What to Expect When Expectant

pregnancy 2

A queasy feeling, morning sickness, bloating, or missed period are but a few signs that may prompt the purchase of a HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin) pregnancy home test kit.  Five minutes later and the test kit has two strips confirming pregnancy.  The news may be exciting to some and confusing to those who never planned. Weeks later, the changes that follow or the intensity of occurrence may not have been anticipated.

The varying physiological, psychological, and behavioral changes a pregnant woman is predisposed results from hormonal changes.  Throughout the three trimesters, a woman will experience several changes ranging from skin, weight, vaginal discharge, hair, and nails, all through to the digestive system.

Changes experienced

  1. Cravings
  • Associated with hormonal changes and nutrient deficiencies of Iron and Calcium
  • Either food-related or non-food related. However, non-food items can result in illnesses and intestinal blockage
  • It is recommended to have healthy snacks within range to manage the cravings

2. Morning sickness

  • The name is a misnomer and these symptoms can occur at any time of the day
  • It can be mild or severe.  If severe, weight loss and dehydration can occur
  • Often occurs within the first trimester and decrease as one progresses
  • Identifying your triggers, minimizing intake of oily and spicy foods, and having smaller portions can help reduce the occurrence

3. Skin

  • The changes are harmless and often subside after childbirth
  • Some will experience the pregnant glow while others will have dark spots and acne
  • Stretchmarks can occur because of weight gain, moisturize frequently

4. Sexual desires

  • During the first trimester, there will be a decreased sexual urge, however, it increases in the second trimester and reduces in the third
  • Once the urge returns, take advantage as sex helps reduce stress, improve sleep quality, and helps one prepare for labor as it strengthens the pelvic muscles

5. Backache

  • As the baby bump grows, it will exert pressure on the lower back resulting in back pains
  • To reduce the risk, avoid high heeled shoes, squat instead of bending when picking items off the ground, avoid sitting or standing for long hours, and avoid tight fitting garments

6. Digestive issues

  • Heartburn, constipation, bloating, and  hemorrhoids (in extreme cases) can occur due to constipation
  • Therefore, drink at least eight glasses of water a day, consume high fibre foods, and minimize intake of fatty and acidic foods that can result in heartburn

7. Breast tenderness

  • Breasts will grow in size as preparation for the baby. This may result in pain and discomfort
  • Wear a supportive bra that will restrict any movements

8. Shortness of breath

  • Pressure on the diaphragm and increased progesterone levels can interfere with breathing
  • Moving slower and maintain a good posture can help deal with the breathing difficulty

9. Weight gain

  • Results from body fluids, growing baby, and the mother’s diet to nourish the baby
  • A healthy weight gain is encouraged through consuming a balanced diet and being physically active for at least 30 minutes
  • Women who gain a lot of weight can develop health issues like gestational diabetes and develop complications during delivery.  Those who put on very few kilos risk having underweight babies.  Also, adding excess weight like 1 Kilogram every week can be a sign of pre-eclampsia
  • Healthy weight gain is dependant on BMI.

Underweight mothers (<18.5) = 12.5-18 kgs,

Normal BMI (18.5-24.9) = 11.5-16 kgs

Overweight (25-29.9) = 7-11.5 kgs

Obese (>30) = 5-9kgs

10. Fatigue due to elevated hormone levels and carrying the growing baby. The expectant woman should get as much rest and minimize any strenuous activities

11. Frequent urination accompanied by leakages since the growing baby is pushing on the bladder. Working out the pelvic muscles through Kegel exercises can help reduce urine leak

12. Hypersalivation (increased saliva production)

  • Rare but is often reported by women with morning sickness
  • Usually happens in the first trimester
  • Chewing on ice or gum, eating or drinking something sour, and carrying an extra tissue to wipe off the excess saliva help control the situation

13. Bleeding gums and toothaches

  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy can result in plaque that results in inflammation and bleeding
  • Maintaining oral hygiene, reducing the intake of sugary foods, and rinsing the mouth after vomiting can help reduce pregnancy gingivitis

14. Hair and nails

  • High estrogen levels result in thicker and healthier looking hair. However, hair can also grow in unwanted places like the face, back, nipples, and stomach
  • Nails will rapidly grow but will tend to feel dry and brittle

15. Joint aches

  • Weight gain, poor posture, and a growing uterus are common culprits
  • Exercise and massage can ease the pain

Whether you are caught up in the excitement or disbelief of the news that you are expectant, it is necessary to understand the journey you are on.  Have a strong support system, visit the hospital for advice and danger signs to look out for, and don’t forget to love yourself because the process will require love, patience, and strength.

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