Pregnant women’s bodies go through so many changes during the nine months that it is hard to know or keep up with everything that happens in such a short amount of time. There is so much that happens both internally and externally, and while it is important to know the basics about what will happen to the body internally, sometimes it is good to know about the visual changes, too.
The major physical changes center around the baby bump. It is the most obvious sign of pregnancy to others, but it is an important body part for the pregnant mother as well. The baby bump is essentially a sign of growth, for as it enlarges, the further a mother gets into her pregnancy.
It is like a visual sign of how far along a woman may be in her pregnancy. There are many changes that happen to the belly during pregnancy. Internally, organs are being moved and pushed around to make room for the growing baby and uterus. Externally, the belly is growing and changing in skin texture and even color. Stretch marks and color changes are not abnormal and occur in most women who are pregnant or have been pregnant.
Most or all of these changes are common facts about pregnancy, because so many women have experienced them. But, there may be a few facts about these occurrences that many people may be surprised to find out. Below is our list of things that you may not have known about the pregnancy wonder that is the baby bump.
15 The Bump Touches The Rainbow
Pregnant women can encounter a variation of skin discolorations. In a process known as chloasma or “the mask of pregnancy”, a woman’s skin can become discolored or darker. This can occur on the belly, or even around other parts of the body including the face. The cause? Just like everything else during pregnancy, hormones are behind the discoloration of skin.
This issue is especially common in women of darker skin tones. The best way to reduce the discoloration faced by chloasma is to limit exposure to the sun. The UV rays can actually make the issue worse. Using sunscreen and other products with SPF can also help reduce the risk of chloasma getting worse. Other common skin discoloration problems during pregnancy include reddish marks or splotches that could be due to another skin condition (listed below), yellowish or even blue based for certain types of skin conditions like deep vein thrombosis or cholestasis.
14 The 411 On Linea Negra
Women don’t have to be pregnant to have a visible linea negra. It can occur in women who take birth control, have polycystic ovary syndrome or just a general influx of hormones like estrogen that is responsible for the hyperpigmentation that causes the line to appear in both pregnant and non-pregnant individuals.
The line is caused by melanocyte or increased melanin production in the area, and the line generally runs from the belly button straight down to the pubic bone. According to Sheknows.com, 3 out of 4 women can develop a linea nigra during pregnancy. Sometimes the line will go away after birth, and sometimes it won’t. It is purely cosmetic, but some researchers believe that the cause of the linea nigra has to do with a deficiency in folic acid, but consuming foods like leafy vegetables may or may not help the problem.
13 It's Getting Hot In Here
Pregnant women can become more susceptible to heat rash as their pregnancy advances, particularly under their breasts and top of the abdomen where the skin touches. Pregnant women are more susceptible to heat rash, even in the coldest conditions, because of a combination of pregnancy symptoms.
Pregnant women are prone to overheating. This leads to sweating which then leads to damp areas that get little to no relief from the perspiration. The rash is caused by excessive skin to skin contact in areas where perspiration has gotten trapped. For pregnant women, the baby bump takes up a lot of room. They are prone to get heat rash between the boobs and upper abdomen, the lower abdomen and genitals, and the inner thighs. The best way to avoid heat rash is to try and keep cool. Women who are pregnant should wear looser clothing, take short warm showers, use powders to keep dry and apply calamine to treat and prevent heat rash.
12 Funny Looking Belly Button
There are many women and men who have gone through most of their lives not seeing their belly buttons. Some of us start out with protruding belly buttons that shrink as we age, others have “outies” that stay that way well into adulthood. Just about every pregnant woman will experience a change in her belly button's shape and size during pregnancy.
Many mothers typically go from having an inward bellybutton to one that faces outwards during the second or third trimester. As the uterus grows, it puts a lot of pressure on the organs and abdomen, forcing the bellybutton outward. Women who already have outies are more prone to getting what is known as “umbilical hernias” when their belly button protrudes too much. This is extremely common in babies. Umbilical hernias are not always dangerous, but they can be. Luckily they can be fixed.
