If you're expecting, or know someone who is, you'll want to take note of these 100 reasons why pregnancy is a weirdly wonderful time:
1. Morning sickness doesn't only happen in the morning
Most women get all day (or midday, afternoon or evening sickness) in the early part of the first trimester.
2. You may not "get sick" from morning sickness
Many women just feel nauseous (not much of a comfort, we know!). But in most women it subsides between 12 and 14 weeks. Many experts believe this is because the placenta begins producing hormones of its own at this time.
3. Hormones play a big role in pregnancy
Progesterone is nature’s sedative. It gives you a natural lethargy to make sure you do nothing strenuous that may affect the developing foetus.
4. Labour brought on by hormones
At the end of your pregnancy the drop in the levels of progesterone helps initiate the start of labour.
5. Hormones also make your boobs bigger
Oestrogen stimulates the enlargement and development of the breasts for lactation.
6. Tall? More chance of twins
Researchers have found several genetic factors can lead to multiple births. These include: If you’re over the age of 35, have a history of twin pregnancies, there are twins in your family, or if you’re tall.
7. Lots of eggs, (potentially) means lots of babies
If you’ve taken fertility drugs or used IVF to get pregnant, you have a far higher chance of carrying twins, or even more babies, because more eggs are released and/ or implanted than during natural conception.
8. Your body is running on overdrive
The heart and blood vessels have to transport more oxygen, not just to the foetus, but also to all of the involved organs that have to start working a lot harder. These changes are the cause of many of the unpleasant symptoms of early pregnancy such as lightheadedness and dizziness, nausea, extreme fatigue, cravings, constipation, bloating and frequent urination.
Although these symptoms are troublesome for you they are also reassuring, because their presence usually means you are having a healthy pregnancy.
9. Stretching skin
The average woman has 17 square feet of skin when she is not pregnant. This stretches to an unbelievable 18.5 square feet by the ninth month of pregnancy.
Read more about: Your pregnancy skincare solution
10. Your blood levels increase
The amount of blood that is pumped by the heart increases by 40 to 50 percent.
11. Your heart gets bigger both in length and width
Has this love for your baby made your heart grow? Well, sort of. The walls of the ventricles get thicker, in order to pump the extra blood.
12. Your heart beats a bit faster
With extra blood and relaxed arteries during pregnancy, the heart beats more often but does not have to work as hard with each beat.
13. Everything grows
It’s not just your heart (and breasts) that grow. By week 20 your chest below your boobs may also get bigger.
14. Your belly button may poke out
If your belly button is poking out, don’t panic. As the swelling uterus pushes forward so the belly button pops forward. It should return to normal after birth.
15. Stretch marks are the luck of the draw
A large majority of women get stretch marks. If you’re carrying multiples, a big baby or have an excess of amniotic fluid, your chances of stretch marks are higher. Creams and oils may help reduce stretch marks. Be careful not too gain too much weight too rapidly.
16. Baby bumps make people smile
It’s not scientifically proven, but you just have to look at the number of people who smile when they see your belly to know it’s true.
17. You may get unwanted attention
Get used to strangers touching your belly, or small children asking you why you’re “so fat”.
18. You'll love showing off your bump
Surveys show that pregnancy is the only time in their adult lives that most women enjoy showing off their bellies, and that includes wearing bump baring bikinis.
19. You'll be a muscle woman
Research has found that pregnant women develop about five percent extra muscle. Perhaps to cope with the extra weight?
How to: Maximise your maternity leave
20. Breast prep takes place from day one
Just days after conception, your breasts are already preparing for milk production. This may be the cause of those sensitive breasts in early pregnancy.
21. Your breasts were made for feeding
Small spot like glands in the areola enlarge and will produce fluid that lubricates your nipples in order to prepare the breasts for breastfeeding.
22. Blood supply to the breasts increase
You will notice that blood vessels are easily seen under the skin on the breasts.
23. Pregnancy is a metabolism booster
Pregnancy improves your metabolism to compensate for your weight gain.
24. You store your extra fat for your baby
The body begins to store fat in the first trimester and this ceases halfway through the pregnancy. At this time the foetus begins to use the stored fat.
25. Your baby can hear you
Ears are fully formed halfway through pregnancy and baby’s sense of hearing is quite good, despite being muffled by amniotic fluid.
26. You are never alone
Talk to your baby – from about six months he can hear you and already starts to learn his mother tongue.
