Becoming a mother is one of the most memorable experiences in life and one which can also cause both difficulty and joy. It’s a wonderful and magical time for a woman which involves an extraordinary amount of changes to the body that help adapt to the little bundle of life that is growing inside. Read on to learn about the visible and physical changes you can expect to occur in a woman’s body during pregnancy.
One of the most recognized changes that women experience is a dramatic increase in the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which often results in fluctuating moods. However, it’s not all bad! These remarkable hormonal changes are responsible for creating that “pregnancy glow” that you may receive compliments on, which can involve thickening of the hair, nail growth, and rosy cheeks. Estrogen and progesterone also significantly support the uterus and placenta with the development of your baby.
You will notice that your skin will start to change during pregnancy with stretch marks being common for most women. This is caused by the rapid skin growth that can appear on your breasts, abdomen, or thighs. Wear your stretch marks with pride – they are a reminder of the beautiful life that you have brought into the world.
While it is important for pregnant women to eat a healthy diet and remain lightly physically active, it is completely normal to gain weight during pregnancy during the final months. The average woman gains between 10kg and 12.5kg, or 22lb to 26lb, through storing additional fat for breast milk and to accommodate room for her growing baby. Weight gain during pregnancy is also a result of extra fluid in the body which assists the placenta, and amniotic fluid, and helps with your baby’s circulation. Remember, it is important to always discuss with your doctor before exercising, and gaining or losing weight during pregnancy if necessary.
Breast tenderness and enlargement are one of the first tell-tale signs of pregnancy, and they continue to grow throughout the process. This is caused by an increase in levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which prepare you for breastfeeding. Breasts also go through significant changes during nursing – once you stop breastfeeding, breasts may appear to sag due to the increased amount of pressure on the ligaments. This breast sagging can cause confidence issues for women, but there are solutions to achieving your desired shape, such as through breast augmentation.
Your entire cardiovascular system readapts to your changing body, which results in an increase in your blood volume, a decrease in your peripheral resistance, an elevated resting heart rate, as well as decreased blood pressure which occurs within your second trimester. These adjustments all contribute to a healthy pregnancy by meeting the new demands for both you and your baby.
Pregnancy also affects the functions of your respiratory system, which rises in rate to adapt to the increased oxygen consumption needed for your baby, placenta, and your uterus. Due to this, it is common for women to feel out of breath at times, have a runny or stuffy nose, and even experience head colds.