Your Changing Body: Trimester by Trimester
Head-to-toe changes you may not expect when you're expecting
Side effects: Ill-fitting contact lenses and altered vision, nosebleeds, nasal congestion, headaches, dizziness, bleeding gums, patchy-colored skin
With increased blood circulation, your entire body will be a little swollen. About 10 weeks into your pregnancy, you may find contacts don't fit as well over enlarged eyes, and your vision may not seem as sharp -- both temporary conditions. If you experience a sudden onset of blurry vision, however, check with your obstetrician immediately. It may signal dangerously high blood pressure, known as preeclampsia.
Engorged nasal tissue can bring on nosebleeds and stuffiness. But allergy sufferers may find relief: Strong immune reactions trigger allergies, and progesterone and higher levels of the hormone cortisone suppress the immune system.
Many women also experience headaches in the first trimester, which can be blamed on low blood sugar -- the result of your changing metabolism -- or reduced blood flow to the brain when you stand or sit up quickly. "Your uterus has first dibs on your blood supply," says William Sears, M.D., a Parenting contributing editor and coauthor of The Pregnancy Book. Dizziness occurs for the same reason.
Extra fluids can also create excess saliva, as well as swollen and bleeding gums. And some women develop tiny growths on their gums. "They're probably a result of the same hormones that are helping your body grow your baby, and will disappear after delivery," says Dr. Sears.
Finally, your cheeks may glow (from oil-gland secretions, plus more blood to the skin) or sport brown or yellow patches (increased estrogen and progesterone result in more pigment, especially noticeable when exposed to the sun). This discoloration is similar to what some women experience when taking the Pill.
Hands, Wrists, and Arms
Side effects: Carpal tunnel syndrome, red palms
In the third trimester, because of fluid retention, the nerves snaking through tiny passageways are likely to be pinched by swollen tissue, which can lead to, or worsen, carpel tunnel. Occasionally, the shooting pain, numbness, and tingling can migrate to the forearm and shoulder.
As veins enlarge to accommodate greater blood volume, and capillaries branch out to handle the increase, the skin all over your body enjoys greater blood flow. Consequently, some women's palms (or soles of the feet) become reddened after about 12 weeks.