Pregnancy brings around so many different changes in our bodies. We can feel these changes easily – itchy skin from an expanding midline, nausea from morning sickness, a baby moving inside your womb. But why do we experience some of the things that we do? All women go through a huge hormonal change during pregnancy – The pregnancy hormone that is deemed such for a reason floods our bodies, helping us to grow a beautiful little baby.
It also causes some other things to happen. It sets off prolactin, making us lactate (sometimes even when hearing a strangers baby cry!). It sets of a series of reactions to make our joints and ligaments loosen to prepare our bodies for pushing that big head out. But what is it that causes those obnoxious and unusually painful abdominal cramps?
We all know that this happens. The sperm fertilizes the egg….and then it makes itself at home right in all of that lining women develop each month. Sometimes you spot a little, called implantation bleeding. But no one warns you of those cramps! Some of you will cramp during a menstrual cycle, so you may not notice it as implantation cramping. For those of you that don’t have noticeable cramping during your period, however, get ready to stretch out those muscles and curl up with a heating pad! These cramps are caused by your uterus beginning initial stages of expansion. T is not a motion your body will be familiar with if you are a first time mother, and it may be intensely uncomfortable. Luckily, this only lasts for a very short period of time, so grab a good book, you’ll get through it!
A lot of women will have these and don’t even notice until late in the third trimester. Some of you will be lucky enough to feel these much earlier. Braxton Hicks contractions or ‘false labor’ is exactly what it sounds like – contractions! They aren’t in any particular pattern or intensity however, and often come on suddenly and stop just as quickly. This is why it is important to monitor contractions before you decide you’re in labor. These contractions are a good thing, because it is your uterus practicing for actual labor. Just like any muscle, the muscles in and around your baby need to strengthen to be able to push him or her out!
Oh, the joys of labor. Many women view this with extreme fear at the beginning of a pregnancy, but it will be a shining light at the end of a long tunnel by the time you get to it! Labor pains are often associated with the abdomen, though they can also affect your back, hips, and surrounding areas. These will come in a steadily increasing frequency, and will increase in intensity as well. Just remember, the more intense, the closer you are to meeting your baby! Luckily, you may not have to feel these for long. If you so choose, you can get an epidural to keep you all smiles and joy!