Your belly isn’t the only part of you that will be changing during the course of your pregnancy; the rest of your body will also be affected, some parts radically so. Each woman experiences pregnancy differently, but there are certain common alterations that you can expect to experience throughout your 9 months. The important thing is not to focus too much on your changing body and instead focus on your growing baby; accept these changes and remember that they’re only temporary. Here’s what you can expect:
Breasts: One of the first parts to change in your body is your breasts, which can quadruple their original size by the end of your pregnancy. At some point during your pregnancy the veins around the breasts will become more prominent and visible under the skin, and breasts will become hard and tender to the touch. During your third trimester, your breasts might begin to leak milk (in which case using breast pads might be advisable to avoid staining your shirt). Since pregnancy triggers the production of hormones that increase the body’s pigmentation, it’s normal for the areolas to become darker and larger. Breasts that grow too large or too rapidly will develop stretch marks or become saggy; to counter this, resort to exercise routines targeted at maintaining the pectoral muscles, and invest in a good support bra.
Hands: Developing sausage fingers? Welcome to the reality of pregnancy. Swollen hands and fingers are a cliché side effect of pregnancy, but luckily they rarely involve much discomfort. The only annoyance that you’ll have to contend with is not being comfortable wearing your usual rings and tight bracelets. Until the swelling has gone down after birth, consider wearing your wedding ring (if you make a habit of constantly wearing it) on a tasteful chain around your neck.
Legs: If you find yourself becoming the proud owner of quickly developing thunder thighs and swollen legs, don’t be depressed. Many women find that weight gain becomes a problem during pregnancy as they struggle with keeping their weight under control, and swollen legs are a normal part of the pregnancy equation thanks to an increased blood volume which, when coupled with an increasingly heavy womb pressing down on the veins leading to the thighs and slowing down blood flow, can result in painful varicose veins. Putting your feet up whenever possible will help ease the discomfort, and so will wearing special pregnancy support tights. As for the weight gain, consult your pediatrician or a qualified nutritionist for a healthy diet that will help you correct your calorie intake.
Feet: The more weight you put on, the more your feet and ankles will swell at the end of every day. This happens because of fluid buildup in the body resulting from a less effective drainage system. Stick to comfortable low-heeled shoes and trainers, and rest with your feet raised above hip level to improve circulation. Try to stay off your feet when you can, and soaking your feet at the end of the day might be helpful. Having your feet massaged can also bring relief.
Vagina: It’s normal for the vagina to become a darker color during pregnancy as a result of the increased blood supply to the area. The amount of vaginal discharge will also increase, and as your uterus expands the veins located around the entrance of the vagina tend to become sore. Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done to alleviate discomfort in that area aside from resting with your legs raised, but on the upside the discomfort and soreness should disappear soon after birth.
When to Call the Doctor
It’s always a good idea to discuss things with your doctor if you feel that something is amiss, but one sure sign that something isn’t right is if you experience sudden, rapid and excessive swelling in any part of your body – particularly your hands and face – as it could indicate a case of preeclampsia, which is a potentially dangerous condition that can cause fatal complications in pregnancy if not treated in time.