You'll notice your body changing in all sorts of wonderful ways as you produce hormones to make a new life! Body changes can feel good and bad. Seeing evidence of your little one growing is exciting and will feel like a small price to pay at times. Seeing your body become something you don't recognize can also be challenging, and it's normal to be upset by this.
You are using your body for the most natural and powerful thing a human can do – making life! As your body inevitably changes, you might feel less confident. That's understandable, but not the way it has to be – try to remember how beautiful the process you're going through is. Hopefully, you can see yourself as strong and healthy, even if you don't look or feel like you used to.
Some of the most obvious external physical changes involve your hair and skin. So, what should you expect?
With pregnancy, comes estrogen – and lot’s of it. One of the more fun effects of increased estrogen is thicker hair. Your locks will likely feel long and luscious in the second trimester, generally around the 15-week mark.
If you stopped taking an estrogen-based contraceptive pill before becoming pregnant, your hair might thin out as levels of this hormone decrease. It won't take long before you're producing plenty of estrogens again, so you can probably expect to see hair grow pretty quickly.
In the postpartum stage, your estrogen levels will drop again. It's likely you'll shed some hair during this time – don't worry, it's not hair loss. You're losing the excess thick hair you gained. Your hair should be back to its normal pre-pregnancy self within a year or two of giving birth.
Have you ever heard of the 'Mask of Pregnancy'? Also called chloasma, this 'mask' is the appearance of darker patches of skin on your face or body. The female sex hormone can stimulate pigment-producing cells and increase melanin production. Melanin will darken the skin, but this isn't causing concern. If you're unsure what's caused a change in color to your skin, consult a doctor. Try to wear sunscreen every day.
Your skin will return to normal within weeks to years postpartum. Dark spots are nothing to be ashamed of; they are a sign of the fantastic things your body can do. If the way chloasma looks bother you, consult your pharmacist or GP about creams that may help.
A dark line may appear down the middle of your stomach. This is called the 'Linea Nigra’. Much like the Mask of Pregnancy, this is nothing to worry about and will fade over time.
Stretch marks are almost guaranteed as a result of your body growing. You might develop stretch marks on your breasts, stomach, back, bum, or thighs. These are signs of a HUGE achievement – celebrate them! If you don't feel good about your stretch marks, that's okay too. Some oils can help reduce them. Do your best to embrace your postpartum body for everything it’s just been through and achieved.