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What Can I Expect During My Pregnancy?

    Many women wonder what they can expect during pregnancy. This is especially true of first-time mothers. Changes during pregnancy are physical and emotional.

    My Pregnancy – Initial Pregnancy Changes

    Physical changes during pregnancy start within minutes of conception. With increased hormone levels like estrogen and progesterone, the body will adapt and change. Hormones will cause the cervical mucus plug to form, ligaments to loosen and menstrual/ovulation cycles to stop within two weeks of conception.

    My Pregnancy – Physical Changes First Trimester

    During the first trimester, hormones are again to blame for many physical changes. Breasts may feel tender to the touch and grow larger than normal. Vaginal discharge may increase and appear white and milky. The uterus starts to adapt to the growing fetus, but weight gain is minimal so most women do not “show” during the first trimester.

    My Pregnancy – Physical Changes Second Trimester

    Breasts are more used to the increased hormones, so tenderness may fade away. Breasts may continue to grow in size throughout the second trimester. The fetus is growing rapidly and the small uterus must expand to accommodate growth. Most women start to “show” in the second trimester. The growing uterus may cause cramping and physical pain. By the end of the second trimester, women may experience light uterine cramping known as Braxton Hicks contractions. These prepare the uterus for labor.

    My Pregnancy – Physical Changes Third Trimester

    By the time the third trimester starts, nearly all pregnant women are “showing”. The uterus continues to grow larger and cramping and back pain may continue. The breasts continue to grow and milk may start to leak from the nipple. Milk could start leaking when a baby is heard crying even though the pregnant woman has yet to give birth. The end of the third trimester is when the mucus plug will loosen and wash out of the vagina. Labor will likely begin causing back pain and a tightening of the uterine muscles. These muscles are used to push baby out of the uterus.

    My Pregnancy – Emotional Changes

    The same hormones that cause physical changes will also cause emotional changes. Mood swings, depression, anxiety and even panic are common during pregnancy. It is important to talk about all emotional changes with a trusted friend or healthcare provider.

    My Pregnancy – Post-Partum

    Post-partum, the physical changes that occurred during “my” pregnancy will slowly fade away. If breastfeeding, milk will continue to flow for most women until breastfeeding is stopped. If not breastfeeding, milk will come in. Breasts will harden and eventually milk production will stop. Breasts will return to normal size, in most cases.

    There is no set guideline for how the body will be affected by “my” pregnancy. Every pregnancy is different and every female body will react differently to the increase in pregnancy hormones. Obstetricians have likely heard every question imaginable, so there are no questions about “my” pregnancy, the pregnant woman should be embarrassed to ask.