Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Common Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy

We love babies!!! It seems like there are more babies being born in the next few weeks than we had all summer.  Needless to say, being pregnant is an adventure and can bring with it many questions and concerns.  Your medical provider is a great resource, but below we listed some common signs of pregnancy and some things to watch for. 

Some common early signs of pregnancy are:
· Slightly enlarged and tender breasts (even with growing pains)
· Weight gain or loss of up to 5 pounds
· Fullness or ache in pelvis
· Increased vaginal discharge
· Frequent urination
· Morning sickness
· Mood swings
· Fatigue

Morning Sickness
Morning sickness is believed to be caused by the hormonal changes taking place in your body during pregnancy. It is characterized by feeling nauseated in the morning, or at the sight or smell of food. Some women experience morning sickness at other times of the day.  Morning sickness usually begins between the second and sixth week of pregnancy. It will run its course   during the first trimester, and by the beginning of the  second trimester you should start feeling better. To help ease morning sickness try to:
· Avoid going for long periods of time without eating. A snack may make you feel better. Eat a snack at least every two hours
· Eat a high protein snack before going to bed at night.
· Stay in bed about ten minutes longer in the morning. Try eating a few soda crackers and get up gradually.
· Eat small meals that are high in carbohydrates.
· Avoid fatty and greasy foods.
· Drink fluids between meals, but avoid drinking large amounts of fluids when you are feeling   nauseated.
· Get plenty of exercise, rest and fresh air.
*If morning sickness is severe and accompanied by persistent vomiting, call your health care provider.*

Growing Pains
You may feel an occasional sudden sharp pain in your abdomen or groin when you laugh or move too quickly. The pain is most likely caused by the stretching of the ligaments that support your uterus. The pain will probably subside as quickly as it occurs, If you have persistent abdominal pain, call your medical provider.

Bladder Matters
Frequent urination is common throughout pregnancy. It is caused by pressure on the bladder from your expanding uterus and by an increase in the hormone progesterone. Unfortunately, frequent urination is something that pregnant women have to contend with because cutting down on fluids will result in dehydration. Dehydration can bring on preterm labor.  Although urinating frequently is common, burning when you urinate is not, and may be a sign of infection. Let your medical provider know if you are having any discomfort.

As your mammary glands develop, you will find that your breasts are sensitive and tender. You may also  experience a tingling sensation in the brown area around your nipple, the areola, and notice the veins in your breasts are becoming more prominent. For comfort and support, wear a good bra that fits you well.  Colostrum, a yellow-colored fluid, begins to form and may leak from your breasts at any time during pregnancy. This fluid is rich in nutrients and will be replaced by breast milk two to six days after the delivery of your  baby.

Infrequent headaches can be common throughout   pregnancy, but if a headache persists or is accompanied by blurred vision, dizziness or fainting, report it to your medical provider immediately.

Heartburn – Dyspepsia
Heartburn is characterized by a burning sensation in your chest or upper stomach and is sometimes accompanied by burping. Try to eat small meals and avoid foods that produce gas. Avoid foods that are fried, high in fat or highly processed, including lunch meats, hot dogs, salami, sausage and bacon. Also avoid certain marbled cuts of beef and pork (rib steak, spare ribs). Stay away from heavy creams, alcohol, carbonated drinks and coffee. Relax. Wear clothes that have room at the waist. Sleep propped up. Ask your medical provider for  advice on antacids.

Leg Cramps
When you are sleeping or resting you may be bothered by leg cramps. Leg cramps occur more frequently later in pregnancy because your enlarged uterus is slowing down the flow of blood. The cramps can be caused by fatigue or not enough calcium in your diet. A slow   gentle leg stretch before going to bed may help. Be sure to stretch through the heel, pointing your toes towards your nose. If you are having problems with leg cramps, let your medical provider know.

