With pregnancy, it is expected that you will experience weight gain along with some other unsurprising changes.
However, the truth of the matter is, it is more than just the added weight that you would encounter throughout the course of your pregnancy.
Instead, you might be in for a surprise in the way your body transforms during the gestational period.
So other than weight gain, here are 10 surprising ways your body changes during pregnancy that might make you go “are you serious?”
1. Darkened Nipple and Underarm
Don’t be surprised to see a change in color of your nipples and underarm when you are pregnant. With up to 90% of pregnant women experiencing a darkening of the nipples and underarm, this is one of the most common changes that you will encounter during your pregnancy.
The reason behind such a change is none other than hormones. With pregnancy, comes an increase in melanocyte stimulating hormone.
As the name suggests, melanocyte stimulating hormone increases the production of melanocyte (pigment) in your body and the result of having more pigments in the body – darkened nipple and underarm.
2. Bigger Breasts
To many women, this change is one of the biggest pluses, when it comes to being pregnant. By 6-8 weeks into your pregnancy, you would be able to see some changes to the size of your breasts.
And the better news is, your breasts will only grow bigger as you progress further into your pregnancy. It is said that your breast can grow up to 1-2 cup sizes during your pregnancy, especially for your first baby.
The reason for the increased breast size is to prepare you for breastfeeding the moment your baby is born. With that increase in breast size, do also expect ‘leaky’ breast later into your pregnancy.
These breast ‘leaks’ are basically made up of colostrum (breast milk), which is crucial for your baby when you start breastfeeding.
3. Hairy Body
Having hair growing in the strangest places on your body is probably another change that might puzzle you during the course of your pregnancy.
Hair growing on your legs, upper lip and even belly is not uncommon for many pregnant mums. Strange as it seems, an increase in hair growth in many parts of your body is perhaps one of weirdest but common changes you will experience during your pregnancy.
The silver lining to this is that you will get lustrous and healthy-looking hair during your pregnancy. The reason behind the change in hair growth and hair texture is once again, everything to do with your hormones.
With estrogen levels (hormone that promote hair growth) increasing during your pregnancy, it results in an increase in hair growth on your body.
Throughout your pregnancy, you may also find that your skin is drastically different from pre-pregnancy days. Freckles and moles may start to develop on your body especially on your face.
Even individuals who may not be susceptible to hyperpigmentation before pregnancy might find themselves having freckles throughout the course of their pregnancy and even after post-natal. Needless to say, the reason for the hyperpigmentation is none other than hormones.
Very much like darkened underarm and nipples, the increase in melanocyte stimulating hormones during pregnancy also makes your skin more vulnerable to freckles and pigmentation.
5. Swollen Hands and Feet
Weight gain is part and parcel of pregnancy. With an average pregnant lady gaining between 11.5kg and 15kg throughout her pregnancy, you may find yourself swollen in many areas of your body, other than your growing stomach.
Some of the most common areas that women find themselves swelling up are their hands and feet during their pregnancy. This is the reason why you may realise many women remove their wedding band during their pregnancy.
Not only will you find your hands slightly swollen than before, you might also find yourself experiencing some swelling around your feet. Reason being, your body produces more blood and other fluids when you are pregnant in order to help your baby grow.
Not only that, due to the increased pressure from your growing baby, blood flow from your legs back to your heart is slowed, thereby resulting in some swelling in your feet.
To help with your swelling, keep yourself hydrated at all times to reduce water retention.
6. Varicose Veins
During the course of your pregnancy, you may also find the development of varicose veins or spider veins, especially in the lower half of your body.
Varicose veins are swollen vessels which are typically found in your legs while spider veins are damaged veins that bear a purplish red appearance.
About 10%-20% of pregnant ladies find themselves susceptible to varicose or spider veins during their pregnancy. The cause of these veins is due to the increased blood volume that your body produces during your pregnancy.
Because of this added volume, this strains the blood vessels as extra pressure is placed on them. Not only that, the added weight and pressure on your pelvic vessels contribute to the growth of varicose veins especially in the later stage of your pregnancy.
To help with your varicose veins, avoid standing for long periods of time and elevate your ankles when sitting. It is also helpful to exercise in order to keep a healthy blood circulation.
7. Pregnancy Brain
Pregnancy brain aka forgetfulness and absentmindedness is something that many pregnant ladies experience during their pregnancy. Many ladies find themselves forgetting the simplest of tasks.
You might realise that forgetting appointments or the things that you are wanting to retrieve from the kitchen just seconds ago is now part and parcel of your pregnancy life.
While pregnancy brain might seem like a myth, it actually bears some truth to it with studies revealing the cause of this condition. Studies have shown that pregnant women do find themselves experiencing veritable decline in some cognitive skills.
While forgetfulness might not necessarily be the most convenient change in your body, there is, however, an upside to this. It is said that pregnancy brain actually increases the responsiveness and sensitivity of pregnant mums, which is crucial when handling a newborn.
Thus, pregnancy brain can be seen as a form of conditioning for soon-to-be mums, preparing you for your oncoming baby.
8. Looser Joints
With pregnancy, also comes another unforeseen change to your joints and ligaments. You might realise that in the later stage of your pregnancy, you might be experiencing some discomfort in your back area.
While many attribute the back pains to the increase in weight from your baby and ballooning stomach, it actually has much very to do with your hormones (once again).
With an increase in hormones relaxin and progesterone, it results in the loosening of muscles, ligaments and joints in your body.
With your muscles and joints relaxed, this not only contributes to your bodily discomforts, but increases the chance of injury should you not be careful when your uterus becomes bigger and heavier.
To help with your backaches, sleeping positions may be to alleviate the pain. Be sure to sleep on your side while adding a pillow in between your knees for that added support to your back. You might also want to apply hot or cold compress to your back should it be feel too strained and tight.
9. Wider Hips and Ribcage
For once, this change might have nothing to do with your hormones, other than boiling down to being commonsensical.
To make room for your growing baby as well as to facilitate the delivery, your ribcage and hips expand during the course of your pregnancy.
As your baby moves down your birth canal, yours hips will expand to aid in the process.
While some women manage to achieve their pre-pregnancy weight, they still notice that their body shape has changed, and that change must very well be irreversible.
10. Oral Health
Interestingly, oral health makes it to the list of one of the changes that your body experiences during pregnancy. It sounds a little far-fetched, but your oral health is affected during the course of your pregnancy.
Again, as with most changes in your body during your pregnancy, hormones are once again the culprit. Increased levels of hormones in your body also increases chances of gum inflammation and an inefficient response to plague.
You might notice that your gums are increasingly sensitive and bleed more easily during the regular brushing and flossing.
To help with your oral health during pregnancy, try opting for a softer toothbrush and ensure that you brush at least twice a day to maintain a healthy oral health.
However, should your condition persists, speak to your dentist immediately as chronic gum infection might worsen should it be left untreated.
Embrace your body changes during pregnancy
Changes to your body during the 9 months of pregnancy should come as no surprise.
Afterall, a little human is growing inside of you. While these changes are sometimes inevitable, it is all about embracing the new you and to take the changes in your stride.
Being a mum is no different from being a warrior and with that warrior in you, there’s nothing the changes in your body can do, to bring you down!