The incredible process of pregnancy and birth never ceases to amaze me, so here are 15 of my favourite amazing things that happen when you are pregnant
- You have 50% more blood
With all the changes of pregnancy and the incredible, mind-blowing miracle of your developing baby, your body is having to work super hard. All this extra work requires more blood vessels and so more blood. By the 20th week of pregnancy, it is estimated that your body has 50 per cent more blood than it did when you conceived with 20% extra blood cells to carry oxygen around your body and down to your baby.
2. Hormones and increased blood gives you the wonderful “glow” in pregnancy
The famous “glow” actually comes partly from this increased blood in your system as your circulation improves you have more blood flowing through your vessels and cells. In addition higher levels of sebum help keep your skin supple plus your skin retains moisture and so your skin cells are plump up smoothing out wrinkles or fine lines.
3. Your body grows a completely new, life-sustaining yet temporary organ.
The placenta! About a week after conception, as soon as the tiny embryo is nestled into your womb lining, the outer lining of the embryo transforms into the placenta. How cool is that! Once it is established it becomes a filtration system which brings blood to the baby and takes away the baby’s waste products.
The placenta grows in size during your pregnancy and weighs about 1.5 lbs at the end of your pregnancy.
4. Your placenta is also a mini hormone factory
As well as being the only temporary organ, it is also an endocrine organ, meaning it actually makes hormones. These hormones, from human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG, the hormone detected in pregnancy tests) to oestrogen and progesterone, are crucial for maintaining the pregnancy and preparing your breasts for nursing.
- Your bones begin to loosen up
As you already know, it is quite mind-boggling to think of a baby’s head passing through what appears to be a very narrow and bony passageway. As to be expected, your body has an amazing plan to help and that is the wonder hormone relaxin which increases by 10 times during your pregnancy. This hormone softens and relaxes the cartilage that holds the pubic bone together so helping them loosen up to allow your baby to be born. However
- Your feet may get bigger!
Relaxin isn’t targeted just to the pelvis – it can loosen ligaments throughout your body and so make the bones spread out a bit more, sometimes resulting in your shoe size increasing during pregnancy.
- You may get heartache
But not because you’re sad. Many women experience a sensation of heartburn which is caused by the pressure of the tummy puts on the digestive system. For most people, when they get acid in their stomach, it is kept down by a ring of muscles in the diaphragm that stops acid from going back up the system when the pressure in the abdomen rises. But during pregnancy, the hormone progesterone relaxes that ring of muscles. So as the bigger baby gets, the more pressure it puts on the intestines and stomach.
- Your hair and nails grow faster
Once again your pregnancy hormones are super helpful at helping us look great! Around the fourth month, your nails may start to grow faster. However, a not-so-good effect is that your nails may also become softer or more brittle too. In the second trimester, you may notice your hair looks amazing – this is due to the fact that you are not losing hair like you normally do and so your hair looks thicker.
- You get bigger boobs! The average woman will add get about 2lb in bonus breast tissue. These changes are all down to your fab hormones as they prepare your breasts for producing exactly the right milk for your baby. The not-so-good bit is that as the tissue and milk ducts develop, it can slightly stretch the skin which is why your boobs can feel a bit itchy and sore
- You can start to produce milk from as early as 16 weeks gestation!By 16 weeks your body is already geared up to produce milk so you may find that tiny drops of yellow liquid coming from your nipples. This yellow milk is called colostrum and is absolutely jam-packed with goodness and nutrients
- Your bladder gets squashed
Needing to pee becomes a very normal part of pregnancy. But why? Well, that is down to your gorgeous little bundle of joy whose growing weight pushes directly down on top of your bladder. The
pressure not only means more trips to the loo, but a cough, sneeze or giggle can cause leakage – lovely! In addition, the hormones in your body relax the tubes from your kidney
so the flow of urine is increased.
- Your baby is first in the queue for vitamins and nutrients.
As you already know it is so important to eat healthily in pregnancy. That does not mean eating for 2, but it does mean eating enough healthy, food rich in vitamins and minerals to feed both you and your baby. All the nutrients and vitamins in your bloodstream will pass through to your baby ensuring that your baby gets first take on all the nutrients he needs, then whatever is left goes through to your system.
- Your baby can taste your dinner too!
Strong flavours like garlic, ginger, olives and chilli can pass through your amniotic fluid (and your breast milk) and so into your baby. A study showed that babies whose mothers drank a lot of carrot juice showed signs of enjoying carrot juice more than mothers who had not drunk juice in pregnancy.
- Amniotic fluid is the perfect shock absorber
Amniotic fluid plays a vital role in the development of your baby. It helps maintain a steady warm temperature, it helps lubricate your baby’s skin as it is growing and developing and helps your baby move and exercise. It is also a terrific shock absorber so your baby is protected from any bumps or knocks that you may experience.
- Your baby helps make amniotic fluid
From about 4 months your baby’s kidneys will start working and so he will add to the fluid every time he wees! His whole system will get lots of practice before he is born as he swallows the amniotic fluid, wees it out, and swallows it again and so on. But don’t worry it is completely sterile and completely harmless.