How Does A Woman’s Body Change During Pregnancy?

Special Populations Blog

How Does A Woman’s Body Change During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is one of the greatest blessings any woman can experience. But with it comes an array of physical, emotional and mental changes that can be quite daunting and scary if you’re not prepared for these and don’t know what to expect. From the size of your belly to your sensitivity to smell – there are no holds barred when it comes to what is affected, in a woman’s body, by pregnancy. Let’s have a look at some of the biggest changes that the human body goes through during pregnancy.

During Pregnancy There Is A Change In The Respiratory System

When you’re pregnant, you might start experiencing a shortness of breath. Activities that used to have no effect on your breathing may now leave you tired and quite winded. This may be due to a number of factors but more often than not, it is because of an increase in the hormone progesterone. Say Drs Tarja Saaresranta and Olli Polo:

“In addition to central effects, some hormones also control breathing at peripheral chemoreceptors or have local effects on the lungs and airways. Estrogen and progesterone seem to protect from sleep-disordered breathing, whereas testosterone may predispose to it.”

Pregnancy Causes Changes In The Cardiovascular System

While you are pregnant, your cardiovascular system changes. It completely readjusts to accommodate the new life growing inside you. You may experience an increase in your resting heart rate (follow this link to read our article – entitled Hour Cardiovascularly Fit Are You to find out how to calculate your cardio fitness.) In addition, during pregnancy your blood volume will increase. Your blood pressure may decrease towards your second trimester owing to the pressure your growing uterus places on your blood vessels.

Changes To The Gastrointestinal System Of A Pregnant Woman

Most pregnant women experience heartburn, acid reflux and some constipation. This is because of the space the uterus takes up where the bladder and intestines usually sit. Medical experts give the following advice to pregnant women on how to avoid heartburn during pregnancy:

  • Eat several small meals each day instead of three large ones.
  • Eat slowly.
  • Avoid fried, spicy, or rich (fatty) foods or any foods that seem to cause relaxation of the lower oesophageal sphincter and increase the risk of heartburn,
  • Drink less while eating. Drinking large amounts of fluids while eating may increase the risk of acid reflux and heartburn.
  • Don’t lie down directly after eating.
  • Keep the head of your bed higher than the foot. Alternatively, place pillows under your shoulders to help prevent stomach acids from rising into your chest.
  • Ask your doctor about using over-the-counter antacids.  You may find that liquid heartburn relievers are more effective in treating heartburn because they coat the oesophagus.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing. Tight-fitting clothes can increase the pressure on your stomach and abdomen.

Physical Changes During Pregnancy

One of the most noticeable changes that you will experience is an increase in the size of your breasts and your belly. The increase in your breasts is due to the rise in hormone levels as your body prepares to give birth to the infant who you will have to look after. Your breasts and your belly will increase as you near your delivery date.

Changes In Your Hormones

Your body’s hormones are completely readjusted to cater for your growing baby. The hormones affected the most by your pregnancy are oestrogen and progesterone:

  • Among others, oestrogen regulates a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle, while
  • One of the jobs of progesterone is to maintain a healthy and sustainable pregnancy.

For more on hormone changes that a pregnant women will experience, watch this video:

Musculoskeletal Changes

As your baby grows, your body needs to adjust to accommodate the new life inside you. Your range of motion will also be restricted as you and your baby keep on growing. For more on the range of motion changes, you will undergo, watch this video:

In addition to the changes in your range of motion, your spinal curvatures may also be realigned to accommodate the weight that your growing baby places on your back and body in general.

If you spend a lot of time looking after your body through exercising, you may want to consult your doctor just to get the all-clear that you may continue exercising through your pregnancy. Once you have his or her assurance that you may continue with working out, it could be a great idea to invest in an Exercise and Pregnancy Course from Trifocus Fitness Academy. This is so you know exactly what you should and should not be doing while exercising when pregnant.

Alternatively, it could be a great idea to employ a personal trainer qualified to work with pregnant women – the safety of your baby should always come first, so it is important to ensure that you know what to and what not to do.

Modules include:

  • Anatomical and physiological changes during pregnancy,
  • Contraindications in pregnancy,
  • Exercises and adaptations during pregnancy for all trimesters,
  • Fundamental nutrition,
  • Nutrition in pregnancy,
  • Pregnancy complications,
  • Weekly growth of the unborn child,
  • Anatomy,
  • Basic biomechanics,
  • Concepts of Fitness,
  • Fundamental Nutrition,
  • Physical assessments, and
  • Physiology.

For more information about the Exercise and Pregnancy Course, or one of our other fitness courses, follow this link.