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100 Women on the Wildest Ways Their Bodies Changed After Pregnancy

NEW MOM explores the brilliant, terrible, wonderful, confusing realities of first-time motherhood. It’s for anybody who wants to be a new mom, is a new mom, was a new mom, or wants really good reasons to never be a new mom.

What exactly does having a baby do to your body? Who knows! Postpartum care in particular tends to be focused on the new baby rather than the new mother, which means (among other things), that many of the changes that happen to a woman’s body during and after pregnancy may go unreported.

We do know from research that diastasis recti — a separation of the abdominal muscles — may affect up to 60 percent of postpartum women six weeks after giving birth, and as Angela Garbes reports in her new book, Like A Mother, pelvic pain and pelvic floor problems are also common. But beyond that, there simply isn’t a lot of rigorous research tracking the changes that happen to the bodies of new moms and moms-to-be.

But you know who does know what happens to postpartum bodies? The owners of those bodies. We asked women to tell us the wildest thing that happened to their bodies during pregnancy or after giving birth. Here’s what they told us.

Illustration: Jeanne Verdoux

1 Woman Whose Boobs Are Different Sizes Now

One thing that nobody told me about was that very often, babies will reject one breast when you’re breastfeeding. My son is 7 months old and he has nursed exclusively from my right breast for 5 months. Every time I tried to have him nurse on the left side, he’d just push away and cry.

Another thing I didn’t know until I was a breastfeeding mom: Your breasts can have very different milk capacities. Like, when I pump, I can get four ounces out of my right breast in a session, which is as much as a baby needs in a feeding. But from my left, I only ever get one ounce — that’s the max I ever get. So for my son at a certain point, he was like, “Why am I gonna try to get this milk out if I’m only going to get a snack?”

It’s amazing that my body has figured out how to have one boob be enough to sustain him, but it also means that my right boob is two cup sizes bigger than my left boob. I have this annoying problem where even though my baby won’t eat from the left breast, it still produces, and it leaks all the time. Then again, because it’s leaking, I have to wear a nursing pad, so that kind of evens out how big they look. I’m hopeful that they’ll go back to normal when I stop breastfeeding, but they might be totally different for the rest of my life.

1 Woman Who Got the Boobs She Always Wanted

Pregnancy and birth took me for a fucking whirlwind, but I got my son and the thing I had been waiting for since I turned 11 — boobs. I finally got boobs!

After breastfeeding, my nipples were torn, cut up, bruised, just entirely destroyed, but my boobs were still full! I made sure to take plenty of pictures in case I ever decided to stop shopping and use the money for augmentation. Nine months into official motherhood and my full boobs are still hanging in. My whirlwind of a pregnancy rewarded me with a beautiful boy and a pretty nice rack.

1 Woman Who No Longer Recognizes Her Boobs

I’m about halfway through my pregnancy, and at this point the most noticeable change has been the color of my areola. They went from a pale pink to a pretty dark brown. I know this is pretty normal, but it’s so weird to look in the mirror and basically see someone else’s boobs.

1 Woman Whose Boobs Grew Six Cup Sizes

Your breasts usually increase about two cups in size. Mine went from a 32D to a 34J. SIX CUP SIZES. I’m 5’4” with a (typically) 27” waist. It just looked BONKERS.

4 Women Whose Rib Cages Expanded

I’ve never been certain that this had really happened — I didn’t measure it. But my husband asked me one day if I’d ever broken any ribs. And I said, “No, I haven’t really had any bad injuries.” And he said, “Well, it’s just that — your ribs really stick out on your left side.” And I don’t remember really pondering it before that, but as soon as he said that, I realized, huh. I mean, I had had a very large baby.

My second baby was born at 9 pounds, 2 ounces — two pounds more than my first baby — while I was 5’2” and weighed about 118. So I started to think, “Well, this is plausible!” I would think there probably was some extra pressure on my ribs. I’m not a medical person or anything, but I think it’s well assumed that the pelvis becomes more flexible during pregnancy — so, maybe all your bones become flexible? I don’t have to wear larger shirt sizes or anything, but if you see my bare midriff, it’s noticeable that my ribcage is very lopsided.

