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Your baby constantly growing is great news, but it can take such a toll on your body – and not just in changing your weight and body shape. Your hormones changing does not only affect how you feel and cause you to react differently to things you once enjoyed (alcohol, cigarettes, or even your husband’s smell!), they can change things physically too. Here are other things you should expect to happen to your body and how you can prepare yourself.
(Disclaimer: They’re not all bad!)
The change in your hormones softens the fibers of your skin which in turn affects the elasticity of your skin’s texture. With your body stretching here and there, it is not uncommon to notice stretch marks at those places. Hence, you will start to find stretch marks around your tummy, breast, and thighs around your second trimester. That is your body adjusting to the growing fetus in you, so be happy! They might not disappear completely after birth, but they will gradually fade and become less noticeable over time.
What to Do
There isn’t anything you can do to make it disappear, but there really isn’t any reason you should too! Stretch marks are not something to be ashamed of. They are unique to everyone’s body and skin complexion. It is a mark that symbolizes the natural process your body goes through and what it carries (literally a human being), so if you must react to it, just be proud of your stretch marks! That said, sometimes stretch marks can itch so it is advisable that you constantly apply cream or lotion to them. Prevention also works great, so during pregnancy, you may constantly massage the area where stretch marks might appear to reduce their appearance.
Though more obvious at the front, your uterus expanding can do something to your back as well. Throughout the course of your pregnancy, you may experience back pain that gradually increases or one that comes and goes. One of the main reasons could be the increasing weight of your uterus that can affect your posture and the way you walk. Your muscles also tend to tense up, adding to the backache.
What to Do
Be careful to not fall and take a sit if you can feel yourself swaying when walking. Fortunately, there are various exercises you can practice during pregnancy to soothe the pain level. You can practice stretches to relieve your backaches and prevent it from frequently occurring. Stretching your back, sides, and chest will prevent back pain as well as cramps and aches at joints. If you are not in a fit condition to stretch, getting a massage is a highly viable option. Find a massage therapist that is skilled and trained to perform a prenatal massage.
Good news; your breasts are looking fuller! The bad news is, you might not necessarily enjoy this phenomenon as much as you previously thought you would. It happens because your milk ducts are enlarging to store the milk and preparing themselves for breastfeeding and lactation. Changes to this particular body part may appear as soon as a few weeks after conception, before you notice your period is ‘late’. This is why the discomfort you may feel in your breasts is noted as one of the early signs of pregnancy. Your breasts could feel tender and swollen. This is not really a bad change especially because it usually happens before your other body parts start showing noticeable changes. Generally, you just have to let it be as it is the production and storing of milk taking place for your soon-to-arrive baby. Once you are several months in, that is when your heavy breasts might cause you to feel a slight discomfort as gravity does its job.
What to Do
Put on a full-coverage supportive bra (as a pressure bandage) and nicely-fitted, not too tight top. Make sure to not place too much force or pressure against your breast as they are extra sensitive during this time. You can lightly apply cold compresses like ice packs on them. Although quite contradictory, you can also get into warm showers to relieve the tense muscles. Getting a pregnancy massage (at other body parts) can help ease the pain due to the improved blood stimulation. If it gets to the point where you feel pain, refer to your doctor for medical solutions.
Did you know that approximately 25% of your pregnancy weight gain is not caused by the increasing weight of the baby in you? As a matter of fact, this weight gain is caused by fluid or water retention. Some even refer to it as water weight. You will find some of your body parts like hands, face, legs, ankles, and feet start to swell up and increase in size around your second and third trimesters. Fret not when this happens as it is just a way of your body softening itself to prepare a home for the baby to develop. Once you have given birth, you can lose this undue weight gain and obtain your pre-pregnancy shape back – probably a better shape since you will gain wider hips that can make your body curvier, which is something often desired by many.
What to Do
If you would like to maintain your body weight and shape during pregnancy, you can watch your diet and practise exercises like yoga. If you have always done a particular exercise on a regular basis prior to pregnancy, you may continue doing so as long as it does not overexert or put too much strain on your body.
For your feet, try to use them less (i.e. rest your feet more). You may notice your ankles looking more swollen than the rest of your feet, and that is due to your whole body weight being placed on them. Put on comfy footwear that has a slight heel on them.
Again, a massage can also benefit your body tremendously. Massage your legs starting from the feet, moving up toward your knees. You might also find your fingers expanding and your rings starting to feel a bit tight. For this, firmly (but not forcefully to the point it hurts) press from the nails to the bases of your fingers. In case you do not feel fit to do too much movement, you can consider getting a prenatal massage to avoid any complications. It requires very little effort from you and you can relax throughout the whole process.
Some of the issues you might encounter are not easily tackle-able, so embracing them is the next best thing to do. The most important thing is to not suppress your feelings and always making your loved ones know how you feel about the changes you are dealing with. Regardless, pregnancy is a wonderful experience and you deserve to enjoy every second of it.