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The Whole Nine Months: What's Happening in You

BY SAMANTHA RAMOS-ZARAGOZA

You’ve probably heard from other moms how being pregnant is like. There’s the late night cravings and aversion to certain foods, uncontrollable mood swings, and inevitable weight gain. These are just the tip of the iceberg; many more changes will affect you in the months to come. Check out our list of common developments happening inside you and learn the wonders of your body.

The First Term (Weeks 1 to 12)

  1. Tender, Sensitive, And Sore Breasts

Even before you miss your period and take a pregnancy test, your breasts may already feel extra heavy in the first weeks of pregnancy. Blame the hormones progesterone and estrogen for that. 

What Can Help:

Avoid underwire bras and use comfortable supportive bras. A cotton one may help with the sensitivity while you sleep.

  1. Exhaustion

One of the first signs of pregnancy is exhaustion. This usually wanes in the second term and makes a come back in the third.

What Can Help:

When you feel the need to close your eyes and lie down, give in to the urge. It’s your body’s way of telling you that you need to rest. 

  1. Morning Sickness

Hormonal changes also cause nausea and vomiting that can last the whole day, contrary to its moniker. For the majority, morning sickness winds down by the 14th week.

What Can Help:

Eat something like dry toast before getting out of bed. Go for several small meals during the day that are not fatty and easy to digest. It also helps to sip on liquids throughout the day and stay away from tastes and smells that upset your tummy. If you are vomiting too much and nausea seems extreme, call your doctor.

  1. Constipation

The hormones relax your bowel muscles and slow down digestion. The supplements iron and calcium contribute to constipation, too.

What Can Help:

Drink 10 glasses of water everyday, eight ounces (about 240 milliliters) at a time. Add fiber-rich foods in your diet and avoid caffeine.

  1. Frequent Urination

This is something you’ll deal with all throughout pregnancy, with frequency increasing as your tummy expands. In the first term, this is caused by blood flowing quickly through your kidneys, filling your bladder.

 What Can Help:

When you feel the need to pee, don’t hold it. You may contract a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), which, if untreated, is risky to your unborn child. You can also do Kegel exercises to strengthen pelvic muscles and avoid unexpected leaking.

  1. Dizziness

Your uterus pressing on your growing blood vessels and your increasing hunger can cause dizziness while pregnant.

What Can Help:

Slowly stand-up and avoid standing for long periods of time. It helps not to wear tight clothes and to lie on your left side. Contact your doctor immediately if abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding accompany your dizziness.

  1. Headache

Tension headache can happen in the first term, and women who experience headaches during menstruation are susceptible to this.

What Can Help:

Paracetamol is safe to ingest while pregnant. You can take a 500-milligram tablet every four hours. But if the headaches are frequent and weakening, ask your doctor if you can opt for other medications. Stay away from pain triggers such as monosodium glutamate, nitrates, cheese, certain types of nuts, chocolates, flickering lights, strong smells, and smoke. Warm or cool compress can relieve the pain, so do taking a shower, meditating, and exercising. Don’t skip meals and take naps when you have to.

 

The Second Term (Weeks 13 to 28)

  1. Back, Groin, And Abdomen Pain

Your growing baby and expanding tummy causes aches and pains in the back, groin, and abdomen. These are attributed to your shifting joints and the pressure from the baby’s movements and weight.

What Can Help:

Try not to stand for long periods of time. When you feel like resting, do so. You can apply heat to the aching body parts. You may also use maternity pillows to support the problematic areas.

  1. Heartburn

The relaxing digestive tract muscles make pregnant women more prone to heartburn.

What Can Help:

Eat several small meals slowly. Avoid fatty and spicy foods. It helps not to drink or eat a few hours before going to bed. If symptoms persist, ask your doctor what antacid you can take.

  1. Itching

You may feel itching on your palms, tummy, and feet. This is due to hormones as well as extra dry and stretching skin when pregnant.

What Can Help:

Resist wearing fabrics that can irritate your skin. Hot baths cause itching as well. Opt for a gentle soap when bathing and use a mild moisturizer after generously.

  1. Skin Darkening And Stretch Marks

Darkening of the nipples, belly area (linea nigra), underarms, upper lip, forehead, nose, and cheeks are common in pregnancy. Stretch marks also appear in areas where the skin expands. You can try different lotions and ointments that claim to lighten stretch marks. Don’t worry, darn skin and stretch marks usually fade after delivery.

 

The Third Term (Weeks 29 to 40) 

  1. Swollen Extremities (Edema)

Your body retains more water and collects fluid in your tissues during pregnancy. You may notice the swelling in your ankles, feet, fingers, and face.

What Can Help:

Salt retains water, so stay away from salty foods. Caffeine can also contribute to edema. Drink lots of fluids daily and elevate your feet when resting. Call your doctor if you have extreme swelling accompanied by sudden weight gain. These could be signs of preeclampsia.

  1. Leaking Breasts

You may feel your breasts growing more tender by this time and it may leak colostrum. Colostrum is a thick, yellowish fluid that’s very healthy for newborns.

What Can Help:

Wear a bra that you find comfortable and use pads to absorb leaks. Once you sense abnormal changes in your breasts, such as a lump or a discharge that’s not colostrum, contact your doctor. 

  1. Sleep Trouble

When the baby moves frequently and you need to get up for bathroom breaks, you may face some sleep interruptions that can keep you up at night.

What Can Help:

Try to take in the fluids you need earlier in the day. Lie on your left side and use pillows to support your back and tummy. If you wake at night, don’t fuss about it. Take a nap during the day to make up for it.

  1. Hemorrhoids

Because of increased blood volume while pregnant, the veins in the rectum can bulge. Constipation also aggravates hemorrhoids. These can itch, bleed, and cause pain.

What Can Help:

Do not strain with bowel movements. Eating fiber-rich foods and drinking lots of fluids can help with that. If the hemorrhoids bother you, ask your doctor what medication you can use. 

  1. Contractions

As the due date draws near, your cervix thins and softens. This process is normal in helping the birth canal expand during delivery. Your contractions can be real or false (Braxton Hicks contractions). 

To know if your contractions are the real deal, most women describe the feeling as a dull ache in the lower abdomen and back area. There is pressure in the pelvis that feels as if you are experiencing strong menstrual or diarrhea cramps. True labor contractions come at regular intervals. Each interval is about 30 to 70 seconds long and it gets closer and stronger as you near delivery. Unlike Braxton Hicks contractions that stop when you walk or change positions, true contractions are constant.

Source:

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