Is This Normal? 6 Common Pregnancy ConcernsLisanne Wellness Center
Pregnancy is an exciting time in a woman’s life, but it can also be nerve-wracking especially for a first-time mom. Every woman and every pregnancy is different, so there is a broad range of what is considered “normal.” If you look at any online pregnancy forum, you are bound to be inundated with thousands of questions and answers tackling topics from indigestion to discharge and whether or not these things should concern you.
If you’re wondering if your symptoms are “normal” during pregnancy, then read on.
Cervical Discharge: Cervical discharge during pregnancy is normal. It is called leukorrhea and should be thin, white, milky, and mild smelling. Some women experience an excessive amount of discharge, which is typically nothing to worry about. Avoid tampons and use a panty liner or pad if you are uncomfortable. If the discharge is green or yellow, strong smelling and/or itchy then you could have an infection and need to let your doctor know. Spotting (light bleeding) can also sometimes occur, but you should still let your doctor know.
Breasts: Your breasts will change in a number of ways throughout your pregnancy because of changing hormone levels. You may notice the following changes to your breasts.
- They’re bigger: They may feel itchy as your skin stretches. It’s common to go up a cup size or two during pregnancy.
- They’re more tender: Your breasts might feel swollen, tingly, itchy, or extra sensitive to touch. The growth of milk ducts plus increased blood flow contribute to the tenderness.
- Your nipples are darker: This is due to changes in hormones that affect skin pigmentation.
- Your veins are more noticeable: Increased blood flow and volume can cause your veins to darken.
- They’re leaking: Your breasts start making colostrum around month three or four and some women experience leakage of this substance during pregnancy.
With all these changes, it can be hard to detect potential health issues such as breast cancer. It is still important to screen yourself for breast cancer; having breast cancer during pregnancy is rare but it is the most common type of cancer during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Notify your doctor if you do find a lump or change that concerns you.
Indigestion & Heartburn: Many women experience indigestion or heartburn during pregnancy. This could be due to changes in hormone levels or, later in pregnancy, the pressure exerted on your stomach by the growing fetus. Symptoms usually come after eating and include feeling sick or nauseous and burping.
Heartburn is a burning sensation in your chest due to stomach acid passing from your stomach to esophagus. Your muscles are more relaxed during pregnancy thanks to the hormone relaxin. This means the esophageal sphincter, which acts as a gatekeeper between your stomach and esophagus, isn’t as effective at preventing acid from leaking up into the esophagus. Changing your diet or exercise regimen may be all you need to address symptoms. If not, talk to your doctor about possible medications that could help.
Sex Drive: It’s normal to experience a lower or higher sex drive throughout pregnancy. During the first trimester, many women have a lower sex drive because of increased estrogen and progesterone and unpleasant symptoms like nausea and fatigue. Toward the end of the first trimester and throughout later stages, you may experience an increased libido because of increased vaginal lubrication and hypersensitivity of genitals and nipples thanks to increased blood flow. Also, you may embrace your fuller figure toward the end of pregnancy or feel physically and emotionally uncomfortable because of it, which will undoubtedly affect your desire for sex.
Mood: All those new hormones have physical and emotional effects on your changing body during pregnancy! Hormones, fatigue, stress, and metabolic changes can contribute to mood swings and/or changes during pregnancy. Self-care is extra important when you are pregnant; make sure you get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly, and take rest breaks throughout the day to help with balancing hormones and combatting stress. While fluctuations in mood are normal, depression and anxiety are not and need to be addressed.
Cramping: In most cases, mild cramping is normal and is a direct result of the changes your body is going through. Very early on, you might get some cramping (which may be accompanied by spotting) during implantation. Later, you may also feel sharp pains on one or both sides of your abdomen caused by stretching of ligaments that support your uterus. Remember that your uterus is a muscle and muscles contract, which feels like a cramp. Whenever it is stimulated (by a full bladder, exercise, etc.) its natural response is to contract. In your third trimester, Braxton-Hicks contractions kick in (contractions that do not progress to labor). How do you know if your cramps are normal? If you’ve recently had sex, are able to relieve the pain by changing physical positions, or a bowel movement brings relief then they’re (usually) not a concern. Contact your doctor if you have persistent pain or cramping, six or more contractions in an hour, bleeding, dizziness, or if your gut tells you something isn’t right.
While all of these things are normal during pregnancy, it’s important to remember that every woman is different. Just because something is technically normal doesn’t mean you should let it carry on if it concerns you. If you feel that something isn’t right, you should contact your doctor right away. Over time, you’ll learn what’s normal for your body.
For more information on what to expect during pregnancy, contact Lisanne Wellness Center at 713-461-WELL (9355).