Despite the overwhelming joy of finding out you are pregnant, your body is preparing to go through some pretty dramatic changes. You will not only experience a physical metamorphosis, but a mental and physical one as well. You’ll talk to your mother, talk to your friends, and read plenty of books, but some things just can’t be predicted or planned. Here are a few things your loved ones may not remember to add to your list of expectations.
Sensory Overload: Using Your Nose
Everyone experiences morning sickness or some level of nausea at some time throughout their pregnancy. Some women have it worse – much worse – than others. What your family and doctors may not tell you, however, is that the feelings of nausea and vomiting won’t just be from “morning sickness” or even “day sickness.” As your sense of smell enhances, you may find that scents that never bothered you in the past suddenly make you want to hurl. You’re going to end up crossing some of your favorite foods off the list, not because you don’t enjoy them, but because the thought of smelling what you cook will drive you insane.
Constipation and Incontinence
Let’s face it. Most pregnant women will admit to having bladder issues, especially in the third trimester, as their little bundles of joy start moving about and kicking their bladders. What most women will not talk about, on the other hand, is constipation. But let’s face it. Poop happens. As your body changes, you may find you’re having a tough time “going” during the day. Make sure you suck up your sensitivities and mention it to your doctor. He’ll be able to recommend a food or supplement that may help keep things moving properly. Oh, and while we’re at it, hemorrhoids are pretty normal, too!
As your uterus swells and your baby grows, your body will start working harder to increase blood flow to all of the areas that need it most. In order to compensate, your veins will get a bit bigger. This is what is happening when you begin to see a varicose vein or two (or an entire web of veins) pop up on your legs. There is no reason to panic, though. The good news is that most of the varicose veins you develop will fade after you give birth.
Your Belly Will Itch
When you were a kid and had a scab, it itched. Bug bites itched. Chicken pocks itched, too! The thing they had in common? They’re all skin irritations. Let’ use some common sense here. You have a baby growing inside of you, so you’re sharing fluids – this may result in dry skin. The growing baby is also causing your belly to stretch – another irritation. So yes – your belly may itch. It may itch quite a bit, in fact. The good news is that the incessant itching usually only lasts for a couple of days at a time. Keep dousing yourself with lotion and you’ll make it through.
Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath can be incredibly scary for a number of reasons. It’s often associated with asthma, heart conditions, and a wide variety of other ailments. While you should certainly see your doctor if you have concerns, it is important to remember that your growing baby is pushing the organs surrounding your uterus upwards. This means they’re pressing into your lungs and up onto your diaphragm. Shortness of breath is especially common during the third trimester.
Cramps in Your Legs
Have you ever had a “charlie horse” cramp in your calves? Leg cramps are very common amongst pregnant women, partially because of the change in circulation and blood flow throughout your body. While off-and-on cramping, especially in the evening, is normal, it is important to remember that a constant, nagging leg pain is not normal. Don’t confuse cramps and pain. See your doctor immediately if you have “pain” in your legs. You may need to be checked for blood clots.
Your body will be making some quick adaptations to change and may not get everything right. As a result, your body may see the plaque in your mouth as more of a threat than normal. As a result of this and increased blood flow throughout your body, you may experience some swelling in your gums as well as bleeding. While this sudden bleeding may at first shock you, it’s not uncommon at all. Make sure you pay special attention to your oral hygiene throughout your pregnancy, and don’t skip your regular dental checkups!
The time you spend pregnant will be one of the most memorable times of your life. Don’t be shocked by changes in your body – especially the ones no one bothered or thought to tell you about. Take a deep breath, cross-reference your resources, call your mom, or (better yet) call your doctor. In most cases, you’ll find everything you are experiencing is completely normal!