Most women expect to gain weight and have morning sickness during pregnancy. But there are other body changes that you may not expect.
Beyond “glowing,” pregnant women expect weight gain, exhaustion and morning sickness. But what about hemorrhoids, breakouts and tingly hands? These are changes you might not normally link to pregnancy.
Pregnancy-related hormones are responsible for a range of body changes. Some women have only a few, others have many. Most of these changes disappear after the birth of the baby. But if any pregnancy symptoms are keeping you from your day-to-day activities, may want to talk with your doctor. There may be treatment options that are safe for you and your unborn baby.
Some changes you may not expect during pregnancy include:
1. Nasal problems
The increase in blood flow during pregnancy and hormone changes may affect your nasal tissue. As a result, you may have nosebleeds and nasal congestion. Drink plenty of water throughout your pregnancy and blow your nose gently. Consider using a humidifier at night. Let your doctor know if nosebleeds happen often, are especially bad or last a long time.
2. Skin changes
Many women notice skin changes beyond the typical stretch marks during pregnancy. Most will disappear after delivery. Changes include:
- Itchy, dry abdomen. As your stomach stretches, the skin may become itchy and dry. Use a moisturizer to treat dryness. Let your doctor know if itchiness becomes severe.
- Dark areas. You may develop dark areas on your face. Your existing moles and freckles may also get darker. The darkening is an effect of the hormone changes during pregnancy. The increase in hormones causes your skin’s pigmentation to become darker. Use sunscreen when you go outside. These spots may stay dark after delivery. See your doctor right away if you have any new moles or if a mole changes in any way.
- Acne. The additional hormones may cause your body to produce more oil, which can lead to pimples. Wash your face regularly. Ask your doctor about products that clear breakouts.
- Linea Nigra. This is a dark line that shows up between your belly button and pubic bone. This line may always be present on your skin, but hormones make it appear darker during pregnancy. It will disappear after pregnancy.
- Varicose veins. The pressure your baby puts on your uterus may slow blood flow to the lower half of your body. This may cause the veins in your legs to swell. Varicose veins look like raised veins above the skin. To help prevent them, do not wear socks or stockings that are too tight and elevate your legs and feet regularly.
Your growing baby puts pressure on your stomach and intestines. This pressure, coupled with hormone changes, can lead to heartburn, indigestion and bloating. To prevent these symptoms:
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals
- Don’t eat very spicy, greasy or heavy foods
- Do not lie down right after eating
- Avoid eating or drinking in the few hours before you go to sleep
If you have heartburn, an over-the-counter antacid may help ease discomfort. Talk to your doctor first before you try any medications.
4. Constipation and hemorrhoids
Many pregnant women get constipated. This may happen for a few reasons:
- If you have morning sickness, you may vomit or reduce your fluid intake to relieve symptoms. This causes dehydration, which can lead to constipation.
- Hormones from pregnancy may cause your intestinal muscles to relax. When these muscles relax, food moves through the digestive tract slower.
- Constipation is linked with inactivity. Many women may not be as active as they were before pregnancy.
Stay well hydrated and eat plenty of fiber-rich foods to prevent constipation. Try fruits, vegetables and whole-grain products. Your doctor may suggest a fiber supplement or a stool softener. Do not take any laxatives unless directed by your doctor. Ask your doctor what a good activity level is for you and the baby.
Hemorrhoids are also common during pregnancy. Straining when constipated and the pressure of your unborn baby can cause them. To relieve pain, follow your constipation treatment plan. And keep the area clean. Your doctor may recommend sitz baths.
5. Tingly hands
One out of four pregnant women gets tingly, numb or swollen hands. The extra fluid retention can cause the tissue in your wrists and hands to swell. These symptoms are similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, but few pregnant women actually have this. The symptoms should disappear after delivery. Limit the amount of time spent typing or doing other activities where you use your hands. Talk to your doctor about any tingling or numbness that you might have.