Are you pregnant?
And are you wondering why you are not feeling as happy as you thought you would? Are you wondering why your pregnancy is not like the one you see in advertisements, instead,you are feeling nauseated and unable to even think of food. Are you Googling the realities of what to expect during pregnancy?
Well this is just the beginning. Welcome to the motherhood ! Believe me – every bit of it is worth it
Pregnancy changes your whole body. It also alters your mind and attitude towards life. It makes you feel different physically and mentally. It brings along a variety of discomfiting symptoms and the possibility of some serious complications. And if you are unprepared for them they can be terrible to endure and also difficult to manage and treat.
In this article I list out everything ‘signs & symptoms and realities of pregnancy’ you can expect when you are pregnant. So that you can avoid nasty surprises for which you are not mentally prepared.
Pregnancy Symtoms & Signs – First Trimester
The first trimester is usually most difficult to get through because everything that you didn’t expect happens to you. Following can be called pregnancy signs too.
The overpowering first symptom of pregnancy is a feeling of intense exhaustion. If you are an energetic person who is used to being out there and getting things done – this can come as a rude shock to you and can be crushingly depressing as well.
What you need to know – Fatigue is a normal symptom of pregnancy and it is the first sign of pregnancy too. Your body is diverting all your energy to your uterus where the intense work of baby making is proceeding at a tremendous pace. So if you are feeling tired – just rest without guilt
Nausea And Vomiting
If you are a foodie or an enthusiastic cook with an adventurous palate – you may be shocked to find that you are unable to even think of food. You may disappointed with yourself for feeling nauseated and you may try to treat your vomiting with drugs and home remedies. Nausea is a sign of pregnancy some start nauseating from the beginning of pregnancy.
What you need to know – Nausea and vomiting are caused by a hormone called HcG which keeps your baby healthy. So these terrible feelings are actually good news because they convey that all is well with your pregnancy. Avoid hot foods with strong aromas. Eat cold bland food with a crunchy texture. Eat small frequent meals and just grit your teeth and get through this phase.
Reach out for a consultation with your doctor if you are vomiting too much because dehydration caused by vomiting can be dangerous.
Food Aversion And Food Cravings
If you love eating – you may be shocked to find that you can’t stand the sight, smell or even thought of some of your favourite foods.
What you need to know – Food aversion is your body’s way of protecting your baby from harmful foods while it is still very delicate and prone to injury from chemicals in foods. Just stop eating what you can’t eat. You can go back to eating those foods after you deliver. As part of the same phenomenon you may crave certain foods. Indulge yourself in moderation after checking with your doctor.
Acidity And Heartburn
Most expectant mothers suffer heartburn. Don’t panic this is normal symptom of pregnancy
What you need to know – The pregnancy hormones progesterone and relaxin relax all the muscles of your internal organs including the muscles that lead from the stomach to the food pipe. This results in acid going up from the stomach to the food pipe and from there to the mouth resulting in acidity and heartburn. Rest and small meals can keep the acidity down. If it is severe – reach out to your doctor for help. Do not use antacids on your own. Antacids can affect your baby.
Tender Swollen Breasts
As soon as you conceive – your breasts begin to prepare them to feed your baby with breastmilk. They undergo various changes under the influence of hormones and this causes them to be tender and swollen. Sensitive nipples are a strong sign of pregnancy. If you are in the conceiving mode then you can watch out for tender nipples to confirm you pregnancy.
What you need to know – Breast changes are normal during pregnancy. Pamper your breasts by wearing bras with good support in the correct size. Don’t worry your breasts will go back to looking the way they did before after breastfeeding.
Constipation Bloating And Flatulence
Constipation during pregnancy is due to the slowing down of your gastrointestinal tract. Don’t feel cheated if you eat healthy high fibre food and still have constipation. It is due to your hormones
What you need to know – The hormones in pregnancy slow down your gastrointestinal tract or intestines so that the food moves through it slowly and more nutrients can be extracted from it. Remember you now need nutrients for two people. Eating double is not possible so your body extracts double from what you eat. Don’t try to cure the constipation with drugs. Know that it is helping your baby grow and helping you eat less and thereby put on less weight. The slowing of the gut also results in bloating and flatulence. These again do not require to be cured. If any of these are severe however, do check with your doctor.
Rushing to the toilet every few minutes can be annoying and embarrassing – but it is a normal symptom of pregnancy so relax and take it in your stride. Excuse yourself and move to the toilet with confidence whenever you feel the urge. Everyone will understand.
