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Changes to a Woman's Brain After Giving Birth

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Labor & Delivery related image Photo: Getty Images

In 2007, an estimated 4,317,119 births were registered in the United States, according to data from the National Vital Statistics Reports. When you give birth, your body goes through numerous changes. For example, as your body prepares for labor, it releases hormones, which helps loosen the ligaments that are between your pelvic bones, noted the University of Minnesota. While some hormones work on loosening those ligaments, other hormones work to soften the cervix, which opens it up.

After giving birth to your new baby, your body is still going through changes. As your uterus shrinks, you may experience afterpains, which are painful contractions. The University of Michigan Health System recommends drinking extra fluids while breastfeeding, eating healthy meals, sleeping around the same time as your baby, and having loved ones help with daily chores while your body heals. Some women may have postpartum depression, a type of depressive disorder that affects 8 to 20 percent of women after they give birth, noted MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

But your brain may also be changing after you give birth. In a study published in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience, researchers found that after giving birth, new mothers had larger brains. HealthDay News reported that the study includes 19 women, and the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans were taken at two and three weeks and again at three to four months. The women who participated in the study did not have postpartum depression and were breastfeeding.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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