Pregnancy Symptoms, Body Changes & Body Stigma
What are normal symptoms and/or body changes for a mother during pregnancy?
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Your body will experience many symptoms and changes during pregnancy. For most women, their body will go back to the way it looked and functioned before they got pregnant. However, there are some situations where this may not be the case and complications occur.
Many women aren't prepared for the changes that their bodies are about to go through during pregnancy, so here is what you can expect!
Your body shows the least amount of physical changes during the first trimester. You should gain about 3-5 lbs. over the course of the first 13 weeks.
Because of this, some stretch marks may occur on the stomach, breasts, and thighs.
Varicose veins are also common on the legs due to increase plasma volume.
Breast tissue will usually increase in size and may become tender (this may be the first sign of pregnancy for most women).
Areolas may become darker in color.
Hair may become thicker due to higher estrogen levels including body hair.
Many women may experience nausea and vomiting within the first trimester often referred to as morning sickness as well as food-specific aversions.
Glucose metabolism shifts to promote infant growth, causing insulin sensitivity to increase glucose absorption.
Your body temperatures increase and you may experience hot flashes and cardiac output increases by 20% within the first 8 weeks
There are more physical body changes during the second trimester. This is when your body will begin to gain about a pound a week. This includes necessary body fat gain as well as placental and infant growth. As a result of this, you may start to see more personal physical changes.
Morning sickness typically resolves after week 20, but some with hyperemesis (severe or prolonged vomiting) may continue to have symptoms. As the baby grows, the stomach may be displaced upwards resulting in acid reflux as well as nausea and vomiting.
During this trimester insulin resistance is typical, especially compared to the first trimester. The woman's body begins using more fat as fuel, reserving glucose for the baby. Some women may have unknown pancreatic dysfunction and should be aware of the possibilities of gestational diabetes. Luckily, they will be checked for gestational diabetes at 26-28 weeks gestation.
If prior to pregnancy the mother shows pancreatic impairment or is already a pre-diabetic, the mother should be especially concerned regarding the development of gestational diabetes. If a mother is a Type 1 or 2 (or LADA) diabetic prior to pregnancy, she should have a medical support team (such as Mamas Maternal Health) to assist her insulin needs throughout the course of her pregnancy.
Lactogenesis occurs about halfway through pregnancy causing additional breast tissue changes (such as milk production). Typically all mothers, even those who choose to formula feed, will produce breastmilk at this time.
Feet may swell due to edema (excess of watery fluid collecting in the cavities or tissues of the body). Some women even report their feet growing a whole shoe size during pregnancy.
Towards the end of the second trimester is when your body will reach the maximum rate of cardiac output.
As the baby grows, you will experience more intense versions of earlier symptoms such as reflux, tender breasts, varicose veins, and frequent urination.
Insulin resistance is at a peak point because pregnancy hormones interfere with insulin receptors. Thankfully, insulin sensitivity will increase back to normal after birth.
During this trimester, hormones released will cause your joints to become looser so that to enable joints to move easier during childbirth. This also means that you have to be extra careful during different exercises or some daily routines because pregnant mothers are more prone to injury at this time.
KICKS! One amazing physical change is that you should be able to feel your baby move around and kick! This is a very exciting development as you begin to prepare yourself for childbirth and the introduction of your baby to daily life.
If you feel like you would like help and support managing/understanding your pregnancy signs and symptoms, please feel free to contact us HERE! We would love to help you throughout your pregnancy journey...
Physiological changes in Pregnancy
Body Changes During Pregnancy
Weight Gain during pregnancy and how it affects YOU!
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We talk A LOT about how what you eat and your health during pregnancy will affect your baby--but how does it affect YOU? Quite often the mindset of the 'baby health over mama health' takes over and your needs get neglected. For this reason, we wanted to talk about YOUR HEALTH! You matter too!
We know that appropriate amounts of weight gain during pregnancy are important-- but why?
The first half of your pregnancy is anabolic, meaning growth takes place. And we aren't just talking about your baby...
