To say that the body goes through changes during pregnancy is an understatement. Some changes are commonly known and expected – hello strange food cravings! However, there are many other body changes that take women by surprise.
Make sure you’re prepared for all the changes to come by taking a look at some common yet unexpected pregnancy symptoms:
Even women who are pregnant during the dead of winter may find themselves sweating profusely. It’s not the nerves of becoming a new parent. Excessive sweat is the result of surging hormones. The raging hormones can be so strong it throws off the temperature regulating hypothalamus. As a result, 35% of pregnant women experience hot flashes.
Beads of sweat can pop up anywhere on the body. Getting a handle on a sweaty forehead, armpits, breasts, feet and more requires a multi-pronged approach. Try to stay in climate-controlled areas during the hot summer months, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. The clothes you wear can also make a difference. Loose clothing in natural, breathable materials provides airflow. Weight management is another key factor. Try to keep your weight gain within the recommended 25-35 pounds.
By the time you’re 12 weeks pregnant your body has gone through many changes inside even though you may not look pregnant yet. But during the second trimester, you’ll begin to pack on the pounds and a baby bump will emerge.
This is totally expected, but it’s the beginning of another unexpected change. Due to weight gain and an increase in a hormone known as relaxin, your feet will likely grow a half size to a full size larger. Relaxin loosens pelvic ligaments in preparation for birthing along with other ligaments in the body, including the feet. Many pregnant women will begin to notice that their shoes are a little snugger and chalk it up to swelling. Edema may be a factor, but the relaxin is also to blame and the growth could be permanent.
The best thing you can do is try to stay off of your feet and soak them in warm water to reduce swelling.
Formation of a Linea Nigra
Many dread the thought of getting stretch marks during pregnancy. While many women do get stretch marks from their growing baby bump, there’s another lesser known skin change that can occur. The linea nigra, also known as a pregnancy line, is actually always present down the middle of the stomach, but it’s light so you can’t see it. At that point, it’s called a linea alba (white line).
During pregnancy, the line can darken as things progress. By the fifth month, it’s often visible. Typically the linea nigra is ¼ to ½ inches wide and runs the length of the stomach. While doctors aren’t positive on what causes the line to darken, hormones produced by the placenta are believed to be the cause.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to influence the darkening. The good news is the linea nigra usually fades on its own shortly after birth.
Feeling a little more forgetful? It’s not all in your head. There’s a symptom aptly called pregnancy brain, and it’s very common. A study published in Nature Neuroscience showed that during pregnancy a woman’s brain can actually shrink. Even though the brain works more efficiently, many women experience mental fogginess.
Upon closer inspection, researchers found that during pregnancy there was less grey matter in the temporal and frontal brain lobes. These regions control a number of mental tasks such as social interactions and understanding of others. Scientists believe these brain changes are nature’s way of helping mothers emotional connect with their unborn child. The changes may also occur to help mothers interpret the needs of their baby that isn’t able to communicate verbally.
There’s nothing you can really do to limit these brain changes. They are a natural part of pregnancy that appears to serve a specific purpose.
Your stomach isn’t the only part of your body that helps your baby grow. The breasts and nipples go through significant changes to get ready for milk production. While most women know that their breasts will grow, few realize bumps will form on their nipples.
These bumps are evidence of the Montgomery glands. They are both milk glands and sweat glands that are necessary for breastfeeding. Those bumps produce a sweet aroma that helps newborns find the nipple, lubricates the areola and has antibacterial properties.
Given the fact the process results in the formation of a whole new person, pregnancy is going to alter the body of the mother in a number of ways. Most of these changes are not permanent, but some may linger on – consider them the battle scars of motherhood – badges of honor to be proud of!