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Physiological Body Changes During Pregnancy

Updated on October 24, 2011

Body Changes during pregnancy

Cardiovascular changes during pregnancy:

Some of the important physiological body changes during pregnancy are the changes that occur in the cardiovascular system.

  • The blood volume is increased as the plasma volume and the RBCs in the pregnant women both increase, causing dilution of the blood.
  • The heart rate increases by 10-15 beats per minutes (BPM). It reaches about 90 bpm at the 32nd week. The Stroke volume is also increases (the amount of blood the heart pumps each beat) leading to more blood in the circulation. This icrease is needed to share in the uteroplacental circulation and the arteriovenous shunts in the placenta.
  • On auscultation, it is normal to find a rapid heart rate (as we said) and a murmur in 90% of women.
  • Blood pressure drops in pregnancy.
  • Pregnancy is a hypercoagulable state, a pregnant woman is 6 times more liable to have clots than a non pregnant. That is why it is recommended to move during pregnancy and after delivery to avoid the stagnation of blood.
  • Leg edema is common in late pregnancy and sometimes varicose veins.

Metabolic changes during pregnancy

  • There is increased body fat storage and conversion. About 4 Kg of fat are stored in the body by the 30th week.
  • More proteins are needed during pregnancy. The recommended daily protein intake for the pregnant woman is 65 grams per day. A pregnant woman also needs 2500 calories daily.
  • Diabetes can appear during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) or be worsened by pregnancy.
  • Weight gain during pregnancy:It is normal to gain about 12 kilograms during pregnancy (about 26 pounds). The rate is about 0.5 kg per week and mainly 5 kilograms (10 pounds) during the second trimester and more 5 in the third trimester.

Skin changes during pregancy

  •  Pigmentations are very common during pregnancy. Mainly in the midline of the abdomen, around the nipples and areola, in the pernium and of course, in the face (chloasma of pregnancy).
  • The breast: nipples become more prominent and erectile, and the enlarged sebacous glands around the areola may cause slight projections knows as Montogomry;s tubercles. The breast enlarges and becomes softer.
  • The increase in the circulating bile salts may cause itching and urticaria.
  • Stria: due to stretching of skin, red lines or stria appear in the skin, with time and more pregnancies, these stria turn white and may be black.
  • Palmar erythema, which is simply redness in the palms of the hands.

Gastrointestinal changes

  • Morning sickness and emesis gravidarum. Nausea and vomiting specially early in the morning, this begins at about the sixth week and ends by the end of the first trimester.
  • Regurgitation of the contents of the stomach into the esophagus may occur, causing a heart burn.
  • There may be associated mild bleeding from the gums and more secretion of saliva.
  • Pica: the pregnant woman may suddenly developed a desire to eat something that may be strange sometimes, and the opposite may occur (she refuses to eat a particular food).
  • Constipation is common during pregnancy. Also, gall stones are more common than on non pregnant females.

Changes in the genital system during pergnancy

  • As a general rule, all organs increase in size and in vascularity, spcially the uterus which undergo a lot of anatomical and physiological changes during pregnancy. The capacity of the uterus is increased by 1000 times than normal. The normal uterus weighs about 60 grams but the pregnant uterus weighs about 1000 grams.
  • There are mild uterine contractions early in pregnancy that the pregnanct women won't feel. Contractions during the second and third trimester become painful. These contractions are unpredictable and irregular. The frequency and intensity of hese contraction increase as pregnancy advances.
  • The vulva, vagina and cervix, all increase in size and blood supply and pulsations can be felt in them. Bluish or violet discoluration may occur.


There are also more changes in other systems such as the kidneys, the lungs, the immune system, bones, muscles and a lot of hormonal changes. But it would take more extensive articles to discuss, I tried to sumarize some of the important changes that happen in main body systems.These were some of the physioloical changes that occur during pregnancy in brief, I hope these little information helped.


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    • Mezo profile image

      Motaz 6 years ago from Egypt

      Thanks a lot :)

    • FOREX NINJA profile image

      FOREX NINJA 6 years ago

      A brilliant and interesting article you shared in here which was properly researched on before publishing.Voted this one up,well bookmarked.

    • profile image

      Sam Cervantes 6 years ago

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    • mulberry1 profile image

      mulberry1 7 years ago

      Good info once again, but I don't think I'll be having to worry about it since I'm 50 yrs old. ;)

    • Mezo profile image

      Motaz 7 years ago from Egypt

      thank you for the comment, Ladylux

    • ladylux profile image

      ladylux 7 years ago

      Excellent overview of bodily changes. Thanks!