Pregnancy is full of surprises – from the moment you feel your baby’s first kick to finding out the gender of your little one. What is not a surprise, though, is that pregnancy effects every cell in a pregnant woman’s body. Luckily, healthy women are well-equipped to withstand these changes will little to no long-term ill effects. However, many women worry about how to tell what is normal or not.
Some women will tell you they know immediately when they become pregnant. Everyone knows the common symptoms: no period, nausea, vomiting, food cravings/aversions. Did you know that shortness of breath, fatigue, perception of rapid heart rate, decreased exercise performance (if you are an athlete), headaches, mental confusion, and clumsiness can also be signs of early pregnancy? Surprise, it’s true!
Amazing changes occur very quickly at the onset of conception. The most important of these are the changes to the cardiac and pulmonary systems, which put into place the ability to provide blood flow, oxygen, and nutrition to the rapidly growing fetus and placenta. To pump all that extra blood around, four things typically occur:
- The heart must increase in size to accommodate extra blood flow
- Blood volume increases as much as 50% to help supply enough oxygen to the growing demands of pregnancy
- Your pulse rate will raise slightly
- Your blood pressure will generally decrease
These are completely normal, and when you think about it, they make perfect sense. However, there are many other reasons that you’ll find yourself questioning your body. Let’s talk about them.
More Normal Changes
- Your Voice
Estrogen and progesterone effect many of the changes you’ll experience during pregnancy. For example, there is often a slight swelling of the vocal cords, which can change a pregnant woman’s voice. Some higher notes may be lost, while some lower notes might appear (this might not be the best time to sign up for karaoke!)
- Your Feet
Some pregnant women report that their feet grow while pregnant – as much as a whole size! Later in pregnancy, they may experience swelling and pain.
- Your Joints
Joints loosen during pregnancy. This is caused by the production of a hormone called Relaxin that softens ligaments. This is particularly noticeable in the third trimester and can affect how your pelvis feels when sitting, walking, or exercising. This is to help make the pelvis more flexible during childbirth.
Your skin also changes in pregnancy. Many are aware of “stretch marks” that are usually located on the abdomen, buttocks, breasts, or thighs. We don’t know of any “cure” at this point, but using moisturizers, eating a healthy diet, and staying hydrated may help the skin. Additionally, the pregnant abdomen may develop a dark line called the “Linea Negra” (means “black line” in Spanish), which is hormone-induced and disappears several months after delivery. Chloasma or melasma can also appear. These are dark patchy spots commonly seen on the face. Finally, the genital area can also change in color (deeper red/purple) and become engorged or feel swollen. All normal.
- Your Sense of Smell
Now, imagine a sudden overwhelming smell. While not always a pleasant experience, this can occur in pregnancy, as women have a heightened sense of smell. This can cause aversions to locations, foods, or even induce nausea/vomiting. Some commonly reported negative smells are smoke, fried foods, meat or lunchmeat, greasy foods, or coffee.
- Your Breasts
Breast changes are common. However, some women will begin to “lactate” or have discharge from their breasts about halfway through pregnancy. Although this may feel abnormal, it is the body’s way of preparing the breasts for breastfeeding should that be desired. Colostrum, the precursor to breast milk, can show up during the second trimester as a sticky, waxy substance. Many women report seeing it on their clothing.
- Your Hair and Nails
Hair often becomes thicker and shinier in pregnancy, and nails can improve. Pregnant women have reported an increased growth rate of both – which is often welcomed by women; enjoy it while you can! Prenatal vitamins also assist in this. Unfortunately, some women have also reported hair growth in new or unwanted places. Yet another surprise, but most certainly normal.
- Oral Health
Additionally, staying current with dental health is very important in pregnancy because gums can swell, women can experience discomfort and develop gingivitis or even breath changes. Be sure to stay up to date with preventative and prophylactic dental care.
