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What you'll get to know:

When you become pregnant, several changes take place in your body. As the fetus grows the needs of the body changes. A normal pregnancy lasts for 40 weeks and the symptoms change almost week by week.  So, you will need to know how you can deal with these changes in your body. You must also remember that each person and each pregnancy is unique. Though the fetus develops in the same way, you may be more uncomfortable during one pregnancy and less during another.

Pregnancy is a magical time when you feel your baby growing every day just beneath your heart. This is a momentous event for your body which gradually prepares to accommodate the various needs of the growing fetus. Some women may not feel any of the major symptoms while others may have to go through difficult pregnancies. But even if you do not feel them, physiological changes occur in your body which affects almost every system.

1. The three trimesters

A human pregnancy lasts for 40 weeks. This time period has been divided into three trimesters.

  1. The first trimester lasts till week 12 and is the most crucial time. The fetus begins to develop and the early features appear. All the major organs are formed.
  2. The second trimester lasts from week 13 to 28.This is the time when the fetus grows in size and develops fine hairs.
  3. The third trimester from week 29 to 40 is the time when the baby grows more, starts moving energetically and begins to breathe amniotic fluid.

This period is not easy on mothers. Here is a short synopsis of changes that you are likely to experience in the three trimesters.

Trimester Changes
First Most of your cardiac output is routed to the fetus.
Your uterus expands in size to accommodate the growing fetus.
Early symptoms of pregnancy like soreness of breasts and morning sickness may appear.
Second You begin to gain weight much faster – about one or two pounds per week.
Internal organs relocate to accommodate the uterus. For example, the ribcage moves upwards.
Third As the baby turns downwards in preparation for delivery, you feel pressure on your bladder while pressure on the ribs ease off.
Hand and feet may swell up.
Colostrum – a sticky yellow substance may begin to leak from the nipples.

2.Common symptoms during the three trimesters

Here is a list of common symptoms that you are likely to experience in the three trimesters, but not all of them happen to everybody.

Trimester Symptoms
First Fatigue
Morning sickness
Tenderness of breasts
Mood swings
Second Aches in back, abdomen, thigh and groin
Swelling ankles
Appearance of stretch marks
Third Heartburn
Shortness of breath
Leaking of colostrum from breasts
A sensation of baby 'dropping', i.e. baby moving lower.

3. Body changes during pregnancy and how to deal with them

Some of the above symptoms and changes are easy to cope with, but some women may suffer more. For example, you may be unfortunate enough to experience 'morning sickness' throughout the day or in all trimesters. Here is a list of changes and how you can deal with them:

  1. Aches: Aches in different parts of the body like lower back, abdomen, groin and the thigh is a common problem. If the baby happens to lie on the sciatic nerve, you will experience the pain of sciatica that starts from the lower back and descends down one side of a leg to the knee or the foot. Such aches are unavoidable. Try to lie down or find a comfortable position. But if it intensifies into pain, you should consult a doctor.
  2. Breast Changes: A number of changes are noticed in the breasts. They become swollen and sore and may tingle. Towards the end, they may begin to leak colostrum. You should always wear maternity bra to offer support to breasts that are growing steadily heavier. You should not try to force them into a bra of smaller size. Stuff your bra with absorbent pads if leakage occurs.
  3. Constipation: Constipation is one common problem in pregnancy. The pressure exerted by the uterus and relaxation of the bowel muscles may contribute towards it. You should drink plenty of water. Fiber-rich foods like whole grains, fruits, and raw vegetables are useful. You should also carry out some physical activity under medical supervision.
  4. Dizziness: Dizziness is another symptom of the changes in your body. As blood is supplied to the uterus, you may experience an occasional lack of supply. The uterus may also be pressing on a blood vessel. Finally, if you forget to eat adequately, you may feel faint. To combat this feeling, you should not skip meals. Lie on your left side and wear loose clothing. You should never overstrain yourself.
  5. Fatigue: Fatigue is the major problem and a number of factors may also cause you to lose sleep. To get good sleep, lie on your left side and use support pillows. Drink plenty of fluids during the day.
  6. Heartburn:Heartburn may develop in the latter part of pregnancy. To avoid this, eat slowly and have a number of small meals instead of three large ones. Drink fluids in between meals and not with food. Avoid spicy, rich or citrus rich foods. Finally, do not lie down immediately after a meal.
  7. Hemorrhoids or swollen veins: Swollen veins in the rectal area may develop at the end stages. You have to eat plenty of fiber rich foods and lots of fluids. Do not overstrain during bowel movement. You should consult your doctor.
  8. Itchiness: Itchiness on abdomen, hands and feet are common occurring in 20% of pregnant women. Avoid itchy fabrics and use soothing soaps and creams to deal with this.
  9. Muscle cramps: Muscle cramps may occur on the legs, especially at night. Eat foods rich in calcium and ask your doctor about calcium supplements. In the case of sudden cramps, you can try flexing your foot. Otherwise, gently stretch the affected muscles.
  10. Morning sickness: Morning sickness or nausea and vomiting are common in the first trimester. To avoid this, eat small meals and avoid rich spicy foods. Avoid smells that disturb you. Snack on dry toast and saltines if you begin to feel nauseous. Eat ice chips or sip on weak tea to settle your stomach.
  11. Nosebleeds: Nosebleeds and stuffed noses are common. Blow your nose gently and drink plenty of fluids.
  12. Swelling : Swelling of hand and feet are other symptoms. Drink plenty of fluid but avoid coffee and salty foods. Elevate your feet. Ask your doctor about support hose.
  13. Frequent urination: Frequent urination and incontinence are other problems and there is very little that you can do except take frequent bathroom breaks.

The changes in your body and their symptoms during pregnancy are often uncomfortable, but this is a special time you get to spend with your baby. So, you should enjoy these 40 weeks.

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