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gravidanza
 

Your body


Your pregnancy is now clearly visible as your belly grows round. You begin a voyage of discovery that introduces you to the new sensations of motherhood.
The irksome nausea disappears. You may feel butterflies in your stomach-perhaps baby's first movements? In the second trimester, you will also gradually start to feel energetic movements such as kicks and somersaults.
  • Uterus
  • Breasts
  • Skin
  • Blood circulation.

Uterus
After the tenth to twelfth week of pregnancy, the "mechanical" factor of fetal and placental growth causes the uterus to enlarge. It is the uterus that undergoes the most obvious changes during the second trimester: it becomes larger and heavier, and the cervix elongates.
In addition to the baby, the uterus contains the placenta, the amnion and chorion, the amniotic fluid, and the umbilical cord.
The placenta plays the starring role. This highly differentiated organ provides for fetal respiration and nourishment, and handles complex endocrine functions. You supply your baby with the necessary nutrients and antibodies through the placenta.
Amniotic fluid is 98-99 % water-but not "standing" water, as it is never still for a moment. All of its components-e.g., proteins, creatinine, glucose, bilirubin, hormones, and fats-are exchanged very quickly. From the sixteenth week of pregnancy on, the amniotic fluid is replaced many times a day.
Your uterus becomes larger and moves upwards, pressing against the stomach. This can cause heartburn. Between the esophagus and the stomach there is a small valve that opens and closes as food passes through. When the uterus pushes on the stomach, the valve can open and release gastric juices. To alleviate heartburn, do not eat spicy foods and drinks. Avoid tight clothing, so as not to constrict your stomach.
Sporadic mild pains in the uterus are no cause for concern, as they are due to the organ's enlargement. Lie quietly on your side with a pillow under your belly to alleviate the heavy feeling from the enlarged uterus.


Breasts
Larger breasts and a feeling of tightness are among the first changes experienced during pregnancy. The breasts are preparing to supply milk for the baby in nine months. These adjustments result from hormonal changes, especially higher estrogen and progesterone levels.
The breasts become more ample, and even this early may sometimes leak colostrum, the yellowish serum-like first milk consisting of the water, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates that give breastfed newborns their early immunity. Swollen breasts can sometimes be painful. Even in the first weeks of pregnancy, the skin around the nipples can feel hard and swollen. The nipple and areola (the darker ring) are more sensitive to touch. Some women find that even contact with their clothing becomes uncomfortable.
The size of the breasts increases and connective tissue, which plays an important supporting role, tends to slacken. Stretch marks and reddish-blue lines often appear. These are caused by overstretching and tearing of the elastic fibers beneath the skin.
To avoid stretch marks, take good care of your skin right from the beginning of the pregnancy by applying generous amounts of a moisturizer and gently massaging it in. Another good idea is to wear a supportive bra, preferably without metal clasps, and pay close attention to personal hygiene. Wash undergarments thoroughly, especially if there is any discharge.
Care of the nipples is very important, especially to prepare them for nursing. Many expectant mothers find that alternating between warm and cold water in the shower and massaging gently with a glove that is not too rough is stimulating. In combination with specific movements done using the fingertips, this can improve breast elasticity and tone. Use the fingers to stroke upwards from the underside of the breasts, and gently pull the nipples out.
To toughen the nipples and areolas in preparation for nursing, use a cream containing pure lanolin, a very effective and nourishing natural emollient. Another good choice is shea butter, which protects, nourishes, and revitalizes.


Skin
Beginning in the fourth month, many expectant mothers have dark patches on their face. Here, again, hormones play a role by stimulating excess production of melanocytes, cells containing the pigment melanin. The brown patches of pigment form mainly on the forehead, nose, upper lip, and cheekbones. They are called "chloasma" or "mask of pregnancy".
This pigmentation can also be found on other parts of the body, for example, on the inner thigh, nipples, and areolas. In some women, a brownish line appears between the navel and the pubic hair.


Circulation
After the sixteenth week, the pregnancy becomes obvious. Muscles and ligaments slacken and the waistline disappears.
Your body stores fat reserves at strategic body locations such as the inner thigh, hips, and breasts. You gain weight and the volume of blood in your body-including water, blood cells, and proteins to supply the growing uterus and fetus-also increases. Around the sixteenth week, circulation increases.
You sweat more easily, your skin glows, and your hair is thick and healthy.
To avoid varicose veins, elevate your legs as often as possible. Walk frequently to keep your muscles active. During the second and third trimesters, fluid retention in tissues and venous stasis frequently cause swollen ankles-a normal physiological reaction that is no cause for concern.
Hormones produced by the endocrine glands can also cause the gums to swell. Scrupulous attention to oral hygiene is important throughout your pregnancy.
Page created on: 03/09/2012
Last modified on: 03/09/2012
 
 
 
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