Being pregnant can put you on cloud nine. But if you are a first-time mother-to-be, you should be aware that pregnancy can be marred by certain symptoms which can be quite embarrassing. But don’t worry, these symptoms are temporary and there are ways to deal with the unexpected changes your body is going through.
As an expectant mother, you were all gung-ho about your pregnancy, reveling in the fact that in a few months’ time you will be holding your newborn in your arms! But what you did not expect were certain side effects pregnancy can have on your body, thanks to those rampaging hormones, namely estrogen and progesterone.
Pregnancy is not just about strange food cravings and weight gain, there’s a lot more in store for you. The gradual physical changes that you will experience, like a bulging belly and a glowing skin, especially at the onset of your second trimester, are actually phases you look forward to. And now the downside to the story: most women experience morning sickness, digestive problems, swollen limbs, and bladder leaks, to name a few. These can put you in an awkward situation, especially if you have company. But none of them are critical, so you need not lose sleep over them.
Tackling Embarrassing Symptoms of Pregnancy
One of the most embarrassing (call it downright humiliating!) pregnancy side effect. Progesterone is the culprit. This hormone relaxes your gastrointestinal muscles, which control the movement of gas in the body. Add to that a swelling uterus, which can make matters worse by putting pressure on the intestines. All these factors contribute to your body not being able to control the excess gas.
Ways to Deal With Flatulence:
To get rid of this problem, like you would deal with queasiness, eat smaller meals throughout the day. Do not skip meals, and never overeat. Take your time chewing and swallowing your food. Gulping down the food quickly causes you to swallow more air, aggravating the problem. Avoid gas-producing foods such as beans, cabbage, broccoli, radishes, etc. Stay away from soda and foods high in sucrose, which are known to increase intestinal gas.
Sudden Breakout of Acne
The overactive hormones are to be blamed for this condition. This problem is generally faced by women who have an oily skin. The increased hormonal activity lends a glow to the skin, which works wonders for women with a dry skin. But in case of an already oily skin, it can cause acne.
How to Get Rid of Acne:
Again, this will pass soon enough. Keep your body well hydrated which helps eliminate toxins and is ideal for the skin. Do not prick the pimples, or you may worsen the condition. Use oil-free and water-based cosmetics. If you get severe acne, talk to your doctor who might prescribe over-the-counter topical ointments to get rid of it.
Known as the “mask of pregnancy”, chloasma results in hyperpigmentation. This skin discoloration is caused because estrogen and progesterone produce excess melanin in your body, and you may break out in unsightly brownish splotches over your face, arms, and abdomen. Brown-skinned women and those exposed to long periods of sunlight are more susceptible to developing chloasma.
How to Hide Those Patches:
Sadly, this pigmentation cannot be prevented. But the good news is, all those uneven dark patches will vanish once you deliver. You can stop the spots from turning darker by applying sunscreen generously all over and covering exposed parts of the skin whenever you step out. If the skin patches truly bother you, consult a dermatologist for the most suitable method of skin lightening procedure you can opt for in your condition. Do not undergo any laser treatments or chemical peels.
Nausea and Vomiting
One of the first side effects of pregnancy, also called morning sickness. In fact, it is a symptom which, at times, manifests itself even before you have realized you are pregnant. Blessed are the women who do not have to go through it. But for those who have to deal with it, it can be quite a nuisance. And even though it’s called morning sickness, the urge to throw up can hit you any time of the day. It’s not just restricted to mornings. The reason? An increased level of hormones, which makes women increasingly sensitive to scents and smells around them. A heightened olfactory capability is usually the leading cause of this side effect. And if you are around people, this symptom can cause embarrassment, especially if you are now averse to certain food smells or even soap and perfume smells.
Getting Rid of the Queasiness:
Instead of having three full meals, have six smaller ones. Drink plenty of fluids, especially lemonade with ginger. As a snack, munch on crackers and fresh fruits. Avoid food items and things whose smell you cannot tolerate. Ventilate the kitchen and house well when you are cooking. Start using unscented soaps and other cosmetics. Stay away from smokers. If matters get worse, request those around you not to overuse the fragrance, or you may want to leave the room for a while. For most women, this phase prevails in the first trimester, and miraculously disappears in the second trimester of pregnancy.
This is caused because of the inflammation of the mucous membranes, that occurs specially during gestation. Heightened levels of estrogen cause the membranes to swell. It can also lead to nasal congestion. Snoring can keep you and your partner awake throughout the night, and lack of sleep may lead to both of you feeling disgruntled the next morning, not to mention not getting enough rest.