While your baby is growing, the majority of growth is YOU!
To clarify, your baby is growing -- however, your body is creating an environment to protect your child.
Your 'maternal tissues' and placenta are working to create a home and build stores for your baby.
The second half of pregnancy is CATABOLIC for you---meaning that you are breaking down tissues and stores such as energy and other nutrients.
In the second half of pregnancy, your baby is RAPIDLY growing and because of this reason, you have to keep up your nutritional stores. Most of the weight gain that we see, the 1-2lbs a week-- is FOR your baby. The extra calories that you are taking in are meant to replenish your nutrient stores. This is an ANABOLIC (growing) state for your BABY-- and YOU are fueling it!
Growing a small human is exhausting! Many people don't realize how much their nutrition goes into pregnancy and how much it affects overall mood and energy levels.
How can you stay on top of all of this growth and replenishing your stores?
For example, at 28-30 weeks, many moms feel EXTRA tired due to a number of reasons. Mind you, this is NOT unusual.
At this point, there is increased blood plasma production that requires Mamas to increase their water to 3 liters/day. It is also important to be aware of minerals such as iron due to this increased blood volume in the body! Iron is also important because it aids in protein and energy levels in the body.
This is just one example of how to optimize your energy levels and mood during pregnancy SIMPLY through your nutrition.
What can happen if you aren't optimizing your nutrition?
It has been found that 5-10% of women develop hypertension during pregnancy (when they previously did not have it).
We have also seen that less than 45% of women gain optimal amounts of weight during pregnancy. This means that more than half of women either gain too much or too little during pregnancy...
Nutritionally, women that consumed higher amounts of processed meats and fried food had an increased risk of preterm birth by 50%. Women who consumed higher amounts of red meats, refined grains, and processed foods had an increased risk of gestational diabetes and hypertension by 20%!
On the flip side, women who followed a Mediterranean diet found a 44% risk reduction of the development of gestational diabetes.
Lastly and MOST IMPOTANTLY, women that had nutritional coaching during pregnancy with a dietitian -focusing on proper weight gain and nutrition during pregnancy- reduced their risk of preeclampsia by 33%, gestational hypertension by 70%, gestational diabetes by 48%, and preterm birth risk by 32%!
Let us remind you, diagnoses such as gestational diabetes or hypertension, typically go away after birth. However, many see a return a few months to a few years later.
These diagnoses during pregnancy increase your risk of developing future complications that could affect you for the rest of your life. Optimum nutrition and health during your pregnancy is NOT JUST FOR YOUR BABY! This is for both of you!
These (above mentioned) women were able to achieve optimum nutrition levels and weight gain during pregnancy through INDIVIDUALIZED nutrition coaching...
So what are YOU waiting for? Do NOT take a back seat for your health.
The actions you take for 40 weeks of pregnancy, either HELP or HURT both you and your baby in the long term. What kind of future are YOU looking for?
If you are ready to take charge of your health, fill out our application HERE -- we KNOW you will NOT regret investing in yourself AND you child.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition., Supplement-The Pregnancy, and Birth to 24 Months: A series of systematic reviews on diet and health., March 2019 Volume 109
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics., Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Obesity, Reproduction, and Pregnancy Outcomes., 2016
Avoiding stretch marks during pregnancy...
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As much as we like to say that the natural changes for a mother during pregnancy are beautiful and should be shown off---we also know that some of these changes are difficult for some women. Stretch marks are one of those changes that many women feel self conscious about---they're new and different. Many people view scars as marks from their pregnancy that they would rather not see/remember as a negative effect of pregnancy. Your beautiful baby is a reminder enough of your body's capabilities.
One of the best ways to avoid/treat stretch marks is through consistent moisturizing. Whether you use the specialty stretch mark creams or your regular lotion---keeping your skin moisturized will allow it to stretch with your body without creating as many of the marks.
Besides lotions and creams, what else can you use?
