You noticed the signs and your doctor has confirmed it: you’re pregnant! You already know that your body is going to change as your baby grows. But you might not expect some of the physical changes you’re going to experience.
Just as each woman’s body is unique, so is her experience with pregnancy. As doctors and mothers can tell you, each pregnancy is also unique. Your body is changing, preparing to accommodate your baby and getting itself ready to give birth. The most obvious and expected change is going to be your growing baby bump. However, you are certainly going experience changes you might not expect. It can be beneficial to know not only what to expect, but also how to help alleviate the symptoms.
5 Common Body Changes During Pregnancy
One of the most common ailments associated with pregnancy is morning sickness. Its exact causes are unknown, but it is thought to be brought on by hormonal changes due to pregnancy. According to My Cleveland Clinic, it can occur at any time of day, but can be worse in the morning when your stomach is empty. Morning sickness is characterized by nausea, which may or may not be accompanied by vomiting. For most women, the symptoms associated with morning sickness fade by the second trimester. While it is a common experience, pay close attention to your body. Women’s Health recommends seeking medical aid if you experience flu-like symptoms, have severe or constant nausea, or vomit several times during the day.
There are actions you can take to minimize the effects of morning sickness. You may find that you are more sensitive to certain foods or smells. If that is the case, do your best to avoid those foods. Additionally, do your best to avoid spicy, fried, or greasy foods as they may upset your stomach. Some women may find their symptoms to be especially bad in the morning. Try eating foods such as dry toast, saltine crackers, or dry cereal to minimize stomach upset. One final tip is to eat several small meals throughout the day and sip at fluids. This way you don’t overload your stomach, but are still able to get the nutrients you need.
Tenderness of the Breasts
Through the course of your pregnancy, you will experience a number of changes to your breasts. Early on, according to Healthy Women, they may feel tender. As your pregnancy progresses, you may find they feel heavy or full. Your breasts will also grow in size, as the milk glands enlarge and fatty tissue increases. You may also find that your nipples darken or stick out more. Toward the end of your pregnancy, you may find that your breasts leak a thick, yellowish fluid known as colostrum. Colostrum, also known as first milk, is filled with nutrients and antibodies to help keep your newborn protected against disease.
These things can lead to some discomfort, especially later on in your pregnancy. But, as with morning sickness, you can help alleviate the problems. You may find that you need a new bra, because your current ones no longer fit properly. Your best options are maternity or nursing bras, which are designed to offer support and can often be used after your pregnancy. You’ll also want to stick with natural fibers as much as possible. If your breasts start leaking, you can use a folded cotton handkerchief, gauze, or nursing pad to absorb fluid.
You may experience some problems with constipation, heartburn or indigestion, or hemorrhoids during your pregnancy. If you start to experience these symptoms and you didn’t before, don’t be alarmed unless they are severe. Your womb expands to accommodate your growing baby and it pushes your other organs out of place, which can lead to heartburn or indigestion. The displacement can also lead to constipation, as foods moves more slowly through your stomach and intestines. According to Women’s Health, hemorrhoids are common during pregnancy and as many as 50% of women get them. They can cause itching, pain, and bleeding.
Heartburn is most common during the third trimester of pregnancy. Because digestion slows down during pregnancy, try eating several smaller meals and avoiding spicy, fried, or rich foods. Other ways you can manage heartburn include not lying down immediately after eating and not eating within a few hours of going to bed. If you find that constipation or hemorrhoids become an issue, some of the best things you can do are to drink plenty of fluids and eat more fiber rich foods.
At some point, you’ve probably heard something about not standing in between a pregnant woman and the bathroom. That’s because many women experience issues with bladder control or leaking. As your baby grows, it will begin to press on your bladder, urethra, and pelvic floor muscles. This can lead to an increase in your need to urinate or leaking when you do things like sneezing, coughing, or laughing. Most of the time, these issues are temporary and should clear up after you give birth.
The best solution is to take frequent bathroom breaks. Don’t try to wait it out or hold it in. You’ll also want to drink plenty of fluids to avoid any risk of dehydration. Avoid wearing tight clothing, as it may exacerbate the issue. Finally, if you notice a stinging or burning sensation while urinating, speak with your healthcare provider. It might be a sign of infection that needs to get treated immediately.
Your body produces extra fluids during pregnancy, in order to help keep you and your baby healthy. However, as a result, you may experience some swelling due to fluid retention. Common places to have swelling are your hands, legs, and ankles. While you may experience swelling throughout your pregnancy, it will likely become more prevalent as your due date approaches. If you find your hands or feet swelling suddenly, or you rapidly gain weight, speak to your doctor immediately. Women’s Health reports that it may be preeclampsia.
A good place to start controlling swelling is to cut back on foods that are high in salt, as well as reducing your caffeine intake. It may seem counter-intuitive to drink more fluids, but it is actually recommended that you consume 8-10 glasses daily. You should also make sure you get enough protein, as too little can lead to fluid retention. When you’re sitting down, elevating your legs and feet can also help cut back on swelling.
These are just a few of the changes you may experience during the course of your pregnancy. You may have some of them or only a few. You may experience some of the ones not listed here. If something you’re experiencing concerns you, speak to your healthcare provider. Do everything you can to have a happy, healthy pregnancy.
What was the most unexpected physical change you experienced? Share it with us in the comments below.