From healthier eating to thicker hair to better sex, how pregnancy may boost your health and happiness.
PERK: Eating disorders go into remission A study of 41,000 pregnant women found that about 58 percent of women with bulimia who binged and purged improved (40 percent went into complete remission and another 18 percent achieved partial remission). Among women with bulimia who binged but did not purge, 29 percent achieved remission and another 53 percent improved.
“We believe that this is akin to women stopping smoking or drinking alcohol during pregnancy,” says Cynthia Bulik, Ph.D., director of the Eating Disorders Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “They are concerned about the effects that starvation, purging or binge eating might have on their babies, so they work really hard to get their eating disorders under control.” Statistics were not available for women with anorexia, although many also improve, Bulik says.
POST-BABY REALITY CHECK Some women’s disordered eating patterns resume after they give birth.
PERK: Couples get closer The anticipation of having a baby, choosing names, preparing the nursery, marveling at the ultrasound—for couples in a healthy relationship, all of these experiences can make for a second honeymoon of sorts.
“There’s much more feeling of connectedness, and that makes men feel more generous about pampering their pregnant wives with things like foot massages,” says Tina Tessina, Ph.D., a psychotherapist in Long Beach, Calif., and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage (Adams Media).
POST-BABY REALITY CHECK Eh, don’t count on those foot massages to continue. A study that tracked marital happiness among 218 couples through the first eight years of marriage found a “sudden deterioration” in satisfaction in the years following a birth compared with pre-baby levels.
PERK: You feel sexier “Shifting hormone levels can cause your libido to soar,” says New York City certified sexuality educator Amy Levine, M.A., founder of igniteyourpleasure.com. Many women let go of body-image insecurities when they’re pregnant, she adds: “Your curves, particularly your voluptuous breasts and the belly you proudly show off to your partner, can make you feel sexier than ever.” And for couples who struggled to conceive, sex can be especially liberating, now that there are no monthly ovulation calendars to worry about.
POST-BABY REALITY CHECK Enjoy the sex while you can. It may be a long while before your and your partner’s libidos and schedules match up.
Did you know? The “pregnancy glow” is no myth: The increased blood volume that’s needed to nourish your growing baby creates that healthy-looking flush.