Louise Pyne celebrates the transformations your body undergoes during pregnancy
Have you discovered a new-found appreciation for your body now that you’re pregnant? By the time you reach the second trimester, levels of hormones like progesterone and oestrogen have balanced out which means any nausea and fatigue will probably have petered off. Your bump is steadily growing and there’s a few more nice surprises in store. Here’s a rundown of what to expect…
1. Glowing skin
Put down the blusher brush! Blood volume increases by 50% during pregnancy and increased blood flow to the skin results in radiance. “Many experience that pregnancy glow from 18 weeks, as hormones make the glands produce more oil – hence the dewy look. Another contributing factor is the blood flow, which leads your face to be brighter,” says midwife and health visitor Katie Hilton (thebabyshow.co.uk).
2. Healthy hair
Once you hit the second trimester, you may notice your locks look thicker and shinier than ever. “Normally, 85-95% of hair is in the growth phase and the other 5-15% is in a resting stage. After the resting period, this hair naturally falls out (often while brushing or shampooing) and is replaced by new growth. During pregnancy, higher levels of oestrogen prolong the growth phase, resulting in less shedding and thicker hair,’ explains Katie.
3. Time to rest
Carrying a bump around is hard work, so put your feet up and relax! All the extra fluid flowing around your body, plus the extra weight you’re carrying, can take its toll on your energy levels, so enjoy some guilt-free me time! “The primary hormone affecting this change in energy levels is progesterone. In addition, the increased blood flow during pregnancy decreases blood pressure, which could cause low energy. Finally, emotional health and wellness may also lead you to experience a lack of energy while pregnant,
so make sure you take rest,” says Katie.
4. Gorgeous curves
Thought bodycon was only for skinny minis? Think again! Pregnancy offers the perfect reason to flaunt your new-found curves, and fitted dresses and stretchy tops in soft fabrics will keep your bump super-snug while being downright figure-flattering.
5. Tanned skin
Honing gorgeous sun-kissed skin now that you’re expecting? Hormonal changes in pregnancy increase your body’s production of melanocytes – cells responsible for skin colour – which results in a temporary darkening of the skin. “Areas of the skin turning darker is often one of the first signs a woman is expecting. Many mums-to-be notice this change, which tends to be more marked in women with darker skin,” says Katie.
6. Super-strong nails
If you’ve always been plagued with weak, brittle nails, you’re in for a nice surprise because just as your hair grows faster during pregnancy, so too do your nails. “You can credit those pregnancy hormones again, particularly oestrogen, for changes in nail growth, it can make them grow faster and be much stronger than normal. The increased blood circulation also brings more nutrients to the nails,” shares Katie.
7. You can eat more
While consuming around 2,000 calories is recommended during the first two trimesters, when you reach the final trimester, experts advise that you increase your intake by 200 calories per day as you’ll need the extra fuel to get you through labour. It’s important to eat a healthy balanced diet to nourish your impending arrival, but if you find yourself hankering after sweets, opt for healthier options like a few squares of dark chocolate or a fruit salad drizzled with honey.
8. A bigger bust
At last, the cleavage you’ve always lusted after! Bigger boobs is a natural part of your changing body shape, as your body lays down extra fat to help you breastfeed once your baby is born, so make the most of your ample assets by getting expertly fitted and investing in some pretty maternity bras.
9. Stress-free sex
For some women, the increased blood flow to sex organs together with extra vaginal lubrication results in a big libido boost, so why not experiment with different positions to find what’s comfortable for you? “Since hormone levels vary with each trimester, the desire for sex may be high at some points and low at others,” adds Katie.
10. You’re creating a miracle!
Your body is amazing – fact. Having a baby physically pushes your body beyond its boundaries and watching your belly grow is just another sign of the little miracle you are bringing into the world. “Every step of pregnancy is a new breathtaking experience. Your body knows how to go through this process, and every baby knows how to make each move and turn to manoeuvre the birth canal perfectly. To know that women thousands of years ago were going through exactly the same experience we do as women today is truly empowering,” says Katie.