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Mothers often talk about pregnancy as one of the best things that’s ever happened to them, no matter how exhausting it may have been. A pregnant woman can expect significant changes in not just her physical appearance but also her emotional and psychological make as well. These changes occur to facilitate the growing needs of the baby in the womb.
Let’s take a deeper look at how your body changes during pregnancy and also some complications that you may face.
1. Increase in blood volume
During the course of pregnancy, a woman’s blood volume will increase as much as upto 50%. Some women also notice an increase in their heart rate and a drop in their blood pressure as well. The boost in blood volume is the body’s natural way of reserving blood for the birthing process and is essential for her growing reproductive organs. As there are more blood clotting agents in a pregnant woman’s body, it is advised that they take brisk walks and engage in light exercises.
2. The Expanding Uterus
The uterus grows up to 500 times during the course of pregnancy and twists towards the right-hand side of the body. If a woman is carrying more than one child, the uterus stretches and becomes larger sooner. After giving birth, the uterus will go back to pre-pregnancy size in about 6 weeks in a process called involution.
3. Hormonal Changes
An increase in cortisol (also known as the stress hormone) also increases blood volume. Prolactin (the protein that allows women to lactate) levels also increase and that prepares the breasts for feeding the baby. The thyroid will swell up slightly but this isn’t harmful to you or your baby. Cramps and aches in different parts of the body might be caused by the decreasing levels of calcium. A pregnant woman feels hot and is constantly hungry because of the enhanced basal metabolic rate.
4. Changes In The Vagina
During pregnancy, the pH levels in the vagina changes and it could also be extremely itchy and dry. In the first few weeks, the colour of the vagina may turn from pink to purple because of the increased blood flow in that area.
5. Changes In The Respiratory System
Due to the size of the growing and enlarged uterus, the diaphragm (the main muscle responsible for responsible) is shifted upwards. The circumference of the chest cage also increases. The use of oxygen is also increased and sometimes breathlessness can be experienced because of the large uterus.
6. Gastrointestinal Changes
The growing uterus comes out of the pelvic cavity and pushes the stomach, intestines and other such digestive organs towards the back of the abdomen. Because these organs are pushed to the back, the pressure applied on the organs slows the digestive process. This is what causes constipation and flatulence. The progesterone hormone also relaxes the intestines which to leads to constipation.
When Should You Visit The Doctor:
- When You Notice Vaginal Bleeding: Many women experience light vaginal bleeding and spotting during the first few weeks of pregnancy. However, one can’t be sure that it’s harmless because it could also mean the first sign of a miscarriage. Consult your doctor immediately.
- If You Have Preeclampsia: Although not a very common problem, it is a serious one. High blood pressure, protein in the urine or liver or even abnormalities in the kidneys are symptoms of preeclampsia.
- Gestational Diabetes: A woman who has crossed her 23rd week mark must routinely check her sugar or glucose levels as she may have developed gestational diabetes without even knowing it. It can be controlled with diet and exercise but it could seriously harm the baby if it is left unchecked.
- Placenta Previa: If the placenta is situated very low in the uterus or covering the cervix, you may have placenta previa. It can be a serious problem in the later stages of pregnancy as it could cause bleeding which can cause other complications during delivery.