Body Changes During Pregnancy – Week By Week
Since you are on this page, we take it you are pregnant. Congratulations are in order! Your body will undergo many changes in the nine months of your pregnancy. Yes, you are getting used to being pregnant and being a mom, but the bodily changes during these nine months will prepare you for the same. Pregnancy is a major life event, perhaps, a life-changing event, and we are sure you must be curious to discover what changes will happen in your body during this time. So, we have a pregnancy week-by-week guide that will give you a fair idea of the pregnancy body changes that will take place in your body. Read on!
Physical Changes That Happen During Pregnancy
Throughout pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes several physiologic changes. There are some common changes that everyone knows about and expects to experience. However, there are also some changes that not many women are aware of. Even doctors, at times, can’t predict all changes accurately. To everyone’s relief, most changes in a woman’s body are the primary markers of finding out whether she is pregnant and are easily recognisable by both doctors and pregnant women. If you are pregnant, you must have experienced the symptoms mentioned below. But if you haven’t. then we suggest you watch out for these body changes during pregnancy:
- Missed Period – One of the most obvious symptoms of pregnancy is missed periods. Although it can be a misleading symptom for a woman who has irregular menstrual cycles, a missed period can often denote that she is pregnant. If your menstrual cycle hasn’t yet begun despite the stipulated time has passed since your last period, then you may be pregnant.
- Tender and Swollen Breasts – Sensitive breasts accompanied by soreness and slight discomfort is another sign of pregnancy. The discomfort occurs from hormonal changes occurring inside the body and gradually decreases with time.
- Nausea – Nausea can strike at any time of the day or even at night. For pregnant women, nausea can begin as early as two weeks after conception. A pregnant woman may also have a heightened sense of smell.
- Frequent Urination – Pressure on the bladder and uterus increases as the baby grows in the womb. This leads to frequent trips to the bathroom.
- Increased Fatigue – A pregnant woman may also feel tired and dizzy. In the early stages of pregnancy, a woman may also faint due to low blood sugar.
- Shortness of breath – Breathlessness or shortness of breath is another common sign in pregnancy.
- Back Pain – As the baby grows, the mother’s centre of gravity shifts forward, causing the back muscles to work harder to maintain balance. This can lead to lower back pain, which is especially common in the later stages of pregnancy. Hormonal changes, such as increased levels of the hormone relaxin, can also cause the ligaments in the pelvis to loosen, further contributing to back pain.
- Varicose Veins – As blood volume increases during pregnancy, the veins in the legs may become enlarged and twisted, resulting in varicose veins. This can cause discomfort, itching, and aching in the legs. Elevating the legs, exercising regularly, and wearing support stockings can help reduce symptoms.
- Heartburn – The hormonal changes during pregnancy can relax the muscle separating the stomach from the oesophagus, allowing stomach acid to flow back into the oesophagus. This can cause a burning sensation in the chest and throat, known as heartburn. Eating smaller, more frequent meals and avoiding spicy or fatty foods can help alleviate symptoms.
- Swelling – During pregnancy, the body retains more fluid than usual, which can cause swelling in the feet, ankles, and hands. This is often most noticeable in the third trimester. Elevating the feet, staying hydrated, and avoiding standing or sitting for long periods can help reduce swelling. However, sudden or severe swelling should be reported to a healthcare provider, as it can signify a more serious condition such as preeclampsia.
Although the above-mentioned common symptoms can be indicators of other health problems or issues in the body, when you experience a mix of these symptoms simultaneously, you may be pregnant, and that’s when you need to take a home pregnancy test to confirm if you haven’t already.
Bodily Changes in Pregnant Woman – Week By Week Analysis
Your due date will be calculated from the day of your last menstrual cycle. In just 40 weeks, your body will prepare for conceiving the baby. Let’s take a look at what your body shall go through during the course of pregnancy, week by week.
If you are 1 week pregnant, you are not pregnant at all! The sperm meets the egg between week 1 and week 2. Generally speaking, week 1 is usually the start of your pregnancy from the due date. Either of the two ovaries matures and releases an egg during this period. If both ovaries release eggs, you may bear non-identical twins. This is also the week from when you start taking your prenatal vitamins. In this week, the egg is swept into the fallopian tube, travels down the fallopian tube, and awaits the arrival of sperm.
