Now that you are pregnant, your body is going through quite a few changes to enable your baby’s development. It’s all new so it can be a little strange and sometimes scary, but it helps when you know what to expect and what symptoms to look out for.
Here are some of the things you might experience:
Baxton Hicks Contractions
- Your uterus will start contracting gently after about seven weeks but you should experience Braxton Hicks contractions only after the middle of your pregnancy. The tightening will last for about 30 seconds and this could happen once or twice an hour, a few times a day – or you may not even be aware of it. This is something your body is doing to prepare for the big day. For the most part, Braxton Hicks are irregular and you probably won’t feel any discomfort when they occur. But as your pregnancy progresses, these contractions may become more intense, and even painful at times. When this happens, they may feel like the real thing. Regardless of how strong they feel at the time, if they ease off and remain inconsistent, they are probably Braxton Hicks. Call your doctor if you also experience watery or bloody vaginal discharge, lower back pain or cramping, pelvic pressure, if you think your baby’s movements have slowed down or stopped, or if you think your water has broken.
- Vaginal infections are fairly common in pregnancy and thrush is probably the most common. It is caused by a fungus called candida albicans. You may have thrush if your vaginal discharge is white, creamy, and thicker; it smells strange; if you experience itching or soreness; if it hurts to have sex; or you feel a stinging sensation when you urinate. You can help prevent thrush by wearing loose cotton underwear and some women find it helps to avoid perfumed bath products. If you think you have thrush, tell your healthcare provider who will recommend the best treatment suitable for your stage of pregnancy.
- About 80 percent of women experience indigestion at some point during their pregnancy. You might feel full, sick, and nauseous or feel the need to burp. Indigestion in pregnancy is generally trigged by the hormone progesterone, which relaxes every muscle in your body including those in your stomach. Indigestion in later pregnancy can be caused by the growing womb pressing on your stomach. To help ease the discomfort caused by indigestion, you can try making changes to your diet and lifestyle. There are also over-the-counter medicines that are safe to take in pregnancy but be sure to consult with your healthcare provider before you take any antacids or other remedies.
- This is also a common condition during pregnancy, with over half of all expectant moms experiencing some form of backache. One of the main causes of backache is weight gain, most of which ends up distributed mainly around the tummy, changing your center of gravity and causing you to over-arch your lower back or round your upper back to compensate. Another cause for backache is the pregnancy hormone relaxin, which relaxes the ligaments throughout your body, helping your pelvis expand to create more room for your baby. There are many things you can do to avoid backache such as not lifting heavy objects, wearing flat shoes, sitting with your back straight and well supported, and making sure you get enough rest.
- Because of the physiological changes your body is undergoing, one of which is an increased breathing rate (did you know you are inhaling 30% to 40% more air when pregnant?!), you are more susceptible to hiccups, especially in the first trimester. Wait them out, they will pass!
- Constipation is also caused by hormonal changes in your body or sometimes related to the use of iron tablets if anemic. There are several things that can help you avoid or minimize constipation: your diet (eat foods that are high in fiber, such as whole breads, whole grain cereals, fruit and vegetables, and legumes, such as beans and lentils); exercise regularly; and drink plenty of water.
- This affects almost half of all pregnant women, especially in the third trimester. Veins in the rectal wall swell, bulge, and itch from pressure from your enlarging uterus starting around week 25, plus there’s increased blood flow to the pelvic area during pregnancy. They can also develop postpartum as a result of pushing during labor. Your doctor can help with remedies to lessen the discomfort from these which can linger after birth as well.
- Pre-eclampsia is not a common condition, but because of its serious nature, it’s important to know what to watch for. Early signs include high blood pressure and protein in your urine, which will be identified by your medical professional during prenatal appointments. Further symptoms can include swelling of feet, ankles, face, and hands, and visual disturbances including seeing stars. It is important to seek medical advice immediately if you suspect you have this condition or notice any of the symptoms as sometimes this condition can lead to complications and require treatment.