All Woman

How your body changes with childbirth

BY DONNA HUSSEY-WHYTE All Woman writer husseyd@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, June 18, 2012    

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AS a general rule, there are some things that are standard with childbirth — the stretch marks, for example, that many women have dubbed battle scars. Body changes are expected, for the most part, but it's also expected that exercise and diet can get you back to that pre-pregnancy body in a flash.

But there are women who have experienced other physical changes, some they did not even expect — changes that hang around after pregnancy and soon become permanent. Some are welcomed, some grudgingly tolerated, others merely boggle the mind.

Obstetrician and gynaecologist at the University Hospital of the West Indies Professor Horace Fletcher names some of these.

1. Shoe size gets bigger. "This is usually temporary and is due to retention of fluid (oedema). Soon after childbirth she should lose all the excess fluid and be back to a normal shoe size," the doctor said. However, there are women whose shoe sizes have increased — feet wider or longer — and stayed that way.

2. Enlarging of the nose. Dr Fletcher said the oedema affects the nose as well in some women causing it to enlargen. This often goes down days or weeks after childbirth.

3. Excessive hair growth or hair loss. "The hormonal changes in pregnancy may cause changes in hair growth," Dr Fletcher explained. However, while some women may experience growth in their hair, others will lose hair. Things should return to normal a few months after delivery.

4. Skin issues. Some women who have suffered from severe acne before pregnancy could see their skin start to clear up during the pregnancy process. However, other women will experience a reddish rash around their mouth and chin, or suffer from extremely dry skin. It's all in the hormones.

5. Baby got back. Some women report wider hips, larger thighs and rear ends that stay with them even after pregnancy and after gym work. These are made more pronounced with subsequent pregnancies, as body shapes change forever.

6. Breast changes. For many women, breasts get smaller and saggier months after pregnancy. The breasts get large fast as the body prepares to produce milk, and as they get larger the ligaments stretch. But as soon as the milk supply dwindles, so will the boobs — stretched out ligaments and all.

For other women, though, the reverse happens, and those with A cups move to perennially perky Bs and Cs.

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