Some people assume that since pregnancy is natural it should be easy. It can be, but it's not always. Some women have easy pregnancies and the only thing that changes is their belly. Some women have complete opposite pregnancies that doesn'tt fit with their previous lifestyle. We don't get to pick. We barely can even influence the difficulty of our pregnancy.
Pregnancy is hard on a woman's body. We stretch. Our skin stretches. We gain weight. We might be sick. There's a whole lot of back pain and sore muscles. Our body is growing a tiny human being. It is a lot of work. We carry around weight we aren't used to. We are exhausted for what feels like no reason even though it's really because we are growing a person who it feels like is sucking the life out of us.
Mom can try to have the easiest pregnancy possible, but some things are beyond our control. Things like our own health, weight, and even age might indicate the level of risk involved with our pregnancy as well as how well our body will handle the pregnancy.
Pregnancy is different for all of us. Some women work out, run marathons, and live a normal active life all throughout their pregnancies. Others require bed rest, extra medical care, or are just utterly exhausted. We don't get to exactly decide how easy or difficult our pregnancy will be, but wouldn't it be great if we had some clues?
20 Easy: No Morning Sickness
Believe it or not there is such thing as pregnancy without morning sickness. Lucky ducks. There are a few old wives' tales regarding why mom doesn't have morning sickness and some attempts at using it to predict baby's gender. No matter what though, not having to deal with morning sickness is nothing to complain about. According to Parents.com about 30 percent of women don't deal with morning sickness.
The lack of morning sickness could be related to a lower level of hormones or hormones increasing at a slower speed. No one should be complaining about that since morning sickness is often one of the worst and most dreaded pregnancy symptoms. It's also the yuckiest.
19 Pay Attention: High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure during pregnancy can be pretty dangerous. According to Mayoclinic.org, high blood pressure during pregnancy can lead to complications like decreased blood flow to the placenta, intrauterine growth restriction, a premature delivery, and even damage mom's other organs. Baby may have to be delivered early due to the risk to his health as well as mom's. If baby isn't getting enough nutrients from the placenta, it can impact his growth or even be fatal. Mom's blood pressure might escalate calling for an early delivery due to the risk it puts on her own life.
During pregnancy doctors are very careful to check blood pressure and also check the urine for proteins. They are monitoring for the development of conditions like pre-eclampsia. Women with high blood pressure can develop problems like pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. They may experience excess swelling of their hands, feet, or face.
18 Easy: Mom's Health
Mom's choices before conception can make for an easier pregnancy. Mom's health prior to pregnancy can impact her pregnancy. This is so important that the ACOG (The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) suggest everyone get a pre-conception check up before becoming pregnant. According to the ACOG, this check-up can increase our chances our a healthy pregnancy and baby.
If our medical history has any red flags, it will likely impact our pregnancy or at least how closely our doctor monitors things. If we are in good health and have a healthy lifestyle and diet, it could potentially make for an easier pregnancy.
17 Pay Attention: Swelling
Everything feels bigger and swollen during pregnancy. Swelling may be normal, but it is also uncomfortable. According to Americanpregnancy.org we can try to limit swelling by avoiding standing for long periods of time, lowering our caffeine and sodium intake, and limiting heat exposure especially in the summer months. Normal swelling during pregnancy, or edema, is usually due to our extra water retention.
We also have to be careful because too much swelling can be a sign of impending problems. Swelling accompanied by pain may be a sign of a blood clot. Swelling accompanied by headaches and vision changes may be a sign of pre-eclampsia.
16 Easy: Mom's Pounds
We know that pregnancy is a time when we are generally supposed to gain weight. Just how much weight we should gain can be dependent on how much we weighed prior to pregnancy. According to the MarchofDimes.org, we need about 300 extra calories daily during pregnancy. Depending on mom's BMI, she should gain anywhere from 11 to 40 pounds during pregnancy. An average weight woman should gain about 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy.
Being a healthy, average weight prior to pregnancy lowers the risk for complications that come with being over or underweight. Low birth weight and premature births are risks for both categories.
15 Pay Attention: Diabetes
During pregnancy we are at risk for developing gestational diabetes without ever having diabetes previously. If we are diabetic prior to getting pregnant, it comes with some added risks. Babies are at an increased risk for birth defects from high glucose levels according to Diabetes.org. These defects include macrosomia, hypoglycemia, and even miscarriage.
