During pregnancy, a woman’s body effectively becomes an incubator for the fetus. The fetus’ very survival is dependent on the health of the mother and everything the mother experiences manifests itself in some way, shape, or form to mould the unborn child.
The human body undergoes numerous physiological changes during pregnancy to adapt to the new life form growing within it. Every change undertaken is a natural, pre-programmed occurrence that provides for the safety of the mother and child. Some of the physiological changes are more visible and therefore more obvious than others, which occur internally or at a hormonal level. However, just because you cannot see what transpires does not mean that it is any less important than the visibly obvious changes.
Weight gain and a larger stomach are perhaps the most obvious changes that occur to the body during pregnancy. As the fetus takes its prime position in the body and continues to grow so do the mother’s size and weight. Similarly, the mother naturally requires more food to feed the child in her stomach. An additional benefit of the weight gain is to provide structural strength and stability to the mother during this period which places enormous stresses on her system.
There are actually musculoskeletal changes that occur that affect posture. Once again, this is nature’s way of compensating for the change in the body’s status and adjusting optimally to help it in its task. A woman’s feet may grow in size due to fluid retention and weight gain.
Breasts grow at least one to two cup sizes during pregnancy as they prepare for their vital task of feeding the baby following its birth.
As the sole provider of nutrition to the fetus, the mother has many strains placed on her body above and beyond the normal everyday strains. These are compensated for by the changes that occur in the body during pregnancy. For example, increases to blood volume and plasma of 40-50% are common occurrences. This results in the heart rate increasing as well as the cardiac output and stroke volume. Platelets concentration decreases which can result in anemia if the mother is not careful.
All the physiological changes that occur are natural and required. It is nature’s way of saying, “You are the provider of new life and I am going to help you in your task.”
For more information on Physiological Changes during Pregnancy, visit the Hadassah Medical Center website.