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Why Do Your Thighs Get Bigger During Pregnancy?

The number one reason why pregnant women gain weight on their thighs during pregnancy is hormonal changes. The thighs get bigger during pregnancy to serve as a strong tower that supports the baby’s weight and growing belly. The body chooses the thighs as the place to store important nutrients and fats to nourish the pregnancy and breastfeeding phase.

The great news is that after you give birth and lose the baby weight, your thighs will start to go back to their pre-pregnancy shape. New moms can certainly fit into their skinny jeans once again after pregnancy.

What Other Physical Changes Can I Expect During Pregnancy?

Besides your thighs getting bigger, you can expect several changes during your pregnancy. Most women experience the following:

  • Enhanced sense of smell
  • Back aches
  • Nausea
  • Thicker hair and nails
  • Food aversions
  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Changes in tastebuds
  • Water retention
  • Constipation
  • Breast tenderness
  • Widening of the hips
  • Development of linea nigra (line from pubic hairline to belly button)

Fortunately, the symptoms and body changes start to disappear after pregnancy. Each woman is unique and experiences a different set of symptoms at varying levels of intensity. The more healthy a woman is at the beginning of the pregnancy, the more likely she will experience fewer symptoms and at mild intensity levels.

Digestive Changes During Pregnancy

It is likely for most pregnant women to experience digestive changes during pregnancy. The National Library of Medicine provides a list of digestive issues such as:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Although pregnancy poses a challenge to the digestive system, clinical evaluation and therapy help women have the safest and most comfortable pregnancy. Women who experience unmanageable symptoms should immediately seek the help of a gastroenterologist.

Hair Becomes Thicker

Some women experience thickening of their hair after about 15 weeks of pregnancy. This is because the hair stays in the growing phase of its cycle for a longer period. It is not because each hair strand becomes thicker.

Hormones cause hair to fall out less frequently and grow faster. It even grows in areas such as the arms, face, chest, and belly. Additionally, the metabolic system becomes more active and provides more nutrients to hair follicles.

What Skin Changes Can I Expect During Pregnancy?

According to the American Pregnancy Association, pregnant women can expect to see a new facial glow, pink or red streaks on their stomachs, and other pigmentation changes.

A common occurrence is called the “Mask of Pregnancy,” which is also called chloasma or melasma. It is identified by a set of dark splotchy spots on the face. They are most common on the cheeks and forehead due to increased levels of pigmentation.

Changes to Body Shape

Pregnant women will undergo many transformations to their body shape during pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) provides a comprehensive list of changes both the women and fetus undergo at different stages.

The shape of a woman’s body changes in the following ways:

  • Breast become larger
  • Nipples are more pronounced with darker areolas
  • Abdomen expands
  • Navel may stick out
  • Hips widen

Your Gums May Bleed

During pregnancy, some women may experience sore and swollen gums. This may cause the gums to bleed and is often due to plaque build-up. Pregnancy hormones can make gums vulnerable to plaque, which leads to inflammation. It is a condition referred to as pregnancy gingivitis.

The Cardiovascular System Works Harder

Researchers at Mayo Clinic report that blood volume during pregnancy increases by 30-50% to support the growing fetus. The heart has to pump a higher volume of blood which increases the heart rate per minute. At the time of labor and delivery, the heart works even harder until it stabilizes after birth.

Most Women Experience More Aches and Pains

It is common for women to experience more aches and pains in the back, groin area, abdomen, and thighs. This is due to the expansion of the uterus and the pressure produced by the baby’s head. In addition, the increase in weight combined with loosening joints causes aches and pains near the pelvic bone.

Simple Ways to Tone the Inner Thighs

To tone your inner thighs after pregnancy, you must start to decrease your body fat percentage along with strengthening your adductor muscles. You can start the following exercises during pregnancy, but you should not worry about decreasing your body fat until your body naturally transforms back to its original shape once you start breastfeeding.

