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Understanding the Pregnant Body

Pregnancy

The thought of starting a family is exciting and often overwhelming. From choosing the right name to paying for college, new parents have a lot to think about. And, this tremendous pressure is only amplified by the significant physical and emotional changes you are experiencing. From swelling to mood swings, it is important to understand the changes your body will go through during pregnancy.

In addition to the obvious “baby bump,” the body undergoes many significant changes as it prepares to provide for your baby’s growth and development. Early changes are the result of increasing hormone levels, particularly progesterone and estrogen. These hormones prepare the uterus to carry the baby, increase blood circulation to aid in the distribution of nutrients and trigger the growth of your baby’s organs, bone and tissue. Later on, hormones promote the production of breast milk.

The most noticeable physical changes during pregnancy are weight gain and altered body shape. These are the result of increased breast tissue, blood and water volume as well as uterus growth, which nestles your baby, placenta and amniotic fluid. Gaining the right amount of pregnancy weight by eating a healthy diet is a good sign that your baby is growing at a healthy rate. On average, a woman who is neither under nor overweight should gain approximately two to four pounds during the first three months of pregnancy and one pound a week for the remainder of the pregnancy. The amount of weight gain may vary greatly depending upon the individual and you should discuss appropriate weight gain with your doctor.

If you’re pregnant, schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately to discuss your prenatal care. If you’re expecting to be expecting, a pre-pregnancy exam that focuses on the key factors necessary for a healthy pregnancy is recommended by The American College of OB/GYN. Your obstetrician can help guide you through the wonderful journey to parenthood.  

About Matt Voth MD

Matt Voth, MD, is an OB/GYN with Ascension Medical Group in Wichita, Kansas.