Illustration of pregnant woman looking in mirror

Pregnancy brings about lots of physical and emotional changes; some you may embrace joyfully while others may make you slightly (or even very) uncomfortable. However you feel about your pregnancy changes, let’s take a look at some of the most common ones so you know what to expect.

Even though everyone will have a different pregnancy experience, it’s pretty much a guarantee that your body will change – after all, it is adapting to house a new person inside of it! Some of the shifts that you experience may be anticipated and others may be a little more surprising. Waking up to find your body looking and feeling different could be a bit of a shock, but it’s nothing to get worked up over as it’s completely natural! 

If you’re about to welcome a new baby or thinking about getting pregnant then continue reading for all the ins and outs on how your body will change during pregnancy.

Is pregnancy weight gain normal?

A growing tummy is probably the most defining and noticeable characteristic of being pregnant. Some people will experience a small little bump – similar to the one you may get after a big lunch – while others may develop an extremely bulging belly which is almost impossible to miss. As a result, you may notice that your favourite pair of jeans start to feel a little tighter or the dress you wore last summer may begin to look more like a top! Everyone’s body will expand differently – after all, a new life is growing inside of it! 

However, your tummy isn’t the only part of your body that will grow during pregnancy. Your boobs will start to fill out and you may also find that you start gaining weight elsewhere too; thighs, arms, bum – you name it! 

You may love the way your body begins to change, or it could be something that you find hard getting used to. If that’s the case, try not to get too stressed about it and remember it’s absolutely natural. Your body needs to put on weight and store fat so that it can make breast milk after your baby is born. [1] Also, keep in mind that your body won’t stay like this forever, it’s just an important stage to ensure a healthy baby. But if your pregnancy weight gain is making you feel really sluggish, then you can still go out and do some low-intensity exercise – why not try power walking, swimming or even prenatal yoga?

What happens to your hormones during pregnancy?

Just when you thought hormones only applied to your period, think again! During pregnancy your hormone levels will go through some major shifts, so if you find your moods to be erratic or all over the place then you may now know what the culprit is! 

When it comes to pregnancy there are four key hormones: 

Progesterone 

You may have heard of this hormone in terms of your menstrual cycle, but what role does it play during pregnancy? Well, progesterone is mainly responsible for helping your uterus expand to provide a home for your growing baby. On top of this, it also helps loosen your ligaments and joints in preparation for childbirth. 

Oestrogen 

Another period hormone that you may have heard of before is oestrogen. And while it will be present in your body throughout all of your reproductive years, you make much more when you are pregnant. Basically, the extra oestrogen creates blood vessels that pass essential nutrients from your uterus to the placenta. 

Human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (hCG) 

Ok, we know this name may look like some scary chemical from a crazy science experiment, but hCG is actually good and plays a vital role during pregnancy. It is responsible for passing all the nutrients that your baby needs to grow. It’s also one of the first hormones that gets picked up by a pregnancy test! [2] 

Human placental lactogen (hPL) 

You may have guessed it from the name, but hPL is produced by the placenta and much like hCG, it helps to provide your baby with nutrition whilst also stimulating milk glands to get them ready for breastfeeding.

How will you react to pregnancy hormones?

Now that you know which main hormones are present during pregnancy and what their roles are, you may be asking yourself how they will affect you emotionally and physically. 

As many of us have experienced before with PMS, when our hormones level change, so do our emotions. Pregnancy is no exception to this. Normal emotional changes during pregnancy include moodiness, stress, anxiety and sadness (to name a few!). 

You may find that hormones affect you physically too with morning sickness, tiredness and general swelling and bloating all over your body. [3] But it’s not all bad – pregnancy hormones can also leave you feeling happy and more eager to engage in sexual activities! At the end of the day everyone’s body will react differently during pregnancy – a bit like how PMS affects everyone in their own way too. And though most of these reactions are a part of your body’s natural pregnancy process, it’s always good to check with a doctor if you feel like something is wrong.

Stress during pregnancy: dealing with change

All the hormonal and physical changes may well leave you feeling a little uneasy during your pregnancy. However, try not to let these feelings get the better of you! If you do sense that your emotions are running high or if you are experiencing physical symptoms such as general swelling or morning sickness, the best thing you can do is remembering to look after yourself (as well as your new baby). 

When you’re pregnant you need to prioritise eating healthily, drinking plenty of water, resting well and staying active (with gentle exercise). Talking can also help. It’s ok to express the emotions you may have during such an important moment of your life. Consider reaching out to those close to you -be it your partner, parents, friends or obstetrician. 

(Literally!) Millions of people have gone through pregnancy and will have experienced a similar set of mind and body ups and downs – so you’re not alone in feeling certain ways! Ultimately, change is a normal part of life, so why should bringing new life into the world be the exception? While the development of your pregnancy may take getting used to, it’s always nice to remember it will be worth it! 

If you want to learn more about the journey of pregnancy, head over to our helpful pages on discharge after giving birth and what you can (really) expect from giving birth.

Medical disclaimer

The medical information in this article is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please consult your doctor for guidance about a specific medical condition. 



[References]

[1]  https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/related-conditions/common-symptoms/weight-gain/ 

[2]  https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/staying-healthy-during-pregnancy/hormones-during-pregnancy 

[3]  https://www.nct.org.uk/pregnancy/how-you-might-be-feeling/emotions-during-pregnancy

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