As a woman, your body changes considerably throughout your lifetime. Pregnancy, however, is one of the most drastic changes your body can undergo. The journey between conception to your postpartum stage is a long and winding one, but in the end, it’s so worth it! There are many great resources out there around what to expect when you’re expecting, but here, we’d like to take you through the main changes you can anticipate both during pregnancy and afterward.
The first trimester begins on the first day of a woman’s last menstrual cycle and concludes on her twelfth week of pregnancy. During the earliest stage of pregnancy, changes in the body such as a missed period and increased stomach sensitivity are common symptoms that indicate to a woman that she is likely pregnant. Although women’s bellies are unlikely to show any physical signs of carrying just yet, they’ll surely feel different from these slight changes.
Many of the first trimester discomforts are due to changing hormones. Here are a few of the many changes you can expect during this period.
The name is deceiving as this pregnancy-induced nausea can occur at any point during the day, mainly due to rapid changes in your hormone levels within the first few months of pregnancy. This transformation can cause your stomach and intestines to contract and relax in new patterns. For more information on morning sickness symptoms and remedies, click here.
Soon after conceiving, the hormonal changes in your body, such as an increase in estrogen and progesterone production, can cause your breasts to feel more tender and sore. Luckily, as your body adjusts to these new hormone levels, this soreness will subside over time. In the meantime, sports bras along with alternating heat and cold therapy can help.
As your progesterone levels drastically increase, you may feel more exhausted than usual. To help combat the tiredness, it’s important to get adequate rest and maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes getting enough protein and calcium, along with other nutrients. You also want to keep active (as best as you can) to help boost your energy levels. Try going to bed earlier and take naps if you need to.
Second Trimester (begins the 13th week of pregnancy)
By the second trimester, you can start to feel the baby kick and move around in the womb. It’s much more apparent at this point that you’re pregnant and you may even need to get new clothes or wear looser items, including a larger bra size.
Although some of your first trimester symptoms will end, such as morning sickness, your body will continue to change in the second trimester. You’ll experience new differences in your mood, skin, and body. Below are a few of the most common transformations you can foresee happening.
Growing Belly and Breasts
Your uterus will expand during this period to make room for the growing baby, which will cause your abdomen to grow as well. Your breasts will likely get larger during this time, which may require you to get a bigger bra with more supportive straps to stabilize yourself. Our B.D.A. Bra is a great option for a comfort during this time. It can also be worn post-pregnancy.
With such drastic hormonal changes during pregnancy, this can stimulate an increase in melanin cells in your skin. You may notice darkening of the skin on the face, known as melasma, or a dark line down your abdomen. These will likely fade post-pregnancy; however, you can use a melasma treatment if you notice it doesn’t go away following delivery. It’s also crucial to always wear sunscreen to help combat this and protect your skin.
For those women who didn’t feel the greatest during the first trimester, you may start to feel better during your second trimester (yay!), as your hormones begin to balance out. You may have less fatigue and fewer mood swings during this period, which is a great time to tackle your baby-prep checklist!
Third Trimester (Begins the 28th week of pregnancy)
Since the baby is growing much bigger at this point, you may feel more physical (and emotional) pressure than in your previous trimesters. As you get closer to your due date, you may start to feel anxious as motherhood becomes more real.
During your third trimester, many of the symptoms you’ve felt earlier in your pregnancy are accentuated. Here are a few things to look out for:
Baby Grows Quicker
In these last few months, it will seem like the baby is developing much more rapidly than the previous trimesters as they transition from the size of a squash to the size of a watermelon in just two short months. The baby transforms cartilage into bones during months seven and eight of pregnancy, expending much of your calcium during this time as well. It’s crucial to take things slowly during this time as well as getting enough nutrients through proper nutrition and vitamin supplements.
As your belly grows and expands, you’re likely to feel more aches in both your stomach and your lower back. It’s important to take it easy during this time and get plenty of rest. It can also be helpful to use a belly support, such as our Upsie Belly, to help relieve the pressure you may be feeling.
Braxton Hicks Contractions
As your body prepares for childbirth, you may begin to experience irregular “practice” contractions. This is your body’s way of preparing for real labor before the big day. Not all women experience Braxton Hicks Contractions, and that’s perfectly healthy if you don’t. However, if you do experience these, you most likely will feel them at night after a long day. In order to help relieve the contractions, it’s vital to relax and stay well-hydrated throughout the day.
As you transition into your postpartum body after delivery, you can continue to experience further changes to your body. The essential thing to acknowledge during this period is that things are bound to change but in new and exciting ways. There are many changes that occur during postpartum, but here are some of the most common things to expect.
Changes in Belly Size
Within the first 24 hours of delivery, your belly will slowly start to decrease in size. This is the ideal time to start belly wrapping. Our Belly Wraps are designed to be worn immediately postpartum for a minimum of 6-10 weeks after delivery. The ideal fit for your Belly Bandit Belly Wrap is a snug one, with constant pressure on the belly - but without any impact on breathing or circulation.
It will take roughly six weeks for your uterus to fully return to your pelvis. This means that your belly will probably look a lot flatter and smaller than before and breastfeeding can also help with this process.
Above all, women should remember that every body is different and not to get caught up on the number on the scale. You just delivered a baby after carrying for 40 weeks, and that’s a remarkable accomplishment!
If you underwent a C-section to give birth, it might take you a while to recover postpartum. You may be sore and really tired as you’re healing. During this time, it’s important to rest when you can, drink plenty of water, and support your belly with pillows if you breastfeed. It also can be helpful to use our C-Section and Postpartum Recovery Undies to help reduce pressure and eliminate bacteria and odor. Once you've recovered from delivery you can transition into our Belly Wraps.
It’s common to feel fatigued after giving birth, as vitamin deficiencies are typical. Your body loses a lot of blood during delivery, which can lead to iron deficiencies. Additionally, if you’re breastfeeding, you need to ensure you are maintaining healthy levels of vitamins A, C, D, and E.