Changes to your body in pregnancy
Your body will go through lots of changes during pregnancy, so it’s great to be prepared right from the start.
One of the most exciting elements of pregnancy is experiencing the wonder of seeing your body change and prepare for the birth of your baby.
You might be aware of some of these changes right from the early days, others may surprise you. Here is a summary of some of the key changes you will notice along the way:
Often changes in the breast are one of the first changes you may have noticed since becoming pregnant. It is normal for your breasts to feel fuller and also quite tender. It is also normal for your nipple and areola to become darker in colour.
- 3-4 weeks - You probably won’t notice any change at this stage as you may not realise you are pregnant! But you may feel a prickling and tingling sensation due to increased blood supply, particularly around the nipple.
- 6-8 weeks - Your breasts will increase in size and may be painful, tense and nodular (lumpy), which is due to the increase in milk ducts. You may also notice that the veins in your breasts become more visible.
- 8-12 weeks - Your nipples and the area surrounding your nipple, called the areola, will become prominent and protrude more. This area may also become darker in colour.
- 16 weeks - Some women begin to produce colostrum (the early breast milk) at this early stage. Even if you may not be leaking you can be reassured that you will have a plentiful supply of breastmilk when the time comes.
Colostrum may leak from your breasts so you may need to be prepared. Not all women experience this, so if your breasts are not leaking it does not mean that you won’t have milk to feed your baby.
Many women find that their hair gets thicker during pregnancy. Some also find their hair becomes brittle and dry. This is because when you're pregnant, oestrogen extends the hair growth cycle – hair stays in its resting phase longer and therefore remains in your head beyond its ‘use-by date’. This is why women in the later stages of pregnancy often have very thick hair. It’s only temporary, however. This hair can then fall out in handfuls after the baby arrives. Don’t panic – think of it as getting rid of the old, making room for the new.
Increased body temperature
It’s not all in your head, a rise in temperature of 0.2˚C-0.4˚C occurs when you become pregnant. You may find that you sweat more and this is your body’s way of coping with the extra heat that your placenta and your baby are creating.
Those fantastic pregnancy hormones are at work here again! Due to increasing hormone levels you may experience small red elevations on the skin on your face, neck, arms and chest. There is no real reason for them to occur and they usually disappear after pregnancy.
A lot of women experience varicose veins while pregnant. Hormones cause the walls of some veins to relax and increased blood flow in the whole body then cause these veins to bulge.
Try and avoid sitting or standing for prolonged periods and exercise regularly. In some cases, support stockings may be recommended by your midwife/doctor.
Stiffness and swelling in your hands
Swelling in your hands can and does happen quite often in pregnancy. If the swelling is causing you pain or a lot of discomfort talk to your midwife/doctor.
And you thought the extreme tiredness would start when baby is born!
Fatigue or feelings of overwhelming sleepiness can occur at any point in your pregnancy. Commonly women usually experience fatigue in the first and third trimester.
In the first trimester fatigue can be caused by hormonal changes as well as the development of tour baby’s organs. This tiredness usually does resolve during the second trimester but can reoccur in the third trimester. Fatigue in the third trimester is usually related to your growing baby. Your body is also metabolising food at a faster rate in order to prepare you for labour and breastfeeding.