The news that you, yourself or someone you know is pregnant and expecting a baby brings all of the emotions. Joy, excitement, love, as well as some levels of fear and anxiety! And if you’re the one who’s now expecting you can add those emotions in with a rollercoaster of hormones that you’re only just starting on!
In your first few weeks and months of pregnancy, hormones flood your body. Your baby is still tiny, but already your body is changing.
A growing belly is the most familiar and obvious physical change. Morning sickness is also expected, along with altered appetites and unusual cravings. However your body is also busy doing other things during those 9 months, some things that you’re not aware of, or you’re very aware of but unsure why it’s happening.
So what is going on inside while you’re accommodating, nourishing and growing a human being!
WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR BODY DURING PREGNANCY?
So let’s start at the top.
HAIR - One of many women’s daily routines and unique identifiers - everyone’s hair is different. Your own hair can be different to itself depending on what day of the month it is. So you can guarantee that your hair is going to get involved with the changes of pregnancy. Not a super obvious symptom, as it increases in growth gradually due to the added hormones and higher levels of oestrogen which prolong the hair growth phase, resulting in less shedding of hair and thicker locks. Your facial and body hair may also grow faster, not quite as delightful a symptom as enjoying Goldilocks’ tresses for 9 months, but possibly because of an increase in hormones called androgens. However, hair growth does usually settle back to your normal was once baby arrives. A lot of women find their postpartum hair does shed and fall due to the shifting back to normal oestrogen levels.
BREASTS - Our breasts, whether big or small, perky or droopy, will change during pregnancy. Our breasts are often one of the early symptoms of pregnancy, sometimes even before a pregnancy test has been taken. The hormones that know you’re pregnant, even before you do, can make your breasts feel tender, swollen and sore to the touch. This can often happen one to two weeks after conception and continue throughout the pregnancy; then starting to feel fuller and more swollen as the hormone levels rise and fall depending on where abouts your body is in your trimesters. They can become sore and even painful as the pregnancy progresses, so some women find sleeping in a soft crop top or maternity bra can help support them and reduce discomfort.
During your second trimester your breasts begin to make colostrum. Colostrum is the first food products your breasts will produce. It is a thicker consistency and yellowish, containing high amounts of proteins and antibodies to strengthen your baby’s immune system. During the colostrum phase some peoples breasts may leak, this is completely normal. Once the baby is born, within around three to five days, the breasts go through a transition and mature milk will slowly replace the colostrum.
PELVIS – Most women will have a pelvic exam early on in their pregnancy to see if they have enough room to deliver a baby. However nature, as always, has a solution. During pregnancy, the body releases hormones that soften the pelvic ligaments, allowing the pelvis to relax and open up more so that the baby can pass through during labour. A lot of women will notice feeling more flexible due to the release of Relaxin, one of the pregnancy hormones. However it not only relaxes ligaments in a woman's pelvis to prepare her for delivery, but it also stretches joints and ligaments all over the body, this can lead to back pain and sciatica and the flattening of the arches of the feet. It is, therefore especially important to take care of your back and wear supportive footwear during pregnancy and immediately afterwards.
CONSTIPATION – one of the fun ones that they don’t always tell you about! As with the other symptoms, hormones are to blame. Progesterone hormone causes your bowel muscles to relax, allowing food to hang around longer, instead of moving on through. It does mean that extra nutrients can be absorbed for baby’s growth, but this can cause a back-up of waste traffic. Add to this sluggish bowel, your uterus is growing and taking up all of the space, so your bowel becomes cramped and unable to do its normal activities. This can also cause uncomfortable bloating for pregnant women. Keeping a high fibre diet can help to combat the slower digestion and move foods through; focus on whole grains, fresh veggies and dried fruits. Keep drinking all the water to keep things moving, especially warm water with lemon which can help to stimulate intestinal contractions.
URINATION – Frequent urination is one of the most common symptoms in pregnancy, and is probably one of the least favourite, especially when disrupting a good night’s sleep. These symptoms can start as early as the first trimester, may improve during the second, but can become the worst in the third trimester.
When you’re not pregnant, your bladder can hold around a pint of urine. During the first trimester your uterus enlarges and begins to push on your bladder, and a compressed bladder can hold much less urine. The hormone changes during pregnancy cause the blood to flow more quickly through the kidneys, producing more urine. Once into the second trimester the uterus begins to expand more upwards into the abdomen therefore taking the pressure off the bladder. However in the third trimester, especially the last few weeks, there isn’t really much spare room anywhere in there and once the baby flips around to prepare for birth, dropping its head down into the pelvis and right on top of your bladder, frequent urination will unfortunately be very common.
Due to the very tightly packed abdomen, and the effects of relaxin hormone, in the third trimester, with no spare room for anything as baby grows into its full size, some women begin to leak a little urine when they cough or sneeze, laugh or giggle, or move suddenly. This is called stress incontinence and is perfectly normal, the pressure on the bladder from the growing baby causes it, and in most cases goes away within a few weeks of giving birth. You can practise Kegel exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles, empty your bladder when you can before any exercise or giggle sessions with your friends.
When you’re busy growing a tiny human in your uterus you don’t want to be worrying about those leaks and trickles. So one of the best solutions is to wear Rosaseven reusable, sustainable leak-proof underwear to catch any leaks and drips as they come.
You can also safely and comfortably sleep in Rosaseven overnight protection underwear to catch any drips or leaks through the night or first thing in the morning when you can’t get to the washroom quite as fast as you used to be able to!
Riley L. You & your baby pregnancy : your ultimate week-by-week pregnancy guide. 2nd ed. ed. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley; 2012
As well as insights from pregnant friends & family.