Head to toe

By Published On: May 1st, 2011

Pregnancy is a head-to-toe experience in which everything from your […]

Pregnancy is a head-to-toe experience in which everything from your vision to your ankles feels its effects.
External changes
One of our favorite pregnancy perks is the gorgeous, thick hair that graces the heads of many moms-to-be. (Enjoy the volume now—the extra hair will likely fall out postpartum.)
Obviously there are some changes here! Your belly will stretch, itch and amaze you.
Acne, redness and dark coloration on the face (aka the “mask of pregnancy”) are all typical amongst the expecting.
Your girls are tender and enhanced in size, and the veins inside them are more visible thanks to increased blood flow.
It isn’t fair, but expanding hips and a little extra padding in the derriere are par for the course.
Itchy, red palms are another weird prenatal symptom. Hands often swell later in pregnancy too.
That tingly almost painful feeling in your legs that keeps you up at night is probably restless leg syndrome—just one more strange thing that plagues moms-to-be.
Nope, it’s not your imagination: Your feet are actually getting bigger. Go ahead and buy shoes a half-size up as there’s a good chance the swap is permanent.
Our least favorite pregnancy side effect is swollen ankles, an all-too-common occurrence in late pregnancy.
Internal changes
Twenty to 30 percent of expectant moms suffer from rhinitis of pregnancy: congestion that isn’t caused by allergies or a viral infection.
A slight change in vision isn’t all that rare. In fact, fluid retention and hormonal changes can cause eyesight to seem blurrier and eyes to feel dry and itchy.
An increase in acidic saliva augments tooth decay in pregnant women, and gums may be sensitive and bleed easily while brushing.
Your enlarging uterus pushes up on your rib cage and diaphragm, causing a slight shortness of breath.
Blood volume expands 25 to 40 percent during the average pregnancy, forcing your heart to work harder with each beat.
As your growing uterus presses on the veins in your pelvis, pressure in the veins that bring blood up from your legs increases, resulting in the pesky varicose veins that color the legs of many moms-to-be.
Increased blood flow will cause your vaginal and cervical tissue to darken as early as the sixth gestational week.
The biggest change takes place in your uterus. Not only does it become up to 20 times heavier than its original weight, it also changes position as it increases in size, expanding further into your abdomen and higher into your rib cage.
Changes, changes everywhere
These common body changes aren’t limited to just one area—they can pop up pretty much anywhere you have skin.
While your stomach is most likely to show areas of seriously stretched skin, it isn’t uncommon for stretch marks to also appear on your breasts, backside and upper thighs. (Not to worry: They fade to an unnoticeable silvery color in time.)
Extra little flaps of skin might show up on areas of your body that experience lots of friction. (Many expectant women find them under their arms.) They can be easily removed if they don’t go away on their own post delivery.
An increase of eccrine perspiration (the kind that comes from sweat glands all over your body and plays a part in heat regulation) sometimes causes heat rash in pregnancy. The upside? Apocrine perspiration (the kind of perspiration responsible for body odor) diminishes during pregnancy, so at least you won’t smell as sweaty as you feel.