How does pregnancy affect the body?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Wayne R. Young, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
When a mother is pregnant, there are a lot of body changes that occur in pregnancy. Most mothers focus on the fact their belly is going to get big. That does happen. Sometimes there are stretch marks. Sometimes there are not. Keeping your belly lubricated may reduce the risk of stretch marks, but there are no studies that actually prove that. In addition to that, there are a lot of physiological changes that occur to a mother's body when she's pregnant.

First of all, moms will retain a lot more fluid when they're pregnant. If you're pregnant with a single baby, you'll actually accumulate a third more fluid than you have when you're not. So your hands will swell, your feet will swell, and when you're up and around, your feet will get big. When you lie down at night and sleep, and when you wake up, your hands will be big. Your face will be fuller and rounder. In addition, some of the hormones will make you feel short of breath.

Now, there can be some problems related to being short of breath, but just sometimes feeling like you cannot catch your breath is common in pregnancy. The amount that the heart pumps per beat increases, so it is not uncommon for you to feel your heart pounding. In addition, the pressure in your pelvis will cause some back pressure and pain. You'll find that you can't have a full bladder because you have a basketball pushing on it, so you'll find yourself going to the bathroom more frequently. You have a few more risks for bladder infections and kidney infections. So we try and pay particular attention to decrease that chance.

Pregnancy affects every system in the body. Changes in hormone production in the body are substantial. These hormonal changes cause breast tenderness, changes in respiration, changes in heart rate, changes in skin pigmentation, nausea and vomiting, mood swings, changes in kidney function, and changes in blood glucose levels. In addition, blood volume increases dramatically, causing the circulatory, respiratory, and digestive systems to work harder. As the baby grows, the woman's uterus expands, putting pressure on parts of the body nearby. In addition, weight gain and changes in distribution of weight put stress on the body, especially the back.

Continue Learning about Early Pregnancy Signs

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.