What you need to know – Because your body is working so hard at baby making – you are producing toxins that need to be thrown out at a faster rate too. To facilitate this the pregnancy hormones are increasing your urine flow so that toxins can be flushed out more easily. Also your growing baby is pressing on your urinary bladder. Go to the toilet as required without hesitation. Just watch out for burning or pain while passing urine. Consult your doctor if you are suffering from burning or pain.
Of course you are feeling emotional. All the changes I have listed above are bound to make anyone feel out of sorts and emotional. But if you are still not prepared to excuse yourself for being emotional – blame it on your hormones.
What you need to know – Being emotional is the natural way to let go of stress and since stress is really bad for your baby – rejoice and participate in your emotional sprees. Let go. You are excused for everything.
When you are pregnant you are expecting your abdomen to grow. But much before your abdomen can grow – your breasts start growing. And this can be a little disturbing if you are not prepared for it to happen. Biologically breasts have a very important role in reproduction because
breast milk is the only nutrition on which baby has to survive for first six months of its life. So during pregnancy the hormones slowly prepare the breasts for this vital and unique function. The most noticeable change that happens is increase in size of breasts which is due to enlargement of the glands in the breasts that produce milk. Because of this enlargement the tissues in the breast stretch and this causes a little pain when you touch them. You may notice your breasts growing from the sixth week of pregnancy or definitely by the eighth week. You may also notice slight dark pigmentation of the nipples and the areolar area. Veins may become faintly visible under the skin of the breasts by the 10th week. Small slightly elevated projections may be seen over the areola.
What you need to know – All these changes are normal and indicate that your pregnancy is proceeding normally. Take care of your breasts as they grow. Pamper your stretching skin by massaging it with oil every day. Also wear a supportive bra that will prevent sagging.
Slightly excessive non-irritating slimy discharge is common at about 6th week of pregnancy. In general vaginal discharge remains slightly increased in most women throughout pregnancy.
What you need to know – Vaginal discharge that does not cause discomfort, is not irritating, smelly or excessive is normal and you need not worry about it. Pus-like discharge, smelly discharge and irritating discharge must be reported to your Gynaecologist immediately. Itchy discharge must also be treated. If the vaginal discharge is watery like urine it can be a sign of rupture of the bag of membranes. This is an emergency and you must rush to the hospital immediately.
Skin Changes During Pregnancy
If you are very observant, you may notice the skin of your whole body becoming slightly darker by the end of pregnancy. In most cases this is not noticeable and reverses completely after you deliver. The nipple areola and the private parts may get pigmented too and this is completely normal. A small percentage of women develop a light brown patch over the cheeks. If you are one of that small percentage – do not worry – the patches are likely to disappear after pregnancy. What is sure to happen during pregnancy and what you will surely notice is – that your skin will become very dry. This will be very prominent over the areas that are enlarging – like your breasts – your abdomen and your buttocks.
What you need to know – Moisturizing your skin so that it can expand without becoming itchy or broken is very important. Use an oil that is pure and devoid of chemicals – like a virgin coconut oil. Avoid using cosmetics for pigmentation. Cosmetics are usually full of chemicals which can be absorbed through your skin and may reach your baby. This may not be such a good thing. Have faith that the pigmentation will reverse on its own after you deliver your baby.
A lot of women frequently feel dizzy during pregnancy and there could be several reasons for this. If you feel dizzy when you lie down flat on your back, late in pregnancy – this is probably caused by your growing baby pressing on the large blood vessels running through the back of the abdomen. It can be prevented by lying on the left side. If dizziness hits you when you are getting up rapidly from a sitting, kneeling or squatting position – you are probably suffering from postural hypotension. You can prevent this from happening by getting up slowly – while supporting yourself adequately. If you feel weak faint tired and dizzy a lot of the time – you may be anaemic. The blood test for haemoglobin will tell you whether you are anaemic or not. And if you are your doctor will put you on iron supplements for it. Fluctuations in blood sugar can also cause dizziness. If you are not diabetic – your dizziness could be caused by extremely low blood sugar. And the most probable cause of this is eating meals after long intervals. Frequent small meals – eaten at regular intervals is the easiest way to avoid such dizziness. Also carrying around some dates and raisins that can give instant energy when you feel an attack of dizziness come on – can really help.
What you should know – Always mention the dizzy spells to your gynaecologist so that serious conditions like diabetes and hypertension can be ruled out. It can be dangerous to ignore and neglect dizziness so never do that. At the same time following healthy practices like eating small frequent meals, taking iron tablets diligently, moving slowly and lying on the side can only help you feel better if you do not have a serious medical condition.
