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10 Strange Postpartum Changes I Didn't Expect

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We have all heard about the side effects of pregnancy, from the common to the bizarre: cravings for gross food combinations, weird dreams about losing the baby, ankles swollen to elephantine proportions. Whether we've experienced them all or only a few, we've still heard about them. And yet, no one really explained the side effects that would linger after I had a baby—or the new ones that would show up to let me know I was a mom.

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1. My hair fell out

I have always had thick hair, and it only got thicker and shinier with pregnancy. I loved my hair when I was pregnant! But what hormones giveth, hormones taketh away, because now my once-glossy mane of hair is a mere shadow of its former self, with more on the bathroom floor than my head (or so it seems).

2. My feet stayed bigger

I was prepared for the full shoe-size increase during pregnancy—all I had to do was look down at my poor feet and ankles to see that they were bigger—but I wasn't prepared for my size 8 shoes to be too tight and the size 7.5 that had once been only snug becoming impossible to wear. Favorite shoes I could wear before pregnancy sit in the bottom of the closet, along with a couple pairs of jeans that will never see the light of day again.

3. My taste in food changed

During pregnancy, I had aversions to foods that I loved pre-pregnancy, but post-pregnancy certain foods just don't taste the same. My sweet tooth has faded to the point that I had to switch my usual coffee drink from an iced mocha to a simple vanilla coffee because the chocolate was just too sweet for me. And the spicy food I once adored seems over-seasoned.

4. I became more noise-sensitive

I find myself cringing when someone laughs too loud in a restaurant.

I always had a problem with prolonged loud noise pre-pregnancy, but now I literally can't stand to hear noise that is above conversation level. I think it has to do with being hypersensitive (and hyperaware) of not only my crying baby, but noises that might wake my sleeping baby and make him cry. But even now that both of my sons are past the baby stage, I find myself cringing when someone laughs too loud in a restaurant and turning down the TV to barely audible. Quiet. I need quiet.

5. The pregnancy heartburn came back to stay

I'd never had heartburn before pregnancy. Oh, maybe a time or two when I ate five-alarm chili, but nothing serious. Then I had it with baby No. 1 and discovered heartburn medicine. Yay! It went away after the first baby, came back with the second pregnancy and stayed. Now I go through a bottle of Tums every month, even though I've given up many of the spicy foods I love.

6. Parts of my body are numb

This is specific to having a C-section, but I'd never had surgery before and I wasn't prepared for the numbness that can occur around the site of an incision. Four years after my C-section, and I still have numbness in the area around my lower stomach. It's a little freaky, to be honest.

7. I have phantom baby kicks

It's a strange feeling, one that makes me nostalgic even though I don't want to be pregnant again.

About six months after my first son was born, I was convinced I was pregnant again and that I'd felt the baby kick. It happened again after baby No, 2 and every few months or so since then. It's a strange feeling, one that makes me nostalgic even though I don't want to be pregnant again. (Besides "phantom baby kick" sounds better than "gas.")

8. My body odor has changed

I can't confirm this, as I seem to be the only one who noticed, but I swear I smell different than I did before my pregnancies. So maybe it's not my body odor but my sense of smell that has changed. But I definitely think I smell riper after a workout than I did before I had babies.

9. I get physically tense when I hear a crying baby

I thought once my children were out of the baby stage that crying babies wouldn't bother me, but that hasn't been the case. Before I had kids, a crying baby was mildly annoying and certainly didn't concern me, but now a few wails from a young infant and I'm ready to rush over and offer comfort. Even if the baby is on TV.

10. My clothes don't fit the same

Even though I lost all the baby weight (plus 15 pounds) after my first pregnancy, and all but five pounds with my second baby, some of my clothes never fit the same. Thanks to two pregnancies, my body has changed in ways that I can't quite pinpoint, except to say I feel different. For instance, I've read that the ribcage enlarges during pregnancy and can take time (months, certainly, but years?) to return to its previous size, but much like my feet, that part of me has stayed larger.

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Unexpected though some of these changes have been, it all seems to be part of the trip of motherhood. Physically and emotionally, we are changed forever once we become moms. So what about you? What postpartum changes caught you by surprise?

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