My rib cage expanded and although I look and feel mostly how I did before pregnancy and birth, my ribs are still wider (so are my hips, but I expected that more).

My first pregnancy, 25 years ago, widened my rib cage. My bra size went up in inches, down in cup size.

My rib cage expanded and never went back! I’m still mad about it. All of my button-down shirts stopped fitting, and it’s not because my bra size went up. (It did go up … but then it went down. And now it’s smaller than it was pre-kids.)

1 Woman Who Could Orgasm in Her Sleep

When you’re pregnant, you have almost twice as much blood in your body, including your genitals. When I got to around seven months pregnant, I would wake up to an orgasm about once or twice a week, just from the friction of moving around in my sleep. It’s pretty exciting to get off with literally no conscious effort. Sadly it did not last after the birth, but it was one of the few perks of the last trimester.

3 Women Whose Abs Separated

So it’s called diastasis recti, and here’s what I’ve learned about it: The muscles of your abdomen that are vertical — they’re called transverse muscles — those get separated during pregnancy. It makes sense to me, that when your abdomen is growing in that way, that the muscles just separate: Everything is growing, you’re making room for the baby. So there’s this split. I can feel it when I lie down; I can put my fist in my belly and measure it. I know I have a three-finger diastasis.

There are exercises that you can do to repair it; a lot of them involve regularly pulling your belly button up toward your spine. After my first baby, I went to a place in the city and saw a woman who specializes in helping women with this. She would say, “Don’t ever let your stomach hang loose, ever. Keep your stomach taut and pulled in, in everything you do.” I do think it helped, but you have to be pretty religious about it. After this baby, I don’t find myself being so vigilant that it’s repairing.

So my stomach still juts out a little bit, almost like I’m in my first trimester. People think I’m still pregnant. Prior to having children I had a regular stomach that was flat — I mean, I didn’t have a six pack or anything, but it was just a flat belly, and now it juts out maybe six inches or so.

It bothers me sometimes. But I try to remind myself that I have three beautiful boys out of it. Anyway, I think it’s gotten better. Or it’s better than it was.

The first time I stood up, I felt like my intestines were falling out. They kind of were — I had muscle separations in three areas. After a lot of healing, I was left with a three-finger diastasis recti and healing separations along my obliques.

I had heard of it before I had my first baby, but only once I was pregnant. The more time you spend with pregnant women and mothers though, the more often it comes up. That said, I think a lot of people don’t talk about it, either because they honestly don’t know they have it or they are embarrassed by the changes in their bodies. Let’s be clear though: I self-diagnosed, because the OB/GYN (who delivered both my babies and is great) didn’t tell me that I had it. I kept looking at my body though and feeling like something wasn’t right. Somewhere in the back of my brain, I dug up a memory of a mom friend telling me about her D.R., and I did a self-exam and, yep, that’s what I have.

It’s pretty easy to self-diagnose. It’s a separation of your abdominal wall, and it causes that “mommy gut” or “pooch” that is so unflattering. It doesn’t matter how many crunches you do — it doesn’t go away, because you need to do deep repair work to the muscles first. It’s not so much painful in its own right as painful long term; it can cause low back pain, strain, pressure on your pelvis, all kinds of things. The lack of core strength can also lead to prolapse issues later.

Having kids is the best thing you can ever do, and that’s coming from someone (me) who didn’t know I wanted kids. But there are so many surprises that totally suck.

2 Women Whose Teeth Shifted Place

So I have to wear a mouthguard, because I grind my teeth. But I stopped when I was pregnant; it was bugging me too much. Then I had the baby, and I tried to wear it again — and I could not put it in my mouth. It was like it was made for someone else.

I think it’s because of the lactin that’s in your body — it makes things more stretchy, and helps your hips expand. But it doesn’t just go to the parts of your body that needs to be stretched and relaxed — it goes everywhere, even in your mouth. I learned this partially from googling, partially from my dentist. I went in for a checkup a few months after having my baby, and asked him for advice, and he was like, “Well, just shove your mouthguard in there, and try working up to a few minutes a day — your teeth might smush back to their former place.” But I can’t. It just hurts so much.

