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Pregnancy 101: Things Mom Never Told You

You May Be Expecting -- but Maybe Not Expecting This

Changes in sex drive

Jessica recalls a surprising surge in her sex drive during the second trimester of her pregnancy. "I wanted to have sex all the time," she says. "It seemed as if I wasn't having it, I was thinking about it -- I had sex on the brain!"

Her sex drive overdrive continued right up to the final month of her pregnancy. "It's strange because I didn't exactly feel like my body was attractive, but I didn't care," she says.

"Sex drives can go up and down throughout pregnancy," says Ernst G. Bartsich, MD, associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Cornell Medical Center in New York City. "Women should follow their instincts and feelings," he says, and fears that having sex will hurt the baby are unfounded.

So unless a woman is experiencing a problem, such as bleeding, let the games begin!

Vivid dreams and disturbing thoughts

Pregnant women and new mothers often are caught off guard by vivid dreams and thoughts, often disturbing ones, says Bartsich. "It's not uncommon, but many women don't talk about this because it is so taboo," he says.

Laura Smith remembers just such a dream.

"I dreamed I was bathing the baby in a tub and there was steam all around. I slowly picked up a towel and put it over the baby's face, smothering it. Then I woke up suddenly," she recalls.

She knew she would never do such a thing but mentioned it during a prenatal visit, where she was reassured by her doctor that such dream are common and normal in pregnancy.

Bartsich says passing thoughts -- for example, stepping out into traffic or feeling ambivalent about motherhood -- also can occur. While distressing, these too are common.

"Even a woman who has been wanting a baby very much may have second thoughts about becoming a parent. It is very normal," he says.

Early lactation

"I had just gotten out of the shower and was bent over blow-drying my hair when I felt something drip on my knees," says Jessica, who was in her final month of pregnancy at the time. "I thought it was water from my hair but when I stood up, the wetness ran down my belly." Shocked, she realized the source of the flow was her nipples.

"Early lactation is very common, but for women who haven't been warned about this, it can be scary," says Shaber.

Milk production can start as early as the second trimester thanks to increasing levels of the hormone prolactin in the blood. Stimulation is usually the cause, such as the heat from a blow dryer or the massage of the shower. Remove the stimulation and the flow usually will stop, Shaber says. If it happens frequently, nursing pads will come in handy.

"It's definitely not dangerous or a sign that anything is wrong," says Shaber. "In fact, it should reassure a woman that she will have plenty of milk when the baby arrives."

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