Pregnancy is a special time in a woman’s life, and brings with it a host of changes to her body. These range from expected and widely known changes such as weight gain and fluid retention, to some little known and understood changes like vision changes. The broad categorisation of changes that occur in a woman’s body are hormonal changes, change in weight, and sensory changes.
Pregnant women experience sudden and extreme increases in progesterone and oestrogen, which are the major pregnancy hormones. These enable the uterus and placenta to improve vascularisation, and support the growing baby with nutrients. It is these hormones that are responsible for the pregnancy ‘glow’, and can alter the impact of exercise and activity on the body. They make the ligaments looser, increasing the risk for sprains and strains on the muscles of the body. Hormones also cause enlargement of breasts and a change in the curvature of a woman’s back, shifting her sense of balance.
Weight Gain and Fluid Retention
Increase in weight increases the workload on the body from any activity. t slows down the blood circulation and of fluids especially in the lower body. Resulting from this, pregnant women’s bodies tend to retain fluids and cause swelling of limbs, especially the face. It is recommended that heavily pregnant women avoid long periods of standing, avoid caffeine and sodium that increase fluid retention, increase potassium intake, and avoid any excessive strains on their bodies.
Pregnancy can have dramatic effects on a woman’s sensory experience of the world, especially through vision, smell and taste. Vision changes include development of nearsightedness, which lasts only as long as the pregnancy. Women often report discomfort with contact lenses and blurry vision at times. Sense of taste moves to extremes during pregnancy, and their tolerance for sour, salty and sweet tastes also increases exponentially, due to a diluted sense of taste, called dysgeusia. A metallic taste in the mouth also contributes to feelings of nausea. Many pregnant women also report a heightened sensitivity and awareness to specific types of odours.
All of these changes are normal and happen to most women, but it is also crucial to understand that they affect each woman in a unique manner, and each experience with these changes is completely personal.