The funny thing is I’ve always had this bizarre pride in my teeth — I never needed braces or anything. I don’t think it’s even noticeable to outsiders, but it’s noticeable to me. You know when you run your tongue over your teeth? It just feels different now. I don’t know if this is in my head, but I swear at one point I could even wiggle my teeth a little bit. I can’t anymore — they’re not loose or wiggly anymore, and I’m just learning to live with it.

I swear my nose and jaw got bigger. Toward the end of both of my pregnancies, I felt my bite had changed so I know my teeth or my jaw must have shifted.

2 Women Whose Hands Twitch or Go Numb

While I was pregnant, my right hand just started to really hurt and sort of tingle at the fingertips, especially at the middle finger. I have a little online stationery shop, and for it I used to cut envelopes by hand. They were really cute, and surprisingly popular. I was doing a 100-envelope order, and I couldn’t finish it on my own — it hurt too much. I had to get my husband involved. After that, I switched over to selling custom stamps; no more cutting out envelopes.

And it still happens — I’ll literally wake up in the middle of the night and my hand will be numb. It’s always my right hand. I’ll hang it off the bed, shake it around. I don’t know if it really helps, but psychologically it does.

I had a C-section, and they insert an IV in you and pump fluids into your arm. I think it might’ve exacerbated the problem — I remember a burning feeling. It’s like edema, almost, which I think is a presence of extra fluid in your feet and your hands. I’ve always thought that’s what it was, anyway, but my doctor doesn’t really know. My doctor thinks it’s a variation of carpal tunnel, maybe, but doesn’t really know what else to call it. I went to a neurologist, too, but they didn’t know what it was, either.

While I was in my second and third trimesters, I kept dropping my keys — like, my fingers would twitch, and I would drop them, randomly and often.

Illustration: Jeanne Verdoux

2 Women Who Got A Horrible Rash

In the last few weeks of my pregnancy (with twins!) I got PUPPP, which is a god-awful rash that is basically untreatable. It started on my belly in my stretch marks and spread everywhere except for my back and my face. My arms and my thighs were the worst. I would wake in the night scratching myself. Once, I even went to bed wearing socks on my hands to keep from scratching at myself, but woke up to find one socked hand holding the other sock, and my free hand digging into the rash on my thighs.

Nothing helped the rash because it was not a histamine response (so regular lotions, histamine sprays do nothing). The only thing that brought relief was oatmeal baths and cold showers with Grandpa’s Pine Tar Soap (which smelled like you bathed in someone’s campfire smoke). Relief would last about 20 minutes. It was awful. But as soon as I gave birth to my twins, the itching stopped. And within days the redness of the rash faded. It was crazy.

I developed a facial rash in my first pregnancy that causes skin to flake. Keeping up with vitamins, healthy diet, and exercise has helped, but it’s still a struggle — it still hasn’t gone away.

1 Woman Who Is Very Sweaty Now

Before I got pregnant, I never would sweat. I never got hot easily, either. Now I sweat for anything.

15 Moms Whose Skin Got Good (… or Bad)

My skin has been amazing since the baby was born. I mean, I don’t look like a supermodel or anything, but I’ve had very clear skin, no breakouts.

I never really had bad skin, exactly, but I definitely had some adult acne here and there, especially in my T zone. But after I had the baby — I mean, I didn’t notice it right away, but after a while it occurred to me, “Oh, I haven’t had to do a little spot treatment for a really long time.” My skin is so even now, and so clear — it almost feels slightly dry, but not in a bad way; there’s just very little oil to it, so I’ve been using a lot of moisturizer without having to avoid the T-zone. With everything else going on, it’s nice to not feel like you’re having to treat acne.

I developed rosacea for the first time in my life. I looked like a doll with perfectly round bright red spots on both cheeks. But not in a good way, in a WTF is wrong with your face way. I waited until three months postpartum to finally go to the dermatologist; I was just hoping it would resolve itself on it’s own. She gave me a prescription and it cleared up a few days later. Hasn’t been back.

Every time I’m pregnant, my skin becomes incredibly dry. If I don’t use a crazy strong moisturizer everyday — and even twice a day — I get eczema rashes everywhere. Fortunately, it goes away after the pregnancy.

