There are so many changes going on during pregnancy that at times it seems as though it may be difficult to keep track of them. Well, guess what, here is some further food for thought for you – some of the changes occurring to your body you may not even be aware of. For example, did you know that your heart rate, its stroke volume, and cardiac output all increase due to an increase in blood volume and plasma of 40-50%? As a result of these changes though, your platelet concentration decreases which may result in anemia. And this is just the start of things.
All the changes that occur to your body are known as physiological changes from the Greek and Latin “physiologia” meaning the science of natural causes and phenomena. The most obvious internal and external changes that occur to a pregnant woman are the cessation of menstruation and growth in the size of her stomach. As mentioned above, many of the internal physiological changes are not realized except when they become manifest in external changes. Every physiological change that transpires has a very good reason. In the examples used above, the monthly cycle ceases as one of the woman’s eggs has finally been fertilized by sperm and the reproductive process is in full swing and the stomach enlarges to facilitate the new life form in the body – the fetus.
Numerous other physiological changes occur with almost all of them reversing themselves either during pregnancy or following the birth. Morning sickness, also known as emesis gravidarum or NVP, is the nausea and vomiting that accompany pregnancy for about 50% of women. It does not occur only in the morning and usually doesn’t continue past the first trimester. It is usually caused by the body being inundated with estrogen to help prepare it to cope with its transformation.
Breast size grows as the breasts prepare themselves for their vital task in feeding the soon to be born baby. Growth of one to two cup sizes, or even more, is not uncommon. Other body parts that may grow are legs and feet due to fluid retention, although this is growth fuelled by swelling.
Books have been written outlining all the physiological changes that occur during pregnancy as they are so numerous and fascinating. They are the body’s way of coping with its new status as a giver of life. Some of the changes may involve inconvenience but the inconvenience will be well worth the bother in nine months.
Written by Sharon from the Hadassah Medical Center. Visit us to find out more about physiological changes during pregnancy.
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