Did you imagine your body radiating with the glow of pregnancy, only to find yourself squishy, achy and bitterly disappointed? You are not alone mama! From the minute I found out I was pregnant I was so looking forward to seeing that adorable little bump grow. What I did not anticipate was how much everything else would change first!
I always cherished the thought of being pregnant. Even when I wasn’t completely set on the idea of having kids, I loved the idea of seeing what your body is capable of. Don’t get me wrong- I am a realist. I have worked with lots of ladies during pregnancy and after birthing, so I didn’t have a a rose tinted view of pregnancy. From back ache and swollen ankles to piles, I had no delusions that the miracle of growing a human came with its downsides. But I (naively) assumed was that the spoils of pregnancy were more reserved for the third trimester, understandable consequences of carrying a melon in your mid-section for months!
What I did not at all anticipate was how early on in pregnancy your body starts to change, long long before any sign of bump. Here are 5 of the surprising ways my body changed in early pregnancy.
1. Water, water everywhere
By week 8 of pregnancy baby is about the size of a gummy bear, and that is pretty much how I felt; squishy and sort of shapeless. I am no stranger to water retention. Every month, without fail I pile on 4-7lbs of water weight, which magically disappears at the first sign of aunt flow. Of course this time it didn’t go, that water weight just lingered and got worse. I felt like a sponge; my face, hands, fingers and legs were all swollen and puffy. Me but a slightly softer, squishier over inflated version of me. Oh and of course you have the joy of trying to keep it secret, so everyone assumes you’re just getting fatter. (In reality nobody thinks you are getting fatter and in fact nobody even notices anything different, but doesn’t stop your hormonal, paranoid brain assuming that is the case).
Water retention is a common symptom of pregnancy, it is down to the increase of blood volume and changes in your hormones. Ironically, the best way to help alleviate water retention is to drink more water and avoid too many salty foods which can dehydrate you.
2. Bump? Bump? Bloat!
From as early as week 5, morning sickness flawed me. I pride myself on having a decent appetite and eating a fairly healthy balanced diet. But up until about week 12 my primary food source was toast, with the occasional ham sandwich. Foods I previously loved like yogurt and fruit made my stomach churn. Any efforts at healthy eating were out the window, in desperation to just keep enough sustenance in me to function. The inevitable constipation and bloating gives you this wonderful illusion of a baby pump (which you are probably still trying to hide) only for it to disappear at your next bowel movement.
It is not just changes in your diet which causes bloating during pregnancy. Even if you are managing to eat as normal, you may still find yourself constipated, bloated and gassy. You can thank the increase of progesterone for that. Try eating little and often, and drink lots of water to help keep your digestive system running smoothly.
3. Feeling hot hot hot!
I am normally that person complaining it is cold in July, playing foot loose and fancy free with the thermostat. But apparently baking a baby is a hot job. Morning sickness pretty much wrote off anything more strenuous than swimming and stretching for the first 12 weeks. So once the nausea wore off, I was actually keen to get back to exercise. But that first session back on the rower? Oh man, I was sweating and panting, and that was just the warm up. And not just exercise, even just walking up the stairs or carrying shopping bags had me flustered.
During pregnancy your blood volume increases and so can your resting heart rate. This means you reach peak heart rates much quicker and can feel more hot and bothered. If you find yourself not able to perform as normal, and find even everyday activities leave you a bit more flustered, then relax and be kind to yourself. Lower the intensity, and take breaks when you need to. Pregnancy is not the time to put your body under any unnecessary stress.
4. I’m sure I am carrying this baby in my ass?
At 14 weeks there was still zero sign of a bump (unless of course you count the bloat). Nope nothing at the front, but man I was packing it in the back. I have always been ample in the derrier and thighs, and by about 14 weeks my jeans no longer fit. I was convinced they would fit fine around the non-existent bump, but I couldn’t get them over my ass to check.
If you find yourself a little fuller in the cheeks (ass or face) don’t panic it is a normal part of pregnancy. During pregnancy your body lays down maternal fat stores in preparation for breast feeding. I imagined this would be on my boobs and around my stomach, but your body will have natural places it likes to store fat, and that may not change during pregnancy.
5. But the boobs?
Pregnancy brings that one obvious upside though; those juicy growing breasts? Yeah sure, if tender, slightly saggier and suddenly covered in stretch marks is what you’re aiming for, then winner! By 15 weeks (still no bump) I had outgrown all my bra’s and was forced to invest in some maternity bras. I decided to get professionally measured to ensure best fit and comfort. Surely I must have gone up a few cup sizes? Give me some perk!? Well sort of, but I had also gone up a few back sizes. The fitter at Mothercare explained it was due to my expanding ribcage! Really, my ribcage? I mean I am broad enough! How much room does this thing need?
Swollen, tender or bigger boobs is the very first sign of pregnancy for lots of women. Mothercare recommend you get fitted for your first maternity bra around 12 weeks. They have some great tips on getting the right fit maternity bra here. And don’t worry, you can get a good selection of styles, and they are not all as frumpy as I imagined.
All this by 16 weeks, and still no sign of a real bump!! The changes to my body in early pregnancy definitely surprised me, but I did eventually learn to love my changing pregnant body. You can read more about it in this blog.
Jennie & Hoglet x
What surprised you in the early stages of pregnancy? And what joys have I got to look forward to in the second and third trimester? I love hearing from of other mums and mums-to-be, so be sure to share your stories and experiences in the comments.
I am Jennie, a freelance Fitness Writer and Personal Trainer, passionate about making fitness fun and accessible to everyone. I am qualified in pre and post natal exercise, and now experiencing it first hand as I am expecting my first child in February 2020. I currently live in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside with my partner and our 3 ginger cats. I love hearing from other mums so look me up on all the socials. Find me on facebook, or Instagram @setUfreefitness