(3) Additional changes and softening of the cervix occur prior to the
beginning of labor.
c. Vagina. Increased circulation to the vagina early in pregnancy changes the
color from normal light pink to a purple hue which is known as the "Chadwick's sign."
(1) The follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) ceases its activity due to the
increased levels of estrogen and progesterone secreted by the ovaries and corpus
luteum. The FSH prevents ovulation and menstruation.
(2) The corpus luteum enlarges during early pregnancy and may even form
a cyst on the ovary. The corpus luteum produces progesterone to help maintain the
lining of the endometrium in early pregnancy. It functions until about the 10th to 12th
week of pregnancy when the placenta is capable of producing adequate amounts of
progesterone and estrogen. It slowly decreases in size and function after the 10th to
CHANGES OF THE SKIN DURING PREGNANCY
Alterations in hormonal balance and mechanical stretching are responsible for
several changes in the integumentary system. The following changes occur during
a. Linea Nigra. This is a dark line that runs from the umbilicus to the symphysis
pubis and may extend as high as the sternum. It is a hormone- induced pigmentation.
After delivery, the line begins to fade, though it may not ever completely disappear.
b. Mask of Pregnancy (Chloasma). This is the brownish hyper pigmentation of
the skin over the face and forehead. It gives a bronze look, especially in
dark-complexioned women. It begins about the 16th week of pregnancy and gradually
increases, then it usually fades after delivery.
c. Striae Gravidarum (Stretch Marks). This may be due to the action of the
adrenocorticosteroids. It reflects a separation within underlying connective tissue of the
skin. This occurs over areas of maximal stretch--the abdomen, thighs, and breasts. It
will usually fade after delivery although they never completely disappear.
d. Sweat Glands. Activity of the sweat glands throughout the body usually
increases which causes the woman to perspire more profusely during pregnancy.
CHANGES OF THE BREASTS
a. In early pregnancy, the breast may feel full or tingle, and increase in size as
pregnancy progresses. The areola of the nipples darken and the diameter increases.