Starting to Feel Pregnant

You're pregnant! And probably starting to feel that way, although your belly won't pop for a little while yet.

hands in heart on flat belly
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Finally, you may start to feel pregnant this week, even though you're still not showing. You may have trouble buttoning your most fitted clothing, especially if this isn't your first pregnancy. This is because your uterus is starting to compete for space with your other organs. The upper part of your uterus, which is called the corpus, is extremely muscular and flexible; its muscle fibers will lengthen 100 times to keep up with your baby's increasing size.

Your uterus is below your pelvic bones, so you can't feel it from the outside yet. As it continues to expand, though, it will grow upward from your pelvis and press against your abdomen from the inside, displacing your intestines and your stomach. Right now, your uterus is probably only a quarter of the way to your belly button; it will reach halfway to your belly button within the next month.

So if your uterus is still relatively small, why can't you button your jeans? Because that rush of pregnancy hormones has made you gain a little weight. In addition, you might have some bloating because food moves more slowly through your intestines when you're pregnant, allowing your body to absorb more water so that you'll digest your food in a way that provides the most nutrients to your baby. This can make you feel some cramping sometimes, especially if you're constipated.

As long as there is no bleeding associated with the cramping, there is little reason to be concerned about a miscarriage. However, do call your health care provider if the cramping is painful or prolonged. At the very least she might be able to suggest a stool softener or other strategies for easing your bloating and discomfort.

Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.

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