October 09, 2019

What physical changes should I expect during pregnancy?

The hormones of pregnancy are produced in large amounts, and these hormones, coupled with the growth of the baby, produce truly amazing bodily changes.

Some of the major changes are as follows. 

👉 The Abdomen: By the time most patients see a physician (after the second missed period), their abdomens feel bloated. Since at this point the Uterus is about the size of a man’s Fist, obviously the uterus is not causing the bloated feeling. The feeling occurs because of the swelling effect of the hormones on all the tissues of the lower abdomen and pelvis.

Toward the end of the third month, the abdomen is a little more protuberant. At about  this time the doctor, and sometimes the mother herself, will be able to feel the uterus as a lump extending about two inches above the pubic bone.

Most women could probably “hide” their pregnancy until the Sixteenth to twentieth week of pregnancy, especially if it is the first pregnancy. However, it is probably going to be most comfortable if a woman is ready to don her maternity clothes by the fourteenth or fifteenth weeks of her pregnancy.

So by the end of the third month (twelve weeks) have those clothes ready for your proud coming out. By the twentieth week, the end of the fifth month, the top of the uterus is at the level of the umbilicus (belly button), and most women cannot conceal a pregnancy once it is at that stage.

As the abdomen becomes larger and larger, women often wonder how much bigger they can get. The capacity of the uterus and the abdominal Wall to expand is almost beyond belief. The uterus is not limited by the rib cage and can expand forward as much as it needs to, for twins, triplets or more babies.

Most people do not realize how miraculous is the enlargement of the uterus. It goes from a ball of muscle that weighs about two and a half ounces and can hold one or two teaspoons of fluid, to an organ that weighs two pounds and can hold two or three Five-pound babies plus a placenta(s), which might each weigh one or two pounds.

'This is accomplished not by new muscle cells but by the stretching and enlarging of muscle cells that are present when pregnancy begins.

👉 Breasts: During pregnancy the breasts changes almost as much as the uterus does. Early in pregnancy the breasts may be tender and full. After the second month they increase in size and become nodular, or lumpy. The nodularity is due to the growing and thickening glands that are necessary for the production of milk after delivery.

Most women will Find it most comfortable to start wearing maternity bras, even nursing bras, at this time. They can expand up to a point to allow for the extra growth of the breasts after delivery, during nursing.

The nipples may or may not produce a thick yellow fluid called colostrum, but its production at this point is unrelated to the ability of a woman to nurse. Don’t worry if you begin having colostrum after only a few Weeks of pregnant this is not abnormal.

A darkening of the nipples and areola (the skin around the nipples) is normal. This change in color is due to the effect of hormones on these tissues.

Also, small elevations on the areola are the so-called glands
of Montgomery, oil glands that are increasing  in size  during pregnancy. The oil from these glands helps keep the nipple and areola from becoming dry and cracked during nursing.

Blue veins may appear beneath the skin overlying the breasts. These are normal during pregnancy. The body’s blood vessels carry 40 percent more blood during the latter part of pregnancy than they normally do. It is also normal for stretch marks  to develop in the skin of the breasts.

👉 Skin: Many people are not aware of the fantastic hormonal changes that the skin undergoes during pregnancy. The most obvious change involves stretch marks (striae gravidarum), the pinkish lines that resemble scars and appear on the abdomen. breasts, and thighs of some women.

These marks occur in about one-half of all pregnancies, remaining even when the skin returns to its normal position after pregnancy.

Stretch marks will become lighter and less visible after the pregnancy is over. 

Stretch marks are not, as commonly thought, due to stretching alone, but also to changes caused by the hormones of pregnancy. Moisturizers and lubricants may make the skin feel better, but they will not usually prevent stretch marks.

In addition to the darkening of the skin of the areola and nipples, which usually occurs with the first pregnancy, a dark line (linea nigra) will often develop from the umbilicus (belly button) down to the pubic hair. These discolorations usually get darker with each pregnancy.

Facial discolorations develop in many pregnant Women. These various-sized brown patches (chloasma) are often called the mask of pregnancy. Although the discoloration usually fades after deilivery, the skin does not normally return to its original color. Birth-control pills produce the same change.

Vascular spiders develop in about two-thirds of white women and approximately one-tenth of black women during pregnancy. These are small (one-eighth to one-quarter inch) red discolorations of the skin, occuring most commonly on the face, neck, upper chest, and arms.

From the central spot, small red lines extend outward. The blood drains from them and they blanch when they are touched lightly. These are also known as nevus,angioma, or telangiectasia

Redness of the palms is common in pregnancy, occurring in about two-thirds of white women and one-third of nonwhite women. This condition usually disappears after pregnancy.