Wobbly Hips
 It is not unusual for women to feel like they have    wobbly hips during pregnancy. Hormones cause the      ligaments and cartilage in the pelvis to relax and the bones of the pelvis to spread. This relaxation will make it easier for the baby to move through the pelvis during labor and delivery. If your hips feel wobbly, you may want to take it easy for awhile and watch your step. Warm baths may help relieve discomfort.

Linea Nigra
 Around the beginning of the third trimester, you may discover a dark line that runs downward from your navel to your pubic bone. It is called Linea Nigra and is caused by hormonal changes. It should disappear six months to a year after the baby is born.

The Mask of Pregnancy
You may notice brown blotches of dark skin around your eyes and nose. This is called Chloasma or the mask of pregnancy. Chloasma is caused by increased levels of the hormone estrogen and possibly too much sun. It will most likely disappear after the birth of your baby.

Trouble Sleeping
Many women begin to have difficulty sleeping during the third trimester because they have trouble getting into a comfortable position lying down. Your stomach may feel large and awkward and you may be making frequent trips to the bathroom. Try taking a warm bath before going to bed and sleeping on your left side with a pillow between your bent knees and under your stomach.

During pregnancy the hormone progesterone slows down the movement of food through the intestine,    allowing more water and nutrients to be absorbed. This can cause constipation and contribute to hemorrhoids. To prevent constipation, it is important to drink plenty of fluids (eight to ten glasses a day) and eat foods high in fiber such as bran, fruits and vegetables. Exercise will help too. If you continue to have discomfort, your medical provider may be able to recommend something for you. Do not take a laxative or enema unless it has been prescribed.

Anemia is a common problem in pregnancy characterized by feeling tired all the time. It is usually related to not having enough iron in your diet. Iron is needed to form red blood cells that carry oxygen. Anemia can be prevented by eating foods rich in iron and taking an iron supplement prescribed by your medical provider. Some foods that are excellent sources of iron are: egg yolks, red meat, liver, shrimp, whole or enriched grains, and dark green leafy vegetables.

Stretch Marks
Stretch marks may appear on your breasts, stomach, buttocks and thighs. The marks are dark purple in color and may itch. They will eventually fade to a silver-gray color after the baby is born. You cannot prevent stretch marks, but applying oils and/or moisturizing lotion may help ease the itching.

Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath is common later in pregnancy because your uterus is expanding and applying pressure on the diaphragm. You may feel more comfortable  sleeping with an extra pillow behind your head. Avoid lying flat on your back. As the baby moves lower, this condition should improve.

One of the most common complaints of pregnancy is the backache. Backaches are caused by an increased sway in your lower back from the weight of your baby. Wear shoes with a low heel and try to be aware of your posture. To help relieve stress in your lower back try sitting with your legs propped up so that your knees are higher than your hips. A warm bath and a back rub may also help.

Aching Legs, Feet, and Swelling
Swollen feet, ankles and varicose veins are caused by the weight of your expanding uterus slowing down the flow of blood back from your legs. Varicose veins are enlarged and swollen veins in the calves and thighs. If you had varicose veins before pregnancy, they may   become worse as your pregnancy progresses. To help ease the pain of aching legs and feet try the following:
· Take plenty of walks and avoid standing for long periods of time.
· Wear support hose or elastic stockings if your medical provider orders them.
· Elevate your feet whenever possible.
· Try not to cross your legs at the knees or ankles.
· Drink plenty of fluids–you cannot prevent swelling by decreasing your fluid intake.
· If swelling is severe and your face, fingers and feet are swollen, call your medical provider.
· Avoid tight fitting socks.

Healthy Teeth and Gums
You may notice your gums becoming slightly swollen and bleeding more easily as your pregnancy progresses. This is a result of an increase in the hormone levels of progesterone and estrogen. If bleeding persists for more than a few days, call your dentist. It is important to brush your teeth at least two to three times a day while you are pregnant, and floss daily. Visit your dentist at least once   during your pregnancy and again after your baby is born. Be sure to let your dentist know that you are pregnant.

 *Information provided from Healthy Mother, Healthy Baby booklet from the Utah County Health Department*

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