Childbirth is a life-altering experience. A nine(ish)-month pregnancy followed by the arrival of your newborn is not only one of the most intense emotional adventures you’ll go through, but you may experience some sweet health benefits as a result of the whole undertaking. Here are some of the perks you may enjoy after you have a baby.
Better overall health
Let’s face it. Once that pregnancy test shows its second line (or even before that if you’ve been trying to conceive for a while) you’re going to make changes in your life for the benefit of your baby. Good news, though — this benefits you as well. These advantages include:
Better nutrition. Dr. Sherry Ross, an OB-GYN at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells SheKnows that eating a complete and well-balanced diet is a great way to prepare for pregnancy, and you’ll want to continue eating well for the duration. This means, when all is said and done, you may be healthier (overall) after your baby is born than you were before.
No alcohol. “No amount of alcohol is safe or recommended during pregnancy,” says Ross. “Drinking alcohol during pregnancy also puts you at risk for miscarriage, stillbirth, prematurity and sudden infant death syndrome.”
While chronic alcohol use has severe health implications, infrequent use has its pitfalls as well (such as balance issues, memory loss, anxiety and slowed reaction times), so avoiding alcohol during pregnancy allows you to avoid these negative health effects.
No drugs. Just like alcohol, pregnant women usually avoid using drugs, legal or otherwise, as this can negatively affect a baby’s development and can complicate pregnancy. This, too, has benefits for moms-to-be.
Disease risk reduction
It turns out pregnancy can reduce your risk of certain cancers. “Since you are not ovulating for at least 10 months, this will reduce your risk of ovarian cancer,” Ross explains. “The more you ovulate, the greater your risk of ovarian cancer.” As it turns out, pregnancy can reduce your odds of developing ovarian cancer by 25 to 50 percent, she says.
If you breastfeed, this can also reduce your risk of developing breast cancer if you nurse for three months (or longer). Ross also notes that women who breastfeed have a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
While your period will likely be delayed if you’re breastfeeding, it’s also likely that your postpartum periods will be different from those that came before. Of course, you’re already guaranteed to be period-free for the duration of your pregnancy, which can help offset some of the more unpleasant pregnancy experiences (morning sickness, anyone?!).
When it’s all said and done, though, some people do experience fewer cramps as their periods come back, which is super-good news for those who have suffered every month before they got pregnant. Of course, some people are unlucky enough to have more intense cramps when their period returns after childbirth or no change at all. Perhaps you’ll be one of the lucky ones.
Also, a note about endometriosis: Those with who suffer with this dreadful condition may, in some cases, also enjoy less painful periods after birthing their baby. Pregnancy can suppress the symptoms of endometriosis for a while after childbirth (it has to do with increased levels of progesterone that can cause implants to get smaller), but do keep in mind that this is only temporary and does not cure the disease itself.
Something to look forward to
While pregnancy is different for everyone who experiences it, it’s known to be uncomfortable (and sometimes in a major way). So it’s nice that after you have your baby, you may enjoy some rockin’ pregnancy side effects while you cuddle your new bub.