Pregnancy is an incredible experience that brings with it a host of changes to the body. From the moment of conception to the birth of the baby, the female body undergoes a range of visible and internal transformations. These changes can range from subtle to dramatic, and understanding them can help you better navigate through different stages of pregnancy. In this blog, we will explore the various ways in which the female body changes during pregnancy. We will also discuss the reasons behind these changes and what they mean for the growing baby. Whether you're a first-time mom-to-be or just curious about pregnancy, read on to discover the changes throughout the incredible journey that is pregnancy.
One of the most noticeable ways your body changes during pregnancy is weight gain. As the baby grows, so does the mother's body, leading to an increase in weight. The amount of weight gain can vary from one woman to another, but on average, women can expect to gain between 11.5 to 16 kilograms during pregnancy.1
Your Body Mass Index (BMI) before pregnancy can help identify how much weight you should gain during pregnancy.2 Healthy weight gain is essential during pregnancy for the well-being of both the mother and the baby. The baby needs a certain amount of nutrients to grow and develop, and the mother's body needs to be able to provide those nutrients.
Gaining less than recommended weight is associated with delivering a baby who is too small. This may lead to difficulty in breastfeeding, increased vulnerability to diseases, and developmental delays.2 On the other hand, gaining more than recommended weight is associated with the baby being larger than average. This can lead to complications during the baby’s delivery, chances of cesarean delivery and obesity during the baby’s childhood.2
As the body prepares for breastfeeding, the breasts of a pregnant woman will often become larger and more tender. Women may also notice that their nipples and areolas become darker and more sensitive.3
Changes in your breasts during pregnancy are entirely normal and nothing to be concerned about. They are caused by hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and the milk-producing hormone, prolactin.4 However, women should be aware of the risk of mastitis, a painful condition that can occur when a milk duct becomes blocked.5 Mastitis can cause flu-like symptoms and can be treated with antibiotics.5
Approximately 9 out of 10 women get stretch marks during their pregnancy.6 As the skin on the abdomen stretches to accommodate the growing baby, it can become stretched beyond its normal capacity, leading to the formation of stretch marks.7
While there's no guaranteed way to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy, there are some things that women can do to minimise their appearance. Staying hydrated and maintaining a healthy weight can help keep the skin supple and elastic, thereby reducing the likelihood of stretch marks.6 Additionally, using a good quality moisturiser can help keep the skin hydrated and supple.8
Moving on to one of the most important ways your body changes during pregnancy - expansion of the uterus to accommodate the growing baby. It will grow from the size of a small pear to the size of a watermelon by the time the baby is born.9
As the uterus expands, women may experience cramping or discomfort. Additionally, some women may experience a condition called round ligament pain, which is caused by the stretching of the ligaments that support the uterus.10
As the uterus expands during pregnancy, it can put pressure on the stomach, leading to constipation.11 Additionally, high levels of hormones like progesterone during pregnancy can lead to heartburn, morning sickness (vomiting and nausea), and constipation.11
To minimize digestive issues during pregnancy, women should try to eat small, frequent meals rich in fibre throughout the day.11 Additionally, drinking plenty of water and getting regular exercise can help keep the digestive system healthy.11
Most people talk about the pregnancy glow and how you get radiant skin. However, hormonal changes during pregnancy can also lead to some not-so-attractive changes in the skin.12 Some women may experience either acne or itchy and dry skin.12 Not just that, some women also experience:13
During pregnancy, the body produces a hormone called relaxin, which helps to loosen the ligaments and joints in the pelvis to prepare for childbirth.14 However, this hormone can also affect other joints in the body, leading to aches and pains in the knees or the back.14 You can minimize the pain through low-impact exercises, massage and using the right supportive footwear.
During pregnancy, elevated estrogen levels can lead to increased blood flow to the vaginal area causing the vulva (outer part of the female reproductive system) to swell. 15
Additionally, you may also notice increased vaginal discharge than usual. This secretion helps prevent infections from entering the womb through the vagina. As the pregnancy progresses, there may be a further increase in vaginal discharge. If you observe a pinkish coloured gel-like mucus discharge (called show), then this is a sign that your body is preparing for labour. 15, 16
Hope this blog answers all the queries on how your body changes during pregnancy. Pregnancy is a time when a woman's body goes through numerous changes to create a nurturing environment for the developing fetus.
These changes affect different parts of the body, such as the uterus, breasts, digestive system, and skin. While pregnancy can be physically and emotionally challenging, understanding the changes that occur during this period can help women prepare for the journey ahead. Proper awareness, care and support can surely help you navigate the changes in your body and experience a healthy pregnancy and childbirth.