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Does Anything Stay the Same When Pregnant?
by Rebecca Garland

A first-time mom can't help but imagine her soon-to-be perfectly round belly the minute she holds that positive pregnancy test. After all, every image of pregnancy involves a beautiful, slim mother with an adorable bump for a belly dressed in only the most fashionable maternity chic.

For many, this illusion lives on for the first few weeks or even months before the truth sets in. Pregnancy is a full-body experience. Not only does the belly grow to accommodate your developing child, but everything else seems to grow, too. Is anything truly spared?

Your Belly
The instant you find out you're pregnant; you begin searching for that first bit of attractive roundness to your stomach. While everything about creating a new life is beautiful, the first growth of your belly may not feel that way. As your body adjusts to becoming pregnant, you bloat. And the bloat never seems to go away. You might have gained one pound, but your pants are suddenly too tight and it's not very comfortable or attractive. Fortunately, your belly does eventually “pop” and you start to look pregnant rather than in an eternal state of PMS, but it takes a few months. Your belly will have the most growth of the entire pregnancy, although some will argue the breasts take this prize. Growing a belly the size of a basketball or watermelon is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Besides, sneezing should be avoided as you might pull a ligament or make you lose a bit of bladder control.

Your Feet
While the growing belly is universal, your feet are more subjective. Some women's feet simply swell (a lot) during pregnancy, but revert back to their former cuteness following delivery. Other women develop small rudders attached to their ankles which remain a size or two larger indefinitely. In some cases, feet actually widen in addition to lengthening. Fortunately, all damage is done with the first pregnancy, so there is no need to panic the second time around.

Your Hips and Butt
While they pale in comparison to the gigantic belly you will soon be sporting, your hips and butt will gain a few pounds. These are the prime areas for what is called “baby fat.” In theory, breastfeeding fat stores are here and nursing will help remove them, but this is only true for the lucky ones out there. For most women, these five to ten (okay fifteen) pounds are the ones that stick around long after you deliver. To add insult to injury, your hips will also begin to separate near the beginning of the third trimester in anticipation of delivery. In some cases, this new wider you may be permanent. For others, the hips adjust again, but will spread right back out the second you find yourself expecting #2.

Your Chest
For some women, this is an exciting area of growth. For others it is the bane of their existence. The breasts begin to grow larger early on in pregnancy. The amount of growth is not universal, and seems to be loosely tied to bad luck. Those who already have more than enough to handle seem to grow the most, while the ladies desperately seeking an extra cup size seem to be short changed. Thus is life. Unlike most other body parts that recede following delivery, the breasts will actually continue to grow as your milk comes in and nursing begins. They will eventually deflate, however.

Your Hair
Due to some hormonal change, many pregnant women cease the natural shedding of their hair. This means that the hair on their head grows thicker, which is great, but the hair everywhere else can grow thicker and faster, too. Ironic, isn't it, that the moment it becomes challenging to shave your legs, the more often they seem to need shaving? This is not a permanent condition, however. About two weeks after delivery, your body decides it doesn't need all of that extra hair any more and begins shedding it – in clumps. Don't be alarmed, it's unfortunately natural.

Your Ankles
Water. It is the enemy of many pregnant women everywhere. Of course we all love the buoyancy of swimming brings out giant bodies, and we all drink our eight to ten glasses a day. When the water seems to pool around your ankles, inside the skin, that is, it becomes a minor irritant. Water retention is extremely common, especially in first pregnancies. The extra amounts of blood and fluid in the body don't help the situation either. All the extra water, blood, and whatever else begin to settle in the ankles and feet at the end of every day. Not only is this uncomfortable, it's not especially pretty either. Fortunately, it all goes away after delivery.

Your Face
For many women, once they realize that the belly is not the only area growing, they resign themselves to their fate, and rely on keeping their thin, attractive face. For some, this remains reality. For others…it doesn't. If pregnancy acne doesn't get you, water retention might. Many women particularly enjoy the swelling of the nose that supposedly indicates the baby is a boy. The “mask of pregnancy” or dark areas around the eyes and mouth are also a crowd favorite. Again, this all fades with time after your new angel is born – however, that angel might soon cause a few wrinkles with his name on them.

Your Anxiety
Finally, as everything on your body begins to grow and change, your anxiety grows, too. Will you be able to lose this weight? Will you ever look normal again? Don't be too alarmed. While it all seems overwhelming at the time, the moment your new baby is placed in your arms every second of discomfort and unattractiveness disappears. Every extra pound, zit, and cup size was completely worth it.

Within the first six weeks, before you even have a moment to think about it, most of your extra weight, bumps, lumps, and spots will all disappear. When your energy following delivery returns, you can start a light fitness routine to work off those remaining pounds, and before you know it, you look almost exactly the same. Of course, you might have a few stretch marks and bigger feet - but with a good shoe shopping expedition and a sexy one piece swim-suit, you'll feel, and look, as good as new.

Be sure to journal your pregnancy so you can record all those memories. TotSites - from pregnancy - to birth - to Today!

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