The size of your belly is not the only thing that changes when you are pregnant. Pregnancy affects every part of a woman's body and visible changes can be noted as the pregnancy progresses. This is partly because of hormonal fluctuations and partly due to the strain of carrying excess weight.
Here are some of the changes you can expect to see when you are pregnant:
- Changes in the respiratory system: Along with eating for two, you are also breathing for two when pregnant. The increased oxygen consumption leads to increased rate of breathing, shortness of breath and elevated pH levels in the blood.
- Changes in the cardiovascular system: The cardiovascular system is readjusted at the time of pregnancy. This increases the volume of blood in the blood. The expanding uterus puts pressure on veins and arteries, thus slowing the circulation of blood. You may also notice an elevated resting heart rate and low blood pressure in the second trimester.
- Changes in the gastrointestinal system: The enlarging uterus displaces organs of the digestive system and allows stomach acid to travel back into the esophagus. This leads to acidity and heartburn. Pregnant women also often suffer from constipation.
- Changes in the breasts: As pregnancy progresses, your breasts may increase in size and be more sensitive than usual. The nipples will also begin to stick out more than normal. By the third trimester, you may also notice a discharge of early milk or colostrum.
- Changes in the abdomen: By the second trimester, the abdomen will begin to expand. As the ligaments and abdominal wall supporting the uterus are stretched, you may experience an ache on one side or the other.
- Changes in the urinary system: Pregnant women feel the urge to urinate frequently. This is because the expanding uterus puts extra pressure on the bladder, urethra and pelvic floor muscles. This may also lead to temporary urinary incontinence. Pregnancy also increases the load on the kidneys as they need to filter not only your own blood, but also that of the growing baby.
- Changes in the skin: As the skin on the body stretches to accommodate the growing uterus, stretch marks are one of the common visible changes. This may also be accompanied by hyperpigmentation of the nipples, face and abdomen along with the appearance of spider veins and reddening of palms.
Other common changes include, swelling of ankles, leg cramps, increased body temperature and changes in hair texture.