A pregnant woman has more blood than before

A woman undergoes lots of physical and emotional changes, some surprising, during the roughly 40 weeks  

Felicia Coker

Within the 9 months in which a woman is pregnant, she is subjected to many physical, hormonal and psychological changes. Apart from some of the normal changes. Many women are also subjected to many changes, some of which are surprising and even fascinating or unbelievable.

Sometimes these changes are a result of the pregnant woman’s existing health conditions. But most times these new changes are a result of the body and hormonal conditions of a pregnant woman.

Apart from the physical changes to the body which has to adjust to accommodate the growing baby, many organs also have to shift around to make space for the baby, even though these changes might not be obvious at first.

Pregnant women should liaise and consult constantly with their doctors to live a healthy confident lifestyle during pregnancy devoid of any unnecessary worries as a result of any ‘normal’ changes they witness.

A major change is the blood volume in the body during pregnancy, which increases 40 to 50 per cent. This blood increase comes in handy to help with the extra oxygen needed to support a healthy pregnancy.

Also, the heart grows bigger during pregnancy to help pump all that extra blood around the body while the uterus expands greatly during pregnancy, even up to the size of a watermelon by the third trimester and as much as 500 times the size during pregnancy.

Other amazing changes during pregnancy include:

  • Pregnant women often grow hair faster leading to thicker, healthier, shinier hair and some may also grow hair on other parts of their body, such as their abdomen, face, and back.
  • There is a change of sense of smell during pregnancy and is more pronounced during the first trimester.
  • Pregnant women develop strange cravings for food and drinks which might be due to disruption in their taste and smell receptors or signs that mother and baby are lacking in certain nutrients.
  • The voice also changes during pregnancy as the hormonal changes cause the vocal folds to swell. The rise in oestrogen and progesterone can cause swelling of the vocal folds resulting in the loss of some higher notes and gaining of some lower ones.
  • Pregnant women produce more oestrogen in a day than non-pregnant women do in a year and more during pregnancy than a non-pregnant woman will in three years. This is a result of the placenta, an extra organ, which produces hormones.
  • The feet also grow a little bit bigger while the ankles and feet can also swell up in some women during pregnancy.
  • Pregnancy can cause tingling and numbness in the hands and fingers. The swelling of the hands as a result of a build-up of fluid in tissues can occur in the carpal tunnel, causing pressure on nerves and numbness in hands and fingers.
  • Joints are loosened during pregnancy as a result of the production of a hormone called relaxin that softens ligaments. This also helps make the pelvis more flexible during childbirth.
  • During birth, the pelvic bone, which is connected by a narrow section of cartilage and ligament,  can sometimes separate during childbirth. In some women, it may never fully fuse back together again.
  • Parts of the body skin may change colour, develop stretch marks, which are usually paler than normal skin while the line down the stomach, called the linea nigrea, gets darker. A pregnant woman can also have melasma, which causes dark splotchy spots to appear on the face.
  • Pregnancy may affect the working of the brain. Research shows that about 80 per cent of women have memory impairment.
  • Pregnant women can start to lactate when they hear a baby crying.
  • Pregnant women may get gingivitis and bad breath as some hormonal changes of pregnancy can make women’s gums more susceptible to plaque, which can lead to inflammation and bleeding — called pregnancy gingivitis.
  • During pregnancy the fetal stem cells can migrate from the placenta into the mother’s organs, helping to repair damaged tissues. The cells can also spark immune disorders.

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