11 Real Life Mystique
Outside of discoloration, pregnant women face a variety of other skin issues. Rashes, marks, bumps, and pigmentation are just a few of the various changes a woman can face with her skin. It isn’t always about the “pregnancy glow,” unfortunately.
The most obvious skin change that pregnant women face is stretch marks, which are the visual reminders of a growing belly and baby. A less spoken about issue is with hyperdynamic circulation. It is caused by an increase in estrogen that produces red palms and spider veins. Pregnant women are more prone to getting skin tags, a noncancerous flap of tissue that resembles a raised mole. Pregnant women can also thank their raging hormones for other skin conditions that include acne, dermatitis and psoriasis. Luckily, after birth hormones may start to return to normal somewhat. When they do, many of the crazy skin problems that a woman faces will subside.
10 It's Not One Size Fits All
The placenta is a marvelous organ with so many different functions. One of the great things about the placenta is that, just like pregnancies, no two are the same. Even a mother who gives birth to more than one child should not expect to have a similar outcome when it comes to the placenta.
Each placenta is designated especially for the baby and provides nourishment. The general functions are the same, but there can be other things that are different. The size of the placenta can vary. Some women have given birth to placentas as small as a china dish. Others range to as big as a dinner plate. Typically the placenta is about nine inches long and an inch thick, with the thickest area being in the middle. Placentas can also weigh up to one pound. Not all placentas are created the same, but they are all created equally to give the baby the nutrients that it needs from the mother.
9 “Bruised” Belly Button
Don’t worry, bruised belly buttons aren’t actually a thing. This is less about a physical injury and more of a cosmetic issue. Earlier in the article, we talked about how the belly button can begin to protrude during pregnancy, and how it can begin to stick out so much that it causes an umbilical hernia.
We also talked about the linea nigra which is a line that runs central to the groin and belly button. It is caused by a form of melanin overproduction. A “bruised” belly button is essentially the two of these ailments put together. If a woman suffers from an umbilical hernia, she is more prone to this type of discoloration. It is caused when the protruding belly button accentuates the discoloration of the linea nigra, giving the appearance of a “bruised” belly button. It doesn’t typically hurt, but the hernia itself can cause issues if not treated properly.
8 Those Aren't Baby Kicks
As the belly grows, women can become more prone to abdominal issues. As the baby grows, there is less and less room for him/her and that can become painfully evident to the mother as she starts to experience “growing pains” of sorts.
The abdomen pain can be a result of the tightening/ stretching of abdominal muscles around the uterus. Abdominal aches can also be the result of lying on the sides improperly. Aches in the abdomen can be a little less severe than stomach cramps. Small pains in the abdomen can be addressed with a few small changes and treatments. Some of the changes include a change in diet, frequent exercise (at least 30 minutes a day), plenty of rest and water, and fiber rich foods. Often times, the abdomen problems can subside after pregnancy. If the symptoms persist or become too severe, it may be a good idea to contact the doctor.
7 Things Are No Longer Where You Left Them
Another unfortunate issue caused by the baby bump is intestinal and heartburn issues. It’s no secret that women face issues with constipation during pregnancy. But that issue doesn’t originate in the intestines. It actually starts with the growing uterus and belly. The baby makes it increasingly harder for the mother to function as a normal human being. Walking, pooping and peeing are all controlled or hindered in some way by this growing belly.
Pregnant women are more prone to experiencing digestive issues, because they are constantly dealing with the shifting of organs from one place to another. This is the result of the baby taking up space in the stomach area. The intestines are pushed back and pushed around and they also pass food a lot slower as well. All of these things contribute to issues of constipation, gas and bloating which can be more uncomfortable than carrying the baby itself. Staying hydrated and avoiding fatty, acidic foods can help reduce digestive problems and heartburn.
6 The Uterus Times Four
Everyone knows (or at least most do) that the uterus has to expand with the baby to allow it enough room to grow. The uterus is located deep within the pelvic area. Before pregnancy, it is actually about the size of an orange. During pregnancy, it is obviously impossible for the baby to grow to full term in an orange-sized uterus so it begins to get larger as the pregnancy progresses.
