The miraculous process of growing a baby produces some pretty big changes in a woman’s body, most notably the growing size of her tummy. But there are some other pretty amazing changes a pregnant woman’s body undergoes that aren’t quite so obvious, though you may start to wonder what exactly happened to some standard bodily functions like breathing.
Here are four fascinating ways your body changes during pregnancy that you should know about:
Almost as soon as you conceive, your body begins to produce more blood. This extra blood is needed to carry oxygen and nutrients to your baby. Over the course of your pregnancy, your blood volume will increase by 30 to 50 percent, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Your heart will pump blood faster and harder to keep up with all that extra blood your producing at the beginning of your pregnancy, and this extra work can cause those common first trimester symptoms of fatigue, dizziness and headaches. While you’ll continue to make more blood volume throughout your pregnancy, production will slow by the end of your first trimester.
This increased blood and blood flow can cause some noticeable annoyances during pregnancy, such as:
In an effort to ensure that your baby gets as many nutrients that pass through your body as possible, and because your uterus is pushing your other organs out of the way, your body slows down its digestive system during pregnancy. While this is both utterly amazing and great for baby, it can sometimes cause problems for mom, specifically heartburn and constipation. Your body also processes urine more slowly. That, combined with the additional weight of your uterus on your bladder makes you more susceptible to urinary tract infections. Making sure that you drink a lot of water, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and exercise daily can help with some of these problems.
Your body needs to carry oxygen to your baby, as well as remove that extra carbon dioxide. To account for these needs, your lungs become more efficient—increasing in capacity and taking in 30 to 40 percent more air with each breath. You may feel short of breath due to a squashed diaphragm and breathe faster than usual. Despite these feelings, you’ll still be getting plenty of oxygen for you and baby thanks to your lungs’ super efficiency and extra capacity, which will stretch your rib cage two to three inches during pregnancy!
During pregnancy, the ligaments that support your abdomen loosen up, as do the joints in the in your pelvis. While necessary preparation for childbirth, this overall loosening of your ligaments and joints can cause some discomfort for mom- round ligament pain is a common complaint for pregnant women and back pain can also cause problems. Appropriate exercise may help relieve these pains; ask your doctor if you’re having back pain.
At All About Women, our physicians and midwives are here to help you understand and troubleshoot all the changes of pregnancy. Contact our Lake City or Gainesville office today to schedule your first appointment. Or, continue reading on our Knowledge Center to learn more about the joys and challenges of pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period.