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Say what? Pregnancy can mess with your voice

Actress Kristen Bell's voice changed after pregnancy.
Actress Kristen Bell's voice changed after pregnancy.Jason Merritt / Today

When actress Kristen Bell was hugely pregnant she observed a change. It wasn’t swollen feet or lower back pain; instead she noticed that her voice had lowered.

“The pregnancy did change my voice. It made it deeper,” she said to PEOPLE earlier this week. “There were more womanly tones when I did one recording while I was extremely pregnant. After I had the baby, I had to go back and re-record those lines so they matched. There was something different about my voice.” Bell was recording a voice for a character in the animated movie, Frozen.   

So is a deeper voice really a side effect of pregnancy? Are there other weird transformations that happen?

Actress Kristen Bell's voice changed after pregnancy.Jason Merritt / Today

“It certainly can happen. Every organ system in the body goes through changes during pregnancy,” says Rebecca Starck, the regional director of obstetrics and gynecology at the Cleveland Clinic.

“I would probably surmise the reason her voice changed [is because] there is a lot of congestion in the nasal passages and mouth … and [that can] change the vocal chords.”

Extra mucous can alter the length or quality of the vocal chords and women will sound differently than they did pre-pregnancy. And this extra mucous also means that smell and taste changes.

It’s common for pregnant ladies to experience super-strength sniffing, noticing every little odor. Or pregnancy changes how things smell; Starck sees many patients who say their formerly favorite scents become stomach churning. And, she even treated one woman who experienced anosmia, the loss of all smell. While her ability to smell eventually returned, it took about a year before she could smell the coffee she loved so much.

Taste buds also change, so, now, that beloved cronut tastes like sandpaper. And, some women seemingly salivate almost as much as rabid dogs. Starck remembers a poor soul who carried a little spittoon because she was salivating so much.

Then there are the sprains and bone changes. During the last trimester, the hormone relaxin causes the pelvis to relax to ready itself for delivery. Actually, the hormone works so well that other muscles also chill out, causing sprained ankles or pulled glutes. 

Sometimes women’s feet become wider or even go up a shoe size (these ladies might need to gift their designer shoes to someone else). Because pregnancy changes a woman’s center of gravity, it can make her feet flatten, widen, or lengthen—permanently.

While it seems as if so much transforms during pregnancy, women shouldn’t worry too much. Most changes are temporary.

“[For] some of it, we don’t understand what’s happening,” Starck says. “There are just a lot of things that people don’t realize that are common.”

“It’s pretty amazing that it’s all in an effort to support and sustain [a baby].”