27. Your baby gets fed before you
Baby gets to “help himself” to the nutrients from your digested food first. All you get is the leftovers. That’s why it’s so important to ensure you get all the vitamins and minerals you need for pregnancy.
28. Your dreams may get vivid or scary
Many women report an increase in vivid dreams or nightmares, especially during the final trimester. There’s no scientific explanation but psychologists believe it’s your subconscious dealing with fears and insecurities about birth and motherhood.
29. You may not be happy
Aside from normal mood swings, everyone expects pregnant women to be happy. But that’s not always the case. Psychiatrists estimate that around 20 percent of pregnant women experience anxiety or depression.
Also read: Bed rest: what the doctor means
30. Don't sweat the small stuff
Stress is believed to have an impact on the physical development of your baby, with some research showing babies born to stressed out moms tend to be underweight or arrive early. So take it easy.
31. And you're sweating more
You will notice that you tend to sweat more readily, as you get rid of heat for two.
32. Why so hot?
Your body transmits heat to the skin, where it radiates and evaporates, aided by dilated blood vessels near the skin’s surface. During pregnancy this process works faster because of all the extra blood, harder working sweat glands, and increased surface area of the skin.
33. The placenta is pretty big now
By the time you give birth, the placenta will weigh one sixth of your baby’s weight.
34. Nature has given your baby a natural defense
The placenta not only nourishes your baby, it also protects him from bacteria and infection.
35. You protect your growing baby
The mother’s antibodies are transferred through the placenta to the foetus from the 20th week. Your antibodies protect your baby from infectious diseases.
36. You have that gassy feeling
Due to the go-slow in your intestines, a buildup of gas is very common. Embarrassing, we know – but often unavoidable. Drinking lots of water can help.
37. Superfoods = super good
Several superfoods, such as avocados and apricots, are proven to boost physical health and vitality during pregnancy. Others, such as chia seeds, a grain rich in omega-3 fats, can help ward off pregnancy depression.
38. Your body will automatically become more efficient at absorbing iron
To aid this process be sure to eat foods rich in iron, such as lean red meat, green veggies and fortified cereals.
39. You are using energy
You are using an extra 900 kilojoules a day to fuel all that baby-growing.
40. There is a strange taste in your mouth
This is probably caused by pregnancy hormones and can result in absence of taste or a metallic taste in the mouth.
41. You will be a protein gobbler
During pregnancy you need about 79 grams of protein daily to help build bones, muscles and skin for your baby. Eat eggs, lean meat, milk and pulses.
42. You skin is more sensitive to the sun
Many pregnant women avoid the sun since theyare prone to pigmentation changes during pregnancy. But the sun provides Vitamin D, essential for calcium absorption. Get this vitamin through food such as milk, fatty fish and eggs.
43. The digestive system slows down during pregnancy
The food you eat will travel slowly through the intestines, to allow for better absorption. This can result in drier stools and constipation.
44. You will burn
Heartburn and indigestion become a problem in the latter part of pregnancy as the stomach and intestines become displaced by the growing uterus.
45. Do you feel turned on all the time?
Heightened libido is normal during pregnancy because your entire pelvic region is engorged with blood, making you far more sensitive. But not all women feel this way so if you aren’t feeling like a sex goddess, don’t stress about it either.
46. Sex is safe
As long as you’re having a normal pregnancy with no complications, you can go for it as often as you like. And no, you won’t put your baby in harm’s way – she is well protected by amniotic fluid and your cervix.
47. You may bleed
It is fairly common for women to experience a little spotting or bleeding during or after sex, especially in the first trimester. This is due to capillaries in your cervix being swollen and bursting when “irritated” by intercourse. Still, always report any spotting or bleeding to your doctor to be safe as very often it points to a bladder infection.
48. No air bubbles please
The only no-no for oral sex is that your partner should not blow air into your vagina, as this can cause an air bubble to block a blood vessel. It’s rare, but better safe than sorry.
49. What's that smell?
Your sense of smell usually becomes more distinct. This may be nature’s way of making you avoid eating, drinking and inhaling potentially harmful substances.
More about: The baby-making journey
50. Breathing isn’t always easy
Feel out of breath? As a result of the pressure from the growing uterus, the diaphragm cannot be drawn down as far during inhalation, leading you to feel that you cannot inhale deeply enough.
51. Near the end you will breathe easy again
As pregnancy progresses, a woman breathes less deeply, until lightening (when baby drops into the pelvis) occurs in the last days of her pregnancy.
52. Your shoes might not fit
Your feet may increase in size during pregnancy, due to the effect of the relaxing hormones on your bones as well as swelling.
