10 things they never told you about pregnancy

The old cliché, “There are some things better left unsaid” seems to apply to pregnancy-related symptoms—the ones that your mother or girlfriends never seemed to mention.

These symptoms are all quite common, however, you should mention them to your health care provider during your prenatal visits.

1. Dry, itchy skin is very common, especially around the abdomen and breasts.

  • Avoid taking hot showers.
  • Soothe the skin regularly using natural oils after bathing.
  • Wear loose, cotton clothing on warm days

2. Carpel Tunnel (CTS) can occur throughout pregnancy.

Symptoms include swelling, numbing, or a dull ache in the fingers, hands, or wrists and it may extend to the arm or shoulders. Most often the symptoms of CTS disappear after the birth of the baby.

  • Wear a wrist/hand brace if your job involves repetitive movements.
  • Sleep with your wrist straight, using a pillow for support.
  • Using your thumbs, massage from the inside of the wrist outwards and down.

3. Swelling or bleeding gums may occur due to increased pregnancy hormones.

  • Brush and floss regularly.
  • Visit your dentist early during pregnancy for a checkup.

4. Shortness of breath might occur as your uterus grows and upper body pressure increases.

  • Sleep with your head elevated.
  • Raise your arms over your head. By lifting your ribcage you’ll breathe in more air. Try keeping your shoulders back so your chest area can open, allowing more breathing space.

5. A stuffy nose is due to increased hormones which dry out the lining in your nose, making it inflamed and swollen.

  • Drink at least six to eight glasses of water a day to thin out mucous.
  • Avoid use of commercial nose sprays.
  • Use a humidifier or vaporizer to add moisture to the air.

6. Heartburn can seem non-stop when you are expecting.

  • Avoid any fried or spicy foods.
  • Eat small meals throughout the day.
  • When resting, prop up your head and shoulders to prevent stomach acids from rising.

7. Leaking of colostrum from the nipples is normal and can happen as early as the second trimester.

Colostrum is a thick, yellow fluid containing valuable antibodies that help protect your newborn from infection.

  • Wear nursing pads in your bra to protect your clothing from leaking.

8. Braxton Hicks contractions are commonly referred to as good ‘warm-ups’ or ‘false labour pains’.

They typically occur toward the middle of your pregnancy. These are caused by the muscles in your uterus contracting and should not be painful.

  • Relax and practice your abdominal breathing.
  • Change activities or positions and rest.

9. Dizziness is common during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester.

  • Eat regular meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar regular.
  • Keep your cool! Try not to become overheated.
  • Lie on your left side when resting to improve circulation.
  • Sit down if you feel dizzy.

10. Leg cramps are caused by the increased pressure of your growing uterus and typically occur during the second trimester.

  • Avoid crossing your legs for extended periods of time.
  • Stretch the leg gently if you have a cramp by straightening it, flex your foot and pull your toes toward you. Massage the cramp or apply heat.
  • Avoid lying on your back.

Originally published in 2008.

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