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Physical Changes to Expect During Pregnancy

As your belly goes from jelly to swelly, you’ve got a whole nine months of changes waiting to unfold. Your body will go through a magnificent metamorphosis during these precious months, as it prepares to release its most prized resident in the most beautiful way. As your womb safely harbours your baby, your body will evolve unlike ever before on this road called pregnancy. And all of these changes will go a long way in keeping your baby tucked in safely until you’re both ready to meet each other.

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Physical Changes to Expect During Pregnancy

Each trimester of pregnancy brings with it, something new and wonderful. And although these changes will present themselves in varying degrees from woman to woman, it’s important that you’re prepared to embrace them when they arrive.

First Trimester

  • The first trimester starts on the first day of your last period and extends up to the end of week 12.
  • Effectively, that means that by the time you discover that you’re pregnant, you may already be about five or six weeks along!
  • The first trimester is the one in which the maximum embryonic development occurs. Once the egg is fertilised, it divides rapidly into an ever-expanding ball of cells, eventually arriving into the uterus and implanting itself. This ball of cells is known as the embryo.
  • Your baby already has a heartbeat around the six-week mark and by the end of the first trimester, your baby’s muscles, bones and organs have developed. At this stage, your baby is called a fetus.

  • Weeks 1 to 12


  • Missed period
  • Fatigue
  • Breast tenderness
  • Frequent urination
  • Bloating
  • Mild pain in the lower abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Second Trimester

  • The second trimester starts at week 13 and extends up to the end of week 27.
  • By your second trimester, you will start to look pregnant. You may opt to buy comfortable belly-fitting maternity clothes.
  • By the 16-week mark, the crown of your uterus, known as the fundus, will have moved upwards towards your navel. By 27 weeks, the fundus will be about 2 inches above your navel.
  • Your second trimester will be easier than your first. Symptoms like breast tenderness, vomiting and fatigue will subside.
  • Your need to urinate frequently should also diminish, because the uterus should have ascended from the pelvis, relieving the strain on the bladder.
  • You may start experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions; these are contractions that mimic labour contractions and essentially help expand the cervix in preparation for birth.

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  • Weeks 13 to 27


  • Breast expansion
  • Leg cramps
  • Back and hip pain
  • Stretch marks
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Hand pain, numbness (carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • Braxton Hicks contractions

Third Trimester

  • The third trimester commences at week 28 and extends all the way up to birth.
  • The rapid increase in the size of the belly during this time can lead to some unease.
  • Often, routine activities like breathing and sleeping become exhausting, with sleeping postures needing to be carefully planned.
  • As the uterus descends to just below the rib cage, the lungs are subjected to a smaller area, making breathing an exercise.
  • Likewise with sleeping. As your belly balloons, finding a suitable sleeping position may be a challenge for you. While sleeping on your back may curb blood circulation and sleep on your stomach obviously isn’t an option, you’ll find it comfortable to sleep on your side. Wedge one pillow under your belly and one between your knees.
  • Oedema may cause your feet and ankles to swell during the third trimester. This is caused by fluid buildup in your body, triggered by pregnancy hormones. Oedema is usually compounded by the excess pregnancy weight that you would have put on.  
  • Braxton Hicks contractions may intensify, as you approach D-day.

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  • Week 28 to Birth


  • Fatigue
  • Back and hip pain
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Hand pain, numbness (carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • Braxton Hicks contractions
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Edema
  • Frequent urination
  • Difficulty sleeping

From the frequent trips to the bathroom and persistent mood swings to the midnight cravings and little kicks in your belly, your body is a daily reminder of all the exciting things to come. After all, these little pieces of pregnancy are a wonderful warm-up for parenthood; cherish them while they last!

Must Read: Belly Body Physical And Hormonal Changes During Pregnancy

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