Body Changes During Pregnancy

The process of growing a baby is hard on your body so you should expect to be affected by variations in your hormone levels as well as the baby’s physical growth. Some women notice changes in their bodies gradually throughout the pregnancy while others experience them at the beginning or end of their pregnancy. Despite the discomforts associated with pregnancy, it is not uncommon for women to feel healthier during pregnancy than during other times of their lives. Read on to learn major body changes during pregnancy you will likely to experience and how you can deal with certain discomfort. You will also learn what changes you will experience in each trimester.

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Common Body Changes During Pregnancy

1. Body Aches

When their uterus expands, many women begin to notice aches and pains in their thighs, groin, abdomen, and back. Loosening joints, increased weight, and pressure from the fetus’s head can also lead to pelvis or backaches. Sciatica is another possible ache due to pressure from the uterus.

Remedy: The best options are to apply heat, rest, or lie down.

2. Breast Changes

Throughout the pregnancy, most women will experience an increase in the fullness and size of their breasts. When they get farther along, the hormones will lead to even larger increases in size for breastfeeding which can result in tender, heavy or full breasts. Some women will leak colostrum (the first milk) during the third trimester.

Remedy: The best remedies are to opt for a maternity bra that has good support and use pads to absorb any leakage. Click here for more details.

3. Constipation

It is not uncommon for pregnant women to complain about constipation and this is due to the increased hormone levels. These hormones will relax bowel muscles and slow down digestion and these factors combine to create constipation. Additionally, the uterus expands to create more pressure on the bowels, worsening the issue.

Remedy: To help minimize constipation drink plenty of water, avoid caffeine, have lots of fiber and try mild exercise. Click here for more details.

4. Fatigue and Sleep Problems

In the first trimester, many women feel extremely tired despite getting lots of rest. This then changes to a great deal of energy during the second trimester before returning to exhaustion in the third trimester. It is usually harder to sleep during the third trimester as the baby moves more, has more pressure and you need to go to the bathroom more often.

Remedy: To help yourself get more sleep, try sleeping on the left side and support yourself with pillows. Also try to go to sleep earlier and don’t be afraid to nap. Click here for more details.

5. Heartburn and Indigestion

Heartburn and indigestion are caused by a combination of the larger uterus and hormones. The digestive tract slows down, leading to bloating. Hormones will also relax the part separating the stomach and esophagus, making it easier for acids and food to come back up. Heartburn becomes more common later on during pregnancy due to the baby’s size.

Remedy: To help with this problem, avoid fried or greasy foods, spicy foods or citrus and try to have smaller meals. Click here for more details.

6. Hemorrhoids

Some estimates say that nearly 50% of pregnant women develop hemorrhoids. The increase in blood volume can lead to the enlargement of veins. In addition, the expanding uterus and constipation can make hemorrhoids worse. The good news is that they usually improve after giving birth.

Remedy: To help, drink fluids, eat foods high in fiber and don’t push too hard when going to the bathroom. Click here for more details.

7. Leg Cramps

Leg cramps can be sudden and usually happen at night. They are caused by changes in how your body processes calcium.

Remedy: To help with this, flex your feet, gently stretch the muscles, and get mild exercise. Click here for more details.

8. Itching

Around 20% of women experience itchiness during pregnancy. This usually occurs on the abdomen but can also affect the soles of your feet or palms. This is usually caused by stretching skin and pregnancy hormones and will disappear after delivery.

Remedy: The best ways to prevent this is to avoid taking hot baths, showers or using itchy fabrics and to opt for gentle soaps. Click here for more details.

9. Morning Sickness

Morning sickness can occur throughout the day and usually happens during the first trimester, slowing down or ending by the second trimester.

Remedy: You can minimize it by eating bland food (such as dry toast) before you get out of bed, having smaller meals, avoiding bad smells and not lying down after eating. Click here for more details.

10. Swelling

It is common to experience mild swelling during pregnancy as well, specifically in the ankles, hands, or face.

Remedy: The best way to prevent this is to drink enough water and keep your feet elevated.

11. Urinary Frequency and Leaking

Your baby will push down on your pelvic floor muscles, urethra, and bladder which can increase the need to urinate and make leaking more often.

Remedy: Simply go to the bathroom more often and try Kegel exercises to strengthen your muscles. Click here for more details.

12. Stretch Marks and Other Skin Changes

Stretch marks happen when the skin is stretched and are brown, pink, or red in appearance, usually occurring on the breasts, abdomen, buttocks, and thighs. They most commonly occur during the second half of your pregnancy. Some women also have other skin changes such as darkening of the nipples. Some women will also notice a dark line going from their belly button to their pubic hairline or melisma or chloasma (darker patches). Most of these marks will fade after you give birth. Click here for more details to prevent stretch marks.

Watch the following video to learn more body changes during pregnancy that you may experience:

Body Changes During Pregnancy: Trimester by Trimester

First Trimester

Many hormonal changes occur during the first trimester as well as other minor changes in your body. Some include a change in weight, heartburn, headache, frequent urination, constipation, mood swings, cravings, morning sickness, swollen and tender breasts, and extreme tiredness.

Second Trimester

Some symptoms such as fatigue and nausea will disappear, but in addition to your abdomen expanding, you will notice other changes. These include:

  • Swelling of the face, fingers, or ankles
  • Itching on the feet, palms, or abdomen
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Darker patches of skin
  • A line from your pubic hairline to the belly button
  • The skin around the nipples darkening
  • Stretch marks on the buttocks, thighs, breasts, or abdomen
  • Body aches (thigh, groin, abdomen, or back)

Third Trimester

Some of the previous symptoms will continue although not all. Some body changes during pregnancy you may notice include contractions (indicating false or real labor), the baby “dropping” to a lower position within your abdomen, the belly button sticking out, tender breasts that can leak colostrum, hemorrhoids, swelling, heartburn, or shortness of breath.