With pregnancy, your body changes in more ways than you can imagine. Here’s how you can love your body...curves and all.
WORDS LOW LAI CHOW
Some wise person once mused that to be in love means to fall head over heels. Add a baby on board, though, and you literally take on a head-to-toe transformation! That’s right, pregnancy affects not just the obvious (think: a ballooning belly!) but every single part of you.
You Always Have to Look for a Bathroom
This is a classic pregnancy change: as your body ups its urine production by up to 25 per cent more than usual.
As your body processes more fluid in your kidneys and increased blood volume puts way more pressure on them, your bladder fills up in double-quick time, making a need to visit the loo far more pressing and more frequent than ever before. Plus, the weight of your uterus and your baby-to-be later on in your pregnancy, especially in the third trimester, can make you want to ease yourself even more.
A couple of tips to alleviate the urge to pee quite so much: try lifting your belly up or leaning forward to empty your bladder more completely, and avoid diuretic beverages such as coffee and tea. Of course, there’s no stopping you from having the occasional cuppa — but you should be cutting down on caffeine, anyway!
You. Can’t. Breathe.
Taking a full breath can be challenging as you progress towards the end of your full-term pregnancy, as your baby-to-be takes up more and more space and squashes against your diaphragm and lungs. Some of us may even experience difficulty in breathing or dyspnea (shortness of breath). If you get breathless, practice deep, mindful breathing by inhaling and exhaling slowly. Try slowing down or switch to lying on your side. For a boost in your circulatory system, keep up steady and regular exercise throughout pregnancy. Yes, it helps to be a fit mama!
You Ache All Over
To prepare you for labour and help ease your baby out when the time is ripe, your body produces relaxin during pregnancy to relax your intrauterine ligaments in the pelvis, as well as to soften the opening of your cervix. It sounds nice — but it can also mean an increased tendency to overstretch, as well as aches all over your body. Pregnancy women often get backaches from the increased weight of their expanding uterus, and some can also experience sciatica due to body changes like increased fluid retention or getting the sciatic nerve pressed on by the baby. This leads to pain that shoots down the back of your legs from the back or butt. Swimming or being steeped in water can help to relieve pain by taking off some much-needed pressure from your body.
You Get Swollen Feet and Leg Cramps
You can blame water retention for this common complaint — some women actually gain a whole shoe size during pregnancy! To alleviate swelling in your feet and avoid the much dreaded ‘cankles’ (swollen ankles), pamper yourself with a soothing foot soak: simply add half a cup of Epsom salt to warm water and steep your feet in for 20 minutes or so. Even better, run yourself a warm Epson salt bath just before bedtime for the dual benefits of beating fluid retention and setting you up for a night of restful sleep.
You Burp, Fart and Experience Heartburn
During pregnancy, increase progesterone production slows down the digestive process so your body reaps maximum nutrients from what you consume. Sounds good, except for the minor inconveniences of gas production and constipation. Plus, as your baby jostles for space from below, your organs, stomach and intestines not only get pushed to the top and compressed but can also be displaced. Your uterus can also push acid into the oesophagus, causing heartburn. Solution? Be kind to your system and eat small meals. Plus, lay on your left side after eating to aid your digestion.