Lateral Lunges

Lateral lunges are the best exercise for targeting the adductor muscles. You will require good balance or the support of a chair or wall. Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Take a wide step to the side with your knee bent while pushing your hips back. Bend your leg to a 90-degree angle in a two-second count. While contracting your core and keeping your spine straight, push your bent leg back to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side.

Curtsy Lunges

Start by bending your left knee and lowering your hips until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Keep your spine straight squaring off your hips and shoulders. Return to the start position and repeat on the opposite side.

Side Lying Adductions Lifts

Begin by lying down on your left side and placing your arm in a bent position to cradle your head. Gently lift your right leg and lower back down to meet the left leg. Repeat the exercise by switching sides.

Side Lying Ball Squeezes and Lift

Start by lying on your side with a medicine ball between your feet. Lift both legs slowly bringing the ball toward the ceiling and lower back to the starting position. Perform various repetitions and switch sides.

Sumo Goblet Squats

Hold a kettlebell in both hands in front of your chest with feet hip-width apart. Bend the hips and knees until the legs are parallel to the floor. Keep your back at a 45 to 90-degree angle to your hips. Return to the starting position by pushing through the heels and extending the knees.

Side Leg Raises

Begin with your hands resting on your hips. Lift one leg with the foot flexed while shifting your weight on the other foot. Slowly bring your leg back down to starting position and switch legs.

Hip Flexion Flexing

In this three-step exercise, you’ll sit on the floor supporting yourself with your arms extended behind you and palms on the floor. Keep one knee bent with the foot flat on the floor while the other leg is extended resting on the floor. Raise the extended leg until the thighs are parallel, pause, then bend the raised leg with your knee towards your chest and pause again. Extend the raised leg with thighs paralleled and pause one last time before lowering the leg back to the floor.

Hip Extensions

The goal of this exercise is to open the hip joint and can be done in a variety of ways. It occurs anytime your thigh moves away from your front pelvis such as when walking or kicking back. Exercises include quadruped hip extension, hip thrusts, standing cable hip extension, and others.

Knee Flexion

Stand with hands resting on a sturdy chair in front of you. Keep feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Bend one leg bringing your heel towards your buttocks until the calf is parallel to the floor. Lower the foot back down to the floor and perform desired repetitions before switching to the other leg.

Leg Lifts

Lay face up flat on the floor with palms flat on your side. Engage your core muscles and slowly lift both legs while the knees are locked and feet together. Pause at the top and slowly bring the legs back down to the floor in a controlled motion.

Squats

A basic squat starts with the spine erect, feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent. Engage your core and buttocks and bend at the hips until the knees are bent to a 90-degree angle. Be sure not to let your knees go past your toes. Continue to look straight ahead and slowly straighten your legs back up to the starting position without locking your knees.

May I Do Squats During Pregnancy?

Yes, squats can help you keep your hips, glutes, pelvic floor muscles, and core strength. You must check with your doctor before starting an exercise routine and watch for any signs of overexertion. If you experience any pain or discomfort, you should speak to your doctor about continuing an appropriate exercise program.

Ballet Legs

Start by lying on your side with both legs stretched. Engage your core, keep the bottom leg stretched while lifting the upper leg with toes pointed. Raise your leg until it is perpendicular to the floor and slowly lower back down. Perform desired repetitions and switch sides.

How to Find Relief of Swollen Legs and Feet While Pregnant

There are several ways to relieve the uncomfortable feeling of swollen legs and feet during pregnancy. Implement nutritional habits that include increasing potassium intake, limiting caffeine, increasing water consumption, and staying away from junk foods that are high in sodium.

Elevate your feet when possible to help the blood circulate. You may also wear waist-high compression stockings to help blood flow. Stay at a cool comfortable temperature and avoid over-exertion.

