Friday, 30 September 2011

The Unmentionable Side-Effects of Pregnancy...

Now I have started the second trimester of my pregnancy, I thought I would list the lovely side-effects that can occur in pregnancy. Some of these I now have first-hand experience of, and others I have so far had a lucky escape from

Nausea and Sickness

This is possible the worst. For three months I felt nausea non-stop all day and night. It is difficult when trying to do normal things, such as work, washing, cooking and even cleaning yourself.

See my blog post 'Pregnancy Tips for Nausea, Sickness and More' for tips on how to cope with this awful symptom!

So far, my most elegant moment has been whilst driving to the hospital. I had to brake in the middle of a road, open my door and puke into the road.
I have also puked into the sink whilst brushing my teeth, and puked into my kitchen bin after smelling stale water in the sink. Yum!

Since entering the second trimester this has calmed down a lot, but I still have my sick moments, and teeth brushing is still not the easiest thing to do!

The Dreaded ‘D’ Word
Just saying the word makes me cringe. I, and many others on the pregnancy forums I have been chatting on, find that pregnancy seems to make your undercarriage feel permanently wet, to the extent that at times I have found myself checking whether or not I have had an ‘accident’.  
I thought Tena Lady was only for those in the older generation, or those that have had hundreds of bladder-breaking babies, but no, you may want to consider using them during your pregnancy;- Just don’t forget to take them off before you try and get romantic in the bedroom, as they hardly match your sexy lingerie!
According to NHS Direct, almost all women get higher levels of discharge during pregnancy. It is supposed to be clear or white, and without an odour. If it change colour or smells, this could be an infection so see your doctor. Wear loose cotton underwear to reduce the risk of thrush.
Skin Changes
Skin Patches: Chloasma, also known as the ‘mask of pregnancy’, is the appearance of brown patches on the skin. This can be on the forehead, cheeks and neck, and on darker-skinned women like myself, they can appear as lighter patches. This is apparently caused by pregnancy increasing our production of melanin (tanning hormone) which protects the skin from ultraviolent light.
Try to avoid sitting in the sun, as this can make the patches more noticeable, or use high sun factor. Tinted foundation can help cover the patches up. Luckily, the patches fade a few months after birth.
Tummy Lines: Linea nigra is the dark, vertical line you can get down the middle of your stomach. This tends to start showing in the second trimester (mine is starting to show!) and happens when the stomach muscles stretch, which creates pigmentation of the skin. Nipples, moles and freckles can also darken during this time, but all fade after the birth.
Spider Veins: Tiny clusters of broken capillaries can appear on your cheeks. These are common in pregnancy, especially if you were already prone to them beforehand. They occur through the increased volume of circulating blood in the body, which puts pressure on the capillaries.
To reduce the chances of these occurring, protect your face from extreme hot or cold weather. These will fade after birth when your hormones settle down.
Sensitive Skin and Shaving Pain
Skin can become more sensitive during pregnancy, due to your hormones and the skin stretching. Soaps and detergents you normally use can suddenly irritate you, and things like shaving can really hurt. I dread shaving my legs at the moment, as they hurt during the shave, and feel sore for hours afterwards, so I may end up a hairy beast by the end of this pregnancy if this doesn’t improve!
To try to ease these issues, wear loose, cotton clothing, keep your body moisturised and try changing your washing powder and perfume.

Rashes can come and go during pregnancy. I got a huge, ugly rash on my neck during my first trimester, that itched beyond belief if I got hot or went near perfume and moisturiser. Thankfully I got steroid cream from my doctor, and now just have an eczema-style scar that should hopefully fade soon.
Increased hormone levels cause this itching, including itching in the nether regions (thrush), and even worse, piles. Up the fibre in your diet, and stick to loose, cotton clothing to try and avoid these elegant symptoms.
Use calamine lotion on your itchy areas, and if this doesn’t help, see your doctor. Intense itching, especially at night, and mainly on the palms and soles of your feet, can be a sign of a rare liver disorder. Obstetric cholestasis only occurs during pregnancy, and tends to happen in the third trimester. This stops after birth and thankfully doesn’t damage your health. Risks to the baby are still unclear though, and research continues to be done in this area.
The Pregnancy Glow
We have all heard of the pregnancy ‘glow’, or have heard other pregnant ladies being referred to as ‘positively blooming’ (can’t say personally anyone has referred to me like that so far), and apparently these sayings are true. During pregnancy, you retain more moisture, which plumps up the skin and smooths out any lines or wrinkles. The increased levels of blood circulating around your body can cause a pink, radiant glow, which can make you feel flushed at times.
Whilst this is probably the only great side effect, it does have its downsides. The patches you may have on your face can become more visible, and you can look puffy from water retention. To help this, drink plenty of water and rest (my kind of advice!).

