The changes your body makes during pregnancy are in response to your body preparing to accommodate the fetus growing inside. These changes are normal and natural, however some can be very uncomfortable. Below are the most common bodily changes during pregnancy and what you can do to alleviate the discomfort.
Bodily Changes During Pregnancy
The most commonly recognized symptom, often portrayed in movies and television, is morning sickness. This usually passes after the first trimester and is caused by hormonal changes. Although it’s called “morning” sickness, it can occur at any time during the day. Eating small, bland meals more often, sipping water or weak tea, and avoiding laying down after eating can all help ease the nausea you may experience in those first few weeks.
Body aches are quite common during gestation as well. As the uterus expands, the pressure can cause pain in the abdomen, back, groin and thighs. Often, the increased weight of the baby can put pressure on the pelvis or sciatic nerve. To help alleviate this pain, lie down and apply heat to the problem area.
The breasts also change shape during pregnancy. Hormonal changes cause the breasts to get larger in preparation for breastfeeding. They often feel full and heavy and may even leak colostrum (the first milk produced for the baby that is thick and full of protective antibodies), in the third trimester. Wearing a supportive bra can help with fullness and breastfeeding pads can help absorb leaks.
Constipation during pregnancy is a common complaint among pregnant women. High levels of hormones slow down the digestion process and relax the muscles in the bowels leaving many women constipated. The pressure from the expanding uterus can also cause constipation, resulting in fewer than 3 bowl movements per week. Drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water a day and eating fiber-rich foods can help your digestive system get back on track.
Fatigue is also quite common, especially in the first and third trimesters. This is your body’s way of telling you to get more rest. Remember – you are growing a human being inside you! You are doing a lot of work and have every right to be exhausted! And this will really set in as you get larger and sleeping becomes increasingly difficult. Leg cramps, baby movements, bathroom runs, and an increase in your body’s metabolism can also affect your quality of sleep. Drinking less fluid before bed, keeping the same schedule and napping, can also help you get the rest you deserve.
As the baby gains weight, it begins to push down on your bladder, pelvic floor muscles and urethra, causing frequent urination and even leakage while coughing, sneezing or laughing. Taking frequent bathroom breaks, drinking plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration and doing Kegel exercises can often help your bladder issues. However, if you experience burning in addition to these symptoms, it may be an infection.
Although the bodily changes during pregnancy taking place can be uncomfortable or downright painful at times, it’s important to remember that most of these symptoms are normal. Every person is different and every pregnancy is different, but most women experience similar discomforts. Just remind yourself of what your body is changing for that beautiful little baby inside you, and you’ll be able to get through just about anything.