Once I began looking into starting a family, I knew I was in for some epic changes. When pregnant, I found a lot of the focus was on physical changes. Once I became a mum, there were a lot of changes to me mentally and emotionally. In anticipation of motherhood I worried about weight gain, post-natal depression, mastitis and, of course, the process of giving birth. However, there were quite a few changes that I didn’t anticipate and aren’t listed in the baby books! So I’ve compiled a list of some specific and general changes that have happened to me since becoming a mum. Not going to lie, some are pretty random! 😂
How Pregnancy and Motherhood Changed Me
1. Becoming a mum cured my verruca!
Ok I’m starting out with a gross one here so if you’re very squeamish you may want to move on! But one of the most random physical changes was that, a few weeks after giving birth, I noticed the annoying verruca that lived on my heel was gone. Vanished. It had disappeared with only a tiny trace that it was ever there. This verruca had plagued me for years – I had even seen a podiatrist for it! He had told me that a verruca is in fact a virus that has adapted to hide from your immune system. So because your body thinks this little cluster of nastiness is part of you, it gets to live its best life in your foot!
His advice was to just regularly cut away at the dead skin to encourage the body to think there is a problem in that area and to try and heal it. I dutifully did this for a long time but to no avail. I tried the various creams and gels – even freezing it – but nothing worked. It only took simply having a baby to finally cure me! 🤨
My theory is that all the physical and hormonal changes I went through to have a baby somehow woke my immune system up to the freeloader in my foot. However, even if there’s any science in that, I don’t think the NHS will be promoting pregnancy and birth as a cure for your podiatry problems any time soon!
2. My migraines ‘paused’
I, like many people, have had to endure the utter misery that is migraines. I don’t even get them nearly as bad as some do but I loathe them with a passion. For me they start with sparkles in front of my eyes, which quickly spreads into partial vision loss, and then the pain and nausea sets in. In the last couple of years I had started getting them more frequently, around every 6 to 8 weeks. However, from around 5 months pregnant all the way through to 4 months postpartum I’ve been a migraine-free zone!
This has been one of the best changes I’ve experienced as I would not have been able to survive the first few weeks as a new mum if migraines had been included. Sadly, the migraines have returned now – it was nice while it lasted!
3. Less IBS
Another great change that has occurred physically is to do with my…er…bowels! (Again, apologies for the gnarly content!). But I believe it’s fairly common among women to experience IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) to some degree. I have by no means had it as severely as some, but I’ve come to learn what type of food is going to disagree with me! However, since about the middle of my pregnancy I’ve only had a couple of instances of upset tummy.
Currently, I believe it’s down to breastfeeding. My body must be working overtime to get as much nutrition sent through to my milk as it can. This hasn’t been without it’s difficulties – a lot of water also gets diverted from digestion to support lactation which comes with its own challenges! But I must say it’s been a pleasant change to not constantly worry if a meal is going to leave me doubled-up in gastric pain!
4. Adapting to less sleep
I know some people can survive off just a few hours of sleep, but I am not one of them. I have always needed my 8 hours (at least!) and if I had to cut it short even by 1 hour I suffered! Of course once I was pregnant everybody gleefully reminded me I could wave goodbye to a full night’s sleep. I had no idea how I would cope but past evidence told me not very well. But I have surprised myself. Though it took a good few weeks to shake off the stupefied zombie look, I can say I have now adapted to broken sleep.
When Rowan has particularly bad nights it does set me back a bit, but overall I am surprised at how productive and alert I am. So for me that’s a hugely positive change and makes me feel like I’ve officially joined the parenting club of functioning while sleep deprived!
5. Appetite roller coaster
When I was pregnant I suffered from quite a bit of morning sickness (well, all-day-sickness!) and appetite changes. I also had gestational diabetes and I am a fussy eater! But as with the sleep changes, I had to just adapt to my changing tastes and dietary needs. Although I would not want to revisit the nausea of pregnancy, I am quite glad I had a bit of a shake-up of my diet. I’m a bit less fussy now, and I have a new appreciation for the need to cut out sugar. I’m by no means super healthy, but I don’t have the same stressful relationship with food as I once did. I’ve learnt a lot more about different foods because I had to, thanks to pregnancy and motherhood!
6. Weight loss
Something I definitely did not expect was to actually lose weight. In my first trimester, thanks to the sickness and loss of appetite, I lost a few pounds. I thought I would probably make up for it later but overall I gained less than a stone throughout my pregnancy. Then I lost over a stone in the first few days after giving birth. I was down to my lowest weight for a long time! With the help of breastfeeding I’ve managed to keep my weight down.
I’m still not at an ideal weight, but am very glad to finally be within reach of my goals. The true test will come when I stop breastfeeding and my body no longer has to put in all that added effort. I think I’ll have to start an exercise regime soon to keep making progress toward my healthiest weight yet!
7. Hair loss
I had heard about postpartum hair loss from a friend. She had experienced the thinning of her hair on the sides of her forehead a few months after giving birth. In all honesty, this was one change I simply thought would not happen to me (I don’t know why?!). I worried that, as I had cut my hair short in later pregnancy, if I lost any it would be really obvious!
Sure enough though, a few weeks ago I noticed a lot more hair coming out in the shower. When I pull back the top layers, like in the photographs, you can see the thinning underneath. I have to be careful now to keep those layers of hair sitting around it in just the right place!
8. My outlook on life
One of the biggest changes I have experienced is on my outlook. I knew becoming a mum would change me, but I could not know how until it happened. In some ways I have become more fearful – like when I hear any bad news stories affecting children it hits me so much harder! Kind of like Brian on the episode of Family Guy where he becomes a dad!
But I have also become more confident. I have started this blog, which was a big step for me. I care a lot less about what other people think when I’m out and about. Basically, I no longer live on planet Me and I am not my no. 1 priority anymore. I don’t mean I was arrogant and self-serving before becoming a mum, just that the voice in my head narrating my own life has something much more important to focus on. It’s a nice change, I love that there is so much more love in my life, which helps to counteract the added worry!
9. My relationship with my husband
I believe it is quite true that, after you have a child, the wife is still number 1 for the husband, but the husband is no longer number 1 for the wife. The introduction of that tiny human being that we created together has formed a completely different dynamic. In a strange way I need his affection less, but his support more. I need our team game to be strong, because we’re responsible for so much more than just our own wants.
When I’m knackered and at my wit’s end, I do get snappy toward my husband. I feel resentment that he can sleep through the night and I can’t and other useless feelings that serve no purpose. It’s something I need to work on as we shape our new relationship going forward. It will never be what it was before we had a child, but now we have Rowan in our lives, it can be so much better!
10. My body
Another big change that has occurred is how I feel about my own body. I have experienced it grow and birth a child, albeit via cesarean. It has then sustained that child through breastfeeding. It is worn and tired but I no longer look at it in shame or disgust as I once did. Yes there are always bits I’d like to improve, but I have neither the time nor energy to focus on that!
If I am fortunate to have a second child, I will try to celebrate it even more, and make up for all those years of self-loathing!