You want to make sure you are getting enough vitamin E and vitamin D. Optimally, intake of these vitamins should be mainly through foods such as; nuts, seeds, milk/dairy products, and unsaturated oils. Other sources include; moisturizers containing vitamin E, and sunlight to promote vitamin D levels. Other minerals such as zinc---have also been found to be linked to healthy skin (but excessive intake is not necessary).
Last, but certainly not least, HYDRATION! Maintaining proper hydration will not only benefit you and your baby inside but also your skin outside. It is the main way for your body to maintain skin that is soft to the touch and grows with you.
Overall diet and hydration is KEY so, if you have any questions on how to work them into your skin regime, Mamas Maternal Health can help you! Just check out our website to see what best fits your needs!
But I'm afraid my breasts will change...
Becoming a mother can be exciting however scary--- in multiple ways!
It is incredibly common to have moments of concern in regards to a new mother's body 'love' and confidence. Many mothers are afraid to breastfeed because they don't want to lose their perky breasts or their partner is concerned about the change in breast appearance (including the look of the nipple). Although there is truth that the breast appearance will change--- it is not solely due to the act of breastfeeding-- it is pregnancy itself.
The women's body changes dramatically during pregnancy --- and the makeup/appearance of the breast is indeed a part of that. However, this should not affect one's decision to breastfeed because the changes will occur during pregnancy either way.
If you are pregnant and reading this--- what was one of the first clues that led you to believe you were pregnant? For many women, the first sign of pregnancy is a distinct change in breast size. Some women experience an increase in cup size (sometimes even a whole cup size!) by the sixth week of pregnancy.
Why does this occur?/ What are common breast changes?:
The women's body increases the number of milk glands within the breast.
Extra fat begins to accumulate in the breast.
The nipples and areola begin to darken.
Small glands (Montgomery glands designed to produce oils to lubricate the breast during nursing) on the areola become raised and appear 'bumpy'.
Did you know?
Approximately halfway through pregnancy --- breasts will begin to make colostrum. That's right ladies, they will start making milk! How cool is that...
Although the change of breast appearance can be intimidating when choosing to breastfeed, we need to keep in mind that these changes will indeed occur whether you breastfeed or not due to the physiological changes that come with pregnancy.
It is indeed true that when a mother chooses to stop breastfeeding (no matter the timing of the decision - i.e. right after pregnancy or two years after pregnancy), the breasts may appear less perky due to the lack of milk production. But again, a mother's body will make breastmilk whether she has decided to breastfeed or not.
All breasts are unique! Meaning each breast tissue will react differently amidst breastfeeding due to genetic factors, environment, overall lifestyle, etc. It is understandable to be fearful of physical changes that may occur with pregnancy and breastfeeding... but just think about the little one in your near future and how healthy they will be because of your life producing body --- and breastmilk filled with nutrients that are perfectly suited for your baby.
If you are reading this and are already on your breastfeeding journey---- or maybe thinking about it--- we thank you for your time and interest regarding infant nutrition, and we hope to hear from you soon! Check out our coaching programs here!
Learning to love your body through Pregnancy.
Self-love can be difficult for any and all women. Our bodies do not look the way we thought they would, our 'fat' goes to areas we never thought it would go to, our boobs start sagging before we wanted them to, and our skin doesn't glow even though we're using ALL the expensive lotions.
And then the journey that is pregnancy begins...
We are THRILLED to have a baby on the way, to grow our family... but we fear what may happen to our body.
Unfortunately, we forget that our womanly curves are exactly the reason why we can have our baby in the first place!
In order to fully support a child in one's womb, our body must be strong and filled with nutrients! Our bodies gain weight, knowing that this additional weight will support the healthy life of this new born baby. We forget that our bodies know more than we do. It is simply our job to listen!
But then of course... we gain weight... but waaay more than we thought we would. Then what? Then the uncertainty comes. Why am I gaining so much weight? Where is it coming from? Is this negatively affecting my child? Will I be able to lose this weight after my pregnancy?
