How is a childless body different?
Having babies does a number on your body. How could it not? Think about all the changes that come with pregnancy, childbirth and nursing. If you have any doubts about the motherly body, read this article from the Telegraph, “Does Having Children Make You Old?” Follow it up with my 2012 blog post detailing the changes pregnancy imposes, including weight gain, back problems, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, incontinence, changes in breast size and shape, and stretch marks. On the good side, women who have given birth have less risk of breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer. Also, you get a ticket to the grownup table as a full-fledged member of the Mom Club.
I have written here before about how I feel younger than my peers who have kids. At a funeral for my cousin last week, I found myself gravitating toward the younger cousins because I felt like we had more in common. I’m aware of my age—another birthday coming in three weeks. I know I look like somebody’s grandma, but my life is so different from those of the folks clustered around their children and grandchildren. Lacking husband or children, I found myself hanging out with my father and my brother. “What are you, six?” my sister-in-law scolded me at one point. Maybe I am.
From the outside, I look just like my mom, except with glasses and straight hair. She had two children and that probably changed her body, but I still feel like a clone. It’s hard to imagine what having a baby would have done to me. I can read the list, but I can’t feel it, you know? Besides, I’ve seen lots of moms who look great. I guess those of us who never got pregnant will never know what it’s really like.
What do you think about all this? Read the article and let me know.
Forgive me if this post is a little wonky. Some of those kids at the funeral gave colds to their parents which they generously passed on to “Aunt Sue.” Not having kids around means I hardly ever get sick. One of the benefits.
5 thoughts on “Mom bodies vs. childless bodies”
I’d say that you are very right in your recent post. I’m starting to
believe there’s no one size fits all answer to this. It’s very complicated.
Thanks, Sue, I don’t feel so odd now that I know you tend to gravitate towards the younger set too.
My ‘adult’ crowd all seem to be talking kids, teens, grandkids, kid worries, kid hopes, kid dreams….. yeah, right, I can be a serious contributor to those conversations, not very likely.
Besides, the younger people conversations are more fun, especially if you know their current music tastes, and they’re usually eager to have us join in the latest board games that they’re playing.
I am starting to feel the effects of aging, so if I can take my mind off that by hanging out with the younger set, and they’re happy to have me then that’s what I’m happy to continue to do.
The few other childless people I know do tend to have a younger mindset, too (the parents in my crowd might label it immature or carefree).
I’d like to think I would have taken after my mother and grandmother, holding up well in mind and body as they aged after having several kids. I’ll never know.
I do worry about the illnesses I may be more at risk of since I haven’t given birth. I can only hope that regular check-ups will continue to allay those fears.
I have experienced some weight gain (menopause), back problems (prolapsed disk and sciatica years ago), so I can only imagine what extra stress birthing might have added to my body.
Most of my ‘mum’ friends have travelled well with their bodies, although a few complain about their sagging breasts. There’s also the frequency and severity of the colds when their kids pass them on. Definitely not missing that!
Yeah! Thanks for sharing this.
People say I look young, but I think the depression about never being able to have children might have triggered some weight gain so I think at a certain point I ruined my body just the same as if I had a couple of kids. I read somewhere that people with infertility issues sometimes gain weight in their stomachs, almost as if pregnant, for some psychological reason. I’m not sure if there is any truth to that but I think having kids is just one of many ways to screw up your body. Aging will get it either way if something else doesn’t.
On an unrelated note, I think that the reason not having kids makes you statistically more likely to get certain cancers has more to do with lifestyle than anything. If you are trying to get pregnant or are pregnant you’ll likely see a gynecologist often, both before and possibly after and maybe will be more likely to continue just out of habit. As for me I haven’t gone in years. Once I knew I didn’t need birth control pill refills anymore, I just stopped bothering. There is less pressure to take care of yourself when no one is depending on you, and maybe since you’re not really using that whole area of your body, it sort of falls off your radar. I’m sure that’s not true to everyone but for me it makes sense. Just a thought.
Hi Erica. Thanks for sharing this. I agree that we can age in all kinds of ways. There’s an actual hormonal reason why women who have given birth have some extra protection against some kinds of cancers, but I’m sure you’re right about the lifestyle differences, too.