Aside from your precious growing tummy, there are lots of other body changes during pregnancy (thankfully not all at once!) From aches and pains to weird cravings, they’re not all as outwardly noticeable as your bump. And, of course, there’s the “morning” sickness. They’re just a few of the ways your pregnancy body changes.
Naturally, every new mum’s journey is different so what affects you may not affect others. Each pregnancy is unique, just like each tiny newborn. So, this blog is really just a general guide to how your body changes during pregnancy. You may even pick up some helpful tips for dealing with the side effects of growing your own precious bundle!
need to pee (and other body functions)
Whether you’re a morning person or repeat snoozer, you may find you get tired more easily. Growing a little human is hard work and you’re bursting with hormones which can have an impact too. Plus there’s the whole cutting out caffeine thing…You might find that a short daytime nap perks you up and an earlier night gives you extra energy to play with. Some of which you could use in the bedroom if your libido picks up, though it can go the other way too.
Hormones also slow the rate of digestion which can cause constipation but eating a fibre-rich diet and exercising regularly can get things moving. Speaking of bathroom antics, you may need to pee more often and it’s important that you do. It might be a nuisance when you’ve just gotten comfortable, but don’t drink less to avoid bathroom breaks. In fact, you should drink more than usual to keep hydrated as your body changes during pregnancy.
Another reason you may find yourself in the bathroom more is morning sickness, or anytime sickness to be honest. Many mums-to-be find that starting the day with something bland and eating small, frequent meals helps keep nausea at bay. And when your appetite is back, get ready for some weird cravings. Now where did the pickle jar go?
feeling those aches and pains
To continue the theme of hormones, relaxin is another reason why your body changes during pregnancy. It softens the muscles in and around your pelvis to make room for your growing baby. However, it can loosen other joints too and cause pain, especially as your growing belly changes your centre of gravity. To help ease the ache, make sure to stand up straight, elevate your feet when sitting and sleep on your left-hand side with a pillow between your legs.
While on the topic of your feet, they might become swollen and sore as the increased levels of fluid in your body pool around your ankles. A simple solution is to wear comfy, slip-on shoes which allow for your increased shoe size! Something else that grows and can become sensitive is your breasts. While your partner may love your new curves, it can feel more comfortable for you to keep them supported in a well-fitted maternity bra.
Another impact of your body’s increased fluid levels is carpal tunnel syndrome which affects up to 50% of mums-to-be. This is where the pressure on the nerves in your wrist causes numbness, tingling or a dull ache in your hands and fingers. This normally resolves naturally within 3 months of baby’s arrival but wearing a wrist splint can help relieve discomfort. However, if your symptoms persist or become painful, speak to your doctor about other treatments.
visible pregnancy body changes
A growing belly may be the most obvious way your body changes during pregnancy, but your skin might glisten too! That’s because hormones cause more oil to be secreted and increased blood volume gives you naturally rosy cheeks. As for your hair, it’ll shed slower and so look thicker than normal. Finally, something to thank your hormones for!
Alongside the pregnancy glow, you may also experience melasma, aka the “mask of pregnancy”. It gets its name from the darkening of skin around your upper lip, nose, cheekbones and forehead due to an increase in melanin. This also affects other areas of your body like your belly where a dark line often forms, or your nipples, inner thighs and underarms. While rather common, covering up in the sunshine and wearing sun cream can reduce the effects.
Another common way your body changes during pregnancy is the appearance of stretch marks. They’re most likely to appear on your tummy, hips and breasts, leaving your skin feeling dry and itchy. While there’s no miracle cure, unfortunately, keeping hydrated and using moisturising creams can improve elasticity and increase your comfort.
the rollercoaster of emotions
As well as impacting the physical ways your pregnancy body changes, hormones can also affect your emotional wellbeing. It’s perfectly natural to go through mood swings and around 10% of mums-to-be experience depression at some point during their pregnancy. So, if you struggle to smile some days, know that you’re not alone.
One of the best things you can do is to look after yourself and don’t feel ashamed to ask for help. Meeting up with other soon-to-be parents can also provide support, baby preparation tips and a sympathetic ear. It’s also important to eat well and treat yourself, like indulging in a relaxing bath or a pedicure if you can no longer touch your toes!
There may well be some ups and downs through your (roughly) nine-month journey, but just wait until you meet your darling newborn. All the tough times will hopefully be worthwhile. In the meantime, make sure to remember this; how and when your body changes during pregnancy will be unique to you. So, take advice from your friends and family by all means, but find your own way to muddle through. After all, it’ll be great practice for parenthood.