The human body can handle miraculous things. Growing and birthing a baby is just one of them. It’s important to know all the changes that your body goes through to allow a baby to grow. You’ll understand more about the symptoms and discomforts that you experience while understanding more about what your growing baby needs from you.
This is your ultimate guide to all the body changes. We’ll look at not just how your organs shift or how much weight you gain, but how your energy levels, eyesight, and cognitive functions can change. Are you ready to delve into the world of pregnancy changes? You may be surprised by some of them.
The Early Signs Are Changes
Technically, those early signs of pregnancy that you get are changes to your body. One of the most common ways for women to tell they’re pregnant is the missed period. They can also experience a little cramping around the implantation stage when the egg is getting comfortable in your uterus. Home pregnancy tests are now extremely accurate and will help you determine if you are in the early stages or not.
Many women will experience tiredness in the earlier stages. Your body is working hard to get ready for this growing baby. The fetus zaps away your nutrients to help it grow, so you’re left with less to support your own body. Don’t worry about this! Your body will adapt.
The ability to adapt to the fewer nutrients is one of the unnoticed changes. Your body will tell you that you need to sleep more throughout the day and encourage you to rest. Just a few short naps in the day can help you feel human again.
Hormonal changes are also experienced, although you won’t necessarily know they’re happening. Pregnancy hormone increases can lead to pregnancy sickness. It’s usually nicknamed morning sickness, as it tends to happen mostly in the morning. However, there are women who experience all-day sickness. Certain foods may make you nauseous, even just the smell of them. You may find your sickness is worse if you let yourself get hungry.
Most of the time, your morning sickness will disappear by the second trimester. If it is so bad that you can’t stomach water or any food, you should discuss this with your doctor.
The hormones can also lead to more frequent urination. This gets worse as your baby grows and starts pushing on your bladder. There isn’t much room in there, so your organs will need to move around and take up less space than they’re used to. That means you can’t quite hold in as much urine as you used to.
The Shifting of Organs and Growing Belly
The most notable change in pregnancy is to your stomach area. Your belly will grow as your baby gets bigger. Some babies sit back, keeping the bump small. However, others can sit forward, forcing your belly to stick out further. Your belly button can also push out, despite always having an “inny” growing up.
If you are already of a larger size, you may not initially notice the growing belly. This can also depend on the positioning of the baby. Friends may overlook your belly until the second trimester, which can be useful if you’re trying to keep it quite at work.
Subsequent pregnancies tend to show earlier than your first. Your body knows what to expect and will start making room right away.
The organs will shift during pregnancy. You may find your stomach and liver are pushed up towards your chest cavity, while your bladder, kidneys, and intestines are forced down. Your baby wants the space to itself, understandably.
These organ shifts won’t be visible, but you can experience symptoms. We’ve already discussed the frequent urination, but your eating habits and breathing abilities can change. As your stomach is pushed further into the lungs, you can find your lungs don’t quite have the space to fill with air. Your breaths get shallow and light.
As for eating, you may find your stomach feels fuller sooner. You don’t eat as much as you used to. Don’t worry about this, as your body can handle with the smaller number of calories you are getting. Just make sure you follow a healthy and balanced diet to get the nutrients you and your growing baby need.
Some women experience bad stomach acid reflux. This is due to the positioning of the stomach and the size. It’s easier for the stomach acid to escape up the pipes and into the mouth. Heartburn and indigestion are also common, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. Most women experience these on a night and find they need to lay propped up slightly to avoid the feeling of acid in their throat.
With your intestines and colon getting smaller spaces, the food and waste can’t pass through as easily or as quickly. Women tend to find constipation is common.
Changes That You’ll Notice
While a protruding belly is one of the symptoms you’ll notice, there are others that are commonly overlooked until they happen. There is a common statement of a “pregnancy glow.” As your hormones change, your skin can look rosy and shiny now and then. Your body has more blood flowing through it, which shows in your skin.
However, not all women experience this glow. The change in hormones can lead to acne flare-ups, especially if you suffered from these flare-ups as a teenager. Most of the time the acne is temporary and will disappear after pregnancy. There are times that it can stick around afterward, so you may want to speak to your doctor.
Redness and inflammation of the skin can also appear. If you do have to swell, talk to your doctor. While many people will say, that swelling is common, when it’s in the arms and face it can be a sign of a medical problem.
Another outer change you’ll likely notice is to your breasts. They will start to get bigger, as they prepare for breastfeeding. Even if you don’t plan on breastfeeding, the breasts will get ready; they don’t know your plans!
Don’t worry if you see your nipples and the area around them getting darker or small bumps forming. These are completely normal and are to help your baby find your breasts. Babies have poor eyesight from birth, so the dark spots help them locate the food.