Baby's organs form in the first trimester and usually in the first seven weeks. This is a time where some women may not even be aware they are pregnant which can obviously prevent us from taking extra measures to make sure everything is in check. It's especially important to manage glucose levels while pregnant due to the risks for both mom and baby.
14 Easy: It's Only One Baby
Just because we are only carrying one baby instead of twins or triplets does not mean our pregnancy will be a walk in the park. However an individual baby will certainly be easier than a multiple pregnancy. More babies mean more hormones and more weight. Two things that can make for a difficult nine months.
According to AmericanPregnancy.org, on average women pregnant with multiples will gain about 10 extra pounds. For some women that can feel like a huge difference and is extra strain on her body. Those pregnant with multiples may also be extra tired because their bodies have to work harder to provide nutrients for multiple babies.
13 Pay Attention: Advanced Maternal Age
Many women are waiting until they are older to get pregnant so pregnancy at an advanced maternal age is getting much more common. Any pregnancy when mom is older than 35 years old is considered of advanced maternal age. Ouch. Though we say age is just a number, it can complicate our pregnancy a bit.
First of all, it was probably a little harder to get pregnant in the first place. According to MayoClinic.org, women over 35 are more likely to have a multiple pregnancy, experience pre-eclampisa, or develop gestational diabetes. The risk of miscarriage as well as chromosomal abnormalities is also higher.
12 Easy: Mom Is Active
Exercising while pregnant can make everything easier. It can help us manage our weight gain, though no one should try to lose weight while pregnant. According to AmericanPregnancy.org, exercising during pregnancy can even make our labor easier. It will help us better handle things like backaches and poor posture. Exercise can also help us sleep better, not that many of us need it during pregnancy.
It may also increase our energy and help our moods. Staying active during pregnancy can also make it easier to drop the baby weight afterwards and get back into shape. There are countless reasons why we should exercise as long as we are able to. Most healthy, normal pregnancies are fine to exercise during. We should consult our doctor about the types of exercise we are able to handle.
11 Pay Attention: Spotting
Though bleeding can occur throughout any trimester during pregnancy, it is usually cause for concern during the second and third trimesters. It can be a problem during the first but can also be harmless early on.
According to AmericanPregnancy.org, about half of the women who experience pregnancy during the first half of pregnancy experience a miscarriage. This bleeding is usually accompanied by cramping. Molar and ectopic pregnancies are other reasons why a woman may bleed during the first half of pregnancy.
During the second half of pregnancy, bleeding is usually a bit more serious and problematic. It may be the result of trouble with a woman's cervix such as inflammation or growths. According to AmericanPregnancy.org bleeding can also be the result of a placental abruption which happens to about 1% of pregnant women. Placenta previa can also be a cause of bleeding. It occurs when the placenta is very low and covering the cervix.
10 Easy: Prior Pregnancies Were Easy
We all know that every pregnancy is different. Of course our bodies change with each pregnancy, but if prior pregnancies were low risk or high risk, they can be an indicator as to how our next pregnancy will go.
With a second, third, or fourth pregnancy our body knows what to do. It's why many women seem to show earlier each time they are pregnant. Our symptoms might be the same, and we might experience a different variety of them. We will also know what to expect and what helped previously.
According to Babycenter.com if a woman is healthy and didn't have complications in previous pregnancies, she has a low risk for complications in the future. If we had a complication before, we are at an increased risk for having it again.
9 Pay Attention: Decrease Of Fetal Activity
There is good reason for doctors and nurses telling us to watch baby's movements and how active he/she is. It's because if we notice a sudden decrease in baby's kicking and movements, there could be a problem. According to NCBI.gov, fetal movement can be used to "assess baby's well-being." The decreased movement could be sign of an insufficient placenta. It could also be due to the positioning of the placenta, mom's obesity, or cigarette smoking.
Fetal activity is something we should closely monitor throughout pregnancy especially during the third trimester. Moms who notice a decrease should call their doctor and carefully monitor baby.
8 Easy: Having A Good Support System
Husband, family, friends, or supportive coworkers can make a huge difference in a woman's pregnancy. According to the NCBI.gov, having social support during pregnancy is linked to mom's mental health and well-being. So having good friends around us can make our pregnancy easier and probably happier.
It's important to have a good support system to be our shoulder to cry on or even just help us tie our shoes when we reach that point. Having good friends to stroller shop with and pick out adorable baby outfits is something everyone should have. Excited family members (though they can be annoying sometimes) are an asset to an expecting mother.
