For years a woman dreams about having a baby, and the day arrives when she is finally able to pee on a stick. The pregnancy test turns positive, and she can’t wait to share the news with the world. Once people know, they begin to fill your head with information. Stories about their experiences with morning sickness, when they first felt the baby move, their pregnancy cravings, and their detailed birth story are tossed at you left and right. Those stories fill you with hope and excitement of how your own nine month journey will turn out. However, there are certain things that pregnant women experience and do not talk about. It might be because it's showing the unpleasant side of being pregnant. It might be because they are too embarrassed. Whatever the reason, the darker side of pregnancy is a well-kept secret.
We don't want to keep you in the dark any longer on the truth of what could happen while you are creating life. It’s time to shed some light on those taboo subjects everyone else wants to avoid. You should be able to enter into a pregnancy fully understanding what will really happen to your body and mood. Having a baby is truly a miracle, but it also comes with a lot of hard work and sacrifice on your part. Fortunately, once you are holding your perfect newborn in your arms, all of the hard work and pain are always worth it.
Here are 15 things almost every pregnant woman experiences, but never tells.
Discharge, called leucorrhea is not generally something people share about their pregnancies. This thin, white, milky, mild-smelling discharge is something you've probably experienced before, and it’s just heavier now that you’re pregnant. Your body is creating more estrogen and increasing blood flow to the vagina. The closer you get to your due date; you will begin to put out thicker mucousy discharge as you begin to lose your mucous plug. You lose your mucous plug as your cervix begins to thin and dilate, preparing your body for delivery.
There isn’t anything to do to prevent discharge, and if fact, it is the body’s natural way of cleaning itself. Keep the area dry and clean, and wear cotton panties. Wear a light, unscented pad if you need added protection. Do not douche, use feminine sprays, scented pads, tampons, or even tight clothing as these may cause infection. Always contact your doctor if your discharge causes itchiness, has a strong odor, or changes to a greenish color to rule out any infection.
It doesn’t happen to everyone, but feet can grow up to an entire size bigger during pregnancy, and unfortunately it’s often permanent. A hormone called Relaxin is released into your system, doing pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It causes the muscle ligaments in your pelvis to relax in preparation for birth. This hormone also relaxes other areas of your body such as your feet. The loose ligaments in your feet along with the extra weight you will gain, can push down on your feet causing them to flatten and lengthen. This can sometimes cause discomfort on your arch as it begings to flatten. Sometimes arch supports can help ease that discomfort.
Fortunately this usually only happens with your first pregnancy, so don’t worry about your feet growing an extra size with each pregnancy. You can place the blame on your first born, and use it as an excuse to go shoe shopping!
Your sense of smell becomes super charged during pregnancy. The heightened sense usually peaks during the first trimester, which is unfortunately also when you may experience morning sickness. Again – blame it on the hormones. Specifically, estrogen. What and how much you can smell affects everyone differently. Some smells you didn’t care for, you may be able to tolerate now. Other smells can cause your stomach to roll, and have you running to the nearest trash can. Be prepared to be able to smell some lady’s perfume three people ahead of you in the check-out line, or your husband’s stinky socks from across the room.
Since this newfound smelling capability can sometimes kick your morning sickness into high gear, there are some things you can do to lessen it. Wash clothes more frequently since some smells can stick to fibers. Open windows when cooking, and switch to unscented products. Avoid foods whose smells make you ill, and try lemon or mint to help with nausea.
Many moms are prepared for the weight gain, morning sickness, and tender breasts that are associated with pregnancy, but few are prepared for the constipation. It doesn’t happen to all, but those who do suffer from constipation find it can be worse during pregnancy. The hormone progesterone causes muscles in women’s intestines to relax, which slows movement of food through the digestive system. This can make your stool hard and it may compact in the intestine, causing blockage, and ultimately leading to constipation. In addition, the growing baby puts pressure on the lower intestine which also leads to constipation.
Luckily, there are things you can do to avoid it. Drink more water to help keep things lubricated and moving freely. Eat foods rich in fiber, and try eating 5-6 small meals a day rather than 3 large ones. Increase activities such as walking, swimming, or try a prenatal exercise class.