My skin got better — it was perfect (“glowing,” I think they say) during pregnancy, and afterwards the hormonal acne I’d had since age 18 seemed to mostly disappear. But I can no longer wear earrings (of any metal!) because they make my earlobes itchy and flaky. During pregnancy, the hair on my legs barely grew. It’s growing again normally now.

I got the same acne on my arms as I did as a preteen. It comes in waves: During pregnancy, post-birth, as breastfeeding diminished, and finally now, as she’s weaning.

Post-pregnancy, the skin on my stomach feels like butter. It’s so soft and smooth that I find myself rubbing it when I need a little comfort. When my son and I lie skin to skin, I can’t tell where his little bum and my little tum begin and end. Mama’s a walking soap ad. My mind has me convinced I’m Salma Hayek from the waist up, when I might actually look like the witch in The Sword in the Stone.

I was very shocked when I grew a new mole on my back during pregnancy! My doctor said it was typical because everything is growing so fast. I felt like an accidental superhero.

While I was pregnant, my skin was SO slow to heal. If I had a cut or a bruise, it was there for twice as long as it normally would have been. I guess my body was using all of its healing powers to grow my baby.

With each of my two pregnancies, I acquired one or two new “spots” on my face. I’m not sure if I’d call them age spots or large freckles — they were both smaller than a pencil eraser — but they never went away! I’ve tried having them burned off by a dermatologist but it didn’t work. I might try it again.

I had pretty much gotten my acne under control, and now it’s back.

I developed hyper-pigmentation in my armpits. It was a temporary effect, thank God!

I got weird eczema, but only on the sides of my thumbs! It’s still here, eight months later.

Skin tags, so many skin tags. They did slowly fade, but then I got pregnant again, and they were back with a rage. Some of my old moles grew bigger, and some of those moles grew hair. Also, new moles sprouted. These do not fade.

I got bright-red discoloration around my nose.

My skin is terrible! My leg hair grows weird now and I have constant ingrowns. My skin is bumpy and never smooth.

1 Woman Whose Scar Tissue Changed

Before getting pregnant, I’d had my gallbladder removed through laparoscopic surgery. I had scar tissue in my abdomen where the organ had been removed, and that would sometimes feel tight if I stretched the wrong way. After my pregnancy with the twins, my skin had stretched so much and all my organs moved around so much, that that inner scar tissue must have also stretched. I no longer feel it at all. It’s a nice change!

1 Woman Who Got Lots of Boogers

I started having so many boogers. No one tells you about how pregnancy fills your nose with mucus and the constant need to pick your nose!

1 Woman Who Developed Anemia

I was anemic the only time in my life during my second pregnancy. My daughter just gave birth, and she’s now having iron issues, too.

1 Woman Whose Hips Creak

I have sore, creaky hips now whenever I walk too far in a day. I’ve had it all checked out with X-ray and ultrasound, but it just seems to be a quirk of my new, wider hips.

1 Woman Who Became Lactose Intolerant

I realized there was a problem when I could no longer enjoy a bowl of the Lucky Charms cereal, an (unhealthy, I know!) staple in my life. After eating it, I would immediately have pains (and the rest you can just imagine). I asked my doctor about it, because it was my first pregnancy, and I had no idea what to expect. She said that the opposite of what I was experiencing was more the norm — some women who are lactose intolerant grow tolerant of dairy.

I easily made the switch to almond milk, and I’ve cut out dairy for the most part, but I still indulge in some ice cream, regardless of the consequences. It’s just so delicious. I thought it would be temporary, but here I am, seven years after giving birth, and I’m still lactose intolerant.

2 Women Whose Lactose Intolerance Went Away

I’ve always been lactose intolerant. However, with my first pregnancy, my lactose intolerance completely went away. My body (or my baby) craved ice cream and chocolate milk every single day. (And, yes, I indulged every day.) It was amazing. He’s now 6 years old and still loves his milk — but to my great disappointment, my lactose intolerance returned after birth, and held fast with my second pregnancy.

