Pregnancy information is available everywhere. At your first prenatal visit, your GP will likely hand you a stack of pamphlets covering every test and trimester. You can also use the Nurturey pregnancy app to get reliable information about any pregnancy stage.
Nurture’s PinkBook is a “digital substitute” for the NHS’s Red Book. The PinkBook allows pregnant women and parents to access their child’s health records, view upcoming health checkups, and get trusted information from the NHS about their stage in the parenting or pregnancy journey.
If you are pregnant and have questions, you can use the Nurturey pregnancy app to make an appointment with your GP or midwife. You can also make appointments, refill prescriptions, and communicate with your general practitioner/midwife.
Despite all of this information, here are ten common pregnancy surprises.
The Nesting Instinct
Many pregnant women experience the nesting instinct, a strong desire to clean and decorate their home in preparation for the baby.
You may find yourself cleaning cupboards or washing walls — activities you would never have imagined doing in your ninth month of pregnancy! This desire to prepare your home can be beneficial because you will have fewer tasks to complete after the birth. However, take care not to overdo it.
Tiredness and morning sickness in the first trimester can leave many women exhausted and mentally foggy. However, even well-rested pregnant women may experience difficulty concentrating and periods of forgetfulness.
Thinking about the baby, as well as hormonal changes, plays a role. Everything, including work, bills, and GP/midwife appointments, may seem insignificant to the baby and the impending birth. Making lists can help you remember important dates and appointment schedules.
In many ways, premenstrual syndrome and pregnancy are similar. Your breasts swell and become tender, your hormones fluctuate, and you may experience mood swings. You may experience severe mood swings during pregnancy if you suffer from PMS. They can make you feel happy one minute and cry the next.
Pregnancy brings on a lot of mood swings. They are more common in the first trimester and near the end of the third trimester.
Many pregnant women experience depression during their pregnancy. If you have symptoms such as sleep problems, changes in eating habits, or mood swings for more than two weeks, consult your GP/midwife.
One of the first signs of pregnancy is an increase in breast size. During the first trimester, higher levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone cause breast growth. That growth in the first trimester may not be the end of it. Your breasts may continue to grow throughout your pregnancy!
Your ribcage can also influence your bra size. When pregnant, your lung capacity expands to allow you to take in more oxygen, which may result in larger chest size. During your pregnancy, you may need to replace your bras several times.
Do your friends think you’re glowing from pregnancy? It’s just one of the many side effects of hormonal changes and skin stretching.
Pregnant women have increased blood volume to allow more blood flow to the uterus and other organs, particularly the kidneys. The increased volume increases blood flow to the vessels and increases oil gland secretion.
Some women develop brownish or yellowish patches on their faces known as chloasma, also known as the “mask of pregnancy.” Some people will also notice a dark line on the lower abdomen’s midline, known as the linea nigra. They may also have hyperpigmentation (skin darkening) of the nipples, external genitalia, and anal region. It is due to pregnancy hormones causing the body to produce more pigment.
Because the increased pigmentation may not be uniform, the darkened skin may appear as splotches of color. Chloasma isn’t avoidable but can be minimized by wearing sunscreen and avoiding UV light.
Acne is more common during pregnancy because the skin’s sebaceous glands produce more oil. Moles or freckles that you had before pregnancy may grow and become darker. The majority of these skin changes should subside after you give birth.
Hair and Nails
Heat rash, caused by dampness and sweating, affects many pregnant women. However, pregnancy can be an itchy time for a woman in general. Itching and flaking may result from skin stretching across the abdomen. Your GP may recommend creams to relieve dry or itchy skin.
During pregnancy, many women experience changes in hair texture and growth. Hormones can cause your hair to grow faster and shed less. However, these hair changes are rarely permanent. Many women experience hair loss during the postpartum period or after they discontinue breastfeeding.
Some women experience unwanted hair growth on the face, belly, or around the nipples. Hair texture changes can cause it to become drier or oilier. Some women even notice that their hair is changing color.
During pregnancy, nails, like hair, can change. Extra hormones can cause them to grow faster. However, some women notice that their nails split and break more easily during pregnancy. Nail changes, like hair changes, are not permanent. Keep your nails trimmed. And avoid the chemicals in nail polish and remover if your nails split and tear more easily while pregnant.
