Discovering that you are pregnant is the best news in the world. Yet, to actually go through a pregnancy is quite a roller coaster ride for any mum-to-be. Not only will your emotions see-saw, your body also goes through a raft of unexpected changes. Relax — this is just your body’s way of preparing for the arrival of your new baby. That said, everyone is different, so you may not experience the same symptoms as other expectant mothers. Still, here are several wonderful changes you will likely face when expecting.
YOUR UTERUS BEGINS TO EXPAND
Though the thought of your internal organs growing bigger seems insane, this is a perfectly normal change that pregnant women go through. Elevated levels of the hormone progesterone cause certain internal structures to expand, explains Dr Pamela Tan, an ob-gyn at Thomson Medical Centre. This includes the uterus, which grows from the size of a small pear to five times its size by full term. So, expect your uterus to increase in weight from 50g to 1kg, in height from 7.5cm to 30cm, in width from 5cm to 23cm, and in depth from 2.5cm to 20cm.
YOUR HAIR AND NAILS START TO CHANGE
Thicker and shinier hair is a change any mum would welcome, thanks to a slower hair loss rate as opposed to increased hair growth. Dr Tan explains that the greater amount of oestrogen produced by your body prolongs your hair’s growth phase and leads to a decrease in hair fall. Unfortunately, your body and facial hair may grow faster, thanks to an increase in the androgen hormone. Some expectant mums also enjoy harder nails and faster nail growth. Either that, or you may find your nails becoming more brittle, thanks to the too-quick growth (which proves that every pregnancy is different). Not to worry, however, Dr Tan says such changes aren’t permanent as fragile nails should return to their normal state post-birth.
YOUR BONES START TO LOOSEN
Not only does progesterone cause the uterus to expand, it also makes your body’s joints and ligaments looser. “From 35 to 36 weeks, another hormone called relaxin is produced. This further causes the ligaments and tendons to stretch in preparation for labour,” notes Dr Tan. As a result, this may affect your posture and you might be at a higher risk of sprains and strains, so be very mindful when you walk.
YOUR BREASTS GET BIGGER
“In early pregnancy, the breasts may feel full or tingle and increase in size as pregnancy progresses,” Dr Tan explains. “The areola around the nipples (circle of pigmented skin) also darkens and its diameter increases.” Additionally, your Montgomery’s glands (the tiny bumps in the areola) may enlarge or stick out more, she adds. Increased blood circulation can also cause the blood vessels on the surface of your breasts to become more visible, giving a bluish tint to your boobs.
YOU DEVELOP A PREGNANCY GLOW
Expectant mums get that much-desired pregnancy glow for several reasons. “Improved blood circulation means that more blood flows through the vessels,” says Dr Tan. “The skin therefore retains more moisture, causing it to plump up and even out any wrinkles. Hence, the skin feels healthier and smoother.” Another reason for smooth, luminous skin is that mums-tobe sweat more because the increased weight and blood volume causes her body temperature to rise. According to Dr Tan, sweat is known to clear out impurities in skin pores and make it look brighter and radiant. She adds that a surge in hormones like progesterone and Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) help sebaceous glands on the face secrete oil, giving one’s skin a shiny, supple appearance. On the downside, excess oil may also cause pregnancy acne and increased pigmentation.