I’m lactose intolerant, but it went away while I was pregnant with my first baby girl! I enjoyed lots and lots of ice cream. Sadly, my lactose intolerance came back after she was born.

Illustration: Jeanne Verdoux

3 Women Whose Butts Shrank

So I’d been doing Crossfit for a really long time, and, you know, you’re squatting, you’re picking up heavy things — you get a really nice ass! Also, I live in Brooklyn and was commuting into Manhattan, and I’d walk the escalators. So my ass was actually looking really good throughout the entire pregnancy.

And, obviously, I’m not thinking about this after my son is born. Among the insanity of having a newborn, the whirlwind of not sleeping and breastfeeding, you kind of forget about your body when you’re immediately postpartum. But at one point, I think around two weeks after he was born, I remember I took a minute to finally look at myself in the mirror, and I looked at my butt, and I was like, “Oh my god! Where did it go? Where did it go?!” It was just completely gone.

So I was reading about this stuff, and apparently what happens when you are breastfeeding — your body’s going to be taking from your fat reserves to produce milk on top of the calories you’re maintaining. So things just kind of go weird. But I think once things got regulated, once my milk regulated and my hormones regulated, my ass did come back, thankfully. But that was definitely something that I wasn’t expecting or prepared for — nobody told me this could happen.

I’ve always had a very large, toned, curvy behind, and after birth it just flattened out. Weirdest thing ever.

All my round bits (boobs and butt) are now flat as pancakes.

1 Woman Whose Nose Has A Mysterious Dent

After I my older daughter was born, I noticed that on the end of my nose, there was, like, a dent. It looked like a dimple, right on the end of my nose. I mean, it was definitely there! But then I’d ask my husband and my friends, and they’d squint and say, “I guess I see it?” So I chalked it up to me being over critical of myself, or hypersensitive to the changes to my body.

And then my second daughter was born in November, and toward the end of my pregnancy, I noticed that the dent had in fact returned — which made me realize that I really had had this dent in my nose, and then it went away! And at this point I had confirmation from third parties; my husband was like, “Yeah, you’re right, that’s definitely a thing.”

Now I’m six months postpartum. I’m looking in the mirror right now. It’s definitely there.

It’s on the soft part of my nose, like where the bone ends. It really looks like a dimple on the end of my nose. I know women’s noses can get bigger when they’re pregnant, so I wonder if the shape of it has changed a little bit, and maybe this little dent just catches the light? Or maybe the cartilage on my nose has grown a little bit, and something about that just made this little dent. I don’t technically know what happened, but anecdotally, I definitely have friends whose noses or entire faces have spread out or gotten bigger. So my theory is, maybe the cartilage has grown or expanded. Or maybe there’s a change in collagen? I guess I don’t know if there’s collagen in my nose. I clearly have not done any research about this.

2 Women Who Experienced Perineal Tearing

My vagina is much more sensitive to penetration due to internal scar tissue from mild tearing. I’m 9 months post from birthing my second baby, and it should slowly improve over time (it did the first time). My pelvic floor is also much weaker from carrying the weight of pregnancy and birthing two kids.

I ripped past my anus, and afterward had post-delivery uncontrollable bowel movements in the most inconvenient venues (including the grocery store aisle and resort hotel bed).

1 Woman Whose Tattoo Looks Pretty Different

My tattoo is on my lower right hip, like the front, on the hipbone. It is — it was — a really simplified skull; it was small, and the lines were thin, and there was a butterfly coming out of its eye socket. A friend and I got it together — we got matching tattoos because we were both in the military, in the air force. We were welders and machinists for the airplanes; it was a very dirty job. And it’s a very male-dominated job, so we were the only women. She’s a lot more picky than I am, so I let her pick the tattoo. She chose a butterfly, and I just added the skull because butterflies don’t really fit my personality that much. And then she managed to have two babies and nothing happened to hers. But mine got really messed up.

It looks like — actually, I couldn’t even tell you what it looks like now. You definitely can’t tell there’s a butterfly. It was small, and had these thin lines, and now it’s really distorted, from the stretch marks. It’s just a blob of ink the size of a tennis ball. It looks kind of like spilled ink. I have fantasies about getting it covered up, but I don’t even know how I would do that. It would have to be something pretty solid.

