Do your organs move when you’re pregnant? Find out how your body makes room for your growing baby.
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Our bodies are designed to move, stretch, and accommodate all sorts of changes throughout our lives — including pregnancy.
Here’s how much room your body needs to make for a growing baby during pregnancy, which organs move to make this extra space, and when you can expect your body to return to its prepregnancy state after delivery.
During pregnancy, your baby grows inside the uterus. The uterus is a reproductive organ that’s typically hollow but is lined with nutrient-rich tissue and muscle.
When a fertilized egg implants into the wall of the uterus, this lining helps to support the growth of a fetus throughout the rest of your pregnancy.
Typically, the uterus is about 3 inches long and 2 inches wide. Its prepregnancy size can be compared to a lemon.
Your uterus is the main organ to move and change shape and size during pregnancy. As your baby grows, your uterus grows along with it. To give you perspective on how much the uterus grows, it sits well below your belly button before pregnancy but usually extends up to your rib cage by the time you’re ready to deliver.
At this point, your uterus has grown to about the size of a watermelon.
As your uterus and your baby grow and take up more room in your pelvis and abdomen, space becomes tight. The area that is consumed by your uterus at delivery usually hosts a number of organs, including your small and large intestines, your bladder, stomach, and liver.
The sections below will outline when these organs begin to shift during pregnancy, where they go, and when they will return to their usual position after delivery.
In the first trimester of your pregnancy, your body is changing rapidly, but you might not see many obvious changes.
Hormone levels are increasing, and your baby’s spine, brain, nerves, and other basic structures are forming. Your uterus begins to bulge and may reach the top of your pelvis, but it’s still generally contained within its usual location.
The second trimester is a time for continued development, and your baby will begin to hear, move, and grow larger. Your uterus will move out of the pelvis, typically reaching somewhere between your belly button and breasts.
To use the ever-popular fruit comparisons, your uterus has grown from the size of a lemon to a grapefruit or papaya.
Organs don’t have to shift much at this point, but they do become compressed. The pressure on your bladder increases, and you may have to pee even more frequently. You may also notice soreness or tenderness around your hips and back as ligaments soften to begin preparing for your baby’s growth and delivery.
You may also have some heartburn or indigestion. This is partly due to your metabolism slowing down during pregnancy, but it’s also partly caused by the compression of your stomach and intestines as the uterus grows.
By the third trimester, your uterus has grown to about the size of a watermelon and extends up to your rib cage. Many of your abdominal organs, including your stomach and liver, shift upward to make room for your baby.
When these organs shift upward, they can put additional pressure on the organs in your thoracic cavity, like your lungs and heart.
You might notice late in pregnancy that it’s harder to take a deep breath and that you can’t eat too much at one time because your stomach is so compressed in its new location.
Once you deliver your baby, there are a lot of immediate changes in your body, but your uterus will take some time to return to its normal size.
Your uterus slowly contracts after your baby is born, returning to its prepregnancy size roughly 6 weeks after delivery. This process, called involution, is gradual and not something you should expect right after delivery.
One thing that does happen right after your baby is born is the delivery of your placenta. The placenta develops inside the uterus during pregnancy to give your baby a blood supply and nourishment. Once your baby is born, you will deliver the placenta.
Although the placenta is fairly large — almost as long as your baby and weighing roughly 1 to 2 pounds — its delivery won’t change the housing arrangements in your abdomen that much.
As your uterus returns to its usual position in the pelvis, your abdominal organs will also gradually return to their usual places.
You may notice improvements in your breathing and your general comfort right after delivery, but a complete return to normal takes about 2 months after childbirth.
Do your organs move to new places during pregnancy?
Your organs don’t move as much as they are displaced. Organs shift upward and become squished to accommodate a growing uterus and the baby inside it.
Can you feel your organs move during pregnancy?
You don’t have sensations in your internal organs in the same way you do on your skin. “Visceral sensation” is the term to describe sensations and pain that can be generated by internal organs.
A visceral sensation is not a direct feeling, but you may notice things like difficulty breathing or a feeling of fullness as your organs shift and compress.
Will my organs get stuck after pregnancy?
Your body is surprisingly elastic. However, some complications can make it difficult for all of your organs to return to their exact prepregnancy position.
Adhesions — a type of scar tissue —
Your body shifts and stretches to accommodate new life during pregnancy. As your baby grows, organs move, shift, and become squished to make room for your baby.
But don’t worry — in time, even if it takes a few months — your organs will eventually return to their prepregnancy sizes and locations.