Pregnancy means nine months of a new you, with incredible changes happening every day. From growing a brand new organ to sporting a fuller head of hair, here are seven amazing things that will happen to your body throughout your pregnancy.
1. Increased Blood Volume
While you are pregnant, your blood volume will increase up to 50% to keep up with the demands of your growing baby. And all those compliments about your pregnancy glow? Those are due in large part to the boost in blood volume providing your face with a noticeably healthy flush. Partial credit for any rise in libido and increases in sensitivity also goes to this influx of blood.
Remember that as your blood volume increases, it is especially important to have proper amounts of folic acid and iron in your diet.
2. Your Heart Works Doubletime
Did you know that by the end of your pregnancy, your placenta will be receiving one-fifth of your entire pre-pregnancy blood supply? That fact, coupled with the overall increase in your blood volume, means your heart needs to work a bit harder. Don't be surprised to find your resting pulse to be higher than its pre-pregnancy rate; exceeding 90 beats per minute is not uncommon.
Once you have delivered your baby, your cardiac output will decrease significantly within a short period of time before beginning a more gradual taper off. It will return to prepregnancy levels at about six weeks postpartum.
3. Extra Calorie Intake
Okay, before you get too excited, let's dispel the whole eating-for-two myth. No, you do not need to double up on portions, and no, you should not use pregnancy as an excuse to scarf down a box of donuts every night.
With that said, it is typical to gain a certain amount of weight during pregnancy, and yes, your caloric intake will likely need to increase a bit. Generally speaking, you will need an extra 100 calories per day during the first trimester and about 300 extra calories during your second and third trimesters. Sure, that doesn't sound like a lot, but with the right foods, you can stretch those calories into fulfilling snacks that will give you tons of nutrition and energy.
4. Increased Flexibility
One of the hormones your body produces during pregnancy is called relaxin. As the name suggests, relaxin loosens your ligaments to prepare your pelvis for childbirth and causes an overall improvement in flexibility throughout your body.
When doing exercises like yoga, it can be tempting to take advantage of this extra range of movement. Pushing yourself to the point where you are feeling pain can lead to injury, so don't flex or stretch beyond what is comfortable.
5. Fuller Head of Hair and Better Nails
No, it's not just your imagination; you do have more hair on your head now that you are pregnant.
People typically lose up to 100 hairs a day. This natural process virtually halts once pregnancy hormones, particularly estrogen, begin to flood your body. With every hair staying atop your head, you are left with a luxurious mane that you will be enjoying for the duration of your pregnancy.
Your nails, too, will likely benefit from the inrush of these pregnancy hormones. Many women report stronger nails that grow at a faster-than-normal rate, making pregnancy the perfect excuse to treat yourself to a manicure.
6. Vivid Dreams
Do not be surprised if you find yourself not only remembering your dreams better but experiencing them more vividly as well. It is likely that pregnancy hormones that are causing these striking dreams. You may also notice that the content of your dreams has shifted from getting that big work promotion to going into labor or holding your child in your arms.
Alas, falling asleep with a growing bump can be tricky, and you need to make sure you are getting proper rest during these next nine months. A high-quality pregnancy pillow can make your bedtime (and daytime naps) much more beneficial and allow you to enjoy those maternal dreams.
7. Growing a New Organ
Most people are aware of how vital the placenta is to fetal development. What they might not realize is that science classifies the placenta as an organ.
Incredibly multifunctional, the placenta will fulfill needs that will later be met by your baby's own lungs, liver, kidneys, digestive tract, and endocrine system. It also helps to share your immunities with your baby, protecting them from many illnesses even after birth.
Hopefully, this article has shown you that bringing a child into his world isn't all breast tenderness and back pain. Your body is doing wondrous things that you might not have even thought possible before you conceived.
Pregnancy is not always easy, but it is always amazing.
ABOUT OUR CONTRIBUTOR:
Neve Spicer is the founder and chief-editor of WeTheParents, the pregnancy and parenting guide. As the mom of three beautiful children, she shares her experience and knowledge with her fellow parents to make their journeys easier. You can also catch her on Facebook and Twitter.