Becoming a mother is a life-changing experience that can be both exciting and overwhelming. From the moment a woman finds out she is pregnant, she may experience a range of emotions, from joy and excitement to anxiety and fear. As the pregnancy progresses, she may feel a deep connection to the growing baby and experience physical and emotional changes in her body.
Pregnancy is a remarkable journey that involves significant changes in a woman’s body. The process of pregnancy lasts for approximately 40 weeks, divided into three trimesters. During this time, a woman’s body undergoes significant changes to accommodate the growing fetus and prepare for childbirth.
Dr Suneet Kaur Malhotra, Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Shalimar Bagh explains how a woman’s body changes during pregnancy.
Here Are 4 Ways A MOther’s Body Changes During Pregnancy
1. Weight Gain
Weight gain in pregnancy varies from woman to woman. Most pregnant women gain between 11 to 16 kgs of weight during pregnancy.
Most of the weight gain is because of the baby’s placenta and the amniotic fluid (fluid around the baby). But it is also because of an increase in fat and fluid retention in the body. Fat is mostly deposited on the thighs, abdomen, and buttocks.
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2. Changes In Physical Appearance
1) Increase In Abdomen Size: Because of the increase in the size of the uterus and baby, the abdomen size also increases.
2) Change In Spine Curvature: Previous studies have revealed that during pregnancy there is an increase in lumbar lordosis.
a) Gait changes: Waddling gait is seen in late pregnancy. Because of the change in spine curvature and laxity of pelvic and spinal ligaments, there is backache.
3) Breasts: The breasts start preparing for lactation (breastfeeding) from early pregnancy. The breasts enlarge, and become tender. The increase in size is due to the proliferation of glands and the deposition of fat. Nipples become larger and more pigmented. Milk secretion may start in some women from early pregnancy itself.
4) Feet And Ankles: They get swollen because of fluid retention due to hormonal changes. The extra water tends to gather in the lower parts of the body.
1) Stretch Marks: They usually start appearing in the second half of pregnancy on the thighs, buttocks, abdomen, and breasts. These scars are caused by stretching of the skin.
2) Pigmentation (darkening): Pigmentation or darkening of the skin occurs especially on the nipples, face, umbilicus, vulva, and midline of the abdomen.
3) Mild Hirsutism: It involves excessive body hair developing on the face and extremities (legs and arms).
4) Varicose Veins: Varicose veins may be seen at the vulva, perineum, and legs.
4. Organ systems:
All organ systems of the body undergo profound adaptations or change to support the baby and the body throughout pregnancy and during delivery.
1) Gastrointestinal System: The stomach emptying is delayed, and the cardiac sphincter relaxes, so the result is an increase in reflex, heartburn, fullness, and constipation. Haemorrhoids are common.
2) Urinary System: Increased frequency of micturition is because of pressure due to the gravid uterus.
3) Leg Cramps Are Common: They are caused by fatigue from the excessive weight of pregnancy, compression of blood vessels in the legs, deficiency of magnesium, calcium, and hormonal changes.
All these physiological changes that occur in women’s bodies during pregnancy take 6 weeks – 12 weeks post-delivery to come back to pre-pregnancy status.