Pregnancy Signs and SymptomsCeridwen Morris
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1: Morning sickness
Over half of pregnant women feel pukey and queasy during their first trimester thanks to hormonal changes. The good news: Most women find this stomach churning eases up by the second trimester. In the meantime — though research suggests there is no cure — the following might help: a little food in the stomach at all times, lemon or mint, water between meals (not with them), acupressure bracelets (Sea Bands), ginger (tea, crystalized, supplements), Vitamin B6, and/or Vitamin B combined with Unisom (ask your provider about this last one.)
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The first trimester can be the most exhausting time for many pregnant women. High progesterone levels in early pregnancy make a woman want to nap at least once a day (whether she gets to or not is a different issue). Once the placenta develops and takes over some of the hormone production, the narcoleptic feelings can ease up. Until then, try to nap when and wherever you can, stay hydrated, exercise (swimming is particularly beneficial), and eat iron-rich foods.
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It's common in the first trimester to get more sleep than usual and still feel tired as previously mentioned, early pregnancy is literally exhausting. But in the last trimester, insomnia can kick in, making any feelings of exhaustion worse. It might be constant peeing, or the inability to get comfortable, or the leg cramps, but getting through the night can be a task. Some things that might help: relaxation techniques (they can help during childbirth too), daily, moderate exercise, naps (when possible), no water before bed and/or a body pillow for comfort.
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Progesterone sedates the uterus to prevent contractions during pregnancy and it also sedates the esophageal sphincter — the little doodad in your throat that keeps stomach acid from swilling up. This, combined with the fact that your stomach is now squeezed up closer to your throat, can cause heartburn. To help keep stomach acid at bay, try to eat smaller meals throughout the day (avoid anything spicy), chew gum between meals, and keep your head elevated at night.
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5: Varicose and spider veins
Spider veins (clusters of blood vessels that can look like purple bruises on the skin), and varicose veins (lumpy, swollen veins usually on the legs) are common during pregnancy, especially if they run in the family, so to speak. The main beef women have with these tends to be cosmetic, but to prevent or lessen their severity, keep your circulation going with regular activity, put your feet up when you can, avoid wearing cinching tights or socks, and consider getting compression hose designed specifically for pregnancy. These vascular swellings tend to recede after pregnancy (though some women have them for longer).
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6: Back pain
Pregnancy is a pain in the back! Almost every pregnant woman complains about back pain at some point before giving birth. It can be the result of a big belly, a shifting center of gravity, heavier breasts, relaxed joints, and/or bad posture. Despite the myriad causes, there are things that may help relieve back pain: Exercise (swimming and prenatal yoga), sleeping with a pillow between your knees, keeping good posture, wearing proper shoes, sitting in ergonomic chairs, wearing a belly band, and applying a heating pad. As an extra precaution, avoid carrying very heavy things, twisting, over-reaching, and slumping forward.
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7: Leg cramps
Waking up in the middle of the night, grabbing your calf and howling with pain? It must be those lovely leg cramps of pregnancy. Luckily, though the pain is intense, its also mercifully brief. Cramps may be the result of dehydration, decreased circulation and/or a deficiency in potassium, magnesium, and calcium. A really good leg massage from a professional (or your partner) can help work out the tight spots. You can also try drinking more water and eating foods high in the above minerals such as bananas.
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Hemorrhoids are varicose veins of the rectum that can literally pop out during pregnancy. They occur thanks to the changes in your veins and blood flow as well as the added pressure on your pelvic floor. Hemorrhoids are not dangerous, but they can make going to the bathroom a bit uncomfortable. (Hemorrhoids are also common after giving birth, too, but they will likely all but disappear within weeks.) Try eating more fiber and staying hydrated, and use hot, cold, or witch hazel compresses to ease any pain.
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This is actually more of an issue for the person sharing your bed than for you, but it may help your partner to cultivate some coping skills for when theres a little gurgling, sniffling baby in the room (babies can make very odd sounds while they sleep). Snoring is a byproduct of pregnancy hormones. Occasionally its associated with high blood pressure, so tell your doctor if the snoring is very loud and disrupts your sleep. The best thing to do is elevate your head at night and sleep on your side. And of course, earplugs are a nice gesture for anyone sleeping nearby.
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10: Bleeding gums and excessive drooling
Due to changes in your mucous membranes, suffering from bloody gums (and noses) are common during pregnancy. Pillowcases can take a beating as these issues both tend to be more severe at night. Make sure to see your dentist early on and throughout your pregnancy as gum disease can easily take hold and cause lasting problems. No one knows why pregnant women drool so much its associated with morning sickness and thought to be hormonally triggered. If youre drooling, try drinking more water, eating fruit, chewing gum, sucking on lemon candy, and/or rinsing your mouth out regularly.
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11: Burping and farting
Ah, the joys of giving life. Gas — from both ends — happens. Burps are often mixed in with some stomach acid, making the symptom even more un-enjoyable. Super papaya enzyme and Beano can help. You can also avoid gassy foods, but try not to eliminate all fiber because that can lead to constipation. Also, despite all the gas it creates, some women actually crave beans and fiber-packed foods. If thats the case for you, listen to your body and crack a window.
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Once again progesterone is to blame. It doesnt just sedate your uterus — it sedates all smooth muscles in your body, including your stomach and intestines. This means that during pregnancy, digestion can be slow going. In fact, a sign of labor can be a flushing out of the system (loose bowels), as progesterone drops, allowing for these muscles to rev up again. In the meantime, stay hydrated and eat small,
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13: Constant peeing
Lest you think all the fun occurs during the first trimester, get excited for the last leg of the race when youll feel the urge to pee every five minutes. After all, at this point in your pregnancy, theres a head sitting on your bladder. The best you can do is keep up with the kegels and wear panty-liners in case you experience some third-trimester incontinence. Definitely do not cut down on fluids though — dehydration is a major cause of premature labor. If you have more than just the occasional leak during a cough or sneeze or uncontrollable laugh, talk to your care provider — he or she will help you to prevent any future pelvic floor problems.
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14: Pelvic pains and sciatica
The pregnancy hormone relaxin loosens a pregnant womans joints so that the pelvis can literally open up in labor. This is a good thing. Whats not a good thing, however, is that the jingley-jangley ligaments and joints can put pressure on your lower back, sciatic nerve and pelvic muscles causing pelvic girdle pain (PGP) and pelvic joint pain and sciatica. Usually some combination of changing positions and staying moderately active can help. If the pains are really bothering you, talk to your care-provider. A physiotherapist may be able to recommend a support belt or special exercises.
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15: Urinary tract infections
The odds of getting a urinary tract infection go up during pregnancy due to the increased pressure on the bladder. UTIs can lead to serious complications — and tend to be very painful — so treatment with antibiotics is necessary (and perfectly safe). To prevent them: Drink plenty of water and/or unsweetened cranberry juice (and pee often); cut out refined foods; try vitamin C, beta-carotene, and Zinc; wear cotton underwear (or go commando); wipe (or better still, dab) from front to back; and avoid wearing tight pants and using feminine products (sprays, powders, douches, etc).
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16: Stretch marks
More than half of women get stretch marks during pregnancy. These marks — the result of skin stretching too much or too quickly — can show up as early as the second trimester. Though women slather themselves with lotions to prevent the marks, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says this wont do much good. Some experts recommend monitoring weight gain to give time for the skin to stretch, but this can be futile as babies (and bellies) can grow in spurts. Though theyre permanent, stretch marks do tend to fade postpartum.
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