- Stomach Issues
Smooth muscle relaxes in pregnancy due to your hormones, and this can lead to many gastrointestinal (GI) issues such as acid reflux, heartburn, gas, bloating, and constipation.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
These are only some highlights of the amazing changes that occur in a pregnant or gravid body. Your obstetrical health care provider will provide you with what is called “anticipatory guidance”- those common things/events that occur each trimester. Be sure to ask questions to gain a better understanding of the miracle of pregnancy and those changes that you are experiencing. There are also many books, phone applications, and resources for information. Be cautious in their use and always seek medical or professional advice before instituting any supplements, treatments, or therapies. Remember that pregnancy can and will affect each pregnant woman differently but whether these changes are normal or of concern will be decided by your obstetrical providers. Don’t hesitate to speak with them!
Your Body is Amazing!
The ability to grow human life from a microscopic seed is a miracle of nature. Many changes occur during this process and with some simple modifications, you can enjoy your pregnancy and promote your health. Many women make prenatal changes that last their lifetime, such as smoking cessation, improved nutrition, and a regular exercise program. Pregnancy can be a positive life-altering experience for a future healthy lifestyle! Enjoy the surprises!
Author: Karen Katz, Certified Nurse Midwife, Brunswick Hills OB/GYN.
To schedule an appointment with Karen, call (732) 257-0081.
The fertility awareness method (tracking of your menstrual cycle in order to prevent pregnancy) has been gaining traction on TikTok and other social media channels of late. But, does it work? Axia Women's Health OB/GYN, Dr. Daniel DiSabatino, explains what you need to know about the risks/benefits in a recent interview with Yahoo! Swipe through to learn more.
#fertilityawareness #birthcontrol #naturalfamilyplanning #cycletracking #contraception ...
With many different options for prenatal vitamins available on the market, it can be difficult to know which one to choose. Swipe right to learn the top expert recommended ingredients to support you and your baby. ...
Finding a healthcare provider who you trust and feel comfortable with is so important. At Axia Women's Health, we're proud to build relationships that span decades - from puberty through pregnancy. Thank you, Brittney, for sharing your experience with us! 💙
credit: @mrs_kochanski89 ...
‘Tis the season of giving thanks, and we couldn’t be more thankful for our incredible patient community! 🙏🏻💛Thank you for trusting us with your care. Through the happy moments and the sad, from puberty to pregnancy and even into the golden years, through challenges and joyous moments, we thank you for allowing us to be a part of your journey.
#thankful #appreciationpost #patientcare #givethanks #pregnancy #obgyn #gynecology ...
All moms know that holding your baby is an important part of bonding emotionally. But did you know it can also provide physical benefits? Kangaroo Care, a specific form of skin-to-skin contact, can have benefits for both preemies and their parents. Research shows that holding a baby to your bare chest can help regulate the baby's heart rate, breathing, and body temperature as well as promote bonding. To all of the NICU mamas, we see you and salute your strength!
Do you know the physical signs of ovulation? If you're trying to get pregnant, tracking ovulation can go a long way to helping you conceive. Beyond that, knowing your ovulation patterns can clue you in on other potential health issues like PCOS or thyroid conditions. Swipe right to learn the signs.
#ovulationtracking #ovulationsigns #TTC #ovulation #ovulationstest #tryingtoconceivetips #tryingtoconceive ...
Pregnancy and infant loss is a uniquely personal and complicated experience that affects each woman differently. No matter your experience, we're here to remind you that your grief is valid and you're not alone. Save this post as a reminder anytime you need support. <3
It's sexual health month, so 🎶let's talk about sex 🎶 post-baby. Perhaps, you've had your 6-week-checkup but still aren't feeling ready to be intimate again...that's completely okay!
There's so much to navigate as a new mom. 🤯It can be challenging to find the time or energy to be intimate with your partner. 👩❤️💋👨
But, if you're feeling ready and are bothered by symptoms like pain or discomfort, don't be afraid to speak up! Your Axia Women's Health provider is here to help. ...
The truth is because PCOS can disrupt your normal menstrual cycle, it can take longer to get pregnant...but it's not impossible! 💫👩🏽🍼
Some women may be able to conceive naturally after managing PCOS symptoms, while others may find help in assisted reproductive technologies like IVF. 🔬
Wherever you are in your journey with PCOS, don't give up hope! 💜 Stay tuned as we shed light on more common myths surrounding PCOS throughout the month. ...
As incredible as breastfeeding can be for bonding with your baby, it's no secret that it can come with some challenges. That’s why we're sharing our support during #breastfeedingmonth. Whether you breastfeed, chest feed, bottle feed, or do a mix of both, we salute you! Swipe right for some of our favorite resources on this topic. ...
