There is no doubt that the female body does extraordinary things! During pregnancy, a woman experiences many changes within her body in order to nourish the growing baby within her and to prepare for childbirth.

The body systems affected during pregnancy include:

–       Musculoskeletal system

–       Cardiovascular system

–       Respiratory system

–       Endocrine system

–       Gastrointestinal system

–       Hematological system

Knowing the specific changes that take place within the body during pregnancy can help to guide expectations, reduce fear and anxiety, differentiate between what is considered “normal” vs “abnormal,” and increase overall knowledge about health during pregnancy. So, let’s go ahead and take a deeper look at the changes that occur within each of these systems.

Musculoskeletal system

–       Increase in body mass

–       Abdominal muscles lengthen

–       Increase in lumbar lordosis and anterior pelvic tilt

–       Increase in pelvic width

–       Center of gravity shifts anteriorly

–       Joint laxity due to hormonal changes

–       Increase demand on hip, glute, calf, pelvic floor muscles

Cardiovascular system

–       Resting heart rate increases (~15-20 beats per minute)

–       Cardiac output increases (30-50%)

–       Diastolic blood pressure decreases (up to week 28)

–       Heart is pushed up and tilts forward

–       Blood flow increases to kidneys, uterus, & skin

Respiratory system

–       Oxygen consumption increases 30%

–       Diaphragm elevates 4 cm

–       Increased edema in upper respiratory tract

–       Progesterone and relaxin cause ligaments around sternum to relax

Endocrine system

–       Pituitary gland increases

–       3x increase in cortisol

–       Fasting glucose decreases 10-20%

–       TSH decreases in 1st trimester as HCG increases 

Gastrointestinal system

–       Delayed gastric emptying

–       Increased GI transit times

–       Increase in nausea, vomiting, and heartburn

Hematological system

–       Plasma volume increases 30-50%

–       Red blood cells increase 18-25%

–       Hematocrit decreases

–       Blood volume increases by week 7 and peaks around 30-34 weeks

It is clear that during pregnancy, the female body undergoes significant changes as it prepares for the event of childbirth. Knowing how to respond and adapt to these system changes may seem difficult without appropriate guidance. If you have questions or are looking for additional assistance on safe exercise during pregnancy, schedule an appointment with us today!