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Here’s why becoming a mother for the first time is so physically intense
As amazing as it is, becoming a parent for the first time has its challenges: You’re navigating a major life transition on little sleep and without the benefit of experience. But you adjust, your confidence grows and the stretches of sleep at night extend—and you may soon feel up for expanding your family again.
When you do, don’t be surprised if everything feels less intense. Science proves becoming a mother for the first time is generally more intense both physically and emotionally than the experience with later children.
No matter how much you prepare, there’s no way you can fully be ready for everything that comes with it.
Your body changes more with the first pregnancy
It all starts with how pregnancy alters your body. Your breasts, which don’t fully form until pregnancy, will begin to develop a new in preparation for breastfeeding. Your muscles loosen —especially in your pelvic region. Your brain structure goes through long-lasting changes. “Radical” surges of hormones transform your body and mind. And that’s what’s happening inside. On the outside, you’ll likely have acne flare-ups you never had before, your flat hair will bounce to life and varicose veins will pepper your legs. For better or worse, some of those pregnancy side-effects stick around long after baby is born—which means you aren’t dealing with anything new the next time you’re expecting.
Here are some of the ways the body adapts during and after pregnancy:
- Your pelvis bone structure stretches slightly and your hips carry more padding
- Your breasts may change shape after they no longer fill up with milk
- Your areola, labia and moles may darken
- Your bladder muscle tone may weaken, causing long-time urinary problems
- You may become more constipated
- You may experience hair loss
First-time motherhood is also uniquely emotionally intense
Becoming a parent for the first time is very difficult to navigate.
You have to learn to completely adjust your priorities, schedules and relationships. And you do it all while you’re sleep deprived, hormonal, and often physically uncomfortable. Then subsequent babies bring along their own set of changes and unexpected challenges, but your mindset has already shifted into mom-mode so the adjustment isn’t as jarring.
You’re likely also to be more consumed by thoughts about pregnancy and parenthood than first time around. While a 1990 study published in Psychology and Psychotherapy found that results in a higher emotional attachment among expectant parents with their first unborn baby, there’s nothing to feel guilty about: The bond with subsequent children is amazing and special in its own ways. You probably just won’t be so stressed.