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10 Things They Never Told You About Pregnancy

woman with blanket over her head

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

But these symptoms shouldn’t be taboo, because they’re are all pretty typical. Be sure to mention them to your health care provider during your prenatal visits.

1. Dry, itchy skin is very common, especially around the abdomen and breasts (it’s not used to being stretched!). But you can help keep itch at bay with the following tips:

  • Avoid taking hot showers
  • Soothe the skin regularly pregnancy-safe moisturizers or oils after bathing
  • Wear loose, cotton clothing on warm day so skin can breathe

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

Symptoms include swelling, numbness or a dull ache in the fingers, hands or wrists, and it may extend to your arm or shoulders. For some moms, the symptoms of CTS disappear after the birth of the baby; for others, it may require further medical attention post-partum. Consider the following for to ease CTS flare-ups:

  • 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. Here’s how to help:

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

4. Shortness of breath might occur as your uterus grows and pressure on your upper body increases. Try these tricks for catching your breath in a more purposeful way:

  • Sleep with your head elevated.
  • Stand up and 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 not uncommon; the increased hormones dry out the lining of your nose, making it inflamed and swollen. You can get relief with the following tips:

  • 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. Try these prevention ideas before heading for the pharmacy:

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

7. Leaking colostrum (a thick, yellowish fluid containing value antibodies for your babe) from the nipples is normal and can happen as early as the second trimester. Noticing unexpected wetness? Wear nursing pads in your bra to protect your clothing from leaks.

8. Braxton Hicks contractions are commonly referred to as good ‘warm-ups’ or ‘false labour pains’. They typically begin occurring in the middle of your pregnancy, and are caused by the muscles in your uterus contracting. They should not be especially painful. Learn to address the discomfort by trying the following:

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

9. Dizziness is common during pregnancy—especially during the first trimester. You may be able to prevent or handle these episodes with these ideas:

  • 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 lightheaded and take deep, controlled breaths.

10. Leg cramps are caused by the increased pressure of your growing uterus and typically occur during the second trimester. Here’s how to help:

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

A version of this article was originally published in 2019. 

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