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Pregnancy: What They Never Told You

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

New Pains in New Places continued...

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.

I'm Feeling Nothing!

What if you're expecting the whole Pregnancy Platter of Symptoms -- morning sickness, swollen and tender breasts, the works -- and they fail to show up? In most cases, just consider yourself lucky and go about your business. "I get more questions from people who don't get the symptoms that the books mention than those who do," says Himmelreich. "They're concerned that it means something's wrong."

Is something wrong? Not usually. "There are plenty of pregnancies in which the woman doesn't have morning sickness or sore breasts. That's normal," Himmelreich says. (Just don't brag about it too much to the woman in the next office who can't keep a saltine down.) When you should be concerned: if pregnancy symptoms you've had suddenly disappear. "It's not usually a problem if you don't have tender breasts, for example, but it's more concerning if you had those symptoms at first and then suddenly at seven or eight weeks, they stopped," Himmelreich says.

And not all pregnancy surprises are negative. "The one thing that surprised me most was that I loved my pregnant body," Hutton says. "Although over time I became awkward, achy, and tired, I loved the way I looked while pregnant.  I loved my round breasts and belly, so full of life. My skin and hair have never looked better.  When I was pregnant, I felt beautiful. I had never noticed how beautiful pregnant women were before."

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Reviewed on June 01, 2006

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