4 common changes that happen during pregnancy explained

We explain the less discussed body transformations that come with pregnancy. 

During the nine months of pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes many transformations. Some of these physical changes are visible and not surprising like weight gain and stretch marks, while others are lesser known and discussed.

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Below we breakdown a few changes you might observe during your pregnancy journey.

 

1. Hair

While your body undergoes enormous changes during pregnancy, accommodating that growing bun in the oven can also significantly affect another bun – the one on your head. Here are a few of the mane changes you may experience as your hormones go to town:

– Volume increase

One of the most common, and most welcome, changes pregnant women experience is wonderfully thick, luscious locks. It’s not that hair grows faster as such, it’s due to increased levels of oestrogen in the second trimester meaning we shed far less than usual. Most women can expect to lose around 100 hairs a day on average, but during pregnancy, it’s nowhere near that, hence the increased thickness.  

– The fallout

All good things must come to an end and the only bummer about hair not falling out during pregnancy is that it most definitely will once the baby is born. This can happen slowly for some women or very drastically for others as hormone levels decrease. There’s no major cause for alarm though, as its all hair that was supposed to fall out anyway.

– Texture changes

Wild, wavy locks can become flat and lifeless, while silky straight hair may become coarse and curly. Thanks to those hormones the shape of the hair follicle can literally change, meaning texture can alter drastically. While two years post-partum is the timeframe where things usually settle back down to normal, adjusting your hair care regime while you wait can keep the changes in check.

– Unexpected visitors

You may notice hair popping up in unexpected and rather unwanted places, and we’re not talking about your head. Some women experience growth on the face, belly and around the nipples – plus the strands already there can darken and become prominent, thanks once again to overworking hormones.  Don’t worry too much, it will fall out and colour will stabilise in the months after you give birth.

 

2. Skin

Thanks to rapid fluctuations in hormones and blood flow, it’s totally normal for most women to see changes in their skin. Don’t stress though, most of the changes will go back to normal after giving birth while others will fade.

– Pigmentation

Dark patches of skin on your face – mainly forehead and cheeks – is very common and called melasma. The area around your nipples and the skin on your inner thighs, genitals and neck might also darken. Melasma is caused by your body producing extra melanin, the tanning pigment, which protects your skin against ultraviolet (UV) light. Up to three quarters of mums-to-be are thought to experience this in pregnancy. It happens because of pregnancy hormones but your family history can play a role, too. Make sure to stay out of the sun and be rigid with protection (at least SPF30+) to avoid exacerbating it further.

– Acne

Just when you thought the days of spots were behind you, they’re back…with a vengeance. In pregnancy, the raised levels of hormones can cause sebum production to go into overdrive. Excess sebum causes pores to become blocked, resulting in greasy skin and spots. You may find that it calms down after the first trimester then flares up again in the third trimester. It’s recommended that you cleanse twice daily with an antibacterial but gentle face wash and avoid the temptation to pick!

– The pregnancy “glow”

Finally, a perk! It turns out it’s not just a saying; there’s actually real merit to it.  The changes in hormones and blood circulation can create a flattering pink flush. Your skin also retains more moisture during pregnancy, which plumps it up and smooths out any fine lines and wrinkles.

 

3. “Downstairs”

Often a taboo topic but a conversation worth having – our lady bits change during pregnancy, obviously. These changes are in fact very normal and even having a C-Section doesn’t mean you’re immune. 

– Pain

You’ll most likely feel tender not just after but during pregnancy too. A huge amount of pressure is placed downtown making it swollen and achy, which can take time to subside. 

– pH levels

Warning: you’re likely going to smell and taste different. That taste may be more “metallic or salty,” according to The Journal of Perinatal Education.

This is also due to hormones but remember while it may seem strong to you, your olfactory senses are heightened during pregnancy and your partner probably won’t notice a difference. 

– Stabbing pains

Eeek! your vagina may feel like it’s being stabbed and chances are no one told you this can happen. Not to worry, it’s not usually cause for concern. Generally speaking, it’s nothing to worry about and is a pregnancy side effect known as “lightning crotch.” It’s caused by the baby pressing on certain nerves or because of cervical changes, and it often occurs in the third trimester when you’ve been sitting or lying in the same spot for a while and then get up.

4. Sex

While for some it’s the last thing you feel like doing, for others it can be the only thing you feel like. 

With a truckload of hormones racing around your body, a changing figure and a connection with your partner that is undeniable, a lot of women will have an increased libido and crave intimacy. Below are some key things to consider between the sheets. 

– Reassurance

It is often the man who feels freaked out they will hurt the baby. Well guys – rest assured, no one is that well endowed – it’s actually physically impossible. Your wee growing bub is safely cocooned in an amniotic sac and the strong muscles of your womb (uterus). Bubs isn’t near the vagina so don’t stress. However, you may experience more movement from the baby after orgasm, and this is the little one responding to your increased heart rate.

– Positions

When it comes to the best positions for sex, it really is a case of trial and error and certainly the bigger your belly gets, the harder some positions may be to achieve. Missionary is normally a go-to for many but is often advised against during pregnancy, particularly as your stomach gets bigger. Lying on your back with weight bearing down can become increasingly uncomfortable throughout pregnancy. If it’s a firm favourite, try slipping a pillow under your back to help tilt your pelvis. Generally, side by side is the preferred position for comfort and enjoyment. 

– Sensitivity

With your body changing and growing a tiny human, sensitivity can be an issue. It can make sex better or more uncomfortable. There is no right or wrong, it’s simply how your body reacts to it and what you feel comfortable doing. Added to this, breasts can become larger and tender to touch, which is worth mentioning to your partner before you get hot and heavy.

– Orgasms

Let’s end on a good note – during pregnancy, your body’s blood volume can increase by as much as 50 percent making your nether regions swollen and extra sensitive. Add higher-than-normal levels of oxytocin, oestrogen, and progesterone to the mix and you have a cocktail for heightened arousal AKA bigger and better orgasms. 

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