your Shoes Don't Fit
Not being able to wear your old jeans is one thing, but for some women, their shoes might not fit postpartum. Before you freak out that you're turning into a giant, there's a totally scientific reason. "During pregnancy, your body releases hormones that cause your ligaments to stretch," Amy Bunton, a registered nurse, tells Romper. "Your pelvis spreads to accommodate a baby, and those same stretching hormones can cause your feet to expand, too." For some women the growth is permanent, but for others, the change may not be noticeable enough to necessitate buying new shoes.
5. You're Constipated
I scoffed when my nurse advised I start drinking prune juice as soon as I got home. Oh, how naive I was. Postpartum constipation is totally a real (and weird) thing that happens to almost every woman. Whether you experienced an intense, extended vaginal delivery or had a C-section, according to the medical experts at the Baby Center, a lack of food or drugs you received during delivery can cause constipation. No pun intended, but this, too, shall pass.
6. Your Hair Falls Out
Well, you won't lose all your hair at once, but your luscious locks do get a little lackluster postpartum. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, "the excessive shedding is caused by falling estrogen levels," so you're not actually going bald. Additionally, aesthetican and stylist Tiffany Sposato tells Romper that, "hair growth has phases and while you're pregnant, the shedding phase is on pause." So what happens once Mother Nature presses play? "Postpartum, all the hair you would've shed over the past nine months comes out relatively quickly," Sposato explains. Basically, it only seems like your hair is falling out because you've got nearly a year's worth of shedding to catch up on.
7. You Walk Differently
No, you're not hallucinating if you think your stride is a bit strange postpartum. Dr. Shannon Clark, a professor in the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the University of Texas, told U.S. News & World Report that, "some women will notice that their pelvis and way they walk might never be quite the same." My walk changed, but I just imagine that I'm Princess Elsa when she's feeling herself.
8. You're A New Person
This may sound weird, but whether you've consciously realized it or not, you have a new identity postpartum. Bunton tells Romper that every woman has a moment where it hits them that they're a real mom now. Getting to add another title to your resume can definitely be a life-changing experience. "But if you feel like the change is too much, this could be a sign of postpartum anxiety and you should seek medical attention," Bunton advises. One thing that's never weird is knowing when to ask for help.
9. Your Skin's Color Changes
It doesn't matter what your complexion is, if you've had a baby, chances are high you will experience some type of change in your skin's appearance. As OB-GYN Roger W. Harms told Parents, a vertical line on your stomach (linea nigra) can look lighter, darker, or more noticeable, especially after being out in the sun. This most likely will fade over time, but some women still have a slight discoloration.
10. You're Super Sweaty
If you're afraid you went directly from pregnancy to menopause, allow me to ease your mind. Waking up with night sweats is a weird postpartum experience, but totally legit. According to the experts at What To Expect, you're just losing all the excess water you've retained during pregnancy or from receiving fluids during delivery. Again, this strange process is only temporary.
11. You're An Individual
Just because your particular postpartum oddity didn't make the list doesn't mean that you are weird. Bunton reminds Romper that every woman, and every postpartum experience, is unique. However, if something is making you particularly unsettled or concerned, it's always a good idea to play it safe and talk with your physician.