When to Rest During Pregnancy

Although some medical conditions require strict bed rest during pregnancy, it is not recommended if you have no health risks. Moderate activity prevents blood clots, keeps your cardiovascular system strong, and helps maintain bone mass.

Be sure to sleep between 7-9 hours per day and take naps when you feel tired. During pregnancy, your body is working overtime, which means you must rest when you feel like you need to take a break from daily activities.

Soak Your Feet

Soaking your feet for at least 15 minutes each day will help keep your legs and feet free from swelling. You can add a cup of Epsom salt to your bathtub for a relaxing daily routine. If getting into the tub is too much, soaking your feet in a bucket is also beneficial.

Supportive Shoes Are a Good Investment During Pregnancy

Many stylish shoes provide the right support during pregnancy. The most recommended shoes by podiatrists are those that allow the feet to breathe while providing ergonomic support. There are flexible designs that slip on and don’t require you to bend down to put them on.

Seek the Help of a Podiatrist

A podiatrist can be a great part of your team while pregnant. Your feet will endure enormous stress during pregnancy, which is why it is so important for you to pay close attention to them. A podiatrist will assess any foot problems you may not be aware of as well as prescribe solutions to help keep your feet healthy.

Excessive Swelling Can Indicate a Serious Health Condition

It is normal for you to experience swelling during pregnancy. However, if you are experiencing excessive swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, or other body parts, it can indicate a serious case of edema and will require immediate medical attention. This condition is more common during the 3rd trimester.

How Much Weight Gain is Normal While Pregnant?

Normally, women gain between 25-35 pounds while pregnant. All women are unique and will experience pregnancy differently. Your baseline body mass index (BMI) will impact the amount of weight you gain. If you start your pregnancy at a healthy weight, you are estimated to gain 0.5-1 pound of weight per week.

Changes to Body Composition During Pregnancy and After Delivery

Since the body undergoes several changes to its composition, it is normal for women to continue to experience variations after giving birth. Body composition during and after pregnancy highly depends on the woman’s health status, activity level, nutritional habits, and medical conditions.

An increase in body fat mass is expected as the body has to support pregnancy and breastfeeding. Total body water and intrauterine growth are other factors that influence a change in body composition.

Body Fat Mass Gain

The International Journal of Obesity reports that body fat mass gain during pregnancy is affected by gestational insulin resistance. Research indicates that circulating adipocyte fatty acid-binding protein and lipolytic activity increase during pregnancy and cause fat mass gains.

Mommy Pooch After Pregnancy

After pregnancy, you can expect the abdominal muscles to leave a gap known as the mommy or baby pooch. To accommodate the growing fetus, the abdominal muscles stretch apart. To regain your pre-pregnancy waistline, you need patience and dedication.

FAQ

Why are my thighs getting bigger while pregnant?

Hormonal changes are the reason why your thighs grow. They become bigger to accumulate nutrients and provide the strength necessary to support the pregnancy weight.

Does thigh fat go away after pregnancy?

Yes, your thighs can return to their normal shape. Some women are predisposed to obesity, which makes it more difficult for their thighs to lose the fat accumulated during pregnancy.

How can I prevent my thighs from getting bigger during pregnancy?

It is a normal part of pregnancy for your thighs to grow. However, the more in shape you are before becoming pregnant, the more likely you are to stay fit during and after pregnancy. Following a nutritious diet and comprehensive exercise program will help you stay in shape during and after pregnancy.

Do your thighs get bigger during early pregnancy?

Your thighs can get bigger during early pregnancy, however, it is more likely to happen during the second and third trimesters.

Why hips increase during pregnancy?

Hips widen to accommodate the growing fetus and prepare the body for delivery. The pelvic bones open to help the hips widen and build the structure necessary for a healthy birth.

Do arms and legs get bigger during pregnancy?

Your arms and legs can get during pregnancy due to the overall fat mass increase. If you are overweight before getting pregnant, it is more likely for you to gain more fat during pregnancy.