Prenatal: Unexpected Changes
Hopefully you and your doctor have been discussing a proper diet for your pregnancy, medical history that can affect your baby’s health and even your birthing plan. But there are numerous other health-related issues that may occur during pregnancy that perhaps your doctor hasn’t mentioned. So when you feel nauseous in the afternoon instead of the morning, don’t worry. Pregnancy affects women differently, and KidsHealth provides the following ways you may find pregnancy affecting you.
It’s not just an old wives’ tale. More than likely you will begin to develop an overwhelming desire to “nest.” Especially during the last trimester, you will probably find yourself cleaning, decorating, organizing and preparing for the arrival of the baby.
Even if you are well-rested, don’t be surprised if you forget things and have difficulty concentrating.
According to KidsHealth, “Premenstrual syndrome and pregnancy are alike in many ways…If you suffer from premenstrual syndrome, you’re likely to have more severe mood swings during pregnancy.” You may find yourself feeling happy one minute, and crying the next. You may also experience some depression (about 10% of women do), so be sure to talk with your doctor if you have depressive symptoms or excessive mood swings for longer than two weeks.
Due to higher levels of estrogen and progesterone in your body, you will notice an increase in breast size, particularly during your first trimester. Another interesting cause of changes in bra size is actually related to your lungs and rib cage. KidsHealth says, “When you’re pregnant, your lung capacity increases so you can take in extra oxygen for yourself and the baby, which may result in a bigger chest size.” Don’t be surprised if you need to change bra sizes several times throughout your pregnancy.
Have you ever wondered about that “pregnancy glow”? Well, hormones are actually helping your skin accommodate a larger body. In addition, your body has an increased blood flow, which in turn brings more blood to the vessels near your skin surface and increases oil gland secretion.
Unfortunately, it is this increased activity of your oil glands that might cause acne. And because pregnancy hormones also can cause an increase in pigment production, you may find odd discoloration patches on your skin. Don’t be alarmed if you find brownish patches on your face, a dark line on your abdomen or other hyperpigmentation. These changes in your skin will typically disappear after pregnancy, with the exception of the darkening of the areola around your nipples. Other skin issues may include heat rashes and even itching from the stretching of skin.
Hair and Nail Growth
You may notice your hair growing faster than usual during pregnancy. And you may also “shed” less during pregnancy as well. So if it appears that you have rapid hair loss after your pregnancy hormones fade, do not worry. Your hair will return to its normal status soon after. You may also notice other temporary changes to your hair, whether texture or color, and in new body hair growth. Some women love the rapid nail growth they experience during pregnancy, while others find that they tend to break more easily. Either way, make sure you keep your nails natural and avoid the chemicals in nail polish and nail polish remover during pregnancy.
If you are retaining fluid in your feet and ankles, your shoes may not fit during pregnancy. You may find slip-on shoes in a slightly larger size more comfortable.
One of the pregnancy hormones, relaxin, causes your ligaments to loosen up. Unfortunately this makes you more prone to injury and strains. KidsHealth warns particularly to injury in the joints of your pelvis, lower back and knees. So use extreme caution when lifting objects, exercising and during those cleaning frenzies you may have during nesting.
Some of the lesser joys of pregnancy include things such as varicose veins and hemorrhoids (both due to increased blood volume), and constipation (due to the position of the uterus and also hormones affecting digestion). To help lessen varicose veins, avoid standing or sitting for too long, try to wear loose-fitting clothes and support hose, and elevate your feet while sitting. Eating fiber-rich foods, drinking fluids and exercising will help prevent hemorrhoids and constipation. If you still have problems, talk to you doctor about safe stool softeners and ointments.
Labor and Birth
Doesn’t it seem like every woman who goes into labor on a T.V. show or movie suddenly yells out, “My water just broke”? But actually, only one in ten women experience this before their contractions begin. In fact, for some women, their amniotic sac needs to be ruptured by the physician. If your water does break, KidsHealth says you can expect anywhere from 2.1 to 5.9 cups of fluid. You may feel the urge to urinate beforehand. Or your baby may actually be blocking the fluid and you may only notice a trickling sensation.
KidsHealth also informs mothers that, “In any case, amniotic fluid is generally sweet-smelling and pale or colorless and is replaced by your body every three hours, so don’t be surprised if you continue to leak fluid, about a cup an hour, until delivery.” Other bodily changes during labor and birth include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gas, and loss of bladder or bowel control.
Although you may experience unexpected changes to your body during pregnancy, keep in mind most of these changes are temporary and completely normal. If you experience any changes that are not typical or concern you, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor.
This article is based on information from KidsHealth.
Medical information within this site is not intended for use in the diagnosis or treatment of any health condition. Please consult a licensed health care professional for the treatment or diagnosis of any medical condition.