Warning – If you have any bleeding through the vagina or any pain in the abdomen – rush to the hospital immediately
Also, read – Best pregnancy pillow
Pregnancy Symptoms & Signs – Second Trimester
In the second trimester you will finally begin to look and feel like what you imagined you would when you pictured your pregnancy. You will start showing a slight baby bump. You will start glowing and looking beautiful. Of course the joy from that will be balanced out by the irritation from stretch marks and itching.
You will finally get back your appetite and soon start feeling very hungry all the time. It is the time to attend a prenatal class to find out what to eat and to also begin taking the vitamin supplements prescribed by your doctor diligently.
You will feel happy and contented and you must consider joining a prenatal class that will prepare you for birthing and newborn care.
This is the time to go out and shop for maternity wear.
This is also the time to start a safe exercise routine
There will however be some spoilers even through this phase. Read about them below what you can expect from your pregnancy in the second trimester.
The pregnancy hormones may cause your gums to swell and bleed. In addition there is the possibility of developing cavities in the teeth and sores in the mouth.
What you should know – Mouth hygiene including brushing, flossing and using a mouthwash are very important during pregnancy. It is also extremely important to visit a dentist during this time so that any dental issues can be detected and treated early.
Increased Blood Pressure
A high blood pressure can be dangerous during pregnancy. It can lead to serious complications for you and your baby. High BP in pregnancy can restrict and complicate the flow of nutrients and oxygen to the baby – preventing its normal growth. It can also result in the placenta separating from the uterus because of bleeding behind the placenta due to high BP. It can also cause a dangerous condition called Preeclampsia which can go on to become Eclampsia in which the mother has dangerous convulsions.
What you need to know – It is very important to go for regular antenatal check-ups so that high blood pressure can be detected and managed early. As a precaution against having high blood pressure it is important to keep stress levels low, eating low salt diets and planning and scheduling tasks to avoid chaos.
Elevated blood sugar resulting in gestational diabetes is not an uncommon problem in pregnancy. This is a dangerous condition and can have far reaching adverse consequences for you and your baby.
What you need to know – Elevated blood sugar can only be detected by doing the tests recommended by your doctor. Make sure you do these tests as recommended. If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes follow all advice diligently. Even, otherwise, keep a eye on your sweet intake. GD can show up even in third trimester.
Anemia is a common problem detected in the second trimester. A moderate degree of anemia is common in all pregnant women because of increased blood volume. This can be managed easily. Severe anemia however can be dangerous.
What you need to know – If you feel tired and giddy even after you have crossed the first three months of your pregnancy – you may have anemia. This is detected by a blood test. Anemia of course is treated aggressively with iron supplements. But even if you don’t have anemia you will be put on iron supplements during pregnancy to give your body the iron it needs for baby making. Take these supplements meticulously.
Dizziness is common during this phase of pregnancy. If you feel dizzy – reach out to your doctor immediately to eliminate the dangerous causes of dizziness like high BP or gestational diabetes.
What you need to know – Dizziness in pregnancy is caused by changes to your heart and blood vessels. If your doctor has said the dizziness is nothing to worry about – then do the following. Move slowly – don’t jump out of bed or get up rapidly from a chair. Eat small frequent meals so that your blood sugar does not fall. Stay hydrated. And do not stay in stuffy closed spaces with too many people for too long so that you get enough oxygen.
As your baby grows you are likely to have a backache because of the load on your spine that is causing it to curve. While this can be explained and blamed on the hormones – first check with your doctor to eliminate anything sinister.
What you need to know – To cope with backaches in pregnancy make sure you do everything you can to make yourself comfortable. Wear comfortable maternity wear. Sit on a well-supported chair. Keep your feet elevated. Attend a prenatal class to learn the postures that will keep your back from getting strained and the exercises that will keep you supple.
The restful state of the body during the day is likely to keep you awake at night. Also the changing size and shape of your body can make it difficult to find a comfortable position to lie in.
What you need to know – Exercise and stress reduction can go a long way in helping you sleep well. Join a prenatal class that will lay all your fears and anxieties to rest. Also follow a regular routine of eating and exercise that will keep your body cycle in sync so that you can sleep.
Urinary Tract Infections
In the second trimester your trips to the toilet will come down but you must stay alert for urinary infections
What you need to know – Urinary tract infections can be dangerous during pregnancy. Stay alert for any burning sensation or itching or pain when you are passing urine. Report these to your doctor immediately. Also make sure you get your urine tests done as recommended because urinary tract infections can sometimes exist even without symptoms.
