The uterus undergoes many changes during pregnancy. We explore those here.
Changes to the uterus in pregnancy
During pregnancy the uterus grows upwards out of the woman's pelvis
. The top of the uterus (or fundus) can be felt by your caregiver feeling your belly after about 12 weeks of pregnancy. By 24 weeks of pregnancy, the myometrium muscles start stretching upwards, forming the thicker upper segment of the uterus. This leaves a thinner layer of muscle below it, known as the lower segment. The lower segment separates the cervix from the upper segment and has the role of 'taking up' or absorbing the cervix as it dilates during labour.
The muscles in the lower segment encircle the lower third of the uterus and is a relatively weaker layer of muscle with less blood supply, compared to the upper segment. This is why the cut to perform a Caesarean operation is done in the lower segment (across the top of the pubic hairline), where it is less likely to cause excessive bleeding.
The uterus has a natural tendency to lean slightly towards the woman's right side during later pregnancy, but is held in place by ligaments. These ligaments stretch as the uterus grows, acting like supportive anchors to stabilise it, while facilitating the baby's movements within.
Aches on the lower sides of the belly and temporary sharp groin pains are common during pregnancy, as these ligaments are gently strained (referred to as ligament pain), especially with sudden movements, coughing or sneezing.
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