1 Woman Whose Belly Button Piercing Is Different

Pregnancy stretched my skin below my former belly-button piercing and above my belly button. It’s to all funny and wrinkly now, and sort of like a raisin.

1 Woman Who Can’t Eat Gluten Anymore

I became gluten intolerant. The stress of pregnancy can activate autoimmune disorders, and I got Celiac disease. I had digestion issues for three years before I figured out what it was! It’s a permanent condition, of course, but I do feel better now that I eat a gluten-free diet.

3 Women Whose Hearing Got Worse

I lost my hearing, I would say, the last three weeks of my pregnancy. As soon as my daughter was born, I could hear again. Crazy!

During pregnancy, my hearing went down (a documented side effect of pregnancy, I found out).

I was already deaf but my three pregnancies tanked my hearing even more. I ended up getting a cochlear implant!

1 Woman Whose Vision Got Worse

My vision worsened during pregnancy, and it continued until I stopped breastfeeding. This has happened with all three of my children. The first time it happened, it was so gradual that I didn’t notice at first; I would find myself taking off my glasses and squinting or leaning more forward to read my computer or look at the TV. This always happened in the first trimester. I do wear glasses, though it is as much to correct a strabismus as for vision (my vision is decent without the glasses). My optometrist advised me not to get a new prescription until after I stopped nursing. This was with my first pregnancy. She said that vision usually goes back after nursing, and that was the case for me.

Mostly, I have just dealt with the worsened vision, taking off my glasses to see when necessary. It has caused additional headaches, particularly after a long day of staring at the computer (which my job requires). My vision improved after I stopped nursing my first two children, but right now I am still nursing my third, so I still can’t see well!

I also don’t think there was a moment when I realized my vision had improved. It’s only in retrospect that I realize, oh, my vision improved! I don’t really understand the science of why this happens to me, but from what my doctor told me, it’s related to pregnancy hormones.

1 Woman Whose Tailbone Hurts

My sit bones shifted somehow and sometimes sitting too long is hard on my tailbone. But overall, my whole body feels stronger and softer at the same time.

1 Woman Whose Pelvis Is Tilted Now

I’m convinced that my pelvis is in a permanent posterior tilt. Even though I no longer have seven pounds of baby under my skin, I occasionally catch myself standing like Kim Kardashian West on that Paper cover that “broke the internet.”

1 Woman Whose Tongue Changed

My tongue became what you could call “geographic”: It’s covered with a variable pattern of smooth red patches that resemble islands or bodies of water viewed from above.

The condition began during the third trimester of my first pregnancy, and even now, 12 weeks out from birthing my second child, my tongue has not yet reverted to its former normal. The “landscape” changes frequently, too, in response to illness or what I’ve eaten. I experienced many changes during pregnancy, but this one is by far the strangest — and thus far, it’s permanent.

Illustration: Jeanne Verdoux

6 Women Whose Shoe Size Changed

My foot size changed! By my last trimester, none of my shoes fit and I could only wear Birks. They are slowly shrinking and some of my shoes fit me now, but not all. I reeeaaaaaaallly hope they go back to the normal size!

I’ve had 3 kids, and my feet grew with each kid. I used to wear 7.5 to 8 — now I’m 8.5 to 9.

My feet grew an entire size. This is in addition to the normal stretch marks, mom belly, saggy boobs, etc. Motherhood!

My feet have oddly … shrunk? I suppose from working out less? Honestly most of my body shrunk!

My left foot — and only my left foot — went up half a size.

My shoe and ring size went down, which was annoying and expensive to remedy. Not only did I need to purchase nursing-friendly clothing, I also needed to get all new shoes, and another ring to hold my wedding band on my finger. I also had to wear flats because I was often carrying my baby (which felt profoundly unflattering for a petite woman wearing oversize tops). Not being able to get dressed in a way that felt attractive, fashionable or like “me” was very disorienting and frustrating during a huge life change.

1 Woman Who Got Horrible Heartburn

I had a chronic, violent cough during my first pregnancy. Only it wasn’t really a cough — it was acid reflux that was irritating my throat! I had SUCH bad acid reflux (this is not your regular heartburn) throughout both of my pregnancies I had to go on medication.

