What’s normal during pregnancy

December 16, 2016 | by Jeffrey Fitzer, M.D.
Categories: Healthy Driven Moms

If you are pregnant for the first time, your body is about to go through some big changes. Some women love being pregnant while others, not so much.

While every woman’s pregnancy is unique, expectant moms usually share common symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Breast changes (tender, sore, swollen, feel lumpy, areolas grow larger and darker, veins appear under skin, colostrum leaks)
  • Fatigue, trouble sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Back pain, leg cramps
  • Frequent urination
  • Heartburn
  • Constipation, hemorrhoids
  • Mood swings
  • Increased nail and hair growth
  • Bleeding gums, nosebleeds or nasal stuffiness
  • Shortness of breath, dizziness
  • Skin changes (dry or itchy skin, oily skin or acne)
  • Swelling in lower legs and feet (sometimes your feet grow a whole size)
  • Varicose veins, stretch marks
  • Loose joints

The whole experience of being pregnant can be somewhat mysterious. Knowing what’s normal is often one of the biggest unknowns moms-to-be face. Here are some surprising, yet normal, things you may not realize about being pregnant:

You may lose weight in the beginning – By the second month of pregnancy, you may have gained a couple of pounds. But it is not uncommon to lose weight too, especially if you’re dealing with nausea and vomiting. By the time you’re in your second trimester, you should start to put on more pounds.

Morning sickness can happen anytime – More than half of pregnant women will experience morning sickness, which usually subsides by the second trimester. These bouts of nausea and/or vomiting, can happen any time, day or night. If you can’t keep anything down though, talk to your doctor.

Spotting and light cramping is normal – Some women experience spotting, light bleeding (shorter and lighter than a normal period) and sometimes light cramping. Although common in pregnancy, let your doctor know about it, especially if the bleeding gets heavy or bright red, or if you have painful cramps.

You may not look pregnant for a while – Don’t be surprised if you don’t appear pregnant to other people for quite a while, especially if this is your first pregnancy. By the fifth month, most people will be able to recognize that you are pregnant. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about your size.

You may leak urine – You may leak urine because of pressure from the uterus on your bladder. It may happen when sneezing or laughing, or you may not even realize it. You may also have thin, milky white discharge. If you’re concerned it’s amniotic fluid (which is clear and odorless), or if it smells bad, burns or itches, call your doctor.

You won’t feel your baby move right away – Women usually don’t feel fetal movements for the first time until the fifth month. It may feel like flutters or butterflies in the stomach. The movements may slow down as your baby gets bigger and runs out of room. If your baby ever seems less active than normal or if you have concerns, talk with your doctor.

Certain pains are normal – A sharp pain in the abdomen or hip area, called round ligament pain, is considered normal and is most common in the second trimester. However, talk with your doctor if you ever have painful or frequent contractions.

Your water may not actually break – You may wonder if you will be able to tell when your water breaks. Only 1 in 10 women experience a dramatic gush of amniotic fluid. Other women only notice a small, constant trickle. Some women go into labor without their water breaking.

You may be dilated for weeks before you deliver – By the last month, your cervix will begin to open (dilate) to prepare for delivery. This may start when you go into labor, but it could also happen a few weeks before delivery. You may feel sharp pains in your vagina as your cervix dilates.

Braxton Hicks contractions are different from real labor contractions – Sometimes in the second trimester, but most commonly in the third, you may experience a random squeezing of your abdomen, called Braxton-Hicks contractions. These are irregular and sporadic. Real labor contractions, on the other hand, occur at regular intervals and increase in frequency and intensity.

Keep in mind, you may not necessarily have the same symptoms as your pregnant friend … and that’s okay. In spite of all the unknowns of pregnancy, your body is doing an amazing thing (growing your baby!), so it’s gotta be all worth it.

Explore pregnancy and baby services at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

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