Pregnancy, especially for the first time is one of those things that you don’t appreciate until you become pregnant yourself.
And I know for a fact that your body starts to change as soon as your egg is fertilised. Some of these changes are of course more noticeable than others.
Not everything happens to all pregnant women, and everything doesn’t happen at once. However, here the most common ways in which pregnancy changes your body.
NAUSEA AND MORNING SICKNESS
We’ve all seen it in movies. A scene showing a sober young woman with her head down the toilet and the first instinct – *gasp* She’s pregnant!
Although no definite cause has been found for morning sickness, several suggestions state that morning sickness is a result of your body reacting to the pregnancy hormone (hCG).
Not all women have it, and despite its name, the sickness does not just occur in the morning. Some women experience morning sickness during the first trimester, while others experience throughout pregnancy.
There are those very select few that do not experience it at all.
Whatever way, there some natural remedies from the old wives tales that swear to keep the sickness away. One of them being Ginger.
SMELL AVERSION, ARRGHH!!
Most pregnant women experience a heightened sense of smell. And they start to perceive odours differently. It is particularly true in the early stages of pregnancy when you begin to notice that specific odours are particularly unpleasant to you, leading to nausea and sickness.
I remember with my daughter my sense of smell was heightened, but I wouldn’t say any odours were unpleasant. However, with my son, much to my husband’s disappointment, I could not stand the smell of fish!
Any fish, cooked or not. Restaurant or chip shop – I just didn’t want to know. I found this very strange seeing as a couple, Hubby and I LOVE fish and seafood in general.
Some women have it as bad as smelling other people body odour ALL DAY LONG. It does not matter who it is, where they are, what time of day it is. They just pick a scent of nauseating body odour. I had a friend who kept herself indoors most of her pregnancy term because of this!
However, again, smell aversions do not happen to everyone and not during all pregnancies.
Believe it or not, insomnia does not just occur in the third trimester of pregnancy – No.
It also presents during the first trimester too. Insomnia in early pregnancy is usually caused by the frequent toilet breaks you have to take at night; the feeling of sickness and the general discomfort in your body, such as your sensitive breasts and abdomen area. However, it can also be caused by the anxiety.
Knowing that you’re pregnant makes you want to sleep differently I often awoke in the middle of the night in cold sweats worrying about sleeping on my tummy.
I was always anxious about sleeping on my stomach and constantly ended up sleeping in awkward, uncomfortable position so that I wasn’t ‘hurting baby’.
In later stages of pregnancy, Insomnia is usually caused by the lack of comfortability at bedtime. Trying to get a comfortable, pleasant night sleep becomes more challenging as your baby grows.
EXTREME EXHAUSTION BEYOND REASON!
I’m not going to lie to you; you will find yourself exhausted. Especially in the first and last trimester of pregnancy.
The fatigue will be primarily from insomnia (as stated above). But also, in the first Trimester, the increased level of hormones in your body will make you tired.
The whole business of growing a baby takes A LOT of energy! Trust me. Once you become pregnant, your body is working overtime to ensure your baby is growing. You also have to share a lot of nutrients, and sorry mamma, but you come second when it comes to dishing out nutrients.
All this is enough to exhaust your body!
Not forgetting the lack of sleep you will get when baby starts to get bigger causing all the aches and pains, and midnight kicks!
MEMORY LOSS…A.K.A BABY BRAIN
Ever heard of ‘baby brain’ or pregnancy turning your mind to mush? Well, it is true that during pregnancy, especially in late pregnancy. Although the cause for this baby brain has not been found, my guess would be it’s a direct result of lack of sleep and exhaustion. Your brain doesn’t function very well when you’re exhausted, so things like short-term memory are affected.
I remember when I was pregnant with my son. I would often get into the car, switch the engine on and not remember where I was going.
Several times I had to call my husband at work to ask him where I said I was going. Yes, it was that bad. However, it all got better after my son was born.
THE FREQUENT AND UNEXPECTED TOILET BREAKS
The effect pregnancy has on your bladder has been briefly mentioned above.
And this is serious. I remember before I fell pregnant, I wondered why pregnant women could not control their bladder. To me, it just seemed like an excuse to be using the toilet.
Lo, and behold I fell pregnant! I’m sure I was worse than any pregnant woman I’ve ever judged. I felt like I was always living in the toilet. It all started from the when I was about five weeks pregnant, all the way through to after both babies were born.