4 Women Whose Sense of Smell Changed

I lost my sense of smell while pregnant with my second child, and it has never fully returned. Now I can only smell extremes — either really good or really bad.

I couldn’t smell skunks until I became pregnant with my first child! The change was permanent.

During my first pregnancy, I developed “wolf nose.” My sense of smell became so acute that I could tell when another woman on an elevator had her period.

This was the weirdest thing that happened to me. In comparison, the other things (enormous — no, bigger than what you’re thinking — boobs, inability to abide the thought of eating meat for several months, constant unrelenting nausea every waking minute) all seemed fairly work-a-day. The wolf-nose was the weirdest thing; but the worst (aside from the nausea) were the zits in my hair. Like, not my hairline. In my hair, like half an inch back. The wolf-nose did not recur in my second pregnancy, thankfully. Most of the other stuff did.

With my first pregnancy, and to a lesser degree my second, I couldn’t stand the smell of coffee (which is one of my favorite smells of all).

1 Woman With a Messed-Up Esophagus

Pregnancy messed up my esophagus. Starting late in my second pregnancy, I started noticing I was having difficulty swallowing food and that it was sometimes very uncomfortable to do so — I could feel the food traveling very slowly down the whole esophagus and into my stomach. At times it is almost painful. My son is 18 months old now and it still happens sometimes! I’m going to a gastroenterologist this month to figure it out.

1 Woman Who Became an Accidental Vegetarian

I developed such an aversion to all meat that I couldn’t even go to In-N-Out when we went to L.A. for a wedding. (We’re from the East Coast, so this was basically the reason we RVSP’d yes.) I couldn’t be in same room as ham of any kind — EVEN BACON. Ten years later, I can eat beef and bacon, but still can barely look at ham.

1 Woman Who Has Better Sex Than Ever

It made sex hurt, until I finally got PT. And that made sex feel better than it ever had. Thanks, childbirth!

1 Woman Who Gets Silent Migraines

I get silent migraines now! (That’s the aura symptoms without the headache.) I had my first one during pregnancy, in my third trimester and found it very alarming, though changes in blood pressure at the end of pregnancy — and throughout — are not super uncommon, I guess. But even now, they continue to happen, every few months or so, three years after my daughter was born. Fun!

1 Woman Whose Allergies Went Away

I had horrible (though garden-variety) spring allergies and a carrot allergy before I was pregnant. Since pregnancy and the birth of my daughter — she’s now 17 — no more allergies. I am NOT complaining!

Illustration: Jeanne Verdoux

4 Women Who Lost a Ton of Hair

The biggest change for me has been my hair. I’m pretty sure I didn’t lose a single hair to normal shedding while I was pregnant. A few months after giving birth, I started to lose hair more rapidly, and the peak was around 10.5 months. Now, at about 13 months, you can see the extent of the hair loss — it wasn’t concentrated in one spot, which is what I’ve heard happens to a lot of women. Instead, the loss was all over. The regrowth is now about three to four inches long, and I’ve had to keep my hair at about chin length to so that it all looks semi-normal. I try to avoid spending much time looking at my hair (especially the back of my head), because I know this is temporary, but it’s really tough!

I lost so much hair for months after I gave birth to my daughter. The hair that has grown back in its place has either been much darker than my original color, or has come back blindingly white — especially behind my ears. Even after several haircuts and two years postpartum, my hair is still two definingly different lengths. Mom mullet is real!

My hair started to fall straight after pregnancy; seven years later, I am still losing an enormous amount of hair! Nothing seems to help — no diet, no pills, no shampoos. I’ve tried drinking zero alcohol, getting good sleep, exercising — nothing. If it keeps this way I will be bald before I turn 40.

My hair got super awesome and thick, and then two months after I had my kids, it just fell out in clumps.

3 Women Whose Body Hair Changed

I now have a single, coarse black hair that grows out of my chin that I never had before. I chalk it up to how pregnancy messed up my hormones.

During pregnancy, the hair on my legs barely grew. It’s growing again normally now.

