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Health & Pregnancy

Pregnancy: What They Never Told You

New aches and pains, severe allergies, and other lesser-known symptoms happen to many pregnant women.
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New Pains in New Places continued...

If you have allergies, pregnancy can aggravate them to an unbearable degree. Pennsylvanian Dawn Beck had mild allergies to cats before she got pregnant. Now 18 weeks along with her first child, she reports, "I seem to be severely allergic to cats, dogs, pretty much anything with hair!" In fact, she recently had to give her beloved dog a temporary new home with her mother-in-law because she couldn't breathe. "This has come on quite suddenly, and as time goes on it keeps getting worse," she says. "I hope it goes away after the pregnancy so I can get my dog back!"

"An empty bladder does not exist when you're pregnant!" Harvey declares. "I wasn't warned about the bladder jabs. I'd go to the bathroom, feel that joyous sense of relief, and continue on about my work. About 10 minutes after I'd left the bathroom I'd feel a foot, or an elbow, impacting on my supposedly empty bladder with the force of a stampede. Maxi-pads became my best friends."

All of these symptoms are likely to be that much more frustrating since you're going to be exhausted much of the time. "The books all tell you about fatigue, but I think all women are surprised by just how bad it can get," says Lynn Himmelreich, CNM, MPH, a midwife in the obstetrics and gynecology department at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. "Women come in and tell me, 'I was exercising up until I found out I was pregnant, and now I'm so exhausted I just can't do it.'" You may be beat, but even a little exercise can go a long way toward alleviating that exhaustion, and sometimes other symptoms as well. "Believe it or not, it really does energize you once you get up and do it."

Not all surprising pregnancy symptoms are physical. Carrie Hutton, a new mom from Arlington, Va., whose son is now four months old, describes what some call "pregnancy amnesia." "For some reason, no matter how competent you were in your pre-pregnancy life, you can no longer connect the dots.  You're lucky you can still remember your name, address, and phone number!" she says.

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