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Ovulation occurs during week 2. Two or three days before the second week is the best time to have intercourse to increase the chances of a successful pregnancy. The breasts begin to glow as the glands produce oestrogen and progesterone, causing hormonal surges and tender breasts.
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The sperm finally meets the egg and penetrates it out of 200 million competitors. At this stage, the egg becomes the zygote and shuts down, preventing other sperm from penetrating it. Although physical changes are not imminent, changes on a biological level are happening at this stage. The nuclei set fuse with your zygote and assign it its gender and genetic characteristics, including eye colour, hair colour, and amongst 200 other similar genetically-determined characteristics.
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Bodily changes in the first month of pregnancy start manifesting at this stage. During early pregnancy, some bodily changes include swollen and sore breasts, tiredness, frequent desire to urinate, and nausea. The formation of the placenta and the umbilical cord begins and the fertilised egg can dig into the uterus and place pressure, causing it to shed a few drops of blood. Testing should be done after a week since false negatives are common when tests are done on the first day of the end of the menstrual cycle.
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The embryo begins to form and grows to the size of a grain. Changes and development of the embryo’s brain, organs, and blood vessels take place from this week. A groove develops on the back of the baby, which seals itself to develop the neural tube, which later becomes the baby’s spinal cord.
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The neural tube becomes the spine, and the heart starts pumping more blood into the embryo. The C-shape of the embryo becomes more pronounced, and you may be susceptible to nausea and fatigue. Your blood pressure may also drop as a result of the changes in hormonal levels. The embryo gets surrounded by a protective membrane and becomes attached to the yolk sac. Exercising will help you cope with stress and provide relief to an extent. At this time, pregnant women need to get enough folic acid. It is very important for developing the fetus’s spinal cord and brain. Folic acid deficiency can cause severe birth defects, known as neural tube defects. The recommended dietary allowance for folate during pregnancy is 600 micrograms per day
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Morning sickness worsens by this time and the brain and face of the embryo start forming and taking shape. The baby’s eye lenses develop, nostrils form, and arms begin to form into a paddle-like shape. Mucus near the cervix thickens and seals the entrance to the womb. Fingers and toes form and signs of brainwave activity in the embryo start showing. You will experience mood swings, crankiness, and feel sick. This is a good sign as it indicates that your pregnancy hormones are in motion.
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The start of brainwave activity in the embryo is marked from the eighth week. The pelvis may experience sharp pain when you stand. The doctor checks for signs of heartbeat or embryo activity using ultrasound imaging. Once the embryo is confirmed, chances of a miscarriage drop to 2%, and an official due date is given from this point onward. During the first trimester of pregnancy, you may experience bleeding.
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At 9 weeks, the embryo will develop, and as a result, you might feel pressure on your bladder. This could result in the leakage of urine. Around this week, the baby’s heart and eyelids will develop. His hair follicles and nipples will form too. Your baby will no longer be an embryo but a foetus. The 9th week of pregnancy is critical for arm and leg development. Your little one’s liver, gall bladder, spleen and adrenal glands are also starting to develop. As the baby’s respiratory system develops, the baby’s ability to inhale or exhale amniotic fluid can cause hiccups, a significant of good diaphragm development. However, you won’t be able to feel fetal hiccups for a few more months. You may feel dehydrated – it is advised that drink plenty of water during this week since it’s considered the roughest patch in the pregnancy, according to most doctors.
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By week 10, almost all of your baby’s vital organs will fully develop and start functioning. Your baby will officially be called a ‘foetus’. The baby’s cartilage and bones will keep forming, and the genitals will form too. The eyes of the foetus will become more pronounced. The foetus will receive oxygen through the umbilical cords, and occasional breathing movements may be noticed in the womb.
