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Pregnancy 101: Things Mom Never Told You

You May Be Expecting -- but Maybe Not Expecting This

Fatigue

Fatigue is a common problem in pregnancy, especially in the first and third trimesters. Tracy was expecting to be tired at the end of her pregnancy, but she was caught off guard by the fatigue in her first few months.

"Afternoons are the worst," she says. "I try to schedule anything I have to get done in the morning, when I have the most energy."

This fatigue may be nature's way of getting a woman to slow down while her fetus is implanting and getting established, says Chrisomalis. "I encourage women to really relax, take naps in the afternoon if possible, go to bed early, and pamper themselves," she says.

Regular exercise and good nutrition also can combat fatigue. If anemia is the cause, iron supplements may be prescribed.

Constipation

An unfortunate drawback of iron supplementation can be constipation, says Randell.

"As soon as I started taking the iron, I completely backed up," says Jessica.

Even without the iron supplements, the extra progesterone in the body during pregnancy can lead to an overall slowing down of the intestinal tract. Randell advises patients to try to prevent constipation by making sure they eat plenty of fiber-rich foods, like fruits and vegetables, and drink eight or more glasses of water a day. If constipation does occur, your doctor can recommend a pregnancy-safe stool softener to get things moving again.

While all of these symptoms are completely normal and common, that doesn't mean you shouldn't mention them during your prenatal visits.

"We want to hear about these things, even if they are routine," says Randell.

And while most are likely nothing to worry about, some symptoms may overlap with those of a more serious condition, he says. For example, itchy belly is normal, but intense itching all over can indicate a serious condition known as fatty liver. So don't hesitate to tell all.

"There is no such thing as a silly question," he says. "That's what we are here for."

Michele Bloomquist is a freelance writer based in Brush Prairie, Wash. She writes frequently about consumer health.

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