Five amazing facts about your pregnant body
Your body isn't just making a new human – it's doing loads more amazing things (and some you'd rather it didn't), says Helen Foster.
- Blood pressure might determine gender
- Your legs change shape
- Your uterus grows
- The bump shows how many weeks you are
- You need higher SPF sunscreen
There are many theories on what determines whether you have a boy or a girl, but the latest science links it to blood pressure. Research on 1,411 women in China found those who had boys also had higher systolic blood pressure (that’s the number on the top of your measurement) before they got pregnant. They just haven’t found out why yet.
In puberty young women tend to gain stubborn fat on the hips and thighs; then you’ll get about 8lb more in pregnancy, to provide energy reserves for breastfeeding. This might rule out skinny jeans for now but researchers at the University of California found, in a study of 16,635 women, that their hip and thigh circumferences reduced with every child they had, even if they regained weight elsewhere. So you might end up with skinnier legs and bum than you’ve had for quite a while.
You’ll expect this, of course, but did you know it goes from the size of a pear to a watermelon, and increases to 500 times its original capacity?
After about 20 weeks your midwife starts to measure your bump from the pubic bone to the top – the fundal height; the number of inches roughly correlates with how many weeks pregnant you are; if it doesn’t match on a few visits, your team may suggest an ultrasound to check the baby’s growth. ‘It’s quite a subjective measurement so should be done by the same midwife each time,’ says Jenny Lord from midwifeandlife.com.
Melanin levels increase; that’s why the area around your nipples darkens and you can get a dark line down your middle. ‘Skin also becomes more sun-sensitive and you’re actually more likely to burn,’ says midwife Rachel Fitz-Desorgher.
Read more amazing facts about your pregnant body in the October issue of Gurgle magazine.