This should really be titled how to manage your "stress response or cortisol levels" during and after pregnancy.
Did you know? “Cortisol plays an important role in regulating the maturation of the fetus, such as lung development and a pregnant woman can expect her cortisol level to naturally increase by two to four times."
Now add additional tension to your life, rather it be overworked muscles, emotional, work related or psychological when you are pregnant, those cortisol level may begin to rise above healthy levels. Chronically high levels of cortisol is associated with overeating and may explain those pregnancy craving of sugary and fatty foods.
Everyone's body adapts to pregnancy differently. We know this when we share our pregnancy story with other woman and learn we had a completely different experience. We also learn with each additional pregnancy that things can change from one pregnancy to the next. It is impossible to predict how our body is going to adapt to the crazy changes that happen in the woman's body in 9 months.
Let's reflect on all these changes briefly.
- hormone changes (progesterone, relaxin, hCG)
- healthy weight gain (can range anywhere between 15 - 45 lbs depending)
- weight distribution
- extra weight in the breast, and stomach leading to muscle imbalances and changes to the the skeletal system (bones).
- some evidence that the emotional and cognitive processes, controlled by the CNS are altered in pregnancy
- burning more calories at rest
- increase in fat storage and progressive increase in insulin resistance (baby needs this fat and glucose for brain growth and is stored to prepare for the rapid growth rate of the baby in the 2nd and 3rd trimester)
- release of glycogen from the liver is suppressed (can cause a rapid drop is blood sugar in women who forget to eat regularly
How Does Your Body Respond to these changes?
Everyone is Different:
Does it respond with nausea/vomiting? Emotional eating?
Does the changes to your muscles and bones highlight pre-existing muscle imbalances and past injuries causes SI, neck, shoulder, lower back pain?
Do you develop constipation or hemorrhoids?
All these changes with added stressors from work & family life can lead to chronically high cortisol levels.
Chronically High Cortisol Levels are associated with an increase in "belly fat."