motherhood is magic (and so are our bodies)

Becoming a mother changes you in more ways than you could ever imagine. If you’re growing or raising your little one(s) now, you’ve probably felt some of the changes. Your body looks different, you feel completely different and where the hell did that deep love of smelling your baby’s head come from? There’s a lot of science and some serious magic involved, if you ask us.

If you’re not quite feeling like yourself now that you’re a mom, it’s not just you. There are intense changes to your body in every way all the way from a molecular level. You can’t just ignore that and expect to feel 100% back to normal. 

Fun fact: a woman’s body never goes back to normal after becoming a mother. In the *best* way possible. 

From your brain to literal DNA, the moment you become pregnant your body goes to work on creating the best possible environment for your baby. Our bodies are literally pre-programmed to make tweaks and changes all over in order to make us the best mothers possible for our little ones.

We think it’s comforting to know that science backs us up on this subject. Recent studies have been delving into the intricacies and mysteries of mothers’ bodies (it’s about damn time!). They’ve reported tons of fascinating findings and groundbreaking results all pointing to one common idea: motherhood is magic (and so are our bodies).

You carry your baby with you way longer than 9 months

Babies’ cells have been found in their mothers’ bodies for decades after birth, called fetal microchimerism, meaning you’ll be carrying around tiny pieces of your baby until they’re well into adulthood. These fetal cells have been found in mothers’ organs and scientists are still researching exactly what this means for us moms. 

Some scientists hypothesize that fetal cells found in a mom’s heart can help her survive a heart attack while another study has found these cells tend to cluster around the part of mammals’ brains responsible for maternal instincts. We hope that scientists do more research on this in the future, because we would love to know more!

Mom brain is real

Did you know that a new mother’s brain looks physically different from regular adult brains? A group of scientists found new moms’ brains look significantly different from their pre-pregnancy brains. Specifically, pregnant women have less visible grey matter, which is responsible for helping your brain process information, like remembering things and responding to social signals. 

This change in grey matter was still noticeable at six years postpartum (!!!) meaning, yes your mom brain is real and it lasts at least until your youngest is six years old. Let that sink in. One group of researchers believes that this change to the brain completely reorganizes a mother’s ability to empathize and put ourselves in the place of others socially. This is a huge superpower when it comes to understanding and rationalizing our newborns’ intense reactions to things, because, y’know, they can’t help it! They’re just babies! 

Your body rearranges itself just for the baby

At some point in pregnancy, every woman has a moment where she thinks “this baby inside me physically can’t get any bigger.” Ever wonder exactly how your body has enough room for a whole baby to fit inside it? Check out this video to see how your body shifts and squeezes to make sure your precious cargo has plenty of breathing room (even if you don’t).

Your baby starts conditioning you from pregnancy

You may have heard that a pregnant mother’s emotions directly impact her baby in many ways; but did you know that this communication goes both ways? Scientists have been exploring the ways that in-utero babies send messages to their mothers and one 2013 study found super cool results. 

They gave pregnant mothers eye coverings and headphones then (gently) made startling noises right beside the women’s baby bumps. The researchers were able to track the babies’ reactions to the sounds and found that they set off a chain reaction of responses in the mothers’ heart rates and skin conductance. Basically, when your baby is nervous or startled, even if you don’t know it, your body is reacting to baby’s emotions!

Dr. DiPietro, the main researcher in this study, believes these signals from baby start to train a mother-to-be in what to expect from her child. Our bodies detect fetal movement, even when we don’t know we’re feeling baby move, and subconsciously prepares us for what to expect from our baby. AKA- if your body is feeling lots of rowdy kicks from your little one, you may be conditioned to expect chaos from him or her once they’re born.

Smelling your baby feels like winning the lottery

Within hours, or maybe minutes, of your baby’s birth, you’re going to find yourself smelling his or her head. It’s just a fact. You’ve probably heard that the smell of a baby’s head is addictive to a mom and guess what? That’s 100% scientifically backed. A study by the University of Montreal showed that the smell of a mother’s newborn lit up the reward center of her brain, in an addictive, dopamine-induced way that is also often lit up when we smell delicious food.

This intense love for smelling our babies may even have an evolutionary purpose. One study found that 90% of mothers could identify their own baby just by smell alone within 10 minutes. We’re not exactly sure what purpose this serves in modern society, but we still love smelling our babies, so we’re not questioning it too much.

Trust your instincts

Moms feel lots of unexplainable instincts throughout pregnancy and motherhood, and while it may feel random at the time, almost all of them have hidden purposes they’re serving for you and your babe. For example, you’ll probably experience some food cravings while you’re pregnant. These cravings are thought to be caused by shifting hormones, but some scientists believe that cravings may also be your body’s way of trying to compensate for nutritional deficiencies. For example, you may crave red meat when your body is lacking iron and protein, or you may crave ice cream when you’re running low on calcium. So, yes, this is your excuse to indulge — your body may quite literally need it!

You’ll probably find yourself rubbing your pregnant belly multiple times a day, which you may chalk up to a random habit, but scientists have actually found that this may be a motherly instinct to help your baby feel comforted and secure. One study found that at 3 months old, babies whose moms regularly rubbed their pregnant bellies were much more easygoing and relaxed than babies whose mothers weren’t constantly rubbing their bellies. See, it serves a purpose!

We can all agree that the changes, shifts and instincts mothers’ bodies are capable of are truly magical. This Mother’s Day, take the time to celebrate everything you’ve done for the precious babe in your life and make sure to spoil yourself, too!