Unfortunately the aforementioned constipation can lead to an even more painful condition called hemorrhoids. These swollen blood vessels in the rectal area can range from the size of a pea to a cluster of grapes. They can be found just inside the rectum, or can protrude through the anus. They are caused by the uterus putting pressure on the pelvic veins causing them to become more swollen. Straining to have a bowel movement also increases pressure and can cause hemorrhoids. They can be itchy, painful, and even cause bleeding from your bottom.
Even if you’ve never had hemorrhoids, you can get them for the first time while you’re pregnant. And if you’ve had them previously, your chances of getting them again while pregnant are high.
The number one way to prevent them is to avoid constipation. Don’t strain while moving bowels, and try putting your feet on a small stool when having a bowel movement. Don’t linger on the toilet because it adds extra pressure on your anus. Practice Kegels, and don’t sit or stand in one position too long.
You can find relief in a number of ways. Use an ice pack to reduce swelling and pain. You can add witch hazel to help with itching too. Soak in a tub of warm water, and make sure you clean thoroughly after having a bowel movement. Try using pre-moistened wipes for added relief. If nothing seems to make it better or if you have severe pain or bleeding, call you doctor.
At some point during your pregnancy you may feel like the bun in your oven is burning. Heartburn affects nearly half of all pregnant women at some point during their 9 months. It often kicks in during the 3rd trimester, but can definitely come on sooner.
The hormone progesterone relaxes the valve that separates the stomach from the esophagus. This allows gastric acids to creep back up; feeling like it’s burning you. As your baby grows, it also pushes the stomach acid up into the esophagus.
Try to ward off heartburn by avoiding things like carbonated beverages, caffeine, citric fruits, spicy foods, and fried foods. Eat smaller meals, and stop eating at least 2 hours before bedtime. Chewing gum may also help by creating more saliva, which neutralizes the acid.
If you are still having a hard time finding relief, ask your doctor about over the counter antacids. There are many they can recommend that are safe for pregnant women to take.
Called Rhinitis of pregnancy, congestion affects almost every pregnant woman. Feeling like you need to constantly blow your nose, can sometimes dim the excitement of being pregnant. Estrogen causes nasal membranes to swell leading to stuffy noses. Increased blood volume can also be to blame, and sometimes causes nosebleeds as well.
For quick but temporary relief, take a hot steamy shower. The steam breaks up the mucous in the nose, allowing you to breath freely, albeit for a short time. You can also try using a humidifier to add more humidity to the room. Make sure to stay clear of second hand smoke, and drink plenty of water. You may also want to add a couple drops of saline nasal drops to each nostril until you feel some relief. If your congestion is accompanied by a sore throat, cough, sneezing, or fever contact your doctor or midwife as these can all be signs of a cold or infection.
One of the most painful side effects of pregnancy are leg cramps. They can wake you out of a deep sleep, have you crying out in pain and grabbing for your calf as the pain radiates through it. No one knows what causes them. It could be the extra weight gain, or compressed blood vessels and nerves. Really bad leg cramps, called charley horses, can cause discomfort for days.
The quickest way to find relief when a cramp strikes is to flex your foot upward, and straighten your leg as far as you can go. You can also massage the affected calf muscle. During the day, and especially before bed, stretch your calf muscles often. You may also want to try wearing support hose during the day, and be sure to drink enough water. Try not to sit with your legs crossed for too long, or stand in one position for an extended period of time. Some women swear that eating bananas helps too, so it might be worth a shot.
Added pressure on the bladder, and hormonal changes (again) can cause urinary incontinence. This pretty much means you may wet your pants at any time. This is especially true when you sneeze, cough, laugh, exercise, or lift something heavy.
If you do happen to leak a little, be sure to check and make sure it’s actually urine. If it’s a clear odorless liquid, it might be your amniotic fluid. If in doubt, always ask your provider.
There are a few things you can do that will help. Strengthen your vaginal muscles by practicing Kegels. Limit weight gain, and avoid constipation to prevent the added pressure on your bladder. Use the bathroom often, and even before you actually have the urge to go. If you are going to do something that might cause you to leak urine, such as sneezing or lifting something heavy, try crossing your legs and doing Kegels during it.
