Lots of surprises are in store for you when you’re pregnant—but none sweeter than the way you’ll feel once your newborn is in your arms! Here are a few common surprises you can expect…
1. Breast size
One of the first signs of pregnancy is an increase in breast size due to higher levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Your ribcage expands and lung capacity increases so you can take in extra oxygen, which often leads to a bigger chest size. (Side note: deep breathing instantly oxygenates your body and helps support the development of your womb baby, so don’t forget to practice some form of pranayama, even for a few minutes, through the day!)
Breast growth in the first trimester might not be the end, and your breasts can continue to grow until your baby arrives! Be prepared to size-up on bras several times during your pregnancy if need be. We recommend soft, organic cotton nursing bras that you can also sleep in, so you can continue to wear them during breastfeeding instead of needing to buy new ones post baby. PS. Your breast size does not co-relate to your capacity for milk production, your body will be able to provide sufficiently for your baby—whatever breast shape or size!
You may also find the skin on your breasts becoming itchy and flaky as they expand. Moisturising them regularly with pregnancy-safe oils or balms can help soothe the discomfort. Postpartum, nipple butter helps soothe sore breasts or cracked nipples from engorgement and breastfeeding. Look out for a natural one that is baby-safe, and remember to always wipe it off with warm water before nursing and apply it generously after nursing.
2. Skin changes
You may notice the colour of the nipples, genitalia skin and the centre of your tummy darken. Dark, blotchy patches can appear on your cheeks, forehead, nose and chin called melasma, commonly referred to as the ‘pregnancy mask.’ Although there’s no way to completely prevent melasma, wearing sunscreen (a natural, non-toxic one ofcourse) can help limit the effects, as UV exposure can make unwanted pigmentation even worse. The good news is that this discolouration is often temporary and fades after delivery.
Time to make peace with the sun and apply this all-natural Sunscreen Balm. PS. It also contains Carrot Seed Oil which helps in anti-ageing and fighting acne | Shop now
A weird line down the middle of your belly
Also called the ‘pregnancy line,’ this dark vertical strip affects majority of pregnant women and extends from your belly button to your pubic area. The same hormones that trigger melasma are responsible for this change. Although there’s no easy way to prevent this pigment change, it usually goes away naturally in the months after birth. No stress!
The truth about stretch marks
They affect 50% to 90% of all women—pregnant or not—but are much more common during pregnancy, when a woman’s body is expanding faster than the skin is able to keep up. Stretch marks may appear red, brown, or purple in color, and are visible predominantly on the belly, breasts and thighs. After delivery, they become paler in colour but often remain as permanent scars.
A bio-oil or a belly balm can help soothe the itchiness and flaking from stretching skin, but may not prevent stretch marks completely. Turns out you can use all the products you want, but if you’re going to get them you will!
3. Oh, my hair!
While you’re pregnant, your hair is in the ‘growth phase’ caused by soaring estrogen levels so it may feel extra long and lustrous. After delivery and changing hormone levels, the increased hair sheds (often as clumps in the drain every time you shampoo), which typically start around three months postpartum. While hair loss can be upsetting, here’s no need to panic—this is only temporary. By your little one’s first birthday, your hair growth is likely to be back to normal.
In the interim period, opt for a volumising shampoo which can make your hair look fuller, and choose a light-formula conditioner designed for fine hair like the ones below:
All-natural Hair Loss Shampoo Bar & Solid Conditioner to moisturise and strengthen damaged hair and boost hair growth | Shop now
Some women find themselves dealing with a dry and itchy scalp during pregnancy, which can persist months after birth. Dandruff happens when the cycle of shedding old skin cells speeds up, leaving bits of dead, flaky skin on the scalp. Not fun. So if you need to manage a case of stubborn dandruff, look for a shampoo with a natural antimicrobial active ingredient like Peppermint. It’s one of the key ingredients in the shampoo below:
Snow Stopper! Anti-Dandruff Shampoo | Shop now
4. Swollen feet
Even though you can’t fit into any of your pre-pregnancy clothes, you still have your shoes, right? Maybe—but maybe not! Your body produces 50% more blood and body fluids during pregnancy to support the developing baby. This can lead to swelling in the legs, feet and ankles for many women during pregnancy, and is a common postpartum symptom too if the water weight remains in the body after childbirth.
To relieve any discomfort from swollen legs, use a pillow to elevate them above your heart while lying down. Staying hydrated helps your body to shed the extra fluid and so does avoiding salt, using cold compresses, and doing light exercise like walking and yoga. Wear slip-on shoes in a larger size to be more comfortable until the swelling subsides.
5. Joint mobility
During pregnancy, your body makes the hormone relaxin, to help prepare the pubic area and the cervix for birth. Relaxin loosens the ligaments in your body, making you less stable and more at risk for injury. So it’s easy to overstretch or strain yourself, especially the joints in your pelvis, lower back, and knees. When exercising or lifting objects, remember to go slowly and avoid any sudden, jerking movements.
Try these gentle back and pelvic floor strengthening exercises that are great during pregnancy and postpartum.
6. Haemorrhoids and constipation
As your blood volume increases and your uterus puts pressure on your pelvis during pregnancy, the veins in your rectum may enlarge into grape-like clusters called haemorrhoids, also known as piles. They can be very painful and worsen after birth causing bleeding, itching, or stinging, especially during or after a bowel movement. If they do stick out of your anas, apply coconut oil (natural anti-bacterial) to the area and try gently pushing it back in to relieve the discomfort.
Constipation is another common pregnancy woe. It happens because pregnancy hormones slow the passing of food through the digestive tract. During the later stages of pregnancy, your uterus may push against your large intestine, making it hard for you to have a bowel movement. And constipation can also contribute to piles because straining to go often enlarges the veins of the rectum.
The best way to deal with constipation and haemorrhoids is to prevent them. Eat a fibre-rich diet, drinking plenty of liquids daily, and exercising regularly can help keep your bowel movements regular. Stool softeners (not laxatives) may also help.
7. Things that come out of your body during labour
Besides a gush of amniotic fluid when your water breaks, other unexpected things may come out of your body during labour. Some women have nausea and vomiting. Others have diarrhoea before or during labor, and passing gas is also common. During the pushing phase of labor, you may lose control of your bladder or bowels. Don’t worry, it’s totally normal and neither the doctor nor nurses in the hospital will let you know or judge you if it happens.
It’s not easy to accept the new you—spots, scars and all, but the fact is your body is doing an amazing thing: it’s growing a new life inside you. And it’s such a special journey, that all of these body changes will be worth it to have your little one if your arms!
For more nuggets of wisdom to feel a bit more confident and prepared for motherhood, read this blog post:
What I Wish I Knew As A First Time Mom | Read now