Changes during pregnancy

A woman's body makes major adjustments to pregnancy:

bulletheart increases in size (multiple pregnancies can result in permanent increase in size)
bulletblood volume increases by an average of 40%
bulletboth plasma (the liquid part) and number of RBC's go up
bulletdecreased plasma proteins (protein is going to the developing fetus)
bulletincrease in serum cholesterol (more hormones are being made, and more is going to the fetus for its development)
bulletrespiration rate increases during pregnancy
bullettidal volume increases (amount of air in and out)
bullettoward the end of pregnancy, shortness of breath can occur
bulletreduced excretion by kidneys of proteins, calcium,
bulletability to absorb nutrients is increased---especially iron and calcium (both needed to support fetal growth either directly or indirectly)
bulletincreased nutrient and liquid intake
bulletbone mass increases in a mother early in pregnancy as she stockpiles calcium
bulletas pregnancy continues, bone mass declines to provide calcium to fetal skeleton
bulletincreases in estrogen, progesterone, and prolactin---which drive maternal body changes, prepare breasts for lactation, and sustain pregnancy
bullet benefits of breastfeeding (from the FDA)---also see your text on pages 543-549
bullet breast feeding linked to IQ
bullet Breast feeding lowers risks for development of childhood leukemia
bulletimmune system is suppressed during pregnancy to protect the fetus
bulletfactors that can affect transfer of nutrients to fetus (across the placenta)
bulletdiabetes or infection can affect the intestinal villi, and impair transfer
bulletsmoking reduces amount of oxygen available to fetus
bullet smoking harms reproduction (from the CDC)
bullet smoking and toddler behavior problems (from the NIDA)
bulletvarious drugs, and alcohol, can all influence development of fetal organ systems in negative ways, resulting in birth defects, still births, low birth weight, higher infant mortality, greater risk for SIDS
bullet Drugs and Pregnancy (info from the American College of Obstetricians)
bullet Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (from the CDC)---see also your text on pages 219-220.


There are significant psychological tasks for men and women during a pregnancy and immediately after:

bulletacceptance of the pregnancy
bulletacceptance of new role as a mother
bulletletting go of some previous roles
bulletdealing with changing relationship with father/partner
bulletpreparation for labor
bulletconcerns/anxiety about future role as a mother

For men:

bulletacceptance of the pregnancy
bulletaccepting new role as a father
bulletreordering relationships (who do you put first, and when, etc.)
bulletpreparing for the birth experience
bulletdealing with the pregnant spouse/partner
bulletconcern about changing finances