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What are normal symptoms and/or body changes for a mother during pregnancy?

Updated: Sep 30, 2019

As expected, your body will go through many changes as well as symptoms during pregnancy. For most women, their body will go back to the way it looked and functioned before she 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 to expect:

First Trimester:

Your body shows the least amount of physical changes during the first trimester. You should gain approximately 3-5 lbs. over the course of the first 13 weeks (see our post on weight gain during pregnancy). 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

Second Trimester:

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.

Please note:

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.

(Second Trimester Continued)

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.

Third Trimester:

As the baby grows, you will experience more intense versions of earlier symptoms such as reflux, tender breasts, varicose veins, and frequent urinations.

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 child birth and the introduction of your baby to daily life.

In conclusion..

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...

Until next time!

Cassie and Mikayla

Mamas Maternal Health Dietitians/Lactation Counselors


Physiological changes in Pregnancy


Body Changes During Pregnancy


Photo by Jernej Graj on Unsplash

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