A pregnant body spends nine long months preparing to deliver a baby, and all these changes could feel like a second adolescence. During this period, the fetus develops from a bundle of cells to a tiny human being. Having a baby can be a daunting experience, and understanding the upcoming changes will help you handle your pregnancy with ease. Here is a guide to your body’s transformation during pregnancy every step of the way:
The first trimester can be a bit jarring for women, as your body undergoes a series of dramatic changes for the first time. Your physique alters rapidly during these initial three months of pregnancy. While beginning to prepare milk, your breasts might feel sore or tender, and they may grow fuller and heavier. You might experience some disagreeable internal symptoms as well. Morning sickness is usually one of the first discomforts to appear. Despite its name, morning sickness can occur during the day or night. You may also find yourself becoming a picky eater, or you can be hit with sudden food cravings. Digesting this food can be tricky, because your system slows down to allow nutrients to reach your baby. This digestive delay causes heartburn and constipation. Your bladder movements may also change. As the uterus grows, it pushes down on your bladder and may force you to urinate more frequently. Dizziness and fatigue can cause you to slow down during pregnancy. The hormones in your system also have emotional effects, potentially inciting mood swings.
In the second trimester (months four to six), your abdomen will expand to accommodate the developing fetus. You will likely need to urinate more from the uterus’ increasing pressure on your bladder. The hormones slow your urine flow, leaving you more susceptible to kidney and bladder infections. While your body adjusts to these rapid physical changes, some visible or irritating symptoms may appear. Cosmetic changes include stretch marks or skin darkening due to increased blood circulation. This increased blood flow can also cause your nasal and oral tissues to swell, leading to nose or gum bleeding. Your lungs are now processing oxygen for two people, and this extra work can cause you to feel short of breath. You might also start to feel cramps in your legs or uterus. As your uterus prepares for the impending delivery, you may start to feel weak contractions called Braxton Hicks contractions.
As your body enters the final stage before giving birth, you are unlikely to develop significant new symptoms, but you might still experience symptoms of heartburn, frequent urination and shortness of breath. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should expect to gain between 25 and 35 pounds. This increased weight may cause back pain. Over the last nine months, your bones have loosened to ease the burden of childbirth. The enlarged uterus places pressure on the adjacent veins, which can cause your legs and feet to swell. An increase in blood pressure can also agitate your circulatory system and cause spider veins, varicose veins or hemorrhoids. Emotionally, you might feel mood swings and a sense of anxiety combined with excitement. As you approach your due date, staying relaxed can be one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby.