1. It’s not morning sickness. It’s called All-Day Sickness.
I’m not sure why they termed all that discomfort morning sickness (maybe because it’s usually strongest in the morning), because for majority of us girls, the bloating, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, weakness, diarrhea – all those inexplicable gastric disturbances – stay from morning till night. This phenomenon, which usually starts early in the first trimester up to the fourth month, is brought about by the sudden surge of maternal hormones from the placenta. The triggering factors vary for each woman, but usual suspects include strong scents like garlic, smoke and gas, traveling, a sudden change in position and for some, even bright lights.
|Brown chalk. Linea negra spanning the vertical expanse of my torso.
How to dodge it:
– Munch on some