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6 Post-Pregnancy Body Changes You Didn't Expect

The top 5 post-pregnancy body changes that you never saw coming.

3. Shoe Surprise continued...

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that average-sized women gain between 25-35 pounds during pregnancy. That extra weight puts your feet under pressure.

"The additional weight you carry may flatten the arch of your foot,” Ricciotti says. “With the arch flattened you might find that you need an extra half-inch larger shoe size to be comfortable.”

Hormones play a role here, too -- in particular, one called relaxin.

"It does just what it sounds like,” Ribaudo says. “It relaxes the muscle ligaments in your body to help prepare you for childbirth, but it’s not exclusive to your pelvic area. It also affects the rest of your body, including your feet.”

With loosened ligaments in your feet and an increase in body weight pushing down on your arch, your feet are primed to flatten and lengthen. 

On the bright side? It's a great excuse to go shoe shopping.

4. Cup Size

A lot of women expect their breasts to get bigger before and after birth, especially if they continue breastfeeding. But just remember: what goes up…

"After you give birth and stop breastfeeding... that can leave your breasts looking not only saggy, as most women expect, but smaller as well," Ricciotti says.

It’s not uncommon for women to drop a cup size after pregnancy and breastfeeding, and it’s not over yet.

"The more children you have, the more your breasts tend to sag," Ricciotti says.

Don’t blame breastfeeding, though. A 2008 study of 93 women found that history of breastfeeding was not linked to their odds of having sagging breasts. Instead, the risk factors for sagging breasts were higher BMI, greater number of pregnancies, larger bra size before pregnancy, history of smoking, and older age.

5. Hair Loss

Most women have fuller, shinier locks during pregnancy. After delivery, your hair goes back to normal -- and that may mean it looks like you're losing more hair than normal. But don't worry -- it all evens out.

During pregnancy, Ribaudo says, higher estrogen levels keep your hair from falling out at its normal rate.

So after pregnancy, when estrogen levels drop and return to normal, your hair has to catch up -- by falling out.

Your heavy shedding period happens one to five months following pregnancy, according to ACOG. Most pregnant women have this hair loss, but the good news is that it’s temporary. Hair loss peaks around 3-4 months after birth, but usually returns to normal within 6-12 months.

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Reviewed on October 16, 2013

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