You Leak While Laughing
The official name is stress incontinence. It happens when you involuntarily leak a few drops of urine when you cough, sneeze or laugh. Sure, it’s embarrassing. But it’s also perfectly natural as your pregnancy progresses. Here’s why it happens: The bigger your baby grows, the more weight is placed on top of your bladder, which adds pressure to an area that may already feel pressed upon most of the time.
What can you do? For starters, try to make regular trips to the bathroom, even if you don’t feel like you have to go. It’s also a good idea to wear panty liners or light pads to help catch leaks during the last few months of pregnancy, when stress incontinence is more likely.
You're Bloated and CrampyThe most effective way to cope is to cut back on the foods that are frequent culprits: broccoli, cabbage, corn, brussel sprouts, onions and carbonated drinks. But don’t completely cut them out – you still need a balanced diet. Keeping a food diary can help you figure out if certain foods are especially problematic for you.
Your Nose Sniffles, Sneezes, Snores, and Bleeds
It can feel like every part of your body is swelling during pregnancy—even your nose! That’s because high levels of estrogen and progesterone can increase blood flow to your body’s mucous membranes. The result? With all of the blowing and sneezing you’re doing, you may be snoring, coughing and gagging more, especially at night. As if you don’t already have enough other things keeping you up!
To make yourself more comfortable. Try sleeping on your side and use a humidifier while you sleep. It may also help to use saline nose drops. It is especially important to stay hydrated. If these symptoms continue or become too much to tolerate, contact your doctor.
You Sweat Like Crazy
Everyone around you might be freezing, but you’re overheating. Sound familiar?
Excessive sweating—from places you never used to sweat from before—is another common side effect of pregnancy. Here’s why it happens: Even though you’re not “working out” in the usual sense, your body is working 24/7 to make another little human, and that’s tough work!
During pregnancy, your blood flow and metabolism are in overdrive, which causes your body temperature to rise slightly. It also means you’ll be perspiring more often than usual, so dress in layers and be sure to drink plenty of fluids.
You Drool, Too
Your mouth feels watery, especially when you feel nauseated. What’s happening?
The medical term for excess saliva is ptyalism (pronounced tie-al-ism). It can happen on its own, but it’s usually associated with the early stages of pregnancy. To help remedy this situation, reach for plain, dry crackers (which can also help with nausea) and although it might seem counterintuitive, drink extra amounts of water. Sometimes your body produces excess saliva in response to dehydration.
Your Skin Changes
The amazing “glow,” rosy cheeks and perfectly plump lips are perks to being pregnant. But stretch marks, varicose veins, dark spots and skin tags? Maybe not so much.
During pregnancy, your body produces extra melanin. Combine this with an expanding body and hormonal changes, and the result is lots and lots of skin changes. The good news? Most of these issues should fade after delivery. In the meantime, make sunblock your friend, and reach for the lotion whenever you start to feel itchy. You skin will thank you for it!
Your Feet Get Bigger
When your pre-pregnancy clothes no longer fit, you can always reach for your favorite pair of heels, right? Maybe—but maybe not.
Your feet can grow an entire shoe size during pregnancy, thanks to extra fluid and water retention. There’s a chance the swelling may be temporary, but it may be permanent. Many women report that even after they shed the pregnancy weight, their feet never return to pre-pregnancy size.
This is a great time to opt for slip-on shoes to stay comfortable, especially during the hot summer months.
You Can’t Hit the High Notes
If you notice that your voice sounds a bit manly, don’t stress. This is just another weird pregnancy symptom that’s caused by pregnancy hormones. The estrogen and progesterone shifts can cause your vocal cords to swell, which may make you sound noticeably different when talking or singing.
You’ll be happy to know that a change in your voice isn’t permanent. It should return to normal within a few months after delivering. If it continues beyond a few months after baby arrives, or if it causes an issue with your professional life, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your concerns.
Your Heart Races
When you’re pregnant, your body must increase its blood supply to provide both you and your baby with the blood needed to thrive. All of the extra blood means your heart can beat about 25 percent faster than usual.
