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Your Pregnancy & Your Body

Along with the growth and development of your baby, your body will go through some remarkable changes, as well.  So that you aren’t surprised by all the changes that arise, learn what to expect in the coming months. As you read about the changes, remember that every pregnancy is different and what you experience may differ from what people tell you to expect.

First Trimester
During the first trimester your body begins to prepare to nourish your baby. 

Breasts. Because of an increase in hormone production, you may feel your breasts becoming unusually sensitive. To ease the tenderness you might want to go up a bra size or wear a sport bra.

Nausea. Around the second month of your pregnancy, you may experience nausea or vomiting due to hormonal changes – also known as morning sickness.  To get relief from morning sickness, eat small, frequent meals (low in fat & high in protein snacks) throughout the day, and drink plenty of fluids (water, clear fruit juice, or ginger ale).

Fatigue. As your body prepares for the pregnancy, you may feel more tired than usual.  In order to feel more energized, try to get 8 hours of sleep, rest as much as you can throughout the day, and make sure your diet includes iron and protein enriched foods (including red meat, shellfish, beans, tofu, raisins, apricots, potatoes (skin on), broccoli, beets, leafy green vegetables, nuts & seeds, along with whole grain breads) and take a prenatal vitamin filled with iron.

Frequent Urination.  During your pregnancy your uterus enlarges, thus putting pressure on your bladder perhaps making you need to urinate more often.  To avoid urinary tract infections, do not avoid the urge to use the restroom!  

Heartburn & Constipation. Your body is beginning to provide nutrients for your growing baby, which may in effect relax your muscles and slow down your digestive system.  Unfortunately by slowing down the digestive system, you may experience heart burn & constipation.  To reduce constipation, increase your fiber intake, drink extra fluids, and partake in regular, mild physical activity. The muscle that normally keeps food and acids down may relax and cause heart burn.  To decrease heart burn, eat smaller meals, more frequently.

Mood Swings. The hormone changes occurring in your body may lead you to feel a range of feelings that change minute by minute.  You may even find yourself crying for little to no reason!  If your mood swings are overwhelming it may be helpful to share your feelings with your partner, a friend or family member and maybe a therapist.

Weight Gain. During the first trimester, it is normal to gain about 3-6 pounds; your doctor will be able to provide you with more information regarding your weight.

 

Second Trimester
Many women say that the second trimester is the easiest three months of pregnancy.  Your expanding belly will become more noticeable, morning sickness usually passes and you will be given a relief from frequent urination. Even though you will be feeling much better, you may still experience many changes.  

 

Breasts. Breast tenderness may decrease, but continue around your nipples.  Your breasts will continue to grow because milk-producing glands inside your breasts growing to prepare for feeding your baby.

Heartburn and constipation. Unpleasant heartburn and constipation, which started in your first trimester, will likely continue into your second trimester.

Stretch Marks. You may develop stretch marks caused by your skin having to support extra weight of your growing abdomen and breasts.  The stretch marks may be pink, red or purple streaks, don’t be distressed, stretch marks can’t be prevented and will eventually fade.

Backache. As you start to gain weight more rapidly, you will probably begin to feel more pain in your back.  Backache is often due to your growing uterus along with your lower back curving more than usual. In order to ease the pressure sit in a chair with good back support, wear comfortable shoes with good arch support, get a pregnancy massage, and sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs.

Dizziness. Instead of feeling nauseous, you may rather experience occasional dizziness.  There are multiple causes of dizziness; one cause is your uterus putting pressure on blood vessels another cause is low blood pressure.  Also, you may be more prone to dizziness if you are anemic or have varicose veins. If you feel dizzy, rise slowly after lying or sitting down, eat regularly and drink lots of fluids.

Leg Cramps. Starting your second trimester you may have painful leg cramps. Though reasons for leg cramps are unclear, some say the pain may stem from staying in the same position for a long period of time, changes in blood circulation during pregnancy, stress on your leg muscles of carrying the extra weight of pregnancy, or pressure of the growing baby on the nerves and blood vessels that go to your legs. For relief, stretch the affected muscle or walk your way through the cramps.  

Quickening. Around the fourth month, you will begin to feel your baby subtly move, these flutter-like movements are called “quickening”.  Keep in mind pregnancies are different, and some women don't experience quickening until their sixth month of pregnancy!

Varicose Veins. Found on your legs, varicose veins are swollen veins that are dark purple and dark blue.  Varicose veins are caused by increases in blood flow which may slow down blood flow to the lower body causing the veins in your legs to swell. To decrease the swelling, move around throughout the day and elevate your legs whenever you have to sit for long periods of time. 

Weight Gain. At this point your abdomen will start to grow in order to make room for the baby.  From the second trimester until the end of your pregnancy you should expect to gain about 1 pound per week.

 

Third Trimester
You’re nearing the end of your pregnancy! Unfortunately, this part of your pregnancy may be the toughest, you will be feeling very uncomfortable, tired, and experience several unpleasant symptoms. Try to remain positive, soon you will be holding your baby in your arms. 

 

Breasts.  At this point you will have gained 2 pounds in breast tissue; be sure to wear a supportive bra.  Also, as you near your due date your nipples may leak a yellowish fluid (colostrums) which will nourish your baby during the first days after birth.

Fatigue. During the third trimester fatigue will return.  Extra weight combined with anxiety or concern may make it difficult for you to rest easy.  In order to increase energy be sure to eat well, rest up, and exercise; you don’t want to be tired when the baby comes!

Frequent Urination. When your baby assumes the head-down position, he/she will begin to press down on your bladder, which may make you urinate more often.

Backache. The backache you experienced during the second trimester will likely continue into the third trimester.  Hopefully you have found a way to cope with or relieve the pain.

Braxton Hicks Contractions. Don’t be surprised if you start to experience mild contractions. Braxton Hicks Contractions, also known as practice contractions, occur when your uterus tightens.  Unlike labor contracts that are longer, more intense and gradually get closer together,  Braxton Hicks Contractions last for approximately 30 to 60 seconds to 2 minutes.

Hemorrhoids. Similar to varicose veins, hemorrhoids occur due to an increase of blood volume that cause veins around the rectum to swell.  Hemorrhoids are painful and often lead to itching or bleeding to the area.  Prolonged standing contributes to hemorrhoids and constipation may worsen it.  To prevent hemorrhoids, decrease the likelihood of constipation by eating a high fiber diet and drinking prune juice, also do not delay using the restroom. 

 Shortness of Breath. Since the fetus is occupying more space in your abdomen you may have breathing difficulties or shortness in breath.  To lessen this symptom breathe deeply several times a day (you can ask your childbirth instructor or OB/GYN to teach you the correct way), sleep propped-up and avoid crowded and smoggy environments.

Swelling. You may experience swelling in your hands, feet, ankles, legs, face and eyelids.  The swelling is most likely due to pressure on veins or nerves or fluid retention.  In order to decrease swelling apply a cold compress to affected areas and be sure to elevate your feet when you sleep.

Weight Gain. By your delivery date, you will have gained about 25-35 pounds.  Remember this extra weight includes your baby’s weight, placenta, amniotic fluid, increased blood and fluid volume, and additional breast tissue!

 

Remember, everyone experiences pregnancy differently. Some people have little discomfort while others experience quite a bit. Just remember, at the end you’ll have a wonderful, new addition to your family to make it all worthwhile!


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