These are all questions that are incredibly individualized and should not be concrete in the response. The answer is unique to YOU and YOUR body and to YOUR pregnancy.
We must love our bodies through the trials, tribulations, ups, and downs that come with pregnancy. Here at Mamas Maternal Health, our Registered Dietitians/Lactation Counselors will help you to understand what exactly is happening throughout your pregnancy, reasons for pregnancy related changes in the female body, and how to cherish every moment of your pregnancy. Our Registered Dietitians will ensure you are given individualized yet scientifically based information and guidance throughout your pregnancy, no matter the difficulties and/or questions you face…
Let us learn to LOVE our bodies through this incredible journey. Mothers are the givers of life and should be cherished in each and every way--- no matter the change in appearance.
Mamas Maternal Health celebrates mothers and wants to help YOU, so apply for our coaching today to find out just how much you can accomplish!
Why do we measure a woman's success by how quickly she can lose weight postpartum?
As a society, we idealize the image of 'perfection'. We believe that women are judged the hardest-- and moms worst of all.
If you don't have a job or successful career, 3 kids, a husband, a social life, a regular gym routine and aren't between a size 2-4, what are you even doing with your life?
We feel the pressures all around us, and for pregnant or new mamas it can be particularly discouraging. Even though you just performed the miracle of birthing a new life into the world, you feel the pressure of society to lose the 'baby-fat' and get back to being 'perfect' again.
But is perfection even a realistic goal--- who wants to be perfect anyway? We aren't all the same, we all have our strengths but also our weaknesses. One mom that has to return to work might be jealous of another mom who can stay home with her new baby while she has to hire a nanny or daycare service. That same mom might be jealous of the first because she can afford a daycare service and therefore gets time to 'herself'. No situation is ever perfect, but why are we comparing to other mothers and their individual situations?
Because …we have been conditioned to do so, that's why...
We have been told that another woman's success means that we are not successful ourselves.
This is simply NOT correct. We have also been told that only thin bodies are healthy bodies, but not too thin and not too curvy. But obviously, we know that isn't true either.
When a woman gives birth, she is not sick or diseased---she is QUITE the opposite! She is going through a very healthy transition where her healthy body takes on weight to be able to healthily grow a baby! Pregnancy would not happen if a woman was unhealthy or at least it would make it very difficult to become pregnant and maintain the pregnancy. This is why it's so frustrating to see so many women pressured into extreme weight loss postpartum. We want to make sure you stop for a second and give yourself some love and appreciation. Giving birth is a miracle and you are a hero! Appreciate WHAT your body has gone through and when the time comes your body will heal itself--- another amazing aspect of the female body.
So whether you lose weight right away, in some time, or maybe you always have a 'little extra' from your pregnancy, it’s all good mama.
If you remain healthy through your lifestyle habits and love yourself unconditionally, that is all that matters.
Here at Mamas Maternal Health, we love mamas of all shapes and sizes and we want to help you achieve your healthiest version of yourself from the inside out. We focus on no judgment, no pressure, just YOU!
If you think that Mamas Maternal Health would be a good fit for support and guidance during your pregnancy ----AND you want to focus on the care you not only deserve but NEED during this time--- we would love to get in contact with you TODAY!
Body Stigma in Childhood years
Obesity and restrictive eating patterns...
As we know, obesity within the pediatric population is on the rise. However, there is also an increase in body dysmorphia and restrictive eating patterns among young populations. If we stop and think--- we realize that there is no way this is simply a coincidence.
As many health care providers preach 'healthy BMIs' and restrictive weight loss---the public is becoming increasingly more concerned with body image.
Research has indeed proven that there are risks and health concerns that usually go hand-in-hand with high weight individuals. However, body image stigmas and issues have erupted due to an overwhelming fear of high weight/BMI scores. The media has created a normally unattainable perfect body that many individuals constantly strive to reach.
Unfortunately, the negative side-effects that are following this perfect body include negative relationships with food. These negative relationships are commonly found in parents and are then passed on to their child who need not to worry about their size and appearance.
