Most of you will generally know this; if you have sex at the right time, you might get pregnant. If you do, you wait nine months before experiencing the worst pain in your life, childbirth. But nobody really asks, “What’s in between?” What physically happens in the body throughout pregnancy, or what do you have to do to not screw it up? That’s what I’m here to talk about, a Biomedical student who got a whole new perspective on what happens physically and mentally when you are growing a new human being.
I’ve learned a lot throughout this semester about the physical changes of pregnancy, along with a rat dissection to view the anatomy of the internal changes. It turns out, that the uterus, the organ holding the growing baby, stretches up to 46 cm at nine months. To accommodate the stretching uterus and growing baby, the internal organs are compressed and pushed up, with the exception of the bladder which is pushed down. This causes some discomforts, like morning sickness during the first trimester, as the stomach is compressed, more frequent urination due to the baby’s head pressing down on the bladder, shortness of breath because of lung compression, and heartburn due to leakage of stomach acid into the esophagus. There are exercises that your doctor would recommend; for example, to alleviate back pain, do a comfortable spinal twist on either side for ten seconds each. Also, doctors would recommend Kegel exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor muscles for an easier labor, according to the Official Foundation of the American Urological Association.
You also want to watch your nutrition and make sure you are eating a healthy and well-balanced diet to ensure a healthier baby. You want to avoid greasy, spicy or unpasteurized foods, those containing listeria bacteria or high levels of mercury, to prevent birth defects. It also will aid in comfort, as not eating right might cause heartburn, a burning sensation in your chest or throat, due to the muscles of the esophageal sphincter relaxing and stomach acid leaking into the esophagus, according to the diagram below:
Another system that is affected is your cardiovascular system. As pregnancy progresses, you might find that your heart is working a lot harder than usual. This is because your heart is not only supplying blood and nutrients to you, but also your developing embryo or fetus. The amount of blood flow pumped by the heart increases by 30-50%, with the heart rate increasing from 70 BPM to 80 or 90 BPM. You might also experience heart murmurs and other irregularities due to the increased blood flow and heart rate. The enlarged uterus can also cause edema, due the interference with returning blood cells from the legs and pelvic area to the heart. This can be easily mended by loose clothing, more frequent resting periods, and elastic support hose.
That’s my take on pregnancy, and I hope you all will use this in the future.