Women who've had babies look different. Here's how pregnancy can permanently change a body

Ashley May
Pregnancy can change women's appearance in permanent ways.

Weight gain, larger nose, sensitive boobs. 

There are plenty of temporary changes a woman experiences during pregnancy, and in the days following birth. Yvonne Butler Tobah, obstetrician and gynecologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said a year postpartum usually resets body back to normal, but there are a few changes that can be permanent:

Skin: A woman's face, areolas, stomach and moles often darken during pregnancy, and might stay that way. An increase in estrogen is usually to blame. Butler Tobah said an easy way of telling if a woman has had a baby is to check her belly for a pregnancy line (linea nigra), which usually fades after pregnancy but might never really go away. The same goes for darkening of the central part of the face, often known as the mask of pregnancy. Stretch marks, scars from skin tears as skin expands, can also fade but might not go away. 

Hips: Bone structure can change after pregnancy, making women's hips slightly wider. Added weight during pregnancy can also play a role. 

Breast: Pregnancy can change a woman's breasts, but how is largely individual. A third of women develop smaller breasts, a third have larger (meaning fat accumulation remains) and a third see no change after baby. Sagging is caused by fat accumulation and breast feeding has nothing to do with breast changes, Butler Tobah said.

Brain:Women's brains shrink during pregnancy, according to a study published in Nature Neuroscience a few months ago. Due to the time frame of the study, which was conducted by researchers in the Netherlands and Spain, it is not known whether the effects are permanent or temporary. But, Butler Tobah said there is a marked emotional change that takes place. In some cases, this could manifest into postpartum depression or anxietyPostpartum Support International can connect moms or loved ones who need help with trained professionals. Connect with them online or by calling 1-800-944-4773.

Follow Ashley May on Twitter: @AshleyMayTweets