Due to pregnancy hormones and the growing period, your breasts can feel tender and heavy. You shouldn’t feel any lumps though. Keep doing your usual checks to make sure there are no other health problems.
Blue veins can also appear on your breasts. They may also appear on other parts of the body. They’re known as spider veins and are due to the body pumping more blood around the system. They will disappear after pregnancy usually.
You shouldn’t lay on your back during pregnancy, but if you do you may see the middle of your stomach protruding as you sit up. This is because the muscles in your stomach can separate and your baby and other organs can start to push through that gap. You want to avoid this happening as much as possible. Don’t use the stomach muscles to sit up. Instead, roll to one side and push yourself up with your arms.
Changes to Your Vaginal Area
Your vagina may lose some sensitivity during pregnancy, as the wall becomes thicker. Your body is preparing you for the birth of your baby. However, the discharge can become thin with a white tinge. If you see some bleeding, don’t initially panic. Around 50% of women will experience bleeding in their pregnancies, but only 25% will experience a miscarriage. Spotting is common when the egg is implanting in the uterus. Do mention any bleeding to your doctor, especially in later stages of pregnancy.
You shouldn’t have any pain. Some mild discomfort can be normal, but pain with bleeding is a serious sign, and you need to talk to your doctor. If there is severe pain, go to your nearest hospital.
Cognitive Changes During Pregnancy
We mentioned that there are some cognitive changes. Your hormones will affect your whole body.
The first is the tiredness, which can have an extra effect on your brain. When you feel tired, you will find it harder to concentrate or remember things. There is a common condition called “baby brain.” You may experience fogginess or short-term memory loss, such as forgetting why you walked into a room or who you were going to call. Many women laugh about it because it is normal things that they struggle to remember.
Of course, there are also emotional changes. Mood swings are normal. You’re tired, forgetful, and feel heavy. While you know pregnancy is a wonderful thing and leads to a beautiful baby, you may not be quite so happy about all the changes happening. That is perfectly normal.
On top of that, your vision can change. The hormones affect blood flow to the eyes and can affect the cornea shape. You may develop astigmatism or find you can’t quite see the road signs with your current eye glasses. These changes are perfectly normal and usually minor, but they do get annoying. Many of them will reverse once you’ve given birth.
Changes to Your Teeth and Gums
Your eyes aren’t the only things affected by the blood flow and hormonal changes. Your mouth will be affected. There is more blood in your body, and it must go somewhere. That somewhere is usually to your mouth to escape through your gums.
Many pregnant women experience swollen and bleeding gums. It’s important to look after your teeth to avoid tooth decay and gum disease because of the swelling. Your dentist will help to keep track of the swelling and assess the damage after your pregnancy if you’re worried.
If you don’t get the right amount of nutrients through your diet for your baby, your body will steal it from you. Calcium is necessary, and the body takes it from the bones and teeth if necessary. This will mean your teeth can feel loser and may become damaged more easily.
Get regular check-ups with your dentist. Avoid the x-rays until your baby is born. If you need a filling, you may want a temporary one until after the birth.
Your Ligaments and Tendons Are Affected
Those aches and pains that you hear women complaining about during pregnancy aren’t just linked to the growing weight of the baby. While the weight does put pressure on your back and hips, your ligaments and tendons also change during this time of life.
Your body is getting ready for you to push the baby out. Even if you’ve planned a C-section, your body will prepare for getting the baby out of your vagina. It needs to loosen the muscles, ligaments, and tendons to allow for that. Unfortunately, this can mean aches and pain.
Two of the most common issues in pregnant women are SPD and carpel tunnel syndrome—yes, your wrists can be affected despite having nothing to do with pregnancy.
SPD is experienced in the hips. The pain can shoot into the thighs, and it can be difficult to walk. It’s due to the loosening hips joints, ready to push apart when the baby comes out. Many women will experience it mostly in the third trimester, but if this is a subsequent pregnancy, it can happen earlier.
As for the carpal tunnel, the swelling and inflammation in the body will lead to the compression of nerves. If you get swelling in your fingers, your nerves in your wrists are affected. You may experience pain in your forearms and up to your shoulders.
While ibuprofen is recommended to help ease muscle and tendon pain, doctors will not usually recommend it during pregnancy. If this is a problem, talk to your doctor about your pain killer options.
The Changes to Your Body in Pregnancy Are Amazing
There is so much happening in your body during pregnancy. Your body knows how to prepare you for this growing baby and starts from the very first moment it sees a spike in your hormones. It will take some of the energy you must give to your baby. You can experience some nutritional loss, especially if you don’t have a balanced diet.
These changes don’t last forever. You will find that your body returns to normal after pregnancy. The pain will end, you should get rid of the acne, and your eyesight will usually return to normal.
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