The Radical Ways Birth Changes Bodies
Birth changes bodies. Join us in exploring the 2022 study on the bones of birthing people. Plus, evidence-based facts and holistic wisdom on and for your birthing body!
If you were to ask any mother or birthing person about the changes their bodies went through during pregnancy, the list shared might look a little bit like this:
My breasts swelled.
Stretch marks popped up on my bottom and hips!
A dark line (linea nigra) appeared in the center of my abdomen. It faded, but I definitely did not expect it.
I was glowing all the time!
My hair became really thick. The healthiest it’s ever been, by far.
Why did no one tell me about hormonal acne?!
If you’ve already given birth, we are certain you could add to this with all the ways in which your body transformed. But do you know something fascinating? Science sheds even more light on this space… because so much of what is really happening can’t even be seen!
Science & Birth
If we were to take a trip into the world of science, specifically anthropology, right now – that list would explode with even more changes. All of which we cannot see on the outside.
Reproduction permanently alters females’ bones in ways not previously known, a team of anthropologists has found. Its discovery, based on an analysis of primates, sheds new light on how giving birth can permanently change the body. (1)
So, what did anthropologists find?
Researchers found that calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus concentrations are lower in females who have experienced reproduction... a bone is not a static and dead portion of the skeleton. It continuously adjusts and responds to physiological processes. (1)
Try not to overthink this too much.
Your body is brilliant. And for those who are (pregnant) giving birth or who have given birth, this simply amplifies the message of Traditional reproductive medicine from the last few thousand years! Bodies that have given birth can become depleted. And now, we just have the scientific evidence to support this.
Above photography by Alyssa Leon.
What can you do with this scientific evidence? We believe you can combat depletion in both pregnancy and postpartum. Dr. Aviva Romm (you can follow her here on Instagram for more binge-worthy facts) speaks some wonderful truths about how to best care for your pregnant body.
Many women are going into pregnancy already nutrient depleted and then added to this are the naturally increased nutrient needs of pregnancy and breastfeeding. (2)
Since we now know the impact can show up in our bones, we must also do the necessary work to inhibit any damage we can. Dr. Romm suggests Prenatal Vitamins, beyond optimal nutrition. In her words,
Benefits include improved likelihood of becoming pregnant and reduced the risk of miscarriage, prenatal anxiety and depression, and postpartum depression – which can have a tremendous impact on the experience of being a mom. There is also reduced risk of pregnancy complications including gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, preterm birth, low birth weight babies, birth defects, and stillbirth – all of which can have massive health and safety consequences for mom and baby, including complications associated with prematurity and long hospital stays, and a possible reduction in risk of autism. We also see lower rates of long-term chronic problems that can affect our children later in life, for example, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, when preconception nutrition is optimized. (2)
These are welcome facts for your birth community, amplifying the message that you matter – and there are ways you can stay well. Our goal at Cherry Blossom Doula Services is that though your body will go through radical changes during pregnancy and into postpartum you will remain your most whole and well self here.
Life After Birth
Did you know that in Traditional reproductive medicine, your first 42 days equal your next 42 years? We say it a lot around here. There is even more going on within your precious body than the changes in your bones! For example, fetal cells can be found in birthing and postpartum bodies for up to 39 years post-birth. Ayurvedic medicine says that when you have your very best, most easeful postpartum experience, you can integrate all of the experiences (and changes) in your body instead of reacting to them. (Ayurvedic medicine just happens to be the Traditional foundation for our postpartum care.)
Again, science and holistic worlds align.
And on this note, Cherry Blossom believes that the best is yet to come! With more research being done with each passing year, we are returning to the wisdom of our ancestors – our roots. From this space, beautiful things will grow. We can see it already!
If you are looking for an interesting read, this is the wonderful article on fetal cells. We have a lot of families that need to see the science behind why holistic care works! Additionally, if you are looking for ways to be your best self through pregnancy, postpartum and beyond, our birth doulas have lots of other tips – including the reasons why midwifery care might be best for you (spoiler alert: their approach is scientific evidence meets traditional wisdom!) and, we offer postpartum support focused on rest, nourishment, mindfulness and body work. Your body, mind and soul matter.
Want to make the impact you most desire? We are with you!
Your Cherry Blossom Doulas
Hi! I’m Alyssa Leon. I lead Cherry Blossom Doula Services, LLC – an inclusive birth + postpartum doula team in Arizona; and mentor doulas in Arizona and beyond.