You still have your shoes, even if you can’t fit into any of your pre-pregnancy clothes. Perhaps — but perhaps not. Because of the extra fluid in their pregnant bodies, many women have swollen feet and must wear a larger shoe size. Slip-on shoes in a larger size can be more comfortable, particularly in the summer.
During pregnancy, your body produces the hormone relaxin, which experts believe helps prepare the pubic area and cervix for birth. Relaxin loosens your body’s ligaments, making you less stable and more prone to injury. It’s easy to overstretch or strain your joints, particularly those in your pelvis, lower back, and knees. Avoid sudden, jerking movements when exercising or lifting objects.
Varicose Veins, Haemorrhoids, and Constipation
Varicose veins form when blood pools in veins get enlarged by pregnancy hormones. Varicose veins often fade away after pregnancy. To help in their prevention:
- Avoid standing or sitting for long periods.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing
- Wear support hose
- Raise your feet when you sit
Hemorrhoids, or varicose veins in the rectum, are also common during pregnancy because your blood volume increases, and the uterus pushes against your pelvis. As a result, the veins in your rectum may enlarge and form grape-like clusters. Hemorrhoids can be excruciatingly painful and could bleed itch, or sting, particularly during or after a bowel movement (BM).
Another common pregnancy illness is constipation. Pregnancy hormones slow the passage of food through the gastrointestinal tract. During the later stages of pregnancy, your uterus may press against your large intestine, making BM difficult. Constipation can also contribute to hemorrhoids because straining to go can enlarge the rectum veins.
Preventing constipation and hemorrhoids is the best way to deal with them. Eating a fiber-rich diet, drinking plenty of fluids daily, and regular exercising can help keep BMs normal. Stool softeners (not laxatives) may also be beneficial. If you have hemorrhoids, talk to your GP about a cream or ointment that can help shrink them.
Things Your Body Extrudes During Labour
So you’ve gotten through the mood swings and hemorrhoids, and you think the surprises are over. But the day you give birth will most likely be the most surprising.
The amniotic sac surrounds your baby during pregnancy. This sac ruptures (or breaks) at the start of or during labor, commonly known as your water breaking. Most women in labor experience contractions before their water breaks. Sometimes, your GP may rupture the amniotic sac (if the cervix has already become dilated).
How much water can you anticipate? It’s approximately 2 to 3 cups of amniotic fluid for a full-term baby. Some women may experience a strong urge to pee, resulting in a gush of fluid when their water breaks. Others may only feel a trickle-down their leg because the baby’s head acts as a stopper, preventing most of the amniotic fluid from leaking.
Amniotic fluid is typically sweet-smelling and colorless or pale. Your body replaces it every 3 hours, so don’t be surprised if you continue to leak fluid at a rate of about a cup per hour until delivery.
Some women experience nausea and vomiting. Others experience diarrhea before or during labor, and passing gas is common. You may lose control of your bladder or bowels during the pushing phase.
A birth plan can help you convey your opinions to your health care providers regarding these and other aspects of labor and delivery.
When you’re pregnant, you’re in for a lot of surprises. But none sweeter than the way you’ll feel once your baby is in your arms!
When to see your GP/midwife?
Contact your practitioner immediately if you experience discomfort or prolonged pain, notice decreased fetal movement, or have any vaginal bleeding or contractions. It is especially crucial if you have had direct contact with the front or side of your abdomen. If the bleeding is inside the uterus but not coming through the vagina, it could be a concealed abruption.
Depending on the severity of the injury, your GP/midwife may request fetal heart rate monitoring or ultrasound to ensure everything is in order inside.
It’s always better to be safe and consult with a GP/midwife about any situation that worries you, especially if you’re feeling rattled or worried. And, if you’re unsure whether you need a check after a fall, call anyway, if only for reassurance. With the Nurturey pregnancy app, you can quickly make an appointment with your GP/midwife.
A fall during pregnancy can be frightening, but your body is capable of protecting your growing baby. And, with a few changes around the house and in your daily routine, you can help prevent future falls.
About the Nurturey Pregnancy App
The PinkBook by Nurturey is a “digital substitute” for the NHS’s Red Book. The PinkBook allows pregnant women and parents to access their child’s health records, view upcoming health checkups, and access trusted NHS information about pregnancy or parenting. If you are pregnant and have questions, use the Nurturey pregnancy app to schedule an appointment with your doctor or midwife. You can also schedule appointments, refill prescriptions, and communicate with your GP/midwife.