The need for frequent urination stems from the hormones in your body and increased blood flow. The extra blood flow causes your kidneys to make more urine than before, resulting in excess urination. It’s not helped by the growing fetus that presses onto your bladder giving you that constant urge to wee.
Although not a very pretty subject to talk about, Constipation is, unfortunately, one of the common side effects of pregnancy. The progesterone hormone in your body slows down your digestive system. Causing the food you eat to take longer to go through your body, and thus causing you to suffer from constipation.
It may be quite unfortunate to you. However, it could be beneficial to your growing baby. The slow digestive process may mean that you and your developing baby have a better chance to retract most of the much-needed nutrients from the food before it’s excreted.
The high increase in your blood flow coupled with constipation also leaves you at risk of developing piles or haemorrhoids.
Some women experience enlarged tender breasts during pregnancy. For some women, this is the tell-tell sign that they are pregnant. The cause of this is because the hormones and the increase in blood flow through your veins make them hot, tingley and sensitive to touch.
This feeling will continue throughout pregnancy and after the first few days of breastfeeding. This is the body’s way of getting all that nutritious milk ready for when your baby arrives.
ACHES, PAINS AND ILLNESSES
Although most aches and pains are not experienced during the early stages of pregnancy, they are more often than not experienced during the later stages of pregnancy. Aches and pains include Back pain, muscle pain, joints and gums.
Other than your growing baby, the cause of most aches and pains are from lack of calcium in your body. Your baby needs a lot of calcium to help them grow. To strengthen their bones most especially.
So all the calcium that would have gone to your body is being redirected to your baby. Which in turn leaves your body deprived of calcium causing your bones and joints to become brittle and sensitive. That’s why it’s quite common for pregnant women to experience pregnancy gingivitis.
The increase in body fluid coupled with the blood flow causes muscle pain in your limbs. Especially in your legs and upper arm/biceps resulting in cramps. At times, the positioning of your baby contributes to muscle pain.
Your immune system is also much, much lower in pregnancy, this results in you being very susceptible to illness such as colds and flu.
SWOLLEN…BODY – WELL, MOST OF IT.
In the same way, your breasts become enlarged, the increase in blood flow and water production in your body causes parts of your body – including hands, feet and legs – to swell. Swelling in pregnancy is common and natural.
However, call your midwife if you notice more than usual swelling to your hands, feet or face, especially around the eyes. If you develop a headache that won’t go away or blur in your vision. It could be signs of pre-eclampsia.
INCREASED BODY WEIGHT
Yes, You are going to put on some weight during pregnancy. It’s normal, and more women need to embrace it and not hate it.
You are pregnant and growing a baby, so all those body changes and hormone levels and not forgetting your ever-growing baby is going to cause an increase in your weight. Your food intake will also increase because yes, you are eating for two.
All that expansion your body is going to go through is going to affect your skin. Some women do not develop stretch marks, and there are some ways you can reduce stretch marks, but all in all, most women develop stretch marks. And don’t think that it will just be on your stomach.
Stretch Marks can appear on your arms, inner thighs, behind your knees or breasts. Depending on how well that particular part of the body takes the stretch.
CHANGE IN YOUR SKIN COMPLEXION
Not all is bad I promise. For example, you will notice that a lot of pregnant women develop that ‘pregnancy glow’ where their skin is radiant and their hair is full and luscious!
Yes, these hormones do have some great use. An increase in blood flow to your skin causes it to have fewer blemishes and thus appear a lot clearer. It also means that the increased blood flow to your scalp coupled with the hormone progesterone, your hair and nails have a more extended and quicker ‘growing phase’ are less likely to be brittle.
However, not all women experience this pregnancy glow’ When I was pregnant with my daughter, although I had ‘smoother’ skin, I was considerably dark in complexion.
And the pregnancy did nothing for my hair. Apparently, it is an old midwife’s tale that if you’re darker in complexion (African-American women), then you’re having a boy. Because boys make you look less attractive during pregnancy – well evidently they were wrong because I had a girl.
Whereas with my son, it was the complete opposite.
So, no two women will experience the same things in pregnancy, and no two pregnancies are the same.
What kind of experiences did you have when you were pregnant. If you’re a first-time pregnant woman, what are you most anxious about?
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