Common Physical Changes During Pregnancy

Pregnant woman laying on the couchPregnancy affects every part of your body—from your hair to your toenails. Here's what to expect and what to do about it.

Your breasts. Early in your pregnancy they will feel tender and may be larger. As the pregnancy progresses and your breasts prepare for breastfeeding, they get even bigger and may leak an early form of milk called colostrum. Make sure you wear a well-fitting bra that provides both comfort and support. If your breasts are tender, ask your partner not to touch them.

Congestion. The higher blood volume of pregnancy can lead to congestion and runny noses. Try using a saline spray to clear out the mucus, or a neti pot, a small device available in health food stores that squirts water through your nose.

Frequent urination. If you know the location of every bathroom between your house, the supermarket, work and the mall, don't despair. Your blood volume increases during pregnancy, putting increased pressure on your kidneys. Plus, later in pregnancy the weight of the baby on your bladder increases the pressure, making you feel like you always have to go.

Mouth and tooth changes. Your body needs extra calcium for the baby; if you don't provide it through your diet, it will steal it from your bones and teeth (hence the old wive's tale about losing a tooth for every child). You may also find that your gums bleed more easily, thanks to pregnancy hormones. Get your teeth and gums checked early in your pregnancy (no x-rays, of course), and follow good dental care with regular brushing and flossing.