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By week 11, the foetus can breathe, suck its thumb, and sigh. The baby’s facial development continues during this time, and the head of the foetus is larger than the body. Food cravings become pronounced during the 11th week, and you may find yourself craving for things unrelated to food such as pica, which may indicate a deficiency in your diet. Consuming folate, fibre, and iron is essential and eating chives can help with this. The first-trimester ultrasound scan will be performed between weeks 11 and 13 to test for chromosomal abnormalities alongside a Nuchal translucency test.
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Now 3 inches in length, your baby will start growing even more. Your baby’s face will look more human and weigh about half an ounce, i.e.around 14gms and crown to rump length of 2 to 2 1/4 inches, about the size of a lime. The rest of the body will continue to grow and the growth of the head will slow down to accommodate the proportions of other body parts. The baby’s posture will change into a curling and upright position. You may have trouble passing stools. You may also have a gassy stomach and an increased heart rate. You may notice your hips widening to accommodate the growing size of your uterus. Since the uterus has difficulty fitting into the pelvis, it puts pressure on the abdomen and pushes into it to accommodate space.
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You and your baby have made it through the first trimester. Congrats! As you have entered the second trimester of your pregnancy, the changes in your body will be in full swing. Eating healthy and drinking lots of fluids is important from now on. You will feel slightly better as nausea and morning sickness will subside. Swimming exercises and low-impact yoga workouts are often recommended to pregnant women at this stage. The baby will experience prenatal hiccups, which help clear up diaphragm passage and facilitate breathing function. Kidney function inside the baby begins, and the bone marrow starts white blood cell production to fight against various diseases. The pancreas, gall bladder, and thyroid will have also developed during this week.
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By this time, the baby’s organs will begin functioning, and you’ll actually be able to see individual facial characteristics through ultrasound scans. The intestine will move into the baby’s body, and insulin production will begin. You may experience your baby’s kicks for the first time. Baby’s kicks, also known as quickening, are usually felt around 16-18 weeks but women who have already given birth have more relaxed muscles, and for them, fetal motion can sometimes be felt as early as 14 weeks. The baby can now make subtle facial expressions as the facial muscles develop. During this week, your doctor may recommend an ultrasound scan to check for neural tube defects like spina bifida and Edward’s syndrome in your baby.
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Screening tests for blood proteins and signs of Down syndrome or genetic defects are done at this stage. Female foetuses show more mouth movements compared to males. The foetus is about 5 inches in length and 2 ounces in weight. A noticeable bump appears near the belly button. You may also experience Braxton-Hicks contractions in your abdomen. Contact a doctor if you experience more than four contractions an hour and uncomfortable and frequent discharge of mucus in the vagina.
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A growth spurt begins, followed by bone formation. You may gain a pound per week during the rest of your pregnancy, i.e. around 0.454 kg per week. Your pelvic area will feel hard and firm. You’ll also notice signs of your baby’s movement becoming more prominent by now.
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You may experience lucid dreams, which are often bizarre. This reflects anxiety or worries regarding childbirth and parenthood, which is normal. By this time, the baby will weigh more than the placenta now. The brown fat responsible for heat generation in the baby’s body will get deposited. Your breasts will grow, becoming sensitive and tender; sometimes, they may even ache. You’ll even experience the “pregnancy glow“, a form of radiance on your face that shows increased blood circulation. Your baby’s first kicks are usually experienced from this week onward till week 22. The placenta will now function fully. It will absorb and distribute nutrients while eliminating waste.
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More ultrasound tests can be done at this point to determine the gender of the baby. However, the doctor may not inform you about it. Fluttery kicks can be felt even more, and the baby may react to certain sounds. The baby’s retina will develop and become sensitive to light. The baby can change positions and even cross his legs. Teeth formation and fat deposition also begin. Pain in the legs, tailbone and in other muscles will also be felt.
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Ultrasound scans of your baby may reveal pictures of the baby holding the membrane of the amniotic sac, sucking thumbs, or making movements in the womb. If the baby is a girl, then follicle formation inside her body will begin by this point, with half of your genetic material being formed inside her. Be sure to eat foods rich in B vitamins and healthy fats since it contributes to the proper brain development of your baby.
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Your uterus will grow towards your rib cage at 1 centimetre per week. This is when mothers enrol in childbirth classes to learn techniques for easing anxiety and sliding smoothly through labour. Your mood will greatly improve since you’re halfway there to give birth to your baby. Immunities are transferred into the foetus from the uterus.
