Here is a quick tour of changes you will experience:
Nausea and lethargy
As soon as you fall pregnant, your body moves into a defensive, protective position, which is why you become sensitive to certain smells and tastes. The nausea you feel may stop you from eating potentially harmful foods, and you will want to sleep and rest more than usual.
You sweat more easily because of the tremendous amount of waste products that your body has to get rid of, as well as the need to cool off – a foetus has no way of cooling itself, which is why your body has to do it. Avoid overheating and drink plenty of fluids.
You will also urinate more whether you drink extra fluids or not. Your body also produces a lot more mucus, and you may find that you have more vaginal discharge. This is normal. Contact your doctor if it burns, smells strange or is a strange colour.
Your heart is coping with an extra 2l of blood by the end of pregnancy. Your heart works harder to supply all the extra tissue.
In later pregnancy, the weight of your uterus on blood vessels in the pelvis can restrict blood flow, leading to swelling and even varicose veins. Regular walks and exercise will help improve your circulation.
Your blood vessels dilate to cope with the extra blood in your system. This delivers extra nutrients so your complexion may have that healthy pregnancy “glow.”
Rise in body temperature
Increased blood volume and a rise in metabolic rate can cause a rise in body temperature. Avoid overheating (no saunas, very hot baths and steam rooms) especially in the first 3 months.
Although you may feel breathless from the middle of your pregnancy your lungs are actually working more efficiently. You breathe better and your ribcage expands to give your lungs extra room. A bigger heart and better oxygen usage means that you get the benefits of natural fitness – just because you are pregnant.
Feeling faint and dizzy
Feeling faint and dizzy is common due to all the extra energy your body is producing and using as well as a drop in blood pressure. Don’t allow yourself to become hungry and make sure you get enough fluid.
Fat and muscle
Pregnant women develop as much as 5% extra muscle. This has to be because of the extra weight your body has to lug around. Your body will also store extra fat, to make sure that you have enough energy reserves for feeding and caring for a newborn.
Size of uterus
The uterus is one big muscle and by the end of pregnancy it will have grown to at least 10 times its original size! It takes only 14 days after birth to resume its pre-pregnancy size and shape.
Your uterus contracts gently from the very beginning of pregnancy. Later on these contractions become more intense and are called Braxton Hicks contractions.
Hormonal effects on your mucous membranes
Nose bleeds and nasal stuffiness are very common during pregnancy, thanks to hormonal effects on your mucous membranes. Your eyesight may be affected, so if you wear contact lenses, they may not fit as well due to the increased blood flow and water retention.
Because of more swelling, you may find that your vision is different. Don’t change your prescription glasses as this usually corrects itself after pregnancy.
Heartburn and constipation
Digestion takes longer for a very good reason. The placenta needs more time to raid your blood for nutrients for your baby. Food sits in your stomach and digestive tract for longer to allow more absorption to take place. This is why you may experience heartburn as well as constipation.
Experience more wind
You are also likely to experience more wind. A few drops of the homeopathic preparation Magen will sort this out and it’s good for baby too.
Your immune system can become vulnerable during pregnancy. Make sure you eat your fruit and vegetables, take your prescribed supplements and rest whenever you can. Avoid being around people who are ill.
Extra feel-good hormones like serotonin and painkilling hormones like endorphins are produced. Exercise stimulates the production of these hormones.
Your body also produces a hormone called relaxin during pregnancy, which relaxes joints, specifically allowing your pelvis to open to maximum during labour and birth. As it affects all the joints, you must take care.
Your breasts prepare to feed your baby from the minute you become pregnant. You may find that you release a little colostrum in the latter part of pregnancy. This is a good indication, but not a problem if it doesn’t happen.
The placenta is about 1/6 of your baby’s weight at the end of pregnancy. The placenta not only nourishes your baby in every way, but serves a protective function as well. It acts as a filter to prevent certain substances from crossing over to your baby. Remember that there are many substances that will cross this barrier.