The heart racing is also known as palpitations. These are considered normal during pregnancy when they happen occasionally. But if fainting, lightheadedness, shortness of breath or chest pain are routine occurrences, be sure to consult with your doctor.
Your Dreams Are More Vivid … and So Are Your Nightmares
Is it easier to remember every detail of your dream or nightmare? You’re not alone. Dreams of all types increase during pregnancy, and there’s a good chance they may be more disturbing than usual.
Often, the subject and setting of your dreams relates to your pregnancy condition, the trimester you’re in and what’s happening with your body at the time of the dream. For example, you may dream of going on a trip and feeling unprepared. Or maybe you didn’t pack for the trip.
Apprehension or second thoughts about your pregnancy may show up in your dreams as stepping into traffic or losing your baby on an outing. As distressing as it may feel to wake up from one of these dreams, you can rest assured that they are normal.
Your Hair Stops Falling Out
The hormones secreted by your body can produce changes in your hair’s texture and growth during pregnancy—often, for the better. Your hair may grow faster, thicker and fall out less. The extra hormones can make your nails, like your hair, grow faster and become stronger, too. Some women even find that the color of their hair changes while they’re pregnant.
It’s not just the hair on your scalp that’s affected. You may find that you’re growing hair in unwanted places, such as on your face, belly and around the nipples. Usually, these changes aren’t permanent. You’ll probably notice that the normal amount of hair loss returns in the postpartum period or after you stop breastfeeding.
There’s a Strange, Metallic Taste in Your Mouth
There’s a name for that nasty taste in your mouth that usually happens in the first trimester of pregnancy: Dysgeusia (pronounced ‘dis-goo-sia’). Some moms have described it as like tasting spare change or drinking from a metal cup.
Pregnancy hormones, in particular estrogen, seem to play a role in your sense of taste. During the first trimester, when those hormones are kicking into full force, both your sense of smell and your sense of taste will be heightened.
Try banishing the metallic taste with acidic foods. Sour flavors, like citrus juices and pickles, can help. You can also talk with your doctor about changing your prenatal vitamins (some seem to lead to “metal mouth” more than others). You can also try brushing your tongue each time you brush your teeth to wash the taste away.
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In the middle of the night, you’re sleeping soundly when suddenly a painful cramp seizes your calf muscle. Leg or foot cramps are common during the last 3 months of pregnancy when you’re resting or asleep.
Muscle fatigue, impaired circulation and pressure on the nerves of the legs are all possible causes.
If a cramp wakes you up, hop out of bed and stand on that leg. Letting the floor help you, gently flex your foot and slowly stretch out the muscle.
Stretching your legs before bedtime may reduce cramping while you sleep. Support hose, leg elevation and drinking lots of fluids may also help to reduce leg cramps.
In some cases, cramps are be caused by a mineral imbalance—too little or too much calcium or magnesium—in your diet. They can also be caused by too much phosphorus, which is found in soft drinks, processed meats and snack foods.
Check your diet to be sure you are eating lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts or dairy products. If you have severe or prolonged leg pain, consult your healthcare provider.
Pregnancy has many joys—one of which most certainly is not hemorrhoids. The amount of blood your heart is pumping increases significantly during pregnancy and can cause veins to swell, both in your legs and your rectum. Hemorrhoids are varicose (swollen) veins of the rectum, and they can cause itching, pain or bleeding.
Swelling, which causes hemorrhoids, is normal in pregnancy, and usually occurs in the legs. (If your hands or face swell, let your doctor know.)
If you’re bothered by hemorrhoids or by varicose veins in your legs, there are ways to feel better.
You can reduce the swollen veins in your legs with these 5 strategies:
- Elevate your legs whenever possible.
- Rest on your side.
- Don’t wear tight stockings or socks.
- Try not to cross your legs when sitting and, if you must sit a lot, stand up and move around from time to time.
- Try gentle exercise, especially walking, swimming or riding an exercise bike.
Constipation, also common in pregnancy, can make hemorrhoids worse. A high-fiber diet, plenty of liquids and daily exercise will keep both constipation and hemorrhoids under control.
Check with your health care provider before turning to any over-the-counter medication for hemorrhoids or swelling. And take heart: things will improve after your baby is born!
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