Just when you think you have left those embarrassing, spotty, teenage days well behind you, they appear again! Pregnancy can trigger acne, because the hormones encourage more sebum to be produced. This sebum can cause pore blockages, which can result in greasy skin and spots.
I have sprouted huge, mountain-like spots on my forehead, nose, shoulders and back- a child would take great pleasure in using me as a dot to dot at the moment. Again it is another part of pregnancy that makes me feel so glamorous and sexy!
Use a gentle cleanser and oil-free moisturiser. Don’t use acne creams without your doctor’s permission, as some of them should not be used during pregnancy.

Stretch Marks
I don’t think I need to explain what these beauties are, as I am sure most of you girlies out there have had some of these in your time! During pregnancy, you can get more of these pink babies on your stomach, boobs and thighs. They affect 75-90% of pregnant women, because the hormones can make your skin thinner, and the weight you put on in those specific areas during the three stages.
These bad boys can fade over time, but rarely tend to go away completely. To try and minimise them, watch your weight (I have failed in this area already!), use creams with vitamin E daily, and eat foods containing vitamin E and C, zinc and silica

Putting on weight during pregnancy in the thigh and breast areas can cause chafing. This can result in the skin becoming inflamed and blistered, which is known as intertrigo. Keep the area as dry as possible and use talc powder to absorb the moisture. See your doctor if you are sweating a lot in these areas, as it may cause a fungal infection. This needs to be cleared up before you give birth, to avoid passing it onto your baby.
On the forums I have visited, nearly all other users I have spoken to have agreed that wind is the most embarrassing symptom, as there seems to be a lot of it, and it seems to smell pretty horrific compared to your regular flatulence.
Apparently the average person passes wind 15 to 40 times per day. You can have even more wind than this when pregnant at both ends. I burp sooo much now, and it’s a killer when you have eaten something acidic- gotta love heartburn!
You may even need to start undoing your trousers due to bloating weeks before you get a baby bump. We have more wind, because the progesterone our body produces in early pregnancy can cause digestive problems. This causes more wind, bloating and stomach discomfort, especially after a large dinner.
As you get into your third trimester, the baby takes up more space in your belly, which can slow the digestion down even more, thus causing even more bloating!
So there you have it, we are literally a walking, talking whoopee cushion for the nine months. It wouldn’t be so bad if the smell wasn’t so unbearable, but that can be a great revenge tool when someone gets on your wick!

This can occur for a lot of women, and thankfully I have yet to endure this nasty symptom. I have noticed pregnancy certainly slows down the old bowel movements, and they do now happen a lot less, but I have yet to feel like I need a crow bar to help the process along. However, this is another huge symptom talked about on the pregnancy forums, and sounds incredibly painful!
To try and avoid this, up your fibre intake, eat plenty of fruit and veg, and drink plenty of fluid. Exercise can also help maintain bowel movements. If none of this works, talk to your doctor who may be able to prescribe you something.

Your hair can become shinier and thicker during pregnancy, but for some women it can become duller and lifeless. Hair all over the body seems to grow back a lot quicker, and new hair can sprout up in random areas.
Yet again, hormones are to blame for this.  New hair can show on your face, boobs, back, stomach and arms. The trick is not to shave any of it, because leaving it alone means it should disappear after you give birth. If you start shaving it, this can result in it always being there and needing to be shaved. This is the one time you should not care how hairy you look, if it means avoiding having to shave those areas for the rest of your life!
Back and Butt Pain
This can range from mild pain to chronic pain, and can occur in up to 80% of pregnant women.
The two common types of pain is Lumbar (lower back pain) and Posterior pelvic pain.
Lower back pain is classed as being above the waist in the centre of the back. It can increase with prolonged pressure, such as sitting or standing for long periods of time.
Pelvic pain is a deeper pain and can be felt below and to the side of the waistline. It can be on either or both sides of the body. It can extend into the buttock or thigh- I have had lots of pain in my right butt cheek on and off for the entire pregnancy, and at times it has been unbearable to even get up from a chair.
Posterior pelvic pain can be increased by rolling in bed, climbing stairs, getting up from a chair, lifting, running and walking. Trying to reduce these activities can help, but this type of symptom is something that can come and go, so there is not much that can be done for it.
Any others?
If I have missed any unmentionable side-effects on this list, please feel free to comment below about them, and let’s see how big this list can get!

1 comment:

  1. Regarding the back pain - I have recently started pilates (post natal) as was getting lumbar back ache from holding/carrying littl'un. I have to say, I was very impressed as noticed an improvement almost instantly and the back ache had completely gone after the first 2/3 classes. I now wish I'd done an anti natal pilates class as well as I really think it would've helped, especially with the back ache from the weight you carry around in the third trimester. (Although, I imagine it is important to find a class specifically for pregnant women as I guess you'd be restricted with which positions you can hold). I also felt like my hips were being prized apart (especially around the area where your hips meet your spine) when I was pregnant, which I understand is caused by the hormone relaxine which loosens up your ligaments... I don't know if pilates would have helped with that but got to be worth a try!