Pregnancy Symptoms: What They Never Told You
Morning sickness isn't the only one. Here's a list of pregnancy symptoms you might not be expecting.
Many women find they gain a bra size or two during their pregnancy. (For
better or worse, the change is usually not permanent.) The swelling, which
signals an increase in fat reserves and milk gland size, may be accompanied by
"Itching is a very common complaint and can occur throughout
pregnancy," Lindsay says. The usual areas are the breasts and abdomen,
where the skin is stretching to accommodate your growing shape.
Here's one pregnancy symptom your mom may not have warned you about - you're
likely to get constipated, especially in the late second and third trimesters.
According to Lindsay, constipation may result from a number of factors:
- Changes in digestion caused by the hormone progesterone
- Increased water absorption in the large intestines
- Iron supplements
- Pressure of the uterus on the rectum
"Constipation may be eased or prevented by eating high fiber foods,
drinking plenty of water and exercising regularly," Lindsay says.
Also common in the second and third trimesters is heartburn, a burning
sensation between the breastbone and the throat. Lindsay says progesterone is
once again to blame. The hormone relaxes the sphincter at the bottom of the
esophagus, allowing gastric acid to come up. Lindsay's tips for easing
- Avoid spicy foods
- Don't eat immediately before lying down
- Elevate the head of the bed -- try blocks under the head of the
- Take antacids (Check with your doctor or midwife first.)
Seasonal allergies and asthma may become unpredictable during pregnancy.
Stein tells WebMD some women see their symptoms improve, while others notice
the opposite. She says expectant moms with asthma generally should continue
using their inhalers. "If you don't breathe, your baby won't
Changes in Balance
In the third trimester, many women find they are perpetually off-balance.
"This change happens later in pregnancy, but I notice very few women expect
it," Stein tells WebMD. While a growing belly tends to throw off your
center of gravity, there's more to it than that. "A hormone called relaxin
kicks in toward the end of pregnancy," Stein explains. "Its main
purpose is to loosen the pelvic joints so they are more flexible during labor.
But this hormone also works on the hips, knees and ankles. This makes
[expectant mothers] more wobbly and achy and likely to fall."
Abnormal Pregnancy Symptoms
With so many changes taking place in your body, you may be tempted to
dismiss any new discomfort as normal during pregnancy. But certain symptoms
could signal a serious problem:
- Bleeding or spotting - According to Lindsay, "bleeding or
spotting is never felt to be normal during pregnancy." Spotting is common
in the first trimester and probably not a cause for alarm. However, in the
second and third trimester, bleeding could provide advance warning of a serious
complication, such as preterm labor or problems with the placenta. Always
report any bleeding or spotting to your doctor or midwife.
- Severe itching - In the late second and third trimester, severe
itching may signal a rare liver problem that sometimes develops during
pregnancy, known as intrahepatic cholestasis. "This condition requires
increased fetal surveillance and early delivery," Lindsay says.
- Blurred vision, severe headaches and pain in the right side of
abdomen - These symptoms, whether they occur alone or in combination, may
indicate severe preeclampsia - the medical term for dangerously high blood
pressure during pregnancy. "Women who experience any of these symptoms
should contact their health care provider immediately," Lindsay advises.
Early delivery may be necessary "to avoid life-threatening maternal and