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From this point on, if you’re 35 or older or if you have diabetes and other chronic conditions, you should be a little concerned about how your body changes during pregnancy. Signs of being at risk of eclampsia begin to show from the third trimester of pregnancy. You should take walks and relax daily in order to avoid these problems.
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You are in the fifth month of your pregnancy. At week 22, your baby’s brain will develop rapidly, and you may experience haemorrhoids or constipation. Yeast infections around the vagina and frequent vaginal discharges are common signs in the body during this week. Douching is warned against and vaginal discharges are marked by redness, itchiness, and yeast smell. The baby’s organs develop fully, and blood travelling through the umbilical cord supplies the foetus with oxygen and other nutrients.
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Your baby’s eyes will be formed by now, but there will be no colour due to a lack of pigmentation. Your doctor may advise you against long-distance drives or travels not because it’s unsafe but to ensure that they are ready to help you if you go into labour.
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Your body will experience heartburn during this week. The indication of heartburn equates to hair growing on your baby’s head. If you don’t experience heartburn, your baby will probably turn out to be bald. Muscle aches, sore feet, fatigue, and dizziness are other bodily changes that you may experience during this week.
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Exercise is crucial from this point on to enhance the recovery process after childbirth. Your baby will have regular sleep cycles and his nostrils will open up. The baby’s lungs will develop ‘surfactant’, which helps with inflation and keeps the tiny air sacs open inside the lungs for better breathing. You may experience back, hip, and leg pain in the body. Fatigue and dizziness might resurface during this time.
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The baby’s hearing system will develop during this time and is responsive to noises. You will experience discomfort during your sleep. Sleep on your side rather than the back because sleeping on the back will block blood flow to the baby due to the positioning of the uterus over a major artery. You may notice stretch marks forming near your abdomen.
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You are in the third trimester of your pregnancy and should be prepared to deal with back pain. During this time, you might feel intense back pain. You may experience shooting pain, known as sciatica. Lifting, bending, and walking worsen the pain, and amniotic fluid volumes lessen. The point ends of toes, knees, or bony edges can be seen when the baby moves. Your heart rate may increase, and you may feel flushed.
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As you are in the third trimester of your pregnancy, be prepared to experience Braxton-Hicks contractions near the abdomen, which is a tightening sensation of the muscles in the abdomen. The rate you gain weight will increase, and the baby’s body fat percentage will increase to 2 to 3 per cent. Avoid standing too long in hot weather or for long periods of time, as it can make you feel dizzy. You may also have low blood pressure. Drink plenty of water, and don’t go out too often if you’re pregnant during summer. Your belly will also grow in size, making your body uncomfortable. You can also expect leg cramps and aches during this time.
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Frequent trips to the bathroom and napping are common during the 29th week. Your baby’s breathing system and organ functions will be fully developed by now and require no breathing assistance. Prolactin production increases, and your breasts will start secreting colostrum. The baby’s adrenal glands produce estriol.
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Your uterus will continue to grow and begin crowding your diaphragm. You may feel breathless. Difficulty in breathing and pressure on your bladder can lead to frequent urination. You should continue with your childbirth classes and they should end around week 36.
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The room in your womb will decrease as your baby grows further and your belly expands even more. Ten kicks per hour denote the healthy rate of baby growth in the foetus and doctors assign women to keep track of the baby’s kicks. If you notice inactivity, drink a glass of fresh, natural fruit or vegetable juice.
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By this time, your baby’s five senses will be fully developed. Your baby will experience REM cycles during sleep, and his breathing movements will intensify inside your womb, thus preparing to come out into this world.
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The baby’s position becomes head-down, indicating it may be ready to go through the motions of childbirth. This position also delivers more blood into his brain, and you may experience more abdominal contractions.
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The pupils react when the light is shone on the stomach and dilate and constrict. Your baby will sleep a lot during this week inside your womb as his brain develops continuously. The baby will also experience REM cycles more profoundly during sleep and can have dreams too.
