6 Physiological Changes During Pregnancy

The various physiological changes that take place during pregnancy are:

1. Energy Metabolism

BMR increases during pregnancy resulting in increased demand for the energy.

2. Alimentary Functions

There is some evidence of reduced gastric tone, motility and secretion. Nausea and constipation are commonly observed. The efficiency of absorption of calcium, iron, vitamin B12 and other nutrients is increased.

3. Renal Function

The glomerular filtration rate is considerably increased in pregnancy, as are the clearances of several substances such as creatinine, urea, uric acid etc. The rate of excretions of water is very high in mid-pregnancy and very low in advanced pregnancy.

4. Blood Composition

The plasma volume increases on an average by about 50 per cent and the red cell mass by about 20 per cent. The concentration of haemoglobin and the packed cell volume usually fall despite the absolute increase in total haemoglobin.

5. Water Balance

The total body water may increase by as much as seven litres and in the late pregnancy, the kidney may have some difficulty in disposing of the surplus water ingested.

6. Weight Gain

The weight gain in pregnancy, its nature and significance should be considered. The gain in weight for the healthy woman who enters pregnancy should average 9-10 Kg. Gain in weight varies widely, being somewhat greater in young women, than those who are older, and greater in those who are having their first babies. The weight of a woman who has gained 8-10 Kg during the first trimester should not be held to the restricted 9-10 Kg. Such a restriction could seriously interfere with the supply of nutrients to the foetus. On the other hand, a woman who has gained little during most of her pregnancy cannot expect to make up entirely for this deficiency by considerable increase in weight during the last trimester. For obese women, restriction of calorie intake to maintain weight or even to lose weight, is no longer advocated.

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