1. Your tail bone is jointed
Did you know that men and women’s tail bones are different? The tailbone is at the very bottom of the spine, a left over bit from our monkey ancestry. It hangs down between the two large bony plates of the pelvis. In men it is fused, it is fixed, but in women it is jointed, meaning it can move out of the way to make more room for the baby to be born.
It is also why it helps to give birth in upright leaning forward positions as if you are sitting or lying on a bed the tail bone can’t move out of the way.
2. Your bones separate
Talking of bones … Yes, in pregnancy your bones actually separate! The body releases a hormone called ‘relaxin’, which softens the tissue and ligaments in the joints between bones so they can move apart a bit. Each vertebrae in your spine separates out a little from the others, meaning that your spine lengthens. Though actually you are a bit shorter in pregnancy because the spine curves around the growing baby. This is why pregnant women have to be careful lifting and carrying stuff, because they are more susceptible to damage.
One of the main benefits of relaxin is that the bones of the pelvis move apart, to make more room for the baby to come through during birth. Again, another reason to give birth in any other position except lying on a bed.
This can cause some women to have pelvic girdle pain if their pelvis bones are misaligned, or if the relaxin works more on one half of the pelvis than the other. The wonderful Pelvic Partnership have a lot of info and support on this.
Relaxin levels can remain high for months after childbirth.
3. Your heart is working as hard as someone running a marathon
In a nine month pregnant woman at rest her heart is working as hard as someone running a marathon. That’s because you have about 50% extra blood flowing around your body. So rest mama - you deserve it.
4. The placenta is grown from the fertilised egg
The placenta is so cool it deserves an article all to itself. It is part of the baby’s system, and has a unique system of blood vessels that interlock with the mothers so that nutrients can be passed through and waste taken away. The mother’s and baby’s blood systems are separate but linked in this way. Some cells get through, including stem cells from the baby that stay in the mother for at least 10 years, and go to any part of her body that needs healing. Dr Alan Greene explains more in this video. So we always carry a bit of our babies with us.
Made from the fertilised egg the placenta is half the mum and half the dad. It is thought that this is why pregnancies and births for women having second or subsequent babies with a new partner can be different. It is also why it is a good reason for men to stop smoking for at least a month before trying to conceive.
5. Pregnancy is the final stage of puberty
It might not feel like it, but, yes, pregnancy is considered the final stage of puberty in that the breasts do their final development. They tend to grow in size and the areolas darken (making great targets for the baby to head for) and inside the breastmilk making cells develop, and are primed ready for action.
6. The labouring uterus defies the laws of muscles.
The uterus is sooo cool I have written an article about it. At the end of pregnancy the uterus is the largest muscle in the human body, and one of the largest organs in the human body. Weighing about two pounds it is fifth after the skin, the liver, the heart, and the brain. It is the strongest muscle in power to weight ratio. Yet one week after giving birth it has already halved in size and by the end of the second week it weighs only 0.3lbs.
The uterus has a unique property, not found in any other muscle. As we all learnt in school, muscles contract and then relax, and when they relax they return to the same shape and size as before, except, that is, for the uterus in labour. In labour the muscle fibres contract and relax, but when they relax remain a little bit shorter and a little bit fatter. As labour progresses this has the effect of pulling the cervix (the neck of the uterus) up and around the baby’s head. This is the slow work of the first, and longest, part of giving birth. It also means, by the end of this stage, the muscles are concentrated towards the top of uterus, ready to push the baby down in the expulsive phase of labour.
I hope you agree with me that the pregnancy body is amazing. It has developed over thousands of years. It is the peak of development. Yes, like everything in nature there are sometimes blips, sometimes it isn’t perfect, but most of the time it is simply awe-inspiring. After all we wouldn’t have so many humans on this planet if they body didn’t do so blinking well.
If you would like some more pregnancy positivity then sign up for my ‘Anxious to excited’ pack and receive an affirmations mp3, 10 steps pdf and a little video of me giving you three steps to take today to feel calm, confident and in control.