You knew that your belly would expand, you'd feel more tired than usual, and you might throw up a few times as your pregnancy progressed. But you may not have expected some of the other physical changes.
Pregnancy Week by Week
If you are newly pregnant, or trying to conceive, you have many questions about what to expect. How will your body change? What's happening inside you? Here's what to expect week by week.
Ob-gyn Michele M. Hakakha, MD, author of Expecting 411: Clear Answers & Smart Advice for Your Pregnancy, says, "Many things happen to a woman's body when she becomes pregnant, and most are shocking: hair growth on your belly, belching and constipation, increased vaginal discharge, and hemorrhoids, to name a few." Hakakha says, "These aren't things that a woman usually talks about. So it's no wonder there's a bit of embarrassment."
Despite the embarrassment, it’s most important to not be shy: Your ob-gyn needs to know what's going on with you to make sure your pregnancy is on track.
Virtually every pregnant woman gets gassy. That's because pregnancy brings a hormonal surge that can slow down your gastrointestinal tract.
You might not be able to keep it to yourself because you don't have the same control over your muscles during pregnancy.
When you're not pregnant, Michelle Smith, author of Taboo Secrets of Pregnancy: A Guide to Life with a Belly, says, "Most of the time you know it's coming and can keep it at bay until the coast is clear. [But when you are pregnant], you'll think: 'Oh my gosh, did I really just fart in front of my in-laws? How can I show my face again?'"
Though you can't erase the problem, you can reduce your tendency toward gassiness with exercise and changes to your diet.
"Exercise helps increase the motility of the GI tract, allowing food to move through faster," Hakakha says. "The less time it has to sit around and ferment, the less gas is produced. Some foods are more likely to produce gas, so the best bet is to avoid them completely: carbonated drinks, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, and dried fruit."
Dairy products can also cause GI distress during pregnancy, leading to flatulence. "Many women start drinking milk every day during pregnancy and think it's good for them," Sonja Kinney, MD, associate professor in the ob-gyn department at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Medicine, says. "But they can't tolerate milk as an adult."
Try lactose-free milk or other calcium-rich foods if you’re lactose intolerant.
You may have heard stories about pregnant women sneezing and accidentally emptying their bladders while standing among friends or co-workers. Most pregnant women who experience stress incontinence -- involuntarily leaking urine because of a jarring cough, sneeze, or laugh -- only lose a few drops. But it can still feel embarrassing.
Many doctors recommend that women wear panty liners to catch leaks during the last few months of pregnancy when stress incontinence is more likely. Regular trips to the bathroom can also help.
"As the baby grows and the uterus enlarges, the baby ends up sitting right on top of the bladder," Hakakha says. "Making a conscious effort to empty your bladder every two hours, even if you feel like you don't have to go, will make it less likely to leak."