Body changes in pregnancy - what to expect

body changes in pregnancy - what to expect

Your body goes through many changes whilst your baby grows. You have to adapt pretty quickly to these changes which can affect you both physically and emotionally. When the going gets tough, remember you are growing another human being in there, which although challenges us more than we may have imagined, is also truly amazing.

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When should I contact my health care professional?

  • If you regularly feel dizzy or have fainting episodes

  • If you are itchy without a rash or have itchy palms of hands or soles of feet

  • If you have sudden swelling (particularly to your face and hands) or swelling that is accompanied by other symptoms

  • If you suspect you may have thrush or any other vaginal infection (your discharge is offensive, has changed colour or makes you sore)

  • If you have aches or pains that do not improve with rest, massage, gentle stretching, warmth or simple pain relief

  • If you have any concerns and/or need advice.

Changes to your body during pregnancy

Your body goes through many changes whilst growing your baby and adapting to these changes can be challenging, as they affect you both physically and emotionally, here are some of the most common changes you can expect:

  • Muscular aches and pains during pregnancy are very common as your body expands to accommodate your growing baby and produces a hormone called relaxin to help your muscles and ligaments stretch more easily. Muscular aches and pains can be helped by gentle stretching, yoga, massage and relaxing baths – particularly if you use Epsom salts in them.

  • Tight & itchy skin, especially around your bump and more commonly during your second and third trimester, can be alleviated by keeping it well moisturised, staying hydrated and wearing natural fibres.

  • Dizziness can be caused by hormonal changes, anaemia, dehydration or, even, feeling too warm. It may be managed by avoiding being on your feet for prolonged periods, by staying well hydrated and cool, and by not lying flat on your back.

  • Swelling (oedema) is most common around the feet and ankles, although the hands, arms, face and other parts of the body (including your vulva) may be affected. It is most likely to happen in the third trimester or during hot weather. Massage, gentle exercise, cold showers and reducing your salt intake can help improve/prevent general swelling.

  • **Breast changes ** throughout pregnancy are significant as your breasts prepare to produce milk to feed your baby. You will benefit from a well-fitting non-wired bra that supports your breasts, provides comfort and protects against soreness and chaffing.

  • Feeling warmer is caused by an increase in your blood volume, hormones and your blood vessels sitting closer to the surface. Choose loose clothing made of natural fibres, obtain hydration from food as well as water, apply cold to pulse points and take a cooling spray and/or hand-held fan wherever you go.

  • Poor sleep can be due to many things, including feeling warmer than usual during pregnancy, being uncomfortable due to this and/or the strain that the extra weight puts on your back, hips and bladder. Poor sleep sufferers will welcome the comfort and support of a pregnancy pillow, a cooler sleeping environment, regular massages and relaxing baths.

  • Thrush is more likely in pregnancy due to hormonal changes and may be prevented by using loose underwear made of natural fibres, avoiding using soaps and perfumes on your vulva, going ‘commando’ whilst at home/in bed, reducing sugary foods, choosing cloth panty-liners and changing your clothes detergent to a milder and more natural one.

  • Increased vaginal discharge is normal and, again, caused by hormonal changes. Using underwear made out of cotton/hemp/bamboo and changing it regularly, as well as choosing reusable panty liners, can help keep you more comfortable.

click here to read our expert midwife blog on body changes and how to manage them.

Benefits of pregnancy massage on the body

  • Pregnancy massage - also known as pre-natal massage - promotes relaxation and bonding, soothes nerves, and relieves a strained back and tired muscles in expectant mothers.

  • As well as feeling relaxing, there are many benefits to having a pregnancy massage. It can help with muscular discomforts such as leg cramps, muscle stiffness, tension and knots. Massage improves circulation and can therefore stimulate the flow of blood to these areas, easing discomfort.

  • Massage has been shown to ease pain and reduce anxiety in the first stage of labour. It can help you to cope with contractions by making them feel less intense and more manageable which, in turn, can reduce labour time and pain relief required.

For a more information, read our expert midwife blog

Benefits of a bath in pregnancy

Changes in your body when pregnant can make you ache and feel a bit uncomfortable but baths can offer a number of benefits. The water in a bath supports the weight of the baby, which takes some of the pressure off our internal organs, spine and pelvis. The weight-bearing effect of the water, and the relaxation it brings, can have a similar effect to a massage, easing away tension and soothing away pain:

  • Throw in a generous handful of Epsom salts for an even deeper muscle relaxant, as well as an effective treatment for leg cramps which is something that many people experience when they are growing a baby.

  • Swollen feet and legs are a common issue during pregnancy, you may find that lying back and relaxing in a bath can help the swelling to reduce. Again, Epsom salts in the bath may help to reduce this.

  • Haemorrhoids, otherwise known as piles – can be caused by pregnancy hormones relaxing our veins and allowing them to swell. This can lead to bleeding, pain, swelling and itchiness on and around the anus. Soaking in a warm bath can help to relieve the symptoms, and yet again those miraculous Epsom salts can help here too!

  • Many pregnant women suffer with itchy skin. Simply wrap a good handful or two of porridge oats in a muslin cloth (or tea towel), tie it up firmly with string to keep the oats inside and pop the bundle in the bath as you run the water. Once you’re soaking away you can squeeze the oat bundle to release more of the milky substance which you can gently rub on your skin for effective itch relief.

  • Pregnancy and insomnia often go hand in hand, taking a bath when pregnant can help you transition from the day to the night. As well as relaxing your body, a lovely, warm bath will also help to relax your mind.

  • As you can see, there are many practical reasons why baths can help us when we’re pregnant. However, most importantly, baths are there to be enjoyed for a little selfcare time, so make the most of it, read a book, relax and ease those daily tensions away. Our midwife developed premium epsom salts Soak For Bits are ideal throughout pregnancy, birth and into new motherhood.

Your last 20 weeks of pregnancy e-book

Karen McEwen, Registered Midwife at My Expert Midwife helps you to get ahead with our instantly accessible 30+ page guide, this e-book has been designed to help you decide what is best for you during this time.

Offering the latest evidence- based information throughout, we also tackle important subjects that don’t usually get much coverage, such as intimacy during pregnancy, abdominal pain and constipation, to help your understanding around these little discussed topics.

We also address subjects such as hypnobirthing, as well as giving tips for birth partners and how they can be prepared to give the best support possible during the labour and birth.

So, whether you want to know how to cool down during pregnancy or how to achieve a better night’s sleep, be assured that this e-book can offer you helpful information and tips on how to make the latter part of your pregnancy more relaxing and comfortable.

To purchase your copy click here.

why we developed Fantastic Skin Elastic

Our co-founder, and registered midwife lesley Gilchrist, developed Fantastic Skin Elastic specifically to help pregnant women soothe the itch, moisturise and help prevent stretch marks. Listen to Lesley talk more about why Fantastic Skin Elastic really works.

Pregnancy ailments your digestive system

From nausea to constipation to piles, watch our Expert Midwife Malena talk about common digestive ailments and top tips to help ease them.

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