53. Teenage skin is back
Some women experience acne-like spots. This is due to hormones and usually disappears after the first trimester.
54. Wrinkles can actually disappear
These hormones can also plump out your skin, making wrinkles disappear.
55. Dads can get preggo too!
There is no scientific explanation for it, but there are many cases of men experiencing symptoms of pregnancy while their partner is carrying. Some men get morning sickness, others bloat, and some even feel cramps in their lower abdomen. Talk about really feeling compassion.
56. You really do glow...
The extra blood circulating through your body shows up in certain areas of your skin, like your cheeks, making you look pinker and healthier. Hormones cause oil glands to become more active, giving you a shinier appearance.
57. Your skin will change
Around 90 percent of women experience some sort of skin pigmentation change during pregnancy, from darkened freckles to the more extreme pregnancy mask.
58. Your hair is thicker
This is due to hormone preventing your hair from shedding. On the downside, a more than normal amount of hair may fall out after birth.
59. Hair can grow where you don’t expect
Your hair usually gets thick and glossy – sometimes in areas where you don’t expect it. Watch for hair growth on your face and on your arms.
60. The kidneys work much harder
They have to filter more blood. Your kidneys also make more urine as you get rid of waste for two.
61. Problems ‘down under’ are common
You are more prone to urinary tract infections in pregnancy. Report any pain, blood or burning to your doctor.
62. And secretions increase too
An increase in vaginal secretions is normal. If it’s thick, offensive and smelly, visit your doctor.
63. Your baby is safe during exercise
The circulatory system in your uterus becomes more efficient at extracting oxygen from your blood during exercise, making sure that your baby is never deprived during your workout. Be sure to work out at a comfortable, not competitive, level of exercise.
64. You’re more stretchy
A hormone called relaxin makes your ligaments and cartilage relax so that your body is able to stretch as much as you need to during labour.
65. Your baby can get a fright
From around 23 weeks babies can startle in the womb when they hear a loud noise – like mom sneezing or a door slamming. This is a normal part of brain development.
66. Babies breathe underwater
From around 27 weeks your baby will begin to “breathe” in the womb. Even though his fluid-filled lungs aren’t taking in any oxygen, they begin to expand and compress, like a practice run.
67. Enjoy the second trimester
It’s usually the best time of pregnancy because the nausea, tiredness and other unpleasant symptoms of the first trimester disappear and you get flushed with all sorts of good hormones that make you look and feel vibrant. And you’ll start to feel those wonderful first kicks.
68. Don’t expect baby to be punctual
In general only around five percent of babies are born on their due date, while 10 percent of first time pregnancies continue until two weeks past due date.
69. Doctors get the due date wrong, a lot
Around 70 percent of post-term pregnancies are estimated to be incorrectly dated from the start. That’s why there’s usually no reason to be concerned if you’re overdue by a week or two.
70. You’re not really pregnant for nine months
Pregnancy is estimated at 40 weeks, which is nine calendar months and seven days.
71. Countdown doesn’t start from conception
Your due date is usually calculated by counting from the first day of your last menstrual period, not the date of conception. That means you’re not technically pregnant for around the first two weeks of your 40 week pregnancy. This is because you’re unlikely to ovulate and conceive until about two weeks after the first day of your period.
72. It’s possible to be pregnant for longer
The average pregnancy is 280 days but it is possible to be pregnant for longer. Much longer in the case of Beulah Hunter, who in 1945 set the world record for the longest pregnancy at an incredible 375 days.
73. Having a girl? well, You’re carrying your future grandkids too
Females develop all the eggs they will ever produce while still in the womb. That’s a lot of responsibilty. Boys don’t develop sperm until they reach puberty.
74. The ‘Big O’ is actually possible… during childbirth
Ok, it’s rare (0.03 percent of women), but a 2013 Australian study has confirmed that it is possible to have an orgasm during childbirth. It’s all thanks to the “love drug” hormone oxytocin, which is abundant during labour.
75. Nap smart, not long
It’s tempting to take a long nap to catch up on sleep, but various studies show day time naps of more than 20 to 30 minutes can make you feel more tired. Keep naps short and sweet.
76. You may get a dark line down your tummy
This line usually appears in the second trimester and is associated with oestrogen levels and melanocyte stimulating hormone deposits under the skin. It usually clears up within the first year of you having your baby without any special intervention.
77. Tingling fingers?
You may have carpal tunnel syndrome. The carpal tunnel is a little tunnel that runs from the bottom of your wrist to your lower palm. It can be put under pressure by swelling in your hand due to fluid build-up. It’s usually not severe, and it doesn’t last long.
