“My biggest fear came true, I pooped during labour" : 30 women on the bizarre ways pregnancy changes your body
Facial hair, melasma, shifting belly buttons, vaginal numbness and more
The advertisements focus on smiling pregnant ladies, strolling in the sun with flowing hair and spotless skin. One hand on their belly and the other holding onto a mini-me cheerfully eating ice cream. It’s not that these women don’t exist. But ads and films don’t show us the reality of backne, swollen feet, hyperpigmentation and nights sweats — results of our bodies coping with a multitude of strange pregnancy changes.
Whoever says pregnancy and childbirth is no big deal needs to sit quietly in the corner. Some women are lucky and bounce back quickly. Others have to put in more effort, watch what they eat and work out to get fit and strong again. But there are also plenty of women for whom even attempting to do a squat or laughing too hard results in peeing their pants. Not out of sheer joy, but urinary incontinence, a common byproduct of the childbirth process and pregnancy changes on the female body.
Anyone who has spent the better part of a year growing another human inside them will tell you that pregnancy is not smooth sailing. Your body doesn’t feel like your own. It’s something you no longer have control over, with little resemblance to the skin you called home all this time.
Pregnancy changes don’t just mean weight gain. There are a host of fun surprises that books — and doctors — don’t always warn you about.
Some of these pregnancy changes pass with time as your body heals after childbirth, others can be more permanent, requiring long-term management and even reconstructive surgery. “People don’t like to think about it, but pregnancy and childbirth can be traumatic for a woman’s body. Like an accident or invasive surgery, it’s a physical trauma that requires recovery,” says Dr Damini Goyal, OB-GYN and fertility specialist.
We wanted to know what women really go through. The things that we’re too embarrassed to talk about, share with our doctors, and don’t find in films or read in any preparatory books. Thirty women in our Tweak family opened up about the many oddities of pregnancy and childbirth. Let their experiences give you comfort if you ever felt like an alien surrounded by picture-perfect Instagram #mombods.
30 women on how pregnancy changes your body
“I was so bloated that the doctor was shocked at how I didn’t have high blood pressure (some women have this when pregnant). As soon as I delivered, I went back to my normal size. Like someone pricked a balloon and it deflated” – Farida Chitalwalla
“My feet grew. My doctor also said that because I had a normal delivery and my son’s head was big, I can’t do any major ab exercises, heavy lifting or cough too much because my uterus would fall lower and I’d need an operation to fix it.” – Jonquil Sudhir
“Your teeth get prone to cavities.” – Yasmeen Sheikh
“I had black spots all over my back. I looked like an ogre in my last trimester.” – Blossom
“Lost sensation, literally lost it, right above the C-sec cut. If you touch me, zero sensation. Imagine about an inch of the area above the cut. It’s gone cold. It’s damn weird when I touch my stomach. I still cry about it often, crying is so underrated in the healing process.” – Jayeeta Mazumder
“After delivery, your body bloats up like a balloon. This was very unexpected for me. That’s why they say you should put cotton in your ears as the body just bloats up due to the air entering your body” – Sanyukta Bhasin
“I had such terrible constipation. So much that it would become painful and I had to have laxatives” – Pooja Srinivasana
“Your foot size increases! Bizarre… no books tell you about this. My feet came back to the normal size after a year. Breastfeeding hurts, pumping hurts, walking hurts, no sleeping hurts… everything hurts.” – Yuva
“My neck turned black, it looked as if I hadn’t bathed in weeks.” – Pooja Sridharan
“Extremely weird black stretch marks.” – Shruti Gaba
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“My belly button has permanently shifted to the right and is not centred like earlier.” – Neha Agrawal
“I developed such bad varicose veins on my feet, up to my calves and knees. Being quite pale it looked like I was severely bruised.” – Prachi Tomar
“I had unbearable itching all over.” – Sanjani Sharma
“So much vaginal discharge, just constantly present.” – Parija Shah
“I developed incontinence after childbirth. Every time I laughed, coughed or even just got up too fast, I’d pee a little bit, it was so embarrassing.” – Alisha Mandodri
“I was so freaked out by what happened to my nipples. They got so dark (and still are) and elongated. Then eventually when I stopped breastfeeding, the ends got very dry and fell off! I panicked and called my mother. Can you imagine a bit of your nipple drying up and falling off!?” – Sania D
“Pumping actually hurts. Even if you buy the best one in the market, it hurts. I would hold my breasts in the car if the road was too bumpy or we went over a speed breaker!” – Pooja Karkare
“The hormones made my sister’s hair so beautiful. On the other hand, I sprouted more hair all over my body. I had to get my upper lip done every 10 days because it would grow back so fast” – Neha Grover
“I sweat, a lot, all the time. At night I had to put down a towel because I’d even sweat through my nightie.” – Aqsa Mubeen
“I became extremely gassy. I couldn’t hold in my farts for too long otherwise it would hurt. Initially, I was embarrassed about it but after a point, it became a joke between my husband and I like ‘Arrey! Baby is very talkative today.’” – Urja P
“Nobody told me about the haemorrhoids that come with the third trimester. At one point I couldn’t even sit for too long. Thankfully after I gave birth it went away on its own” – Pooja Gowde
“I had more nosebleeds when I was pregnant than I did in my entire life of 28 years before that.” – Shefali Jayprakash
“My biggest fear came true when I gave birth. I pooped during labour.” – Payal Malhotra
“I got melasma that made it look like I had a beard.” – S Saachi Kumar
“After natural childbirth, I thought having periods would be a cakewalk. I was very wrong. My flow because so heavy I had to keep changing pads every 2-3 hours. This heavy flow lasted for six days on average.” – Samvida Popat
“I had to get rid of all my pretty, fancy and expensive bras because my breasts grew and never went back to their old size.” – Nandini Sabharwala
“I kept getting painful acne at the back of my neck. First I thought it was because my hair was long so I kept it tied all the time. But it never went away, I still have some of the acne marks.” – Pallavi Joy
“I couldn’t feel my vagina for a solid 3-4 months after giving birth. Even if you had hit it with a bat, I’d have felt nothing.” – Mehar Singh
“My underarms turned black during both my pregnancies.” – Shweta Shetty Rathod
“I have pigmentation lines along the length of the back of both my legs. Making it look like I am wearing stockings or hosiery. I thought it was dirt at first and tried to rub it off.”– Priyam