Many women are seeking to better understand how the Supreme Court reversal of Roe v Wade may impact their reproductive health. At Axia Women’s Health, we’re actively involved in conversations with other leading health authorities and are committed to helping you navigate the future of your care. We’re here for you, and we encourage you to contact your Axia Women’s Health provider to discuss your individual needs.
To learn more about where abortion access currently stands in your state, follow @kaiserfamilyfoundation or visit their website at www.kff.org. News outlets like the @NYTimes also offer up-to-date tracking on their website at www.NYTimes.com.
Please know that birth control (when used for preventing pregnancy) and emergency contraception (like plan B) are not currently banned in any states, though it is an evolving situation, and may change in some states. Please refer to information regarding your specific state’s regulations, or speak with your Axia Women’s Health provider for the most current and accurate information.
Please note: This information is accurate as of July 21, 2022, and may change. ...
It's true that during pregnancy and around our menstrual cycles our natural balance of progesterone and estrogen can be disrupted. This imbalance can create an ideal environment for Candida fungi, the bacteria involved in yeast infections, to grow. 🤔
Fortunately, several over the counter medications can help the infection clear up within a few days. 💊
But if you're experiencing recurrent infections, it's a good idea to chat with your Axia Women's Health provider. 💬
#yeastinfection #vaginalhealth #whatsupdownthere ...
The invention of birth control was a game-changer for women's health..in more ways than one. Did you know that certain birth control can provide benefits other than preventing pregnancy?
In fact, up to 50% of birth control users rely on it for reasons other than contraception. Your Axia Women's Health provider can help you learn more and determine the best option for you!
#birthcontrol #periodpain #menstrualmigraine #acne #womenshealth ...
If the national baby formula shortage is causing you stress, we're here to help. Swipe through for helpful tips and resources from @healthychildrenaap to keep in mind as you navigate this challenging time.
#formulashortage #formulafeeding #infanthealth #parentingtips #parenting #babyhealth ...
Many women wonder, "is it safe to dye your hair while pregnant?" Daniel DiSabatino, DO, from Axia Women's Health spoke with Forbes Health to shed some light on this frequently asked question. Good news: you don't have to completely forgo your beauty routine while pregnant, but it's best to wait until the second trimester to use any hair dyes or bleach.
#pregnancytips #haircare #beauty #healthylifestyle #pregnancy ...
Join us next Thursday, May 26 at 12pm ET for a real talk about women's mental health. Megan Lobsinger, a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor at Axia Women's Health, will be sharing advice on navigating emotions around infertility, pregnancy, postpartum, and menopause. Have a question you want addressed? Comment below or DM us privately.
#IGLive #mentalhealthmonth #womensmentalhealth ...
Today, we're honoring all those who "mother." We know each woman's path to motherhood can be different. Whether you've given birth, have experienced loss, are actively trying, or have taken on the role of a mother, we salute you!
#mothersday #mothersday2022 #happymothersday ...
Have you ever wondered if playing music during pregnancy can support your baby's development? The short answer is: we don't really know, given inconclusive data. But we do know that music can be calming and soothing to the carrier, providing comfort during pregnancy. Dr. Thomas Dardarian, an OB/GYN with Axia Women's Health, spoke with the LoveEvery podcast to further explore the topic of the "Mozart" effect. Visit link in bio to listen to the full podcast.
#pregnancy #mozarteffect #childhooddevelopment #parenting ...
Reaching the halfway point of pregnancy is an exciting milestone. You’re likely showing more and are starting to feel your baby move and kick.🤰It’s also an important time for a check-in with your healthcare provider for your 20-week ultrasound. Dr. Jennifer Stuck, an OB/GYN with Axia Women's Health, offers advice on what to expect at the visit. Visit link in bio to read the full interview.🔗 ...
Did you know that your menstrual cycle is more than just the main event – your period? It’s actually a series of four different phases that each play a role in your reproductive health. Getting in touch with your cycle can help you with planning for pregnancy and even detecting other health issues. Swipe right to learn more.
#whatsupdownthere #menstrualcycle #vaginalhealth ...