For a Good Night’s Sleep:
To prevent snoring, sleep with an elevated head. Do not lie flat on your back, but sleep on a side. These positions will open up your nasal passageways and help you breathe easily and reduce snoring. Never take over-the-counter medication which aim to reduce snoring without first consulting your doctor. Keep your weight in check. Never pop in a sleeping pill just so you get a good night’s sleep.
Frequent Urge to Urinate
A growing uterus makes very little room for the other organs in your body, so the bladder gets compressed and cannot control the storage of urine. This can put you in a rather awkward situation, especially when you are out. Coughing and sneezing can lead to urinary incontinence, especially in the advanced stages of pregnancy. It’s also the time when women have an urge to visit the bathroom more often.
Dealing with an Overactive Bladder:
The best way to fix this problem is Kegel exercises. These will tone and strengthen your muscles and your ability to control urination. Try using liners to avoid an embarrassing situation, especially when you are away from home.
Swollen ankles, feet, and hands are signs of edema, common during the last trimester, caused by the excess volume of blood and other fluids circulating in the body. Women might feel they look ungainly because of this condition. Keep in mind though, this is a gradual change, and does not occur suddenly. Sudden swelling can be a dangerous condition and should be brought to the notice of your doctor immediately.
Ways to Reduce the Swelling:
Do not sit or stand for an extended duration. If you lie down, keep your legs elevated. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, nothing too restrictive. Avoid a high sodium diet. Exercising and drinking plenty of water will decrease fluid retention in the body. Wear stockings to aid blood circulation.
Feeling Off Balance
Typically affecting women in the last trimester, the protruding belly and the excess weight gain might make it look like you are waddling like a duck! Even a change in blood pressure can cause a light-headed feeling and alter your sense of balance.
Managing Your Balance:
To deal with this, take extra care when you walk and exercise. Do not get up or stand with a jerk. This will cause dizziness and you might lose balance. Do not exhaust yourself. At the first sign of feeling wobbly, stop and sit down, and alert someone around you.
Another one of those irritating side effects, which can go hand in hand with flatulence. Once again, progesterone is to blame! This hormone, as mentioned earlier, relaxes the muscles, slowing down food motility in the stomach. The expanding uterus also exerts a lot of pressure on the rectum and other digestive organs, as a result of which the digestive system cannot function optimally. A side effect of severe constipation is hemorrhoids, which can be painful.
How to Ease the Discomfort:
A fiber-rich diet is the solution to constipation, combined with lots of fluids and regular exercise. Exercise will get your bowels moving, easing the constipation. Monitor and modify your diet if need be, and you will soon find a way out of this sticky condition. If you are plagued by hemorrhoids, use sitz bath or ice packs which can relieve the discomfort. Avoid sitting for a long duration of time. In severe cases, you should consult your health care provider.
Temporary Memory Loss
Does that really happen? Yes! The hormonal change can also cloud your brain, resulting in forgetfulness and your ability to concentrate. Some health experts feel that this can be brought on if the pregnant woman has an overly busy routine. But don’t fret, this is no way an alarming condition, and will vanish after childbirth.
If your absent-mindedness is coming in the way of your day-to-day routine, it’s time to jot down all the important things you need to remember. Maintain a diary, or stick Post-its in the kitchen and bedroom to help you remember things and important events.
Severe Mood Swings
Right from intense anger to being weepy over trivial matters, pregnant women go through it all. A passing phase, it can turn a usually easygoing woman into someone people would not want to mess with! On the other hand, small matters of not much emotional significance may see them sobbing for no apparent reason. No prizes for guessing who the culprit is. The raging hormones, of course!
Ways to Keep Your Emotions in Check:
Take your partner, close friends, and doctor into confidence and talk to them if you feel you are being overly emotional about anything. Don’t think too much about anything, it might get you upset unnecessarily, making matters worse. Take it easy.
Though these side effects can definitely put you in an uncomfortable situation, you must remember these will not last forever, and once your baby is born, you will soon forget about them. Do not bother yourself about what others might think, it will be of no help. Follow a healthy diet, take your prescribed prenatal vitamins, exercise, and get plenty of sleep and rest (it will be a rarity once the baby arrives!).
Do not hesitate to confide in your obstetrician/gynecologist or close friends (who have gone through this phase) about things that bother you, they are the best people who can guide you and offer sound advice. For all you know, down the road, you might even have a good laugh over these matters, or offer practical advice to friends going through a similar phase. Above all, stay happy and keep up a positive outlook for a happy and healthy pregnancy.