78. They smell what you smell
Research shows that babies begin smelling strong odours from around 28 weeks. In fact, the amniotic fluid is thought to enhance your baby’s sense of smell because odours are more intense when joined with a liquid.
79. She may be dreaming
Rapid eye movement (an indicator of dreaming) has been recorded in babies in the womb, leading experts to believe your may be dreaming in the womb.
Also read: Wanting a boy, having a girl
80. Your baby is yawning in there
In 2012 scientists at Durham University in the UK proved that babies are not simply opening and closing their mouths in the womb, they are actually ya wning.
81. Yawning is a good sign
Don’t worry, you’re not the world’s most boring baby carrier, yawning in the womb is linked to the maturing of the brain in early gestation (up until 28 weeks).
82. Your eyesight may change during pregnancy
While it may change, it is advised not to change your prescription as things may return to normal afterwards.
83. Your eye shape can change
If you wear contact lenses, they may no longer fit as increased blood flow and water retention can change your eye shape.
84. You may be sniffly
Your body produces more mucus, which can result in a stuffy nose, sinusitis, and headaches. The hormone progesterone also causes swelling of the mucosa of the nasal passages and causes your nose to bleed and difficulty breathing.
85. Your gums swell
The same hormone affects the gums in your mouth, so swelling of the gums may cause bleeding when you brush. Be sure to visit the dentist during pregnancy.
86. Go wild on new bras
Your boobs are going to grow by one, maybe even two or three cup sizes while you’re pregnant. Invest in bras.
87. No, not everyone else is pregnant too
It may seem as if there’s been a pregnancy boom because everywhere you look you see bumps, but that’s just what scientists call the frequency illusion. Much like when you’re looking to buy a specific model car you begin noticing that car everywhere you drive, when you’re pregnant you’ll see bumps everywhere you go. You’re just more observant.
88. Your brain really is different
Scientists at the University of London recently confirmed findings that women’s brains change during pregnancy to become more active on the right (creative) side. They believe this is part of a neurological preparation to help mothers bond with their newborn babies.
89. You may crave very weird things
Pica is the term for pregnancy cravings that have little or no nutritional benefit and which may be harmful for you, such as cravings for dirt, clay, burnt matches, toothpaste, soap, sand and even cigarette ashes. Contact your doctor.
Great stuff: Tina Otte answers your Facebook questions
90. Your centre of gravity shifts
To protect you from falling over on your face, your centre of gravity shifts. This means a change in posture and could cause backache.
91. Orgasms are more intense
If you do manage to get there, big belly and all, it’s going to be doubly good for the same reason you have a heightened libido – more blood flow to your pelvis equals more sensitivity.
92. Bumps get hard during orgasm
This strange feeling is caused by your abdominal muscles contracting during orgasm.
93. You may get mild cramps
Cramping after orgasm is very normal too. These are uterine contractions, which happen after any orgasm, pregnant or not, the difference is you usually only feel them when you are pregnant.
94. Your baby will feel something too
But not in a weird way. When you achieve orgasm your uterus contracts, so your baby is likely to feel a little push – like a little hug really. This is why some babies are thought to move around more after parents have sex.
95. A sense of humour remains vital
Finding the right position is going to be like a hilarious game of twister, especially in the third trimester.
96. Your tummy muscles separate
This means no crunch type abdominal exercises after four months of pregnancy. However it is crucial to do deep abdominal work as well as pelvic floor exercises in order to support your growing baby and your back. This will help you bounce back in shape post baby.
97. Your uterus is the organ that is the most affected by pregnancy
The increase in the uterus’s size from non-pregnant to pregnant at term is impressive: it goes from 50/60g to 900/1 000g. The volume increases from 6ml to 5 000ml.
98. Contractions don’t stop after labour
They usually continue at a much lower level for a few days after birth. This stops excess blood loss.
99. The uterus is a well oiled machine
The uterus consists of a body and a cervix (neck), which has opposing functions during pregnancy. During pregnancy the body of the uterus must remain relaxed and stretch in order to accommodate the foetus and placenta, while the cervix must remain firm in order to maintain the pregnancy. In labour the body of the uterus must contract and retract while the cervix must relax, stretch and open to allow the baby to pass through.
100. Your uterus practices for the big day
Braxton Hicks are the fire drill for when the real contractions show up. They feel different and can be calmed by drinking a glass of water or having a bath.
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