During pregnancy, the average female can expect numerous changes, both external and internal. This is, of course, due to the body preparing itself for the delivery of the new life/lives within it and therefore causing a surge in pregnancy hormones, increased blood supply and the necessary intake for sufficient nutrients.
Here are some things that women during pregnancy tend to experience and their causes:
Dizziness, Shortness of Breath and Nausea
Shortness of breath is brought upon by your baby’s need to consume oxygen. Therefore, having to provide oxygen for two people, it gets readily used up. Your body’s respiratory rate increases as well to adapt to such circumstances.
This, and dizziness can also be explained by low blood pressure. While your body’s blood vessels widen to send more blood across to your baby, it tends to make blood flow slower when returning back to you. This decreases blood pressure and can cause such faintish feelings, as well as headaches and nausea(which is also brought upon by the rapid increase of the hormone Estrogen). With an increased blood flow, an uncommon occurrence such as nosebleeds too may occur.
Enlargement of breasts
This is to be expected in any pregnancy and is brought upon by an increased amount of hormone levels, namely Estrogen and Progesterone. Breasts become more tender and Its increase in size contributes to pressure placed on the spine, leading to back aches (though curvature of the spine arises due to the total body weight gained as the baby continues to grow).
Increased body temperature
As touched on before, you now have more blood running through your body to serve both you and your baby due to your increased hormone levels. This indirectly, when at the surface of the skin, tends to warm you up. The increased blood flow, along with an increased metabolic rate gives way to the hot flashes that tend to haunt women at night when trying to get a good night’s sleep.
Poor bladder control
As your baby grows bigger, it’ll inadvertently press down on your bladder. This pressure could lead to involuntary leakage and will increase your trips to the bathroom. It should also be noted that small things such as laughing and sneezing could give way to leakage as well!
Every pregnant woman has to endure the pain of ankle swelling. Ankle/foot swelling occurs due to a process known as fluid retention, where there is a build up of all that excess blood and fluid running in your body due to the growing baby’s needs.
Constipation, Bloating and Heartburn
This is all brought about by the hormone, Progesterone. Progesterone relaxes the intestinal muscles and digestive tract causing slow digestion and nutrient uptake. Furthermore as the baby grows, in the same manner as pressure is applied to the bladder, here too pressure is applied adding to the slow digestion. This also leads to the feeling of bloating.
As the stomach muscles are relaxed by Progesterone, acid tends to move back up the esophagus since it now has no resistance, leading to what we know as heartburn.
Changes in Skin Texture
Due to the hormone surge during pregnancy, there is an increase in Melanin production. This is what gives you color to your skin, hair and eyes. This increase in production leads to darkening on certain areas on the face (a condition known as Melasma) and along your body as well- for example, under the arms between the thighs and also a darkened line leading down from the belly button.
Stretch marks too become part of the body as the skin expands to fit the new weight gain.
Increased hair growth
With hormones going out of control in your body, there is also an increase in a typically male steroid hormone known as Androgens. While blessing you with a fuller head of hair, it also leads to excessive hair growth on the face, back, legs etc. that is typically seen in a male. The excess of Estrogen too contributes leading to faster growth and less hair fall. But don’t worry, these levels all return to normal after the pregnancy.
Sprained ankles and other certain injuries
When pregnant, the body has to learn how to accommodate in size. This is achieved by the hormone Relaxin. Relaxin, as per the name, helps relax the joints, specially in the pelvis to help in delivery of the baby. But in relaxing the joints around the lower back and hips, this gives way to a feeling of imbalance and back pain that could lead to clumsiness and you may become prone to certain injuries-but that is not to say it is the cause of all injuries. Furthermore, with the severe increased weight gain it is better to not stretch your limits and practice exercising safely.
Vaginal bleeding is always an occurrence to be wary of. However, in the first trimester, when implantation occurs or after sex there might be a slight spotting observed. But more often than not, it is better to be on the safe side and contact your doctor if you happen to experience it.
These are some of the main effects on the body that a pregnant woman may experience. While, they are not the most pleasurable things to endure, most of the time their causes show that our body is truly a miraculous machine in its ability to adapt to such extents to take care of our young.