What Pregnancy Does to a Woman’s Body

A woman’s body undergoes a significant transformation during pregnancy and after childbirth. Studies have found that mothers who feel unprepared or try to cope with all the physical changes after childbirth are more likely to undergo heightened stress, anxiety, or even depression.

Childbirth can be a remarkable experience, but you must allow yourself time to recover from the fluctuating nutrient and hormone levels internally, as well as the changes to your physical appearance. Read about the changes in your body that you can expect, a few tips on dealing with them, effectively improving your enjoyment of motherhood.

Abdominal Changes

You may note difficulties in urinating after childbirth. The regular communication between your bladder and brain may have been disrupted by the pressure experienced during labor and delivery, especially on your urethra. If you delivered normally, your labia might still be swollen, making it difficult or even a little painful when you urinate. Going through a warm sitz bath or applying cold compresses may help.

You may also notice that you are sweating or peeing more than usual in the first couple of weeks after giving birth. This happens as your body adjusts to the fluctuating hormones and expels extra fluids.

Postpartum constipation is also common during the first two weeks after childbirth, likely due to dehydration, C-section surgery, a subliminal fear of “pushing” anything out of your body, and certain medications. Drinking plenty of water and prune juice, as well as taking a walk more often, may help.

You may also observe a mild case of incontinence in the first weeks after giving birth. The baby’s weight, labor, and childbirth likely weakened your pelvic floor, thereby affecting the muscles, tissues, and nerves associated with your bladder, rectum, and vagina. Fortunately, seeing a pelvic health physiotherapist and regular Kegel exercises will help.

Safely ease back into exercise after giving birth. Abdominal exercises can improve soft, loose-skinned bellies after pregnancy and childbirth.


As your estrogen and progesterone levels dwindle after childbirth, the hormone prolactin increases. This is the hormone that promotes the production of breast milk. As you produce breast milk, your breasts will grow even larger than they were throughout your pregnancy. If you are breastfeeding your baby, the engorgement will level down eventually. Apply warm compresses before nursing, then cold compresses after. You may also need ibuprofen (upon your doctor’s advice) and express your milk in between feedings to help with the inflammation or discomfort. If you’re not nursing, you may follow the same steps to relieve you of any pain or breast inflammation.

On the other hand, breast size is a little more unpredictable, especially across different women. Your breasts may get smaller or bigger than they were before pregnancy, or they may revert to their original size. For some women, sagging breasts may be an aftermath of pregnancy and childbirth. It is essential to know that this sagging of breasts has nothing to do with breastfeeding but is affected by pregnancy weight gain, age, and smoking.

If you find yourself feeling bothered by the feel or appearance of sagging or flattened breasts after pregnancy or weight gain, you may consider consulting with your doctor about possibly undergoing a mastopexy (or breast lift). This is a type of cosmetic surgery wherein the surgeon removes any excess skin, tightens breast tissue, or repositions the nipples up on the chest wall.

A quick check to see if you are a candidate for mastopexy is to place a pencil under a breast. If the pencil stays held in position, you may discuss with your doctor if a breast lift surgery can be done for you.


During pregnancy, the weight gain may cause varicose veins, spider veins, and stretch marks on your legs. Though these may become less visible as time passes, these may persist. Wearing leggings or compression socks may help alleviate the pain experienced because of varicose veins, especially shortly after childbirth.  


Don’t be alarmed if you notice that you’re shedding significantly more hair after giving birth. It is normal for women to shed up to 1/3 of head hair, especially during the first three months after childbirth. Your elevated hormone levels throughout your pregnancy resulted in increased hair growth throughout childbearing. Once the hormone levels normalize after delivery, you will lose this pregnancy hair and go into a new growth cycle.

A woman’s body undergoes numerous changes throughout pregnancy and after childbirth. The most observable physical changes may be noted in your abdominal regions, breasts, hair, and legs. Most of these changes are temporary due to shifts in hormone levels, while some may persist, especially when compounded by other factors such as age and environment. There are ways to cope with such changes and make motherhood more meaningful and enjoyable.