Our young populations...
Children are constantly growing and experiencing changes in their body --- ranging from appearance to hormonal function, etc. Because of these dramatic changes that are always occurring, children should be taught to be intuitive about their actual energy (calorie) needs/intake.
Intuitive eating is a principle commonly taught by Dietitians due to its non-restrictive, however effective nature. Intuitive eating allows the individual freedom to decide if their body is hungry (therefore eats more) or full (making the decision to stop eating). Sounds pretty simple, right?
Every child is born with the innate ability to intuitively eat. It is the role of the parents to allow the skill to grow and flourish throughout the course of their childhood. That being said, this innate skill will 'turn off' if overridden by negative reinforcement, dieting, chronic hunger, forced overconsumption at social events etc.
Society puts unimaginable pressure on the importance of body size and overall appearance. Because of this --- research has shown that preschoolers, as well as elementary school-aged children, are more dissatisfied with their bodies than ever before.
Children are now associating 'heavy' as bad and 'thin' as good. There is a lack of understanding that all bodies are meant to look different and that the look of an individual has little to do with their actual health.
Make sure to sit down for this one...
Did you know--- one-third of 5 year old's are restricting what they eat. Let us say that again: 5-year-old children are telling their bodies 'No' to adequate nutrition!
Restrictive eating patterns put children at risk for developing depression, nutritional deficiencies, and eating disorders as they mature.
Studies have also shown 1 in 3 female and 1 in 8 male high school students have eating disorders so severe they require medical treatment. A truly unacceptable statistic.
The question is...
How do we tackle the obesity crisis in the United States without causing an equally terrible epidemic of disordered eating?
Psychologists, eating disorder specialists, and various other qualified health professionals have agreed upon a few ways to avoid weight stigma while promoting a healthy relationship with food/one's self.
We have listed a few below:
1. Never comment on your child's weight, even if you are trying to be helpful---it comes off as negative. Even if your child is underweight, they may become self-conscious and create negative images of themselves.
2. If you are concerned about your child's weight, do not single them out and create a restrictive diet plan. Set 'family health goals' that work to achieve wellness in all family members--- as opposed to only your child. This will not only promote sustainable healthy habits for your child, but for your entire family.
3. Do not label foods as 'good' or 'bad.' This puts unneeded stress on what your child eats leading them to feel either 'good' or 'bad' when they eat the specified food. Your body will break down all foods and use each component as some form of energy, therefore it is unnecessary to stress about all nutritional intake if you and your child are eating an 'overall' balanced diet.
4. Be positive towards yourself! Just as you know your child is perfect, to your child, you are the best mom/dad out there! Do not be afraid to exude your own confidence! If you love the way you look or at least verbalize what you do to your child, they are significantly less likely to look for things that are wrong with themselves.
5. Of course all children will have questions and concerns regarding their body that you must answer as a parent. However, instead of focusing on body image, focus on what the body can do! Our bodies have so many capabilities such as--- singing, dancing, sports, writing, thinking, etc. The list goes on and on!
6. Lastly, communicate with your child about weight stigma if they are mature enough to understand the concept. They will inevitably come into contact with body-centered media/advertising; however, parent-child communication regarding the subject can better help them prepare/deal with its negativity.
The only way to help ensure your child grows up learning to love their body is if YOU show them by example. Just like any other topic---do not be afraid to talk to your child about the weight stigma in our society. The more you openly talk to your child without judgement, the more they will feel comfortable sharing with you their most difficult thoughts (such as problems with personal body positivity).
"Embrace and love your body; it is the most amazing gift you will ever own..." -Unknown
Thank you for reading! Apply for our 1:1 Nutrition and Breastfeeding Coaching here today!
Reference: Melinda Wenner Moyer (2019)., How to Make Kids Comfortable in Their Own Bodies., Slate https://slate.com/human-interest/2019/01/child-body-image-advice-weight-shaming.html