How will my body change during pregnancy?

You will experience a whole lot of changes to your body and emotions during your pregnancy, it can feel like a roller coaster.

If this is your first baby or if you’re an experienced parent, these changes will be different from one mum to the next. But the important thing to remember is that you’re not going through it alone. 

Feeling tired

It’s completely normal to feel tired and sometimes exhausted during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy because of the hormone changes in your body.

As you progress through your pregnancy you may start to feel tired because of the extra weight you’re carrying around, or because you might be struggling to find a comfortable sleeping position.

Fortunately for you, rest is the best remedy for feeling tired. Take advantage of people offering to help you out. Let someone else cover your turn on the office tea run or ask your other half to cook dinner tonight.

Breast changes

In the early stages of your pregnancy you might start to notice that your breasts feel larger and more sensitive than usual.

Some common changes include:

  • Darker and larger nipples that feel dry or puffy
  • Visible veins that have become more noticeable
  • Milk leakage – you can wear discreet breastpads in your bra to prevent any visible signs of leaking
  • Some blood leakage – while this is completely normal due to the increased blood flow in your breasts, it’s a good idea to get checked by your GP if you leak blood.

New tastes, smells and cravings

Don’t be surprised if you develop some weird cravings or suddenly hate the taste of your favourite food. Changes to your senses is a common side effect of early stage pregnancy. And you’ll either love or hate your new, impressive sense of smell.

The good news is that everything will go back to normal once you’ve had your baby.

Feeling sick

From around week 6 of your pregnancy you might start to feel the effects of morning sickness as your body’s hormone levels change.

It’s completely normal and won’t harm your baby. Symptoms range from mild nausea to vomiting, and can last up to week 20 of your pregnancy.

Read also How to deal with morning sickness

Aches and pains

Unexplained back ache? As your body adjusts to carrying your baby you might experience lower back pain and achy joints around your hips. This is because the ligaments are loosening to make room for your bump and prepare you for labour.

To ease your pain you can try:
Wear comfy, flat shoes to distribute your weight evenly
Ask your partner to give you a relaxing back massage – what a great excuse!
Enjoy a warm relaxing bath - bubbles are optional but definitely recommended
Investing in a good maternity pillow to keep your back well supported at work, at home and in bed
Prenatal yoga or aqua natal classes with a qualified instructor can help loosen up your muscles
Talk to your GP or midwife if your backpain gets worse, they can refer you for specialist treatment.

Your bump

It’s unlikely you will see your baby bump in the first few weeks of pregnancy, especially if you’re a first time mum.

Usually, from around week 12 you will start to notice your bump growing. As it grows your skin may start to feel tight and itchy and you might start to get stretch marks.

Stretch marks are small tears in the skin that appear when the skin is pulled tight over a short burst of time. At first they will be pinkish or red but the good news is they will fade to a colour closer to your skin tone.

Although there’s no definitive way to prevent stretch marks, you can try to:

  • keep your bump moisturised to keep the skin hydrated
  • drink plenty of water
  • keep your weight gain under control by following a healthy diet - around 25-30lbs is considered normal pregnancy weight gain

Don’t be disheartened if you get stretch marks, wear them like a badge of honour. They’re a permanent reminder that you did it!

Gaining weight

From around week 20 you will start to notice that you are gaining a few more pounds. This is because your body and bump is growing to support your baby.

Don’t be alarmed when you step on the scales in your second and third trimester, just remember that the weight will come from not only your baby (or babies!), but also from your placenta, increased volume of blood and fluids, and the extra tissue that forms to keep your baby protected. It’s just your body’s way of keeping you and your baby healthy.

As long as your continue to eat healthy and nutritious food, you’ll be able to keep a handle on your weight and feel great.

Read also Pregnancy diet

Nose bleeds

Strangely, you may experience nose bleeds throughout your pregnancy. They’re caused by the hormone changes in your body that increase your blood flow and cause the blood vessels to expand.

Having a few nose bleeds is perfectly normal but if you become concerned visit your GP for advice.

Your hair and nails

Good news! As your levels of oestrogen increase, your hair might feel thicker and healthier than normal.
Many women also report that their nails become stronger and grow faster too - so treat yourself to a mani or pedi every now and again!

Your teeth

During your pregnancy you may find that your gums bleed and feel sore more often. This is because you are more susceptible to plaque build-up. If left unchecked, this could lead to pregnancy gingivitis or gum disease so check if you are eligible for free dental care provided by the NHS.

To help prevent teeth and gum problems during pregnancy ensure you are regularly brushing your teeth and avoid sugary drinks and snacks.