You may start noticing pregnancy symptoms or be able to detect pregnancy 7-10 days post ovulation. One of these changes is an increase in your blood flow around your body.
Increased blood flow in early pregnancy
By about 6 weeks after a pregnant woman's last period, the amount of blood flowing around her newly pregnant body has increased.
Pregnancy requires dramatic changes in blood flow, the most obvious being that which occurs in the uterus and the development of the placenta to make a baby grow.
Blood flow to the skin increases, making a newly pregnant woman feel warmer and perhaps sweat more, particularly her hands and feet.
Studies show that non-pregnant women have about 100ml of blood per minute flowing through the uterine artery, but in early pregnancy this increases to about 120 ml per minute. Once a woman is near term in her pregnancy, the blood flow has increased to about 350 ml per minute.
Other studies reveal the amount of blood in a pregnant woman's body increases by 40 to 45% during her pregnancy, creating cardiovascular changes and increasing blood flow to various organs of the body.
Other effects of increased blood flow
This extra blood flow boosts body metabolism by about 20%, creating more body heat and make pregnant women less likely to feel the cold.
A pregnant woman's core body temperature will often rise to about 37.8 degrees Celsius (or about 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit), when it is normally 37 degrees Celsius (or 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
The extra blood not only helps the body meet the metabolic needs of a growing foetus but also flows to other organs like the kidneys.
Extra blood flow to the woman's skin can also contribute to nose bleeds and bleeding gums.
It is not uncommon to feel a bit light-headed during pregnancy. This is perhaps due to the quick changes to the cardiovascular system, which now has more blood pumping through it. Your heart rate may increase and leave you feeling dizzy,
During normal pregnancy, most women experience a reduction in blood pressure during the early stages. This reaches its lowest point some time in the middle of pregnancy and then starts to rise till it reaches normal level at the end of pregnancy.
While the cardiovascular and the nervous system can handle these changes, at times it fails to do so and it can result in a feeling of dizzy and light-headed.
Extra blood flow and pregnancy skin
Perhaps the extra blood is also responsible for the "pregnancy glow" some women experience with their facial skin, which stretches to accommodate the larger body and blood volumes.
The greater volumes brings more blood to the vessels and increases oil gland secretion - which can also lead to acne.
Your skin may be more oily or dry during pregnancy, depending on your body's individual response. This physical sign often varies from pregnancy to pregnancy in the same woman. Some women find their skin becomes quite oily during pregnancy giving them more pimples, especially if they are sensitive to the higher levels of progesterone hormone.
Some women develop brownish or yellowish patches called chloasma, or the "mask of pregnancy," on their faces. And some will notice a dark line on the midline of the lower abdomen, known as the linea nigra (or linea negra), as well as hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin) of the nipples, external genitalia, and anal region.
These are the result of pregnancy hormones, which cause the body to produce more pigment. The body may not produce this increased pigment evenly, however, so the darkened skin may appear as splotches of colour.
Related early pregnancy information
Last revised: Thursday, 27 February 2014
This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.