Pregnancy causes many changes in a woman’s body. Some, like your belly growing larger, are common and expected. Other physical changes can indicate a problem. Most of the physical changes of pregnancy go away after you give birth.
What physical changes are cause for concern?
High blood pressure High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy High blood pressure (hypertension) is when the pressure of blood in your arteries is too high. Arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the body. Blood pressure that's... read more and high blood sugar (diabetes Diabetes During Pregnancy Diabetes is a disease in which your blood sugar (glucose) levels are too high. Blood sugar is your body’s main source of energy. Your body breaks down all types of foods, including bread, fruit... read more ) can develop during pregnancy. These can be dangerous for you and your baby. Certain symptoms are warning signs of complications from these or other diseases.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms during your pregnancy:
Strange headaches, or headaches that won’t go away
Pain or cramps in your lower belly
Leaking fluid from your vagina (which could be amniotic fluid)
Swelling in your hands or feet
Less urine than usual
Any illness or infection
Tremors (shaking of your hands or feet)
Fast heart rate
Less movement from your baby
What physical changes happen in early pregnancy?
In the very beginning of pregnancy, you may have:
A need to urinate more often and more urgently
Swollen, tender breasts
Increased discharge from your vagina
Feeling sick to your stomach and throwing up are very common in pregnancy. This is caused by pregnancy hormones in your body. Despite the name "morning sickness," you can feel sick to your stomach and throw up at any time of day. Some pregnant women throw up so often and for so long that they need medicine or IV fluids.
To lessen morning sickness, try the following:
Drink and eat small amounts often
Eat before you notice you're hungry
Eat bland foods like rice or pasta
Keep crackers by your bed so you can eat a little before you get up
Heartburn Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD) GERD (acid reflux) is a disease caused by your stomach contents and stomach acid flowing back up your esophagus. Your esophagus is the tube that connects your throat to your stomach. Reflux... read more (a burning pain in your chest) is common in pregnancy. Heartburn is caused by stomach acid going back up your esophagus (the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach).
To lessen heartburn, try the following:
Eat smaller meals
Do not lie down for several hours after eating
Avoid caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, and aspirin
Take liquid antacids
If heartburn disturbs your sleep, try the following:
Don't eat for several hours before bed
Use several pillows to raise your head, or raise the head of your bed
What physical changes happen in late pregnancy?
During late pregnancy, you may be especially tired. You may have physical changes like:
Shortness of breath
Stuffiness in your nose
Yellow or white fluid from your nipples
As your belly grows, your spine curves to balance the weight.
To lessen backache and avoid injury:
Don't lift heavy things
Bend from your knees, not your waist
Try to maintain good posture
Wear supportive, flat shoes
Wear a belly band or maternity girdle
Swelling can cause varicose veins Varicose Veins Varicose veins are veins just under your skin that become very large, twisted, and bulging. They're usually on your legs. Varicose veins may hurt, itch, or ache Varicose veins are more common... read more in your legs.
To ease aching from varicose veins:
Wear support hose
Rest with your legs up
Lie on your left side
How will my breasts change during pregnancy?
Your breasts will get larger and may feel tender.
The skin around your nipples may darken.
At the end of pregnancy, a thin, yellowish, or milky fluid, called colostrum, will come out of your nipples. This fluid has lots of antibodies and minerals. It provides the first food to a breastfed Breastfeeding Breast milk is the ideal food for newborns. Although babies may be fed breast milk or formula, the World Health Organization (WHO) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend exclusive... read more baby.
How will my skin change during pregnancy?
Pregnancy hormones can cause your skin to look different. Many of these changes go away or fade after you have your baby.
You may get:
Brownish patches on your forehead or cheeks (melasma)
Darkening of the skin around your nipples
A dark line running down your belly
Stretch marks on your belly
A very itchy rash that happens only in pregnancy, usually in the 2nd or 3rd trimester
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