Skin tags, small, flesh-colored growths of skin about the size of a small tick, often develop during pregnancy. Changes in the color of moles also will often occur. Skin tags usually go away after pregnancy; moles usually lighten but remain. Some women are afraid that such changes mean they have skin cancer. This is highly unlikely, but if there is any question, you should have your doctor check.

👉 Arms and legs: Occasionally a pregnant woman will develop numbness of her hands. This is called the carpal tunnel syndrome. If a patient just has occasional numbness, nothing usually needs to be done about it. However, if her hands become totally numb and this numbness lasts menty-fourhom or longer, I suggest that she see a neurologist,an orthopedist, a neurosurgeon, or a plastic surgeon, She may need a simple operation that will relieve the pressure on the nerves to her hands. This can prevent permanent damage to those nerves.

The veins of the legs become prominent during  pregnancy because vessels are carrying much more blood than they normally do. In the latter part of pregnancy , small blood vessels are at least 50 percent larger than normal, making it possible tosee small veins and capillaries that are not ordinarily visible. These veins are generally not varicosities A varicose vein is normally one that Is enlarged to at ieast the size of your little Finger, large enough to make the skin bulge over it. For small collections of veins or small isolated veins, there is no treatment. Besides,most will usually go away after pregnancy. Your skin, though will never be the way it was before your first pregnancy, and some of these Veins wilI continue to be visible.

Varicose veins are normally not very responsive to any particular recommendations during pregnancy. I have not found it useful to have patients wear elastic stockings. In the southern part of the country, elastic stockings are uncomfortable to wear because of the heat. Most women choose not to wear them, but if a patient has severe varicose veins, she can have custom-Etted elastic stockings made. These are probably the only type that are significantly helpful if varicose veins are painful.

👉 Changes in the internal parts of the body: During pregnancy remarkable changes occur in almost every system of the body. The tubes from the kidneys to the bladder (ureters) elongate and dilate in an extraordinary way. The kidneys enlarge. Each becomes about a half inch longer, and 50 percent more blood flows through them. The actual work of the kidneys also increases remarkably. The stomach and intestines change and are “displaced” by the enlarging uterus. The lungs change because the growing abdomen pushes the diaphragm up thus reducing the volume of air in the lungs. The Actual function of the lungs is not impaired by pregnancy, but certain diseases of the lungs, such as pneumonia and bronchitis, are more common in pregnancy.

One of the most dramatic changes in your body during pregnancy has to do with your heart and  blood-vessel system. The heart rate  increases ten or fifteen beats a minute. and the output of blood from the hurt increases, especially during the 651 three months of pregnancy. Because of increased blood now through the heart. a doctor may hear murmurs when he or she listens to your, heart.

These murmurs ere usually not due to disease, and they sound like the noise household pipes make when lots of water flows through them If your doctor is concerned, though. you will probably be referred to a cardiologist. In the past. doctors were afraid that pregnancy was hard on a woman’s heart and gave stern warnings of the dangerofpregmncy to women with heart disease. There certainly are some problems associated with severe heart disease in pregnancy, but these are not nearly so dangerous as was felt in the past.

👉 Gums: Your gums may become soft and bleed easily during pregnancy. These changes seem to be related to the hormones of pregnancy and usually disappear after delivery. The best treatment seems to be good dental hygiene, which includes flossing and brushing.

A condition called epulis (a swelling of the gums in a specific spot that resembles a growth) can occur during pregnancy. If that happens, your dentist should check to be sure that this is merely an epulis swelling and not a tumor.

There is no truth in the old wives’ tale: “The baby sucks the calcium away from its mother’ s teeth and causes them to decay.” This does not happen

👉 Muscles and bones: Several things happen to your muscles and bones, the most obvious of which is a change in posture. As your uterus enlarges and grows forward, you must lean back to balance yourself.

This is called lordosis and is one of the most common causes of low back pain during pregnancy. This is one reason women are encouraged to start exercising early in pregnancy. 

Exercise makes the muscles strong enough to help support the body during  the latter part of pregmncy when there is more stress on it.

A woman may develop aching, numbness. and weakness in the arms. This is due to the tendency to lean back, pulling the neck forward and thereby pulling on the nerves that go down to the arms.

There is also a softening of the ligaments between joints, not only of the arms and legs  but also of the pelvic bones. This relaxation seems to be what causes the bones to grate against each other, to pop, and to produce some of the discomfort that a woman feels in her arms, legs. back, and pelvis. These changes are important. X-rays reveal the amazing way that the pelvic bones separate during labor to allow the baby's head to pass through the birth canal

Written by: Isikadi Precious 

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Founder/CEO Isikadi Precious Media Inc. Africa's leading Media Tech company with digital media Superbrand focused on Health, Nursing Updates, News, Entertainment, and Inspiration.