You know that darkly pigmented line that can form from your belly button downward? Mine faded after I gave birth, but it left behind a new freckle and one wayward thick hair, like a pube, just below my navel. (I pluck it out every 6 weeks or so.)

6 Women Whose Hair Changed Color

My hair is coarser and I have more gray hair than I did before I was pregnant. My baby is 6 months old. The gray is probably permanent.

During every pregnancy my hair has grown more and more gray. I don’t hold hope that this will change.

While I was pregnant, my hair grew in black, instead of my usual brown. All returned to normal a few months after my son was born, and I had a visible line in my hair where it turned from black to brown again.

Right after birth, my naturally dirty blonde hair turned dark brown at the root and grew for two inches that way before returning to natural dirty blonde. I now have a horizontal stripe in my hair. This happened after each of my three births!

My hair went gray almost instantly. Three kids later, it’s 75 percent gray. And I’m only 29!

After my daughter was born, I started losing hair! I got two big bald patches near my temples. I know this isn’t too unusual, but the wildest part was that the hair growing back in its place is bright, deep red! My hair is, or was, strawberry blonde, and this new hair is definitely a different color.

14 Women Whose Hair Changed Texture

My hair used to be super curly. Now it’s straight!

My super curly hair looked like I just got a keratin treatment, which was an added bonus to the whole getting fat thing. It stayed that way while breastfeeding and while pregnant with my second and only now — almost two years postpartum — is it coming back.

My hair has soft curls, even after two pregnancies and seven years.

Several months after my second child was born, my hair did the normal fall-out-in-droves thing, but weirder still is that my actual hair pattern changed. I developed a very severe cowlick at the back of my head. In addition, the hair that makes up that cowlick has become wavy, so it makes for a localized and very strange curly section where my scalp is totally exposed in an otherwise straight head of hair. It is so bizarre!

Postpartum, my hair thinned a bit. It was a hassle. Three years later, it’s thick again, but generally unruly. But my overall feelings about my body: The first time I took a shower after giving birth, I stood naked and felt such tremendous respect and gratitude for my body. I was surprised by the weight of that feeling.

My hair texture has definitely changed. I’m African-American, and it looks the same but now it tangles more, and is overall harder to manage.

I’ve had four children in the span of four years. The change in my hair has been the biggest change. It has progressed from straight to now mostly wavy!

While I was pregnant, my hair was AWFUL. People talk alllll the time about having the most amazing pregnancy hair, but that was not the case for me. My pre-pregnancy healthy hair turned dry and brittle and broke off constantly during pregnancy. So much so that I had to cut it several times to deal with the damage, eventually ending up with a super short bob (my hair was previously armpit length). It was the WORST.

My son is almost 1, and I’d do it all again to have him, but thankfully my hair has started to get healthy again, finally! But not after all of my edges fell out about 12 weeks postpartum. Now it’s almost shoulder length and pretty thick and strong.

I have stick-straight hair, but developed a skunk-like stripe of curls in the back.

After the birth of my last daughter (I have three) my hair went from straight to super curly!!! My daughter is now 6, and I STILL struggle with how to deal with curly hair — what type of curls I have, what haircuts work (or don’t), what products and styling tools to use. Most days I just throw it up in a bun. It’s been a process!

Four years later and I have one patch of dry, frizzy hair. It keeps coming in as crispy as if I doused it in ’80s hair gel.

My hair went from straight to weirdly non-straight. I can’t call it curly, and I can’t even call it wavy. It’s just a big clump in the back of my head that is most decidedly not straight anymore but now coarsely textured and kinky.

My hair changed into two completely different textures. Pre-pregnancy, I had lightly wavy hair. Now, the sections next to my face are straight, while the back is so wavy it looks like I used a crimping iron. My easy days of air drying are gone.

With my first baby, a significant chunk of hair on the back of my head got super curly — but only on the left side! I’ve always had wavy-ish hair, but this chunk now looks crimped in the way we wore it circa 1987.

And then with my second kid, a chunk of hair on the back right did the same thing!! I now have a section of hair in the back that is waaaaayyyyy curlier than the rest of my head. So strange!

100 Women on the Wildest Ways Pregnancy Changed Their Bodies