Things are changing – Exploring pregnancy changes When you conceive, you may not notice pregnancy changes right away, but they’re happening. Just like a stomach that gradually begins to bulge, other changes will become more obvious until you feel like you’re going to pop with anticipation. You will see more than physical pregnancy changes. Expectant parents experience social and emotional changes, too. In surrogate pregnancies, intended parents will also feel changes too. Physical pregnancy changes from the top One of the physical pregnancy changes a pregnant woman experiences might be longer, shinier, faster-growing hair. Some moms attribute it to hormones, while some say it comes from the prenatal vitamins. It could be a bit of both, but enjoy it. Other, not quite so enjoyable changes, include acne breakouts. Some women get a subtle “glow” or shinier and oilier skin. Some feel like they’re experiencing teenage breakouts again. Remember, it’s just for a short time. Ask your doctor about pregnancy-safe treatments for your skin. Physical changes in the middle Even before your belly begins to show any signs of growth, your stomach may be reacting to the pregnancy. Many women experience “morning sickness,” even though symptoms are not always limited to the morning. Women who get extremely sick and vomit regularly in the first trimester may even lose weight. This is nothing to be alarmed about. Just talk to your doctor to see what you can do. As time goes by, many women continue to feel nausea. Some experience bloating or constant heartburn. You could experience food aversions and food cravings. You may become short of breath when exercising because your lungs don’t have room to expand. At times, it may be downright uncomfortable. A woman’s body also begins to put on “maternal fat.” Even when your baby weighs only a few ounces, you could gain about a pound a week. Part of the maternal fat is gained in the breasts, since your body is preparing to nurse a newborn. Some of the weight gain is water weight. Other weight is increased blood volume as your body works overtime to deliver nutrients to the baby. Also, don’t be surprised when backaches and other joint aches make an early appearance, even before your baby weighs more than a couple of pounds. Hormones flood a woman’s body during pregnancy. One of the hormones, relaxin, is responsible for relaxing ligaments and loosening joints, which can lead to aches. Physical pregnancy changes in the lower body You may also feel aches in your hips, legs and knees, and cramps in your calves. Again, hormones are partially responsible. There is also a growing weight in your abdomen that puts extra stress on your hips and legs and that separates your stomach muscles so they can’t support your weight as much. There are lots of helpful calf stretches and prenatal yoga poses to alleviate aches and cramps. Drink plenty of water during the day to help ease these cramps. You can taper it off in the evening so your bladder doesn’t keep you all night. However, that’s another thing you’re going to experience. Your bladder gets squished and squeezed to make room for the growing baby, so you’ll have to go to the bathroom more. Your legs are also the perfect place for water weight gain to accumulate. You’ll probably see some swelling, especially in the third trimester. Some women experience extreme swelling in the feet. Talk to your doctor if it’s painful or keeps you awake at night. Generally, elevating your feet helps. Brain changes A pregnant woman’s brain can change in unique, often permanent, ways. Some studies have indicated a reduction occurs in “grey matter” in the brain, which can account for a loss of memory. Many mothers attest to having experienced “pregnancy brain,” referring to feeling scatterbrained, frazzled, and distracted during pregnancy. Experts on these physiological changes during pregnancy emphasize that pregnant mothers aren’t really “losing their brain.” These brain changes actually help a woman bond with her child and mature emotionally and socially, while effecting long-term changes that help her become a better mother. Emotional pregnancy changes Hormones are also responsible for a lot of emotional changes and mood swings that a woman goes through during pregnancy. However, even a father who is not pregnant can experience emotional changes. Similarly, expecting parents who don’t experience the body changes occurring with a surrogate pregnancy will still experience emotional changes. It’s important for a surrogate mother and the intended parents to keep close contact and share the experience. This way, the intended parents can feel the same excitement, nervousness and parental instincts that come during this time. When you are excited and anticipating a huge event, like adding a new baby to your family, your body reacts by sending out adrenaline and hormones. You will probably experience the full spectrum of emotions from stress to elation. Let these emotions come and go like waves. It’s all part of becoming a parent. The fact that you are experiencing these emotions means that you are preparing emotionally for the burden and joys of a child and that you want to do your best. Contact us to learn more.