Around a woman’s 12th week of pregnancy, she can expect her uterus to be about the size of a grapefruit, but this can happen a lot quicker and be even bigger if a woman is carrying multiples. Between the second and third trimesters, the uterus will go from the size of a papaya to that of a large watermelon. This means that it will have more than quadrupled in size by the time the baby is full term. At full term, the uterus extends from the pelvis up to the rib cage. After giving birth, a woman can expect her uterus to get back to its normal size in as little as six weeks.
5 Never A Moment Of Relief
Stretching ligaments can be the result of a growing belly and other body parts’ organs that have to adjust to carrying around another human being. As a pregnancy progresses, a woman can expect to feel a tightness around the abdomen area as the stomach muscles begin to stretch to accommodate the baby. The abdominal pain caused by torn ligaments or stretching will usually subside at some point during a woman’s pregnancy.
The tightness can turn to pain that resonates through the abdomen area down to the groin. Cramping and pain can also be a result of Braxton Hicks contractions or even more serious issues. Cramping can occur in women who suffer from preeclampsia, high blood pressure, preterm labor, miscarriage or even a urinary tract infection. Pregnant women are more prone to UTIs because of their restricted movements (due to their large bellies) and having to urinate frequently without being able to fully relieve themselves.
4 The Pressure Builds
If you ask a mother how the last few weeks of her pregnancy were, she’ll likely say that they were awful. Not because she wasn’t excited to see her little one, but because the bigger the baby got, the harder it became to function like a normal person. The last few weeks of pregnancy can feel like having a huge weight tied to your body everyday all day. While many people find baby bumps adorable, they can really be a nuisance for the mom-to-be.
Baby bumps make it hard to pick things up, sleep, put on clothes and even walk. Many women take for granted the ability to see one’s own feet whilst walking. It’s a luxury that many pregnant women don’t have.The increasing pressure and weight of the baby in addition to the visual nuisance, makes walking, sitting and standing difficult. It serves as a sure sign that a woman is due at any moment.
3 The Irony Of The Bladder
As we stated above, the baby bump can cause a variety of ailments to come to fruition. Namely, a urinary tract infection. Women can be prone to a urinary tract infection because of the changing hormones and inability to see below the belt.
Again, this is another example of a luxury that some people take for granted. The pressure that is built upon a woman’s bladder by her growing uterus and baby belly can contribute to the issue of frequent urination. Due to the constricting pressure of the uterus on the bladder, a pregnant woman may feel the urge to pee, but she won’t be able to fully relieve herself because the pressure of the uterus constricts the flow. This leads to UTIs and other common bladder illnesses. It is especially important that a woman gets treatment, however, because infection can likely spread to the baby if left untreated.
2 Bulging Veins
That baby bump is the center of pregnancy troubles outside of raging hormones. The growing uterus puts extra pressure on a lot of different organs and body parts including the legs. The uterus puts pressure on a large vein known as the inferior vena cava which is on the right side of the body. This causes the veins to bulge and become apparent to others.
Varicose veins can range in color from blue to green. They can be prominent in a variety of areas including the thighs and lower legs. Veins can also become visible on the abdomen, although they are not considered varicose veins. There are a few ways to reduce the risk of varicose veins that includes frequent exercise for blood circulation, keeping feet elevated, not crossing the legs as often, sleeping on the left side of the body. The left side can relieve pressure off of the legs that is caused by the uterus.
1 A Natural Filter
The placenta is a wonder organ that is only produced and needed during pregnancy. No other organ in the human body is formed and expelled after its function is completed. And arguably, there is no other organ as important and critical to the growth and survival of the baby as the placenta. If we were to think of the heart as the most important muscle critical to our functioning, then the placenta is that for the baby. It is virtually a 10 in 1 machine.
The baby receives its blood supply through the placenta, it is protected by its mother’s immune system. The placenta serves as the lungs, kidneys and gastrointestinal functions. It is responsible for providing the baby with nourishment and filtering out the rest as the child grows. The placenta is like the happy medium place where the mother has to share her resources with her baby.
Sources: Distractify.com, HuffingtonPost.com.au, HelloGiggles.com, DailyMail.co.uk, HealthLine.com, LiveStrong.com, HealthyWomen.com