Mother and Baby

7 surprising ways your body gets *better* post-birth

Life changes in so many different ways when your baby arrives. And that includes your outlook.

The expression on every mother’s face as she holds her new baby says it all.

It says: ‘I did this! I made this!’ And she’s right. An experience that nothing you’ve done before will compare to. And, putting the cheesy cliché of mother’s love to the side – it’s true.

That’s because giving birth isn’t just about what’s happening with your baby – it’s about you, too. By channeling the powerful hormones and emotions that come with labour, you can unlock strengths you may never have realised you had.

Women often feel they’re transformed forever by birth. From a new appreciation of your body to greater success at work and better relationships, here's all the surprising ways your body gets better post-partum... 

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1) Health becomes a habit 

Pregnancy can make many of you overhaul your lifestyle choices to ensure your growing baby gets all the best nutrients it can. If you’ve made positive health changes such as quitting smoking, cutting down on alcohol and caffeine or upping vitamin and mineral-rich foods in your diet, these habits will often stick with you once your baby is born. Physiotherapist Sammy Margo (sammymargo.com) agrees; ‘Mums are more motivated to eat better, as they have an incentive to look after themselves for their growing baby.’
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2) You could say bye-bye to period pains

You probably enjoyed not having to worry about periods for nine months of your pregnancy, but the positives can continue after birth, too, as you could have fewer period cramps. Some women even find that menstrual pain ceases altogether after pregnancy and childbirth. Research published in the British Medical Journal has found that childbirth eliminates some of the prostaglandin receptor sites in the uterus. Prostaglandins, hormones that make the uterus contract during labour, also play a role in monthly menstrual pain. The upshot? Fewer pain-receptor sites means fewer cramps.
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3) Your cancer risk is reduced

Recent studies report that pregnancy may be an effective protector against breast and ovarian cancers. The more pregnancies you go through – and the younger you start having babies – the greater the effect. Researchers from Harvard Medical School believe this may be because when you’re pregnant, you’re not ovulating and releasing the hormones – oestrogen and progesterone – involved in ovulation. It’s these hormones that increase your risk of cancer.
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4) Breastfeeding brings its own benefits

If you breastfeed one baby for at least seven months, it can lower your risk of heart disease, as well as diabetes and high blood pressure. Researchers at Northwestern University in Evanston say the effect isn’t just from helping to shed those post-pregnancy pounds, which can be a side-effect of breastfeeding – it’s because the oxytocin released during nursing has heart-healthy properties.
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5) You’ll feel better in yourself

You’re likely to feel surges of love and other good feelings whenever you hold or nurse your little one. A 2011 study from Stanford University found that this is thanks to the hormone oxytocin, which plays a big role during the bonding process. It’s so powerful that one dose can fend off anxiety for hours and even days.
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6) Exercise in pregnancy makes you a fitter mum

While we wouldn’t recommend taking up an exercise or fitness routine that you’ve never done before when you become pregnant, if you maintain your fitness habits during pregnancy, the combination of exercise and pregnancy has a greater affect on your fitness and training, than just doing the exercise on its own. Plus, a 2008 study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that women who continue to do weight-bearing exercise during their pregnancy gain less weight, accumulate less fat and had a lower risk of heart conditions than those who did not.
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7) Your hair can change

While everyone talks about how you get thicker hair in pregnancy and then lose it once your baby arrives, what many of you may not expect is how the texture of your hair can change. According to research from the University of Bradford, hormones released during pregnancy and after birth can affect the shape of your hair follicle, which is what determines whether your hair grows straight or curly. So you may have straight hair before you get pregnant and curly hair after your baby arrives – or vice versa. Time to embrace your new style…

Now read:

Your post-birth superfoods: 7 ways to nourish your body after your baby arrives

7 things no one ever tells you about your post-baby vagina

7 post-pregnancy body changes no one tells you about

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