What happens to your body when you’re pregnant?
Pregnancy brings about many interesting changes in a woman’s life.
One of the biggest changes is the way a woman’s body develops throughout pregnancy. Typically, we think of weight gain, swelling of the feet and morning sickness as the usual changes that present themselves, but there are many others that happen that you probably wouldn’t even think about.
- Menstrual Cycles
The hormonal changes in pregnancy will prevent a woman from getting a true period during her pregnancy. However, there are many complications during early pregnancy that can lead to vaginal bleeding, which many women will misinterpret as a period. Any bleeding during pregnancy should be reported to the OB/GYN to evaluate the cause. Some bleeding is less concerning and will resolve with time, and other types can be dangerous to mom and baby.
- Skin changes
90 percent of pregnant women will see an increase in skin pigmentation, causing them to see moles increase in size and new mole growth. Physicians believe this is due to an increase in melanocyte density – the cells that make skin pigment. You will most commonly see these changes in pigment in the areolae, umbilicus, vulva and perianal area. Recent scars, birth marks, moles, freckles and linea nigra – the dark line that forms across your belly during pregnancy – also deepen in color.
You can develop hyperpigmentation on the face also known as Chloasma, which will lead to brown patches of skin on the face in 70 percent of women. These changes can persist in 30 percent of women.
Spider angiomas are also common and caused by elevated estrogen levels. They usually disappear after the baby is delivered. Women also can see an increase in the redness of the palms of their hands, called palmar erythema.
- Hair grows
The hair growth cycle is affected by pregnancy. Women who are in the active growing phase, or anagen phase, typically see changes in their hair texture and growth. After delivery, the hair enters telogen phase, which is the resting phase. This change can cause an increase in hair loss two to four months after pregnancy. Hair will start to grow again in six to 12 months. Hair on the face and abdomen are commonly affected by pregnancy, too. Changes usually regress after pregnancy but recur in future pregnancies. This is due to an increase in hormone production from the placenta.
- It itches all over!
A pregnant woman can experience itching in the skin due to dryness and stretching of the skin. Constant itching, especially in the third trimester, can be a sign of a liver disease called Cholestasis, which can be very serious, so women should bring this up with their OB/GYN to get it checked out.
- Changes in vision
The cornea of the eye will thicken and change the vision during pregnancy. Women may have more problems wearing contact lenses starting in the second trimester through six months postpartum. We advise waiting to change a prescription until after postpartum recovery. Blind spots or showers of bright lights are not normal changes in pregnancy and should alert women to seek an eye specialist to evaluate for other problems.
Women feel like they must “sigh” more often than usual. This is related to changes in the level of the diaphragm that start early in pregnancy and continue throughout.
Due to the changes in hormones associated with pregnancy, women will notice nasal stuffiness similar to cold symptoms through pregnancy.
About the Author
Marrison Worthington, health enews contributor, is a public affairs and marketing manager at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois. She is a graduate of Illinois State University and has several years of global corporate communications experience under her belt. Marrison loves spending her free time traveling, reading organizational development blogs, trying new cooking recipes, and playing with her golden retriever, Ari.