It’s a well-known fact that the effects of pregnancy and childbirth don’t disappear overnight. I remember for a good couple of weeks feeling like I’d been in a car crash. I still don’t quite understand how childbirth can leave every muscle and bone in pain, even your little fingers. And that’s just the beginning.
I’ve never heard anyone talk about the longterm impacts that come from discharging an infant out of your uterus. Even years down the line, these side effects are still very real. Here are my top five effects – and to be fair, they aren’t all bad.
1 | Your body shape changes
People talk about the saggy boobs and the stretch marks, but there’s something I haven’t heard anyone mention: nipples. My nipples are now so big that my toddler regularly kneels on them. WTF? How is that even physically possible? It’s not even a rare occurrence.
Quite often, usually at bedtime, my son ends up kneeling on one or both of my nipples. I would like to point out that I am clothed at said moments. It is bloody painful and usually ends with me yelping in distress and then hauling him off them as he doesn’t even realize what he’s done.
Admittedly, this may be more due to breastfeeding than childbirth per se, but they are pretty closely linked.
2 | Your bones realign themselves
Or, more accurately, they don’t realign themselves. Instead you have to deal with an ever so slightly out of joint pelvis for the rest of eternity.
Side effects include: twinges if you make any sudden twists, and a dull ache in the pelvic area after walking more than 30 minutes on a hard, flat surface. Like pavement, say. Not the easiest to avoid unless you live in a forest.
3 | Your vagina suffers
Like 90 percent of women, I tore during childbirth. Thankfully, a kind midwife sewed me back together. I’ve had stitches before, so I was prepared for it to take a few weeks, even months, for the wound to fully heal. But after a year of putting up with random pains from ‘down below’, I got it checked out by the doctor.
I was reliably informed that it can take two years to fully heal. Two years. Let’s let that sink in a little. (If men’s penises randomly hurt after babies were born, I think we would invest more money in sexual and reproductive healthcare than space travel.)
When the nurse checked out the offending article, she informed me there was, and I quote, “nothing to worry about” – apart from the fact that I keep getting sharp pains around the opening of my vagina.
4 | An amazing/infuriating little follows you around
I think this is perhaps the most overlooked effect of childbirth. The children.
They follow you around and get in the way, often when you are trying to do anything for yourself. This is usually paired with their uncanny ability to detach from you and run in the opposite direction whenever it’s least convenient and most unsafe, like at bedtime, in supermarkets, and on the way to any form of public transport.
The result is you are now never, never alone, and you will never, never get to be your own human again. If you are not physically attached to your child, you are inevitably doing something for them (e.g. washing their clothes, cleaning up their shit, preparing them food, etc.).
The overall effect is a lethal oxytocin-claustrophobia cocktail that you become completely and utterly addicted to.
5 | Your orgasms completely change
This is the best kept secret of the effects of childbirth – an unexpected bonus, if you will, that women get at the end of the hell that is pregnancy and childbirth. I’m not sure of the science behind it because, like most women, I’m not really clear on the science of my own anatomy, and, quite frankly, I never listened to a word my biology teacher said.
I assume, however, that once you’ve used the full force of that mother of all muscles – the vagina – it’s just not willing to lie down quietly anymore. My orgasms are now much harder and deeper, and I can go multiple times. Previously, I was too sensitive and needed a self-imposed pause between sessions. (I guess the ripping and stretching might have removed any over-sensitivity I once had, so it’s all swings and roundabouts as they say).
At least there is one real benefit from the pain of childbirth. Oh, that and the baby. The baby is pretty awesome, too.
Who else feels they are still suffering longterm impacts of birth many years down the line? Please do share. I can’t be the only one.