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Pregnancy guide to bodily changes during pregnancy

Pregnancy guide to bodily changes

During pregnancy, your HCG hormone level rises, and you will experience many bodily changes. Here, we provide you with a pregnancy guide for each of the three trimesters. The guide is written in collaboration with midwife Julie from Cryos Customer Care.

First trimester (week 1-12)

The first trimester is usually when you find out you are pregnant. Already, this early in the pregnancy, the body is undergoing many changes as the HCG hormone level increases and the follicle starts developing into a baby.

The first signs of pregnancy

One of the early signs of pregnancy is that your period is running late. Other signs of pregnancy can include nausea, vomiting and general discomfort. Tender and swollen breasts can also indicate pregnancy. If you experience one or more of these signs, a pregnancy test is, of course, the best way to tell whether or not you are pregnant.

If you want to read more about early signs of pregnancy, we can recommend following the link to our blog post on the subject.

What should you do?

Once you have a positive test in your hand, you should book an appointment with your doctor who will register your pregnancy. If you are taking daily medication, you should consult your doctor to find out whether or not you can continue using it without harming the baby. You can also ask your doctor for advice in relation to your diet and which foods to limit intake or avoid completely. He or she can also guide you about dietary supplements during the pregnancy.

Tip: Feeling nauseous? Small meals often help you in case of nausea, so even though you might not have an appetite, food may actually help make you feel better. Just remember to focus on a balanced diet, since there are some type of food you should avoid when you are pregnant.

Bodily changes

The increasing HCG hormone level causes the body to undergo many changes which may cause you to experience discomfort. Some women experience a lot of discomfort in the first trimester, and some women do not experience any at all – all women are different and so are pregnancies.

Some of the most common bodily changes include:

  • Nausea and vomiting  
  • Cravings – many women get odd cravings in the first part of the pregnancy
  • A heightened sense of smell
  • Tender and swollen breasts
  • Headache
  • Mood swings
  • Tiredness – producing a baby is hard work
  • Weight gain
Pregnant woman reading a pregnancy guide to bodily changes online

Second trimester (week 13-27)

Did you experience a lot of discomfort in the first trimester? Good news then – most women experience less discomfort in the second trimester and think it is easier to go through than the first.

Bodily changes

In the second trimester, your stomach starts to grow, and the baby bump often starts showing. As the baby grows bigger, you may experience that it becomes heavier as well, which for some causes body aches such as back, abdomen or thigh pain. Because of your growing baby bump, the second trimester is a perfect time to be preparing for a baby.

Beside the baby bump, other changes in the body may include:

  • Nipple changes – your breasts start preparing for breastfeeding
  • Round ligament pains – often triggered by movement
  • Stretch marks on your abdomen, breasts or thighs
  • Patches of darker skin, often in the face
  • Swelling of the ankles, fingers and face
  • Frequent urination
  • The belly button may pop out

You can feel the baby moving

In the second trimester, you should start to feel the baby’s movements. At first, it is normal that the baby’s movements will feel like bubbles in the abdomen. Later, as the baby gets bigger, you will feel the baby’s movements as kicks. Don’t worry if you don’t feel anything in the first many weeks – it’s not until week 24+0 that you are expected to feel the baby’s movements every day.

A few things to be aware of in your second trimester

Braxton Hicks:

It is normal to start having Braxton Hicks during the end of your second trimester. They should not feel painful, but you will feel your abdomen buckle up. If you experience Braxton Hicks that become regular or painful, contact your midwife or doctor and they will probably test you for cystitis. When you are pregnant, you do not have the same cystitis symptoms, as if you weren’t pregnant, and it can instead show itself as regular and painful picking pains which in the worst case can result in premature birth. This can easily be treated with prescription penicillin.


You should start to feel the baby’s movements daily from week 24 + 0. If the movements become less or disappear completely, contact your doctor or midwife to find out if everything is as it should be. It is important to keep an eye on this, as less movement from the baby is the first signs that the baby may be stressed.

Pregnant woman looking at her body's changes during pregnancy

3rd trimester (week 28-40)

The final countdown! In the third trimester, the baby is growing fast and gets bigger and bigger every week. As the baby and the stomach grows, you may become more troubled physically.

Bodily changes

Some of the discomforts you may have experienced in the second trimester will probably continue during the third trimester as well. Since the baby takes up more space in your abdomen, you may experience that breathing becomes more difficult and that you need to go to the bathroom more often. This is completely normal since the baby takes up a lot of space in the stomach and puts pressure on your organs.

Bodily changes include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Leaking of pre-milk from the breasts
  • Even more frequent urination
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Braxton Hicks contractions, also called “practice” contractions helping the body practice for labor
  • Extra fluid in the body which can result in swollen legs, feet and hands etc.
  • Varicose veins, which is completely normal. Varicose veins are dilated blood vessels that often bulge against the surface of the skin. They are seen as curly, blue/violet blood vessels on the legs. Some women also get varicose veins around the rectum, also called haemorrhoids. It is also normal to get varicose veins around the entrance of the vagina and on the labia.

The baby grows bigger

Since the baby is growing bigger each week, you should now feel strong kicks and other movements from the baby several times during the day. If you experience little or no movement during the day, you should contact your doctor immediately.

As you are moving closer to your due date, the baby will move lower into your abdomen and may turn into a head-down position to get ready for birth. Most babies turn head down, and your midwife or doctor can tell you how your baby is positioned. Now the waiting time is almost over!

Feeling tired and unwell?

During the third trimester, you may also feel tired and unwell. It is normal to have a nap in the middle of the day and it is important to listen to what your body needs. You may become more troubled, and small things that used to be easy and straightforward can be difficult now. If you experience general discomfort most of the time, get headaches, pain or flicker in your eyes, it is important to contact your midwife or doctor to check if everything is as it should be.

During the entire pregnancy, remember to…

Do your daily exercise

Exercise during your pregnancy is good for you and the baby, and you should make sure you get your daily exercise during the entire pregnancy. If you are not used to exercising, you should start now. You can do anything from swimming to weight lifting to biking etc. Just listen to your body – it will tell you if you push it too hard.

Eat a healthy diet

A healthy diet is important during the entire pregnancy, as it makes you feel good and provides the baby with the essential nutrients it needs to grow. Eat a balanced diet and drink lots of water during the day. You are probably more hungry than usual but remember not to eat for two – you don’t need that much extra food to feed the baby. Consult your doctor to get more advice on a healthy diet during your pregnancy.

Did you like this pregnancy guide for bodily changes during pregnancy? You may also like our post about how ovulation works.