You may have planned your pregnancy right up to the last detail – I used a Chinese gender calendar that showed me when was the best time to conceive a boy and I did – especially about what to eat and not to eat, what supplements to take and avoid, what clothes to wear and what exercises to do but despite all that, there are several issues that may take you by surprise and that your doctor may overlook to tell you. Doctors usually don’t cover all the physical and emotional aspects of an expectant mother unless it is something with a medical focus because pregnancy affects each woman in a different way. Therefore, any questions you may have, no matter how trivial should be asked to your doctor. However, I have given below a few obvious changes that women usually undergo.
Mood swings – Premenopause and pregnancy can cause your body hormones to fluctuate resulting in mood swings. I remember I would get emotional and teary eyed over any silly matter which was a totally opposed to my usual stable and strong temperament. My moods would range from feeling ecstatic one minute to welling up eyes the next. So, don’t despair if you wonder why you are feeling irrationally angry with your husband or anybody else in the family. Mood swings are usually experienced during the first and last trimester. If your mood swings persists for a longer time, consult your doctor.
Poor concentration due to morning sickness – It is normal for some women to experience nausea or morning sickness or fainting spells during the first trimester. For some women it is so severe that they have to take medication because they are unable to hold down any food. During that time, you may feel tired and unable to concentrate well, especially as you are preoccupied and concerned about your baby. I had a friend who had morning sickness throughout her entire pregnancy term and had to rely on medication to combat it. I did not have morning sickness even for a day, thank God and was ravenously hungry for food from day one.
Enlarged breasts – Sensitive and enlarged breast is the first telltale sign that you are pregnant. During your first trimester, your breasts grow in size and become sensitive to touch, on account of higher hormonal levels like progesterone and estrogen. Your lungs enlarge too to help you take in more oxygen for you and your baby which is why your chest gets wider. Right from the time you realize you are pregnant, you must take extra care of your nipples and soften them with prescribed breast cream, in order to prevent them from getting cracked or chipped while breastfeeding your baby. As my doctor had neglected to tell me and my family members were unaware of it, due to which I had an extremely painful experience while breastfeeding my first born. My nipples cracked very badly and bled and I had to perforce stop breastfeeding for almost a month until it healed. Nursing my second child was smooth as I had taken early precautions.
Swollen feet – is another common sight in a pregnant woman. It occurs on account of extra body fluids during this time. Always sit with your feet raised and resting on a low table. While sleeping, rest your feet on a couple of pillows. It would be a good idea to drink plenty of water, especially barley water that is very effective in reducing the swelling in your feet. However, you may find the need to buy larger shoes to fit into.
Better hair growth – I had a good growth spurt where my hair was concerned which was due to secretion of hormones during pregnancy, although I experienced increased hair fall after childbirth. Sometimes, you may have added hair growth at unexpected places like the area around your face, nipples or your stomach. Sometimes, nails may grow well or get chipped faster based on your hormonal changes.
Glowing skin – During pregnancy, your skin tone changes due to hormonal changes and your skin gets stretched due to weight gain. Moreover, your blood volume will increase in order to meet the needs of your baby. On account of hormonal changes which cause the body to produce excess pigment, some women may have yellowish or brownish patches on their faces or a dark line running up from the navel or a darkening of the areola around the nipples, the genitalia and anus. Acne can also be seen on some women due to excess oil secretion from the sebaceous glands. During pregnancy it is normal to feel itchy all over, especially the area around your stomach and lower abdomen. Use cream liberally to soothe your skin. There is an old wives tale that scratching your stomach during pregnancy can cause stretch marks after childbirth and there has been no evidence so far to dispute that claim.
Mobility of the bones – When you are pregnant, your body prepares your cervix and pubic area for smooth delivery with the help of a hormone called relaxin. Relaxin loosens the ligaments in your joints, on account of which you may be likely to injure yourself easily unless you take extra care while exercising or doing any other work. Take care not to exert your lower back, knees and your pelvic area.
Varicose veins – are swollen veins just below the skin surface and commonly seen during pregnancy. They are bluish or purple in color and seen in your legs and the area around your genitals. During pregnancy, the amount of blood increases, causing your veins to engorge. You can avoid it with regular exercise, stable weight, not standing or sitting for a long time, wearing loose clothes, wearing a support hose stocking that is available at a medical store, sit down with your feet elevated and sleep on your left side with your feet elevated.
Hemorrhoids – are varicose veins in the rectum and are commonly seen during pregnancy. The pressure of the uterus and the increased levels of blood, cause the rectal veins to get engorged. If you are constipated, these veins could split or crack and may bleed or itch which is why you should ensure a smooth bowel movement.
Constipation – is prevalent during pregnancy because of hormonal changes which slows down the passage of food through the intestine. Moreover, as you advance in term, your uterus pushes against the intestines and make it hard for your expel waste. Constipation forces you to push your waste out forcibly which in turn may apply undue pressure on the cervix that could be unsafe. Eat a diet rich in fiber, drink plenty of water and have natural laxatives like bananas, pears, prunes, raw beets, guavas, raw cabbage and last but not the least, exercise.
Labor contractions or Amniotic fluid seepage – Finally, you are in the last week of your last trimester after having survived all the expected and unexpected changes in your body and mind. The time has come for you to be prepared for the unexpected arrival of your baby, along with other unexpected things from your body. The odds of water breaking or amniotic fluid seeping out are few. I used to have frequent discharge of a thick, sticky white fluid during the last three days before childbirth. When I took my concerns to my doctor, she asked to come when I found red discharge as opposed to white. But when the white discharge persisted till the third day, I forced my doctor to examine me and when she did, I was dilated up to three fingers, which meant I was ready to be taken to the labor room. I had my baby that night.
Once you reach the last week of your term, keep your stuff in readiness to be taken to the hospital with you, so that you save time, when the time comes. Pregnancy is God’s gift to you and your baby is the greatest gift of all.
Click below for the Chinese gender calender