A pregnant woman in a long pink skirt walking down the street.
Phoebe Armfield

5 pregnancy body changes you weren’t expecting

Phoebe Armfield

Congratulations, you’re expecting your first baby – or working on it! Now, do you know what comes next?

While you are probably expecting to gain weight and experience morning sickness, there are some other physical changes you may not have heard about, and may not be prepared for.

While these changes can cause pain and discomfort during your pregnancy, they shouldn’t stop you in your tracks or cause lasting problems. Always see a doctor if you’re concerned that it might be something more.

And don’t forget, your body is amazing at adapting. Let’s take a look at the changes that could be coming your way.

Nose bleeds

This is one you’ve probably never heard of, but 20% of pregnant women will experience nose bleeds. This can mean anything from spotting in a tissue to bleeding that lasts for 10 minutes. There’s no need to worry unless the bleeding lasts for longer than 10 minutes, is accompanied by a headache, or if you have an existing blood disorder.

Why does this happen? A bleeding nose can start early in pregnancy due to an increase in blood volume and hormonal changes.

Leg cramps

The exact causes are unclear, but about 50% of pregnant women experience leg cramps during pregnancy. They’re more common in the later stages of pregnancy, and usually, come on at night.

There is some evidence to say magnesium lactate (which can be bought as a tablet or powder supplement) can reduce the severity of leg cramps. Be sure to check with your doctor before taking any supplements.

Walking, stretching and massaging your legs can also help to alleviate pain from cramping.


Shortness of breath affects over half of women who have otherwise ‘normal’ pregnancies (i.e. with no pre-existing risk factors). This can happen in the early stages of pregnancy and can be caused by many factors including:

  • enlarged uterus taking up space

  • hormonal changes affecting the airways

  • oxygen requirements of your growing baby

Good posture (standing up straight) will give your lungs more room to do their thing. And you can continue to exercise with FIT Pregnancy – just slow your pace a little and listen to your body.


Where does that burning feeling in your chest come from? Fluctuating hormones and a growing uterus cause indigestion. These hormones affect the valve that separates your esophagus and stomach, allowing stomach acid to travel up. And as the uterus grows, it pushes the stomach up, making heartburn more likely.

To treat it, try:

  • eating smaller meals more frequently

  • avoiding greasy foods

  • drinking fluids after meals, not during

  • avoid lying down straight after eating.

Breast changes

You will probably notice an increase in breast size early in your pregnancy. This is caused by hormone changes, with your breasts likely to feel full, heavy and tender.

Some women will also produce colostrum in their third trimester – this thick yellow fluid is the first sign of breast milk, and while it usually appears in the first few days after giving birth, it is occasionally produced before.

While your breasts will grow larger, nipple changes or lumps are not a normal change during pregnancy – you should have these reviewed by your doctor as soon as possible.

Phoebe Armfield
Women’s health physiotherapist

Women’s health physiotherapist Phoebe Armfield has over 15 years’ experience in helping women take control of their bodies into co-designing the FIT Pregnancy and FIT Post-Pregnancy programs with Emily Skye. She holds a Master of Physiotherapy, a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise, is a certified Pilates Instructor (including pre and postnatal Pilates), and Certified Trainer.

Phoebe Armfield
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