Known as pregnancy gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease, gums may become red, tender, and bleed when brushing or flossing. It’s a very common pregnancy symptom. In fact, 75% of moms-to-be are affected. Hormonal changes cause bacteria and plaque buildup, creating gingivitis. If untreated, it can turn into periodontal diseases which destroys the bone that holds your teeth in place. Pregnancy women with periodontal disease are at a higher risk of delivering their babies prematurely. If you do find yourself at risk for this, you may need to schedule extra visits to your dentist for cleanings or have a scaling procedure done. During this procedure, a hygienist deeply cleans below your gum line, making sure to remove plaque out of any pockets between your teeth.
Keep up good brushing and flossing habits. Try using a fluoride alcohol free mouth rinse. Visit your dentist for regular cleanings, and don’t put off any dental work. Many local anesthetics that dentists use are safe for pregnant women.
One of the biggest surprises expectant moms receive is viewing their post-baby stomach for the first time. Remember all the media chatter when Kate Middleton left the hospital after her first child was born? She still looked very much pregnant, which is what you can expect too. Your firm, beautiful belly will turn into a spongy Jell-O-like blob. Do not expect your stomach to flatten out immediately. Your tummy, skin, and uterus were stretched for 9 months, so it will take time for it to shrink back down. How quickly depends on many factors, such as pre-pregnancy size, weight gain, activity, and genes.
Have patience; with time and work, you can have a flat tummy again. Breastfeeding may help, as it burns additional calories. The nipple stimulation also triggers your uterous to shrink. Once you receive the go-ahead from your physician, you can begin an exercise program again, and as always, make sure you are drinking plenty of water – especially if you are also breastfeeding.
If you didn’t snore before, there’s a chance you will while you are pregnant. Most likely caused by swollen nasal passages, snoring can also be blamed on pregnancy hormones and excess weight gain. It tends to be more common in the 3rd trimester, and you may not even realize you are doing it until your husband complains to you.
Snoring is more of a nuisance than anything. It can, however, be an indicator of gestational diabetes or sleep apnea. Both of which can lead to pregnancy complications, so be sure to bring it up to your doctor at your next appointment. In the meantime, you can try using a warm-mist humidifier in your bedroom at night. You may also reduce your risk of snoring by sleeping on your side, and adding an extra pillow to keep your head slightly elevated. Try not to exceed the expected weight gain, as the extra pounds can be added to your neck area, making your snoring worse.
During your first and even second trimester, your pregnancy complexion can rival the pimply complexion you had during middle school. Fortunately, the acne you experience during pregnancy is hormonal, which means once your hormones are regulated, your skin should return to normal. Until that happens, however, you may find yourself breaking out after having years of perfectly clear skin.
Adjusting your diet should help quite a bit. Eat foods that are rich in antioxidants, like salmon, strawberries, dark green vegetables, and extra virgin olive oil. These are all food that will benefit your growing baby too! Wash your face with a mild cleanser twice a day, and only use oil-free moisturizer. If you are still not finding any relief, ask your doctor about using medicated products. Not all ingredients are safe for pregnant woman, and he will be able to direct you to the ones that are. If all else fails, schedule an appointment with a dermatologist.
A more common pregnancy symptom is sore breasts. Throughout the nine months, but especially during pregnancy, your breasts will grow and may become sore and tender. If you have experienced sore breasts before your period was due, this is similar, but a heightened version. You and your partner may be thrilled with the increased cup size, but they may be too sore to enjoy at first. Sometimes something as simple as your shirt brushing over your nipples can cause discomfort. Increased blood flow and hormonal changes cause the breasts to become swollen, sore and sensitive. It’s also common to go up a cup size or two during pregnancy.
Take heart that the soreness usually lessens by the 2nd trimester. In the meantime, you can ease discomfort by wearing a maternity bra for extra support. You may also want to try a nursing bra since your will more than likely soon be purchasing one anyway, and it can give you the needed support.
Depending on how you look at it, one positive effect of pregnancy could be that your sex drive is fired up! It usually happens in your second trimester after morning sickness has passed, and your energy levels are up. You may feel sexy with your bigger breasts and round stomach. Increased libido, increased vaginal lubrication, and a hypersensitive clitoris due to extra blood flow can have you reaching for your partner at all hours. And who would blame you?
Another thing that may contribute to your amorous mood is feeling more emotionally connected towards your partner. You have created a precious life that will bond you together forever. Take advantage of your increased sex drive, and try different positions with your partner. Once you get closer to your due date, you may be too uncomfortable or tired to have sex, and after the baby is born, it might be a while before you feel the drive again.