Pregnancy is such a beautiful time in a woman’s life. But don’t get me wrong, not every day of pregnancy is glamorous. We’ve heard of the usual body changes during pregnancy, like luxurious hair, glowing skin, and stretchmarks with a growing belly. Still, some things that aren’t discussed often happen to a woman’s body during pregnancy. In this episode, we cover all of the surprising body changes a woman can experience during pregnancy. So if you’re currently expecting and noticing some odd changes happening to your body, you can feel relieved knowing you are not alone.
10 Changes to Your Body During Pregnancy You Might Not Expect
1. You might be sweating . . . a lot.
Something common during pregnancy and postpartum is increased sweating. However, hyperhidrosis is the most common and severe in the first and third trimesters.1 Many women feel sweaty early in their pregnancies, and night sweats are pretty common. Some women have also reported having hot flashes while pregnant.
This brings us to our next point . . .
2. Your blood volume doubles.
This is one of the reasons why you pee so much! It’s also the primary cause of anemia, the most common pregnancy complication.2 Did you know that a pregnant woman’s blood plasma volume increases by up to 40 percent compared to pre-pregnancy? It’s true! Your body is working so hard. And it continues to rise to 60 percent or more by the end of the third trimester. This is why you’ll likely have blood work drawn at around 28 weeks to check if you are anemic.
3. Your skin changes.
With all of this blood circulation through your body, it can cause your face to be brighter, giving you that pregnancy glow! But if your skin produced a fair amount of oil before you were pregnant, the extra pregnancy hormones could cause your face to be shiny. Unfortunately, not everyone has dewy, glowing skin during pregnancy. Some women experience pregnancy acne. With your oil glands in overdrive, it can cause women to have breakouts. This is why it’s important to continue cleansing your face every morning and night and use an oil-free moisturizer.
Another thing that women can experience is the “mask of pregnancy,” also known as Melasma and chloasma.3,4 Melasma causes brown to gray-brown patches to appear on your face. These spots most commonly appear on your cheeks, the upper lip, the chin, and the forehead and result from increased pigmentation. Around 50-70 percent of pregnant women show some signs of the “mask of pregnancy.”3 To avoid this, we recommend wearing a hat and good sunscreen during the day and avoiding too much sun exposure.
4. You might get a yeast infection/s.
Yeast infections during pregnancy are more common than at any other time in a woman’s life.5 Why is that? Because there is more sugar in the vaginal secretions during pregnancy on which the yeast can feed. This causes an imbalance which results in too much yeast. Yeast infections occur when the normal levels of acid and yeast in the vagina are out of balance, which allows the yeast to overgrow. The symptoms of yeast infections include:5
- Itching and irritation in the vagina and vulva
- A burning sensation, especially during intercourse or while urinating
- Redness and swelling of the vulva
- Vaginal pain and soreness
- Vaginal rash
- Thick, white, odor-free vaginal discharge with a cottage cheese appearance
- Watery vaginal discharge
If you are experiencing these symptoms, contact your OB-GYN or midwife for an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.
5. You may have a linea nigra.
The linea nigra, also known as the pregnancy line, is another surprising body change during pregnancy. It’s a dark line that runs from the navel to the pubic bone down the center of a pregnant woman’s belly. It darkens during pregnancy, acquiring the name linea nigra (literally translating to “black line”). The pregnancy line is never really black. However, it is brownish and darker in color. This usually occurs on skin tones that are darker in pigmentation.
It is unknown why the linea nigra develops, but it is believed to be a hormone-induced change. Some believe the melanocyte-stimulating hormone could be the main contributing factor and cause the darkening around the nipples.5
This leads us to our next surprising body change during pregnancy . . .
6. You may experience changes to your breasts.
Some of the first pregnancy symptoms women experience are fuller, tender, and hypersensitive breasts. There are a lot of changes going on with your breasts now that you are pregnant. Along with a growth in breast tissue, some of the changes that you may experience are:
- Darkening of the nipples and areolas (the skin around your nipples).
- Your areolas and nipples will grow larger.
- Your nipples may protrude out more.
- Larger and darkened veins on your breasts that are more visible. This is due to increased blood supply.
- Your Montgomery glands (small glands on the surface of the areolas) may become raised bumps.
- Your breasts may start leaking a yellowish, thick substance called colostrum.
Your hormones are the cause of these changes, and you may experience some more than others. And in addition to all of this, your ribcage may spread the further along you get in your pregnancy, which means you may have to go up a bra size.
7. You could have digestive issues.
Many women have said they have never been gassier than when pregnant. The reason is that progesterone relaxes your smooth muscles and causes slower digestion.9 This causes pregnant women to experience constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and indigestion. As the uterus grows, it can press on or even block parts of the digestive tract causing things to block up.9
8. Your hair and nails grow faster and thicker.
This is a positive body change during pregnancy! Many pregnant women report growing faster and thicker hair and nails. Some attribute it to their prenatal vitamin, but estrogen also increases the length of the growing phase of your hair follicles. But watch out! Women often experience hair thinning around their hairline a few months after the baby is born.10 This is due to the drop in estrogen, resulting in the dreaded postpartum hair loss. So enjoy the luscious pregnancy hair while it lasts!
9. Your ligaments and joints relax.
During pregnancy, the hormone relaxin allows your joints and ligaments to relax, making more room in your pelvis for the baby to come through for delivery.6 However, relaxin can cause women to experience back pain and sciatica.7,8 The reason is that your baby’s weight pulls your lower spine forward, which adds strain to your lower back muscles. We recommend lightly stretching and exercising to help prevent experiencing these issues.
10. Your feet can grow.
Do you know what’s really wild? Some women have reported their feet going up a half or full shoe size during pregnancy. This could be temporary due to swelling during pregnancy, but it may be a permanent change for some. Some doctors think that permanent changes may be due to increased growth hormones.
Who knew so much could happen to our bodies during pregnancy besides growing a baby?! Which change was the most surprising to you?