7 Pay Attention: Flu Symptoms
No one wants the flu, but it can be especially dangerous for a variety of people including pregnant women. According to MarchOfDimes.org, women who get the flu during pregnancy are more likely to experience preterm labor and give birth prematurely. Flu symptoms include things like fever, fatigue, chills, headache, and muscle or body aches.
We are also at risk for birth defects particularly in the neural tube because of the fever that comes with the flu according to MarchOfDimes.org. During pregnancy, the flu can be especially dangerous because it impacts our immune system (which isn't as good already from being pregnant), lungs, and heart.
6 Easy: Having A Strong Core
Just as exercising can make both pregnancy and labor and delivery easier, having strong core muscles can be beneficial during pregnancy. According to Shape.com, exercising regularly can decrease mom's odds for needing an emergency c-section. Women who have strong core muscles and work out regularly are better prepared in some ways to handle labor and delivery.
Though it is not recommended to start a new fitness routine or regime while pregnant, we can continue to do what our body is used to for the most part. Some exercises are not suggested for a variety of reasons. Being in shape can help our bodies to better handle the extra weight that comes with pregnancy.
5 Pay Attention: Leaking Fluid
Our water that breaks at the start of labor is amniotic fluid. We need it until we are ready for labor because once it breaks we risk infection. According to FitPregnancy.com, our water should never leak until we are ready for labor to begin. If we experience this it is important to get checked by the doctor.
Sometimes we confuse leaking a little urine with amniotic fluid. If we feel a gush when we stand, it is likely fluid and not urine. We have about a quart of amniotic fluid max during pregnancy. This fluid consists of hormones, nutrients, immune system cells, and baby's urine.
4 Easy: Mom Is In Good Environment
Pregnancy is not a time to be stressed out. It's bad for both mom and baby. Obviously stress is normal and part of our everyday lives, but we should also avoid unnecessary and excess stress while pregnant if possible. Easier said than done though.
According to MarchOfDimes.org dealing with serious stress during pregnancy increases the risks of complications such as premature birth. This stress may come from mom's workplace or job stress. It may be due to dealing with issues like divorce or a death. Financial struggles, abuse (in any form), and depression can also be causes of negative stress.
Being in a healthy environment relationship and job wise can lower mom's levels of stress. It can allow her to focus on her bundle of joy that is coming as well as relax easier.
3 Pay Attention: Vision Changes And Headaches
According to Babycenter.com, vision changes happen to about 15% of pregnant moms. Our water retention alone can impact our vision. There are riskier reasons though like pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes. About 25% of moms with pre-eclampsia experience vision changes. These changes usually include blurred vision, blind spots, flashes of light, and double vision.
Headaches are common during the first trimester of pregnancy and are usually pressure headaches. They can be a sign of pre-eclampsia when accompanied with vision changes, swelling, or sudden weight gain. Headaches can be a sign of something more serious if coupled with a stiff neck or fever also.
2 Easy: Eat Multiple Small Meals
Who doesn't love snacks? Pregnancy is a weird time because we feel hungry so much but feel full rather quickly. There are a variety of reasons why it is better to eat small meals more often than the typical three meals a day. We are always hungry so eating six small meals can help us keep up with that hunger.
First of all, according to LiveStrong.com, eating six small meals per day can help curb morning sickness. Since our stomach doesn't get completely empty it helps with nausea. As the baby grows, it will also help avoiding heartburn and discomfort from a full stomach. When our baby is bigger, we feel pretty full rather quickly.
1 Pay Attention: The Baby's Growth
When baby is not gaining enough weight, it can be a cause of concern. Intrauterine growth restriction or IUGR is defined as a fetal weight lower than the 10th percentile according to AmericanPregnancy.org. An ultrasound is used to diagnose this.
There are a variety of reasons for baby being small enough to diagnose IUGR. If mom weighs less than 100 pounds, she is at an increased risk. It could also be a result of poor maternal nutrition. The use of drugs, cigarettes, or alcohol can also be a cause.
Problems with the placenta or umbilical cord can stunt baby's growth. It prevents baby from getting adequate nutrition and gaining weight properly.
Resources: Mayo, ACOG, AmericanPregnancy, March, Parents, Diabetes, AmericanPregnancy, Mayo, American, American, BabyCenter, NCBI, NCBI, MarchOfDimes, Shape, Fit, March, BabyCenter, LiveStrong, American