What to Expect When You’re Growing a Person, Part 1

Pregnancy is a special time in life. Your body is working overtime, daily, to create a whole new person. And the further along you get, the more you get to really experience that new life – little kicks and rolls, hearing the heartbeat, hiccups, and seeing that squirmy little in your ultrasound.

It is also a time moms question all of their actions and decisions. In our society, pregnancy just isn’t something people talk about until a woman gets pregnant. And then she is inundated with advice from all angles – the great, good, bad, and outrageous. The only “real” depictions of pregnancy, labor, and delivery, are on tv and in movies. And man are those terrifying. Don’t get me wrong, some women will end up in situations similar to those you see on the screen. For the most part, though, pregnancy is not something to fear. You really don’t need to second-, third-, and fourth-guess every decision you make.

Here are some general categories and typical questions I’ve seen and heard from other expecting moms.

Morning Sickness

A very misleading name for the nausea many moms experience in early (and sometimes through the entire) pregnancy. Early nausea can really cover a wide range from absolutely none (lucky moms) to such sever nausea, called hyperemesis gravidarum, where mom has to be hospitalized. Some women experience nausea just at certain times of day or after eating. There really is no way to know what kind of nausea you’ll experience, even with subsequent pregnancies.

For example, during my pregnancy with Sweet Girl, I had minimal nausea from 6 weeks to 14 weeks. I was able to function at work every day – an an elementary school working with special needs students – without issue. And as soon as I got to 14 weeks it was completely gone. This time around, however, I was couch-bound starting at 6 weeks. I went through three different medications because they all stopped working after a week. It all finally eased up around 15 or 16 weeks but I’m still throwing up once or twice a week.

Light Headed, Dizzy, Fainting

Again, this will vary from woman to woman. However, those who do experience this – it’s normal. This feeling of light-headedness is caused by an increase in blood vessel size, meaning you’ll have lower blood pressure for a little bit. Your body does this to prepare to send more blood throughout to support both you and your growing baby. This happens to all pregnant women, it just affects some more than others.

Please know, though, that just like with any other time in your life, if you feel like it isn’t normal call your doctor. You may not fully understand your pregnancy but you do know your body. Trust what you know.

Constipation and Diarrhea

I know, I know. But you really can’t talk about pregnancy and not talk about poop. Your body with get way out of whack, from hormones to decreased food intake to dehydration. Poop will get weird. Sometimes you’ll be constipated, sometimes it’ll be diarrhea. What a joy. What’s important, though, is it’s all normal and nothing to be concerned about when it happens to you.

Gas

This often goes hand in hand with the last one. You will be gassy. From both ends. And it will stink. Those around you, especially your spouse, partner, or roommate, will just have to get used to it. We do.

Vaginal Discharge

For the most part, you will experience an increase in vaginal discharge. Some will have excess dryness, and it’s all in the realm of normal. The color may be slightly different, consistency may change, smell will more than likely change. And it may do so several times throughout your pregnancy. Just know it’s generally not something to be concerned about. You have enough on your plate to worry about.

That said, please understand that if you start to have lots of vaginal itching – some may be normal as you adjust to the excess wetness – and a thick discharge you may have a yeast infection. I had one during my first pregnancy and waited longer than needed because I thought it was normal. If you suspect but aren’t 100% sure, call the nurses at your doctor’s office – they will be able to point you in the right direction.

Random Pee

Sorry, ladies, the time has come. You will forevermore have to deal with little bits of pee escaping when you bounce, run, laugh, cough, sneeze, or just sit on your butt and do nothing. For some reason, my husband thinks this is the funniest thing every time it happens. And he has now come to expect that every time I sneeze a little pee comes out. Good grief.

Now, some women have luck doing kegel exercises. I never did them. I just didn’t want to. Maybe that’s why, I don’t know. I have also seen some yoga sequences that are supposed to help strengthen the pelvic floor. Give them a try or look up those sequences so you can try to avoid pee sneezing like me. Good luck!

Braxton Hicks

I think most, if not all, women experience Braxton Hicks (or false) contractions at some point during pregnancy. The best description I am able to give (from my own experience, so ask around if you need to) is that it feels like your abdominal muscles are tightening, sometimes around your sides and back. Typically they are not painful. They are generally not frequent or consistent. Most of the time they will slow down or stop altogether if you drink some water (some say cold, I don’t know if it makes a difference ) and lay down and relax for a while.

The important thing to remember with Braxton Hicks contractions is that you may need to call or see a doctor if they are coming too frequently. It will vary from hospital to hospital so ask your doctor, but most will want to know if you are having these false contractions between 4-10 times in one hour. (Like I said, it varies. So ask if they don’t tell you.)

 

I realized as I was putting together this post just how many different symptoms women will experience during pregnancy. And just how much variation there is from woman to woman. So in order to keep this post from getting any longer, look for my next post for more symptoms you may experience during your own pregnancy.

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