From the second you hear the news that you’re expecting a baby, excitement starts to set in. You picture the color you’re going to paint the nursery, maybe all the cute outfits you’re going to dress your little one in, and a thousand questions will pop into your head about what the whole process entails. You picture that guest room changing into a nursery, your husband or partner becoming a parent too, but how do you picture your body changing? You may stand in front of the mirror and visualize your belly growing, but what is less talked about are the numerous other ways that your body will change during pregnancy.
Your doctor will tell you some of technical aspects of having a baby growing inside your belly, as well as some of the “side effects” such as increased urination, hot flashes, and hormonal fluctuations, but I’m here to fill you in on the rest! Here are five common changes you can expect during your nine months.
1. Leave Me Breathless! You will very likely feel tired, get winded more easily (did those steps get higher?), and feel breathless–and this is
completely normal. In the first and second trimesters, this has to do with the chemical changes going on in your body. You body is actually adapting to doing a better job of processing oxygen and carbon dioxide, but this change also results in Mom breathing more deeply and using up more energy with each breath. In the third trimester, the baby actually pushes up into your diaphragm, which presses on your lungs and can leave you breathless. These are just the first of many times over a lifetime that your little one will leave you breathless!
2. Balance? What Balance? If you had an exercise routine prior to conceiving and you decide to continue with that program, you may find that certain movements that felt easy before now seem all wrong. You probably don’t remember learning to walk, but most likely you didn’t come out of the womb running. Learning to balance took months of practice. Being pregnant doesn’t mean you’ll all of a sudden be stumbling down stairs, but it does mean your center of gravity has changed and it takes time to adjust.
3. Relaxin’ with Relaxin! Towards the third trimester you may start to experience aching hips and lower back. This isn’t solely due to the extra weight you are carrying; you can thank a little hormone called Relaxin for this. You may not be “thanking” it right away, but trust me you will when it comes time to give birth. As the name suggests, Relaxin relaxes your muscles, joints and ligaments. The main purpose of it is to soften the cervix and muscles around the uterus to make childbirth run more smoothly. As a side effect, it also makes the joints around the pelvic region a little less sturdy. I always tell my prenatal yoga clients to take advantage of this stage of pregnancy! Take the time and use the naturally added flexibility to work on hip openers–they’re are not only good for your body’s long standing health, but will also prepare you for child birth!
4. Uh Oh “Cankle!” Suffering from swollen ankles? Wedding ring doesn’t fit anymore? Need bigger shoes? It’s all normal! During pregnancy, the body produces approximately 50 percent more blood and body fluids. The swelling is totally normal and will subside post-birth, so don’t throw out your cute kitten heels just yet!
5. What beautiful hair and nails you have! If you’re used to thinning hair and nails, you’ll love that the increased estrogen during pregnancy results in thicker and more lustrous looking hair and nails. Have fun with it and treat yourself to a sexy hairstyle before date night. The truth is your body will change in a thousand other ways over the nine months of pregnancy, and if you frantically Google every little sign of change, trust me–you are not alone. My best advice is to enjoy the journey! Pregnancy is a great time to really get in touch with your body and sit in awe of the miraculous ways it can change and adapt to help you give birth to a healthy bundle of joy.