During 9 months of pregnancy woman’s body works hard to grow the fetus and to prepare for birth and breastfeeding.
The uterus expands and the heart beats faster to pump the blood to the fetus. Woman gains weight and her skin stretches – leading to stretch marks. These are quite obvious changes that probably every woman heard about.
But there are also other body changes happening during pregnancy that are less-talked-about. Did you know that brain decreases in size, especially in late pregnancy? What’s more, the sweat smell changes and you may even see hair growing on your stomach.
These changes are quite common and completely normal, but somehow usually you don’t hear about them before pregnancy – and you only find out about them when you experience them during your pregnancy.
In this article we are going to discuss all those less-discussed changes that pregnant woman’s body goes through.
Dry And Itchy Skin
Dry skin in pregnancy is a very common and normal symptom, caused by hormone fluctuations (increase in estrogen and progesterone), skin stretching and increased water retention that leads to bloating.
Increased blood volume and water retention make your skin stretch to accommodate growing baby. Skin’s elasticity becomes weaker and you skin barrier may not be able to retain the moisture that it looses.
And when the skin expands, it can become dry, flaky and itchy.
Dry and itchy skin during pregnancy occurs most commonly on growing belly, but you can also see dry patches on your thighs, breasts, arms and face.
It’s crucial to stay hydrated during pregnancy and drink plenty water. Using humidifier can be also helpful, if the air in your house is dry.
Moreover, experts from LittleBabyGear.com recommend using oils for pregnant belly – which not only moisturize the skin, but also help to soothe itchy stretch marks and reduce their visibility.
Just like the skin on your stomach can become dry, it is also very common to have dry and chapped lips during pregnancy.
As explained earlier, increased blood volume and water retention make the skin stretch and loose its elasticity, ultimately leading to dry patches.
Other reason for dry skin – including the delicate skin on your lips – is that your kidneys need to filter that extra blood, which leads to more frequent urination. If pregnant woman is unable to drink enough water to replenish those fluids, it can lead to dehydration – which is what causes cracked and chapped lips.
There is one more cause of dry lips during pregnancy – blocked nose and breathing through mouth. It’s not uncommon in pregnancy, that the increased blood flow causes congested nasal passages and makes mucous membranes to swell, making breathing through nose more difficult.
One of the solutions to chapped lips when you’re pregnant may be using a lip balm. It’s important to choose one that contain natural and only pregnancy-safe ingredients.
Stretch Marks On Breasts
It is estimated that around 90% of pregnant women develops stretch marks (striae gravidarum). They can also appear on breasts – because the breast tissue expands and the skin stretches rapidly. As woman’s body prepares for breastfeeding, breasts can expand even by two bra cup sizes.
This issue is related to breast growth during pregnancy. Nipples are stretching too, which can make them dry, itchy, sore and even peeling and cracking.
There are also some medical conditions that can cause crusty nipples in pregnant women like yeast infection and pregnancy eczema.
This is another skin issue that is very common during pregnancy, and is caused by hormone fluctuations. Increased amount of progesterone plays particularly big role in acne breakouts in pregnant women.
This hormone stimulates skin oil production that can ultimately lead to clogged pores and cause pimples.
There are also other factors that increase the likelihood of acne for pregnant women: weaker immune system during pregnancy and higher level of stress hormone.
Increased sweating, more body odor, and night sweats are very common during pregnancy. They are cause by higher levels of pregnancy hormones like progesterone and estrogen that can cause increase in body temperature. Moreover, increased blood flow means greater circulation to sweat glands. All these changes cause more sweating.
Pregnant women can also notice a change in their body odor – caused by hyperactive sweat glands particularly in underarms and groin area. Interestingly, sweat from these body parts can have more foul smell.
It’s noteworthy that during pregnancy women experience enhanced olfaction – meaning they are more sensitive to smells and scents.
This means that they may actually have the same body odor and sweat smell as usual, but they have more intense sense of smell and some scents become stronger or even offensive.
Belly hair is very common thing in pregnancy, mostly caused by higher levels of progesterone and estrogen, that stimulate hair growth, as well as androgen hormones, that make the hair thicker (especially in pubic area, face and belly).
Moreover, increased blood flow can stimulate hair follicles and cause hair to grow on the pregnant belly, and make the hair more visible.
During pregnancy hormones make larger number of hair get into resting phase so it continues to grow and doesn’t fall out.
That’s why lots of pregnant women experience boost in hair growth on their head and the hair looks more healthy, thick and luscious. But that also means the hair may start to grow and become more visible in other areas, like belly, lower back or upper lip.