By the end of the second trimester you will begin to feel your baby moving. It is important to learn how to track the movements from your doctor. It is also important to keep in mind that if you feel a decrease in the number of movements or experience pain abdomen or any bleeding from the vagina – you must rush to the hospital immediately.
Pregnancy Symptoms & Signs – Third Trimester
As the third trimester begins – you go back to feeling almost as tired as you did in the first trimester. This tiredness is partly physical due to weight carrying and partly mental because it often appears that it is a never-ending process.
The third trimester is the time to vigilantly watch over your weight, your BP, your blood sugar levels, your blood Hemoglobin levels and your baby’s movements. As the delivery date approaches – these become more and more important.
Following are the symptoms to expect in your third trimester
In the third trimester you may find your body parts swelling up slowly without warning. This can be uncomfortable and sometimes even dangerous. Your finger & toe rings get tight.
What you need to know – Although many times swelling just appears without reason – abruptly appearing swelling on the hands feet and other parts of the body may indicate high BP or anemia or Heart disease (if you already have one) or problems with the kidneys. Check with your doctor before you decide to label the swelling harmless. If the doctor says the swelling can be disregarded – rest with your feet up, lie on your side, do some moderate exercise, wear comfortable clothes and eat a low salt diet
Lack Of Bladder Control
With your almost ready to be born baby pressing on your urinary bladder – you are likely to feel the urge to pass urine every few minutes. Don’t worry about it unless you also have burning and pain while passing urine
What you need to know – Although rushing to the toilet every few minutes is uncomfortable and leaking urine whenever you laugh embarrassing – do not stop drinking water to prevent this. This can affect your baby. Your doctor may like to exclude Urinary tract infection or some vaginal infection.
Stretch Marks And Itching
You have probably experienced stretch marks before – but in the third trimester you may find the stretch marks glaringly obvious because your abdomen is so large.
What you need to know – Stretch marks are temporary most of them will disappear sooner or later. They can also be minimized if you can make your skin soft by using oils and moisturizer. Make sure the products you use to moisturize your skin are recommended for use in pregnancy.
Braxton Hicks Contractions
Any hint of pain or contraction during pregnancy can be frightening. Even though you may know about the Braxton Hicks contractions and understand that they are false contractions not indicative of labor – you may still be scared when they happen.
What you must know – Braxton Hick contractions are usually isolated contractions that occur once in a while especially at the end of the day when you are tired. Unlike real contractions they do not occur at regular intervals and do not progressively increase in intensity. Having said that however – it is important to note that it may be difficult even for a doctor to differentiate between a real and a false contraction without a test. So if there is any sign of a contraction it is better to go to the hospital and get tested.
Dropping Of Your Baby
In the last trimester as you approach your date of delivery your baby will move
slide down from your abdomen into the pelvis to try the birth passage (specially the bony birth passage) out for size or fitting. This can happen as early as the 36th week in first pregnancies . This will cause your abdomen to suddenly look different and the shape of your baby bump to change-lowered
What you need to know – the moving or dropping of your baby into your pelvis is a good sign. It means that your pelvis is large enough to hold and deliver your baby. It also means that your body is preparing for delivery. Start packing your bags to go to the hospital.
In some women the veins of the legs become prominent during the third trimester. If your bulging veins make you uncomfortable report them to your doctor who may advice some exercise or support stockings,
A few expectant mothers find a painless prominence in the anal area in the third trimester. If you find this troublesome inform your doctor.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Some expectant mothers experience tingling in the hands on waking up after
sleep. This is due to the accumulation of fluid in the tissue under the wrist band pressing the nerves and blood vessels passing through this part of the wrist into the hands.
What you need to know – Exercise is usually the only thing required to relieve it. The prenatal exercise class will usually teach an exercise to prevent it. Learn and practice it
In the last three weeks of pregnancy, you may experience disturbed sleep. This is due to discomfort because of your hugely enlarged uterus and because of your underlying worry about the onset of labor and fear about the labor process. Always report to your doctor during antenatal visits.
What you need to know – Attend a good prenatal class that will explain the onset of labour and the process of delivery. Knowing what is going to happen and what to do when it does. Also, ask about comfortable sleep postures at your prenatal class
The third trimester is the time when you are almost about to receive your bundle of joy. Enjoy this last phase but stay alert for any bleeding through the vagina, any pain abdomen and any decrease in your baby’s movement.Now you know what to expect from your pregnancy- the realities, Good luck !!