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Measuring roughly 16 to 20 inches, your baby’s size will suggest that he is ready for childbirth. The baby’s nervous and immune systems mature this week, and your body will experience your baby’s weight. You may need to take breaks and sit briefly when walking around or doing normal, everyday tasks. For the next two weeks, from the 35th week onward, you will be tested for the presence of Group B Streptococcus, which live in the vagina and can pass on the infections to the baby. The test usually involves a gentle dab in the rectum with a cotton swab.
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Your baby’s movements should slow down by now, and you should notice the movements of the foetus around 20 times a day. If you are concerned, you can drink a glass of orange juice and lie on your side. This will help the baby to wake up and move around for a while.
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The baby’s intestine will generate meconium. This will help with his first bowel movement once they come out from labour into the open. The foetus will now be around 20 to 21 inches, and the baby will weigh between 6 and 7 pounds, i.e. around 2.7- 3.1 kg. Your baby may also begin to practice breathing in anticipation of labour. Your breasts will discharge colostrum which will be your baby’s nutritional source, and your belly will feel bulging.
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The lanugo, the hair on your baby’s body, will disappear by this time. Your baby will be fully developed by now; however, connections in the brain will continue to form, which will even continue after childbirth. Your baby’s nails may mature and reach the ends of fingers and toes. Frequent bouts of back and neck pain are common. Decreased mobility is also common, and you will have difficulty with the increased fatigue. Have small but frequent healthy meals to get quick relief.
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Your baby will now weigh between 6 and 10 pounds, i.e. around 2.7-4.5 kg, and measure between 17 and 23 inches long in size. Your baby will continue to develop more neural connections and experience hair growth and weight gain. You may consider taking maternity leave a few weeks before entering the last week. Relax, watch a movie, and do hands-and-knees stretches and pelvic tilting exercises to get relief.
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At week 40, your baby will be ready to be born from this week on. If your baby hasn’t been born yet or hasn’t gone into labour this week, doctors will monitor you for another two weeks. Pregnancies close at this stage; however, if it continues, they are termed ‘post-dated’. Your labour date will soon approach, and you will have your baby in your arms.
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If your baby hasn’t been born yet, your doctor will talk about inducing labour. It is deemed unsafe for the mother and the baby if the pregnant woman doesn’t go into labour by week 42.
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If your baby is not born until now, your doctor will induce labour and suggest either a C-section or vaginal delivery. If your cervix hasn’t softened, your doctor will mechanise labour by introducing hormones to ripen the cervix for baby delivery. Procedures such as stripping and rupturing the membranes are used. The common labour induction methods involve using drugs like oxytocin to begin vaginal contractions. If vaginal contractions don’t occur despite the manual labour induction method, you’ll need a C-section procedure for delivering the baby.
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1. When Do You Start Noticing Changes in Body While Pregnant?
Many women notice body changes during the first few weeks of pregnancy. This can include missed periods, breast tenderness, and nausea, appearing early, a few days after conception. However, the timing of when changes become noticeable can vary from woman to woman.
2. What Are the First Body Changes You Notice in Early Pregnancy?
In early pregnancy, many women may notice changes in their bodies due to hormonal shifts. These changes can include nausea, vomiting, food cravings, or aversions. The changes in the respiratory, urinary, and gastrointestinal systems during pregnancy produce symptoms like acid reflux, the urge to urinate frequently, or feeling out of breath. Additionally, some women may experience mild spotting or cramping as fertilised egg implants in the uterus.
Other early signs of pregnancy can include an increased sense of smell or taste sensation. As the pregnancy progresses, changes in the body can become more apparent, such as a growing belly and weight gain. However, every pregnancy is unique, and the timing and severity of symptoms can vary.
Once your baby is born, it is important to facilitate recovery by optimising your diet, exercise, and nutrition. It is recommended to avoid smoking, and drug usage and prevent alcohol consumption before you get pregnant, even before week 1, to improve the chances of a successful pregnancy and a hassle-free delivery.
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4. Motosko. BS, Bieber. AK, Pomeranz. MK, et al.; Physiologic changes of pregnancy: A review of the literature; Science Direct; https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352647517300667; December 2017
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