Weight gain during pregnancy can vary from woman to woman. Most weight that is gained during pregnancy is lost after the birth of a child, however, this weight can be gained from a variety of factors. The weight gain can be caused by the weight of the baby, water retention or even from giving into the strange food cravings associated with being pregnant. A woman’s weight during this time can also be effected by the production and storage of breastmilk. The abdomen can store fat around the hip area which is then used in the production of breastmilk. This storage of fat can aide in the broadening of the hips and the painful stretching of muscles.
Muscle stretching is another pregnancy gift! During pregnancy, many areas of our body stretch and grow to accommodate the growth of the baby. Our breast muscles stretch to store breastmilk, the ligaments throughout our bodies stretch to give the baby room to grow, and even our feet can grow! As the baby grows, our pelvic floor muscles can also stretch to the point of no return. This stretching can lead to bladder leakage, especially while laughing, coughing or sneezing. Even though there are exercises that can take us to a pre-pregnancy body, sometimes these symptoms do not subside. Not only do some of your muscles stretch and weaken, but due to the depletion of minerals in your body during pregnancy, you can suffer from leg cramps, which can ultimately lead to muscle fatigue. Fortunately, you tend to forget all the negative effects of pregnancy from a little thing called pregnancy-induced brain fog.
Pregnancy-induced brain fog can manifest itself in many different forms. A woman can become forgetful, easily stressed, or have an abundance of anxiety. Due to the increasing hormones in a woman’s body during pregnancy, we tend to misplace random objects and have an overall sense of mental detachment. The increase in hormones during this time can also cause mood swings, trouble sleeping and, in some cases, irrational fears. Most of the time what really changes is the focus of our brain, not our brain as such. Women’s brains are remarkable in the fact that they can prepare a woman for the protective mother mode. These symptoms, when combined, are what specialists refer to as pregnancy-induced brain fog.
During pregnancy, our bodies go through some crazy ups and downs. With the unwanted weight gain, the painful, yet tolerable, muscle stretching and the pregnancy-induced brain fog that can drive us mad, woman have babies every day. Although some of our bodies return to a pre-pregnancy form and most of ours don’t, we wouldn’t trade it for the world. And with all the negative aspects of pregnancy, many women choose to have multiple children. In the end, we choose to focus on the joy our children bring us, rather than the trials and tribulations of pregnancy. After the weight is lost, the muscles relax and the fog lifts, we can enjoy life to its fullest with our children right beside us.
In the book by Chandraharan and Arulkumaran, authors show that a woman’s body undergoes significant changes during pregnancy: “pregnancy is associated with profound anatomical, physiological, biochemical and endocrine changes that affect multiple organs and systems” (1). In case a woman had health problems prior to becoming pregnant, she may face certain risks during pregnancy, since her body and organs work more intensively at this time (10). However, for most healthy women this is not an issue and only mild effects are experienced during pregnancy, such as the ones described above.
Findings in the article by Clark et al. “support previous quantitative research which has found that many women adapt positively to the changes in their body during pregnancy” (341). In fact, most women are so impressed by the fact that their bodies can create new life that fatigue, stretchmarks, and excess weight gained during pregnancy is not considered as important. However, the given research also shows that women experience much pressure during the postpartum period, because they feel an obligation to jump back into their pre-pregnancy body shape (342). This is certainly a stereotype generated and imposed upon women by society.
At the same time, an article by Lumbers shows how moderate exercise can be highly beneficial during pregnancy, helping alleviate unpleasant effects, such as bloating or weight gain (29).
In conclusion, despite the fact that pregnancy is closely associated with a number of risks and unpleasant “surprises”, such as weight gain, muscle stretching, and pregnancy-induced fog due to hormone shifts, it is a beautiful period for most women. Not only does a woman have the chance to deeply connect with another human being during this experience, but she also sees her body in a new light, farther away from beauty standards that are imposed by society and closer to her natural state. Motherhood is a time when a woman becomes deeply connected to her instincts and starts listening to her wishes, needs, and inner states. The chance to bring a new life into this world is one of the greatest gifts that a woman can experience. Unpleasant physical states which are temporarily brought about by pregnancy cannot override the feeling of utter amazement, when a mother holds her new-born baby and sees this tiny human being gradually evolve into an adult. At the end of the day, everything has its price and this is not such a high price to pay.
Clark, Abigail, et al. “My Baby Body: A Qualitative Insight into Women’s Body-Related Experiences and Mood during Pregnancy and the Postpartum.” Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology 27.4 (2009): 330-45. Print.
Lumbers, E. R. “Exercise in Pregnancy: Physiological Basis of Exercise Prescription for the Pregnant Woman.” Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 5.1 (2002): 20-31. Print.
Yanamandra, Niraj, and Edwin Chandraharan. “Anatomical and Physiological Changes in Pregnancy and Their Implications in Clinical Practice.” Obstetric and Intrapartum Emergencies: A Practical Guide to Management. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2012. 1-10. Print.