Every so often, a tweet will go viral that will make you go, “Yes! This!” and today, that viral tweet is about all the permanent harm and changes our bodies endure due to pregnancy.
It all began with this initial tweet in 2022 from @Patricia_Ann_E, who, according to her bio, is a medical worker living in Canada. She says that a woman she encountered told her that she had “no idea” that pregnancy can permanently harm your body.
“I can’t help wondering which part of this is personal ignorance or a societal lie and glorification of pregnancy,” @Patricia_Ann_E (validly) concluded.
I had a woman today tell me she had no idea that being pregnant can permanently harm your body and I canât help wondering which part of this is personal ignorance or a societal lie and glorification of pregnancy.
— Patricia Ann (@Patricia_Ann_E) November 14, 2022
Many people chimed in with their own stories about pregnancy and the changes and damage they experienced during or after pregnancy.
As someone whose health was permanently damaged by her last pregnancy, I want to say itâs both. âItâs normal!â âWomen have been doing this for millennia!â Apparently our health has been going to hell too, but nobody told us that!
— ðCisCleanAirBrigadeð§ð¥ (@CrnchyMama) November 16, 2022
In my early 50s I developed pelvic organ prolapse with one drivers being long pushing phases during pregnancy. I had no idea this condition even existed. I now run a FB support group for 16,000+ women with this condition, most of whom were also initially ignorant of prolapse.
— Abby du Nord (@abbyobenchain) November 15, 2022
Others pointed out that a lack of overall education about sexual health and women’s reproduction contributes to the overall ignorance experienced by many people who get pregnant.
There’s a lot of misinformation and may I say lack of education in society when it comes to sexual health and yes that includes pregnancy etc. It’s not “personal ignorance” when the most you can get is “its different for every person” after a long day of mining. https://t.co/29Gko4F0wW
— ThisTimeAround (@Yes_Mali33) November 17, 2022
Others pointed out how the societal focus on women post-pregnancy is superficial and unrelated to women’s health.
The permanent changes talked about most are the “dangers” of getting fat and getting stretch marks and the emphasis is on trying to prevent them so you’ll be physically appealing after giving birth. https://t.co/beAWKJj4at
— gin. (@showupforthis) November 16, 2022
Where are the realistic representations of post-birth bodies and the challenges of very early motherhood in the media we consume? Where are the characters in books, film & tv dealing with prolapse? Invisible. No wonder many of us donât know.
I wrote this article about it. https://t.co/kfEIcJ5yor
— Elicia OâReilly (@eliciao_o) November 16, 2022
The political climate, particularly after Roe v. Wade was struck down by the Supreme Court last year, also plays a role in the lack of realistic expectations and education surrounding the cons of childbirth and life afterward.
Education on this topic is so so so important now that multiple states think it’s acceptable and even righteous to force women to undergo pregnancies when irreparable harm is the norm of both pregnancy and birth. https://t.co/0QSQ4Ukc2K
— Edie V. (@rusticfem) November 16, 2022
More than once I’ve heard older women say that if we were honest about pregnancy/delivery with young women they’d never agree to do it. Pooping during delivery, tearing, uterine prolapse, broken tailbones, elevated blood pressure r just some potential pregnancy party favours.
— Can’t look away. (@woodchristy) November 15, 2022
For me personally, I remember experiencing late-stage pregnancy carpal tunnel and panicking, because one day I could move my fingers nimbly and the next day I just… couldn’t. A seasoned mom and friend of mine said, “Oh, that’s normal! Apparently, anyway. I experienced the same thing and it went away eventually.”
While I never expected my OB-GYN to explain every single possible outcome or side effect of being pregnant and I also know how to research things myself, something like that is one of the many, many things people learn during or after pregnancy.
It was never explained to me that during pregnancy, your blood volume doubles, which causes extra fluid to increase pressure and swelling in the blood vessels throughout your body. In tight spaces such as the carpal tunnel area of the wrist, the swelling can compress the median nerve, which runs to the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome and pregnancy go hand-in-hand, literally. It didn’t go away until my baby was about a month old, which meant four weeks of fumbling through snaps and zippers and buttons during every single outfit change—for myself and my baby!
Also, raise your hand if you still have back problems years after carrying your last baby—yep, I see you. That’s just one way pregnancy becomes a permanent part of your life.
Dental problems post-pregnancy are very common, too.
Had to have 3 teeth pulled after they cracked down the middle. My feet bones have rearranged. My hips and lower back hurt. every. day. Pregnancy can harm you and can definitely be dangerous. https://t.co/Q14nleF1IU
— Rohwynnâ· (@Rohwynn) November 16, 2022
The CDC reports that nearly 60% to 75% of pregnant women have gingivitis, an early stage of periodontal disease that occurs when the gums become red and swollen from inflammation that may be aggravated by changing hormones during pregnancy.
According to The March of Dimes, high levels of the hormones progesterone and estrogen during pregnancy can temporarily loosen the tissues and bones that keep your teeth in place. This can make your teeth loose.
The medical community has to do better when it comes to offering pregnant women a comprehensive education about these common (but concerning) physical problems people experience post-pregnancy, but we drastically need to see a full societal shift around the way we glorify pregnancy at the expense of mothers.
A version of this story was originally published on Nov. 17, 2022. It has been updated.