Pregnancy is an adventure in which the woman's body undergoes many changes. The body adapts to the new situation and it is necessary to take care of it during the long nine-month period. The aim is to make you feel as good as possible and avoid possible risks and discomforts. You will have to learn to take care of yourself!
The effects of progesterone and the adaptation of your organism to protect itself against the growth in size, the weight and the baby's pressure makes the bowel transit slow down and causes and increase in gas retention, as well as constipation. You can combat these problems by adding lots of fruit and vegetables to your diet, as they contain high levels of fibre which will help regulate your bowel transit. Herbal teas and drinks based on fruits, especially cherry, tamarind, and kiwi, are also of great help.
The relaxing of your stomach and of the intestine for the absorption of nutrients, together with the pressure your baby applies to your stomach, may cause heartburn, regurgitations, and constipation. If the discomforts are frequent, seek advice from your doctor.
Ideally you should gain a maximum of 12 kilos in total: 1.8kg during the first quarter, 3.5kg during the second, and 400 grams per week during the third. If you initially have nausea or upsets, it is perfectly normal to lose one or two kilos, but you will see how you recover them when the upsets go away. If you were already overweight when you became pregnant, you should be careful with what you eat, but without too many restrictions, as your nourishment must contain all the nutrients your baby needs. Bear in mind that each woman is different and that the best advice will come from your gynecologist.
Due to the increase in hormones produced by the placenta, such as Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), progestogen, estrogens, and Human placental lactogen (HPL), many physiological changes take place inside the pregnant woman's body. The following are some of the most notable changes:
Due to hormonal changes, your hair reduces its renovation and growth processes, so it will look shiny, plentiful, and thick, giving the impression of more quantity. The shininess is due to an increase in fat secretion, which gives it more vitality, especially in women with dry hair. After birth, you might notice a larger loss, which is again related to hormone changes, as the renovation period will have returned to normal.
Caused by hormonal changes and due to an increase in calcium need. Some of the common discomforts during this period are the following:
You have to maintain good hygiene in your vaginal area in order to avoid infection. The symptoms Itchiness, burning sensation, redness, or changes in the viscosity or colour of your discharge. Seek advice from your gynecologist if you get any of the above symptoms.
Pregnancy causes fast stretching of the skin in areas such as the abdomen, buttocks, hips, and breasts, and this may cause the rupture of the elastic fibres (collagen and elastin), and the reddish shiny thin lines that appear as a consequence of this are known as stretch marks. These marks become white over time and, although with the change in colour they become less visible, they are nonetheless very difficult to get rid of. For this reason it is best to prevent as far as possible their appearance in the first place.
The changes in hormone levels, in metabolism, in natural defenses, and in the immune system due to pregnancy may cause the appearance of patches (melasma) on the skin. This is a change in the skin colour that appears especially on the face and other parts of the body, which intensifies with direct sunlight by becoming hyperpigmented and dark. This is also known as chloasma, and the patches appear especially on the cheeks, nose, lips, and forehead, with a decrease in intensity in winter when the sun is not so strong. They usually disappear gradually after giving birth.
Your breasts will grow and change during pregnancy to prepare for breastfeeding. During the first quarter the volume will grow due to an accumulation of fat. The veins will become visible, your nipples will grow darker as well as feel itchy due to an increase in blood irrigation, and a second areola will appear, which is no more than the speckling of the skin around the areola.
You might even notice some little bumps. These are known as Montgomery glands, and their function is to lubricate the nipple and maintain its flexibility. After giving birth, these glands will let out a fragrance that will guide your baby towards the breasts and will pacify him during breastfeeding. From the sixth month onwards you may notice the output of colostrum, a yellowish milky liquid that will be the first nourishment for your baby. Use absorption pads to avoid staining your clothes.
Or a sudden fall of blood pressure caused by a change of position. Because of a general fall in blood pressure caused by pregnancy, the cardiovascular system is unable to react as quickly as before and this may cause spells of dizziness. If you feel dizzy, switch position. Sit down, on the floor if necessary, and lift your feet up in the air.
They are frequent during pregnancy and can be caused by hormone changes, which may congest and dilate the blood vessels. If this occurs when your sugar levels are low (hypoglycemia), you might get a fall in arterial blood pressure (hypotension), and this can also give way to nausea and headache.
They tend to appear during pregnancy on the legs due to a gain in weight and in blood volumes. Apart from their unattractiveness, they hinder good blood circulation through the veins and this can cause muscular pain, heaviness, and cramps.
Starting from the second half of your pregnancy, the gain in weight of your baby increases the pressure on your legs and ankles. Also your organism accumulates much more liquid, especially in the lower half of your body. This can cause, especially in warmer weather, a feeling of tiredness in your legs, as well as swelling of ankles and legs.
These are varicose veins on the anal area that produce itchiness, pain, and sometimes even bleeding. They can get worse with constipation due to the tension the womb applies to the large intestine, which is why it is recommended that you avoid them by drinking plenty of water and eating food rich in fibre. Seek advice from your gynecologist.
They appear especially in the third quarter when the lumbar area becomes overloaded and causes a contracture. As the womb grows, the muscles of the buttocks and abdomen relax. This, together with a decrease in physical activity, may cause sciatic nerve pinches or contractures, which cause pain in the lower part of the back. A gain in weight also brings with it a change in posture (hyperlordosis), and this will increase the load on your back.
To find a comfortable position with your tummy volume during the last quarter is not easy. You might also get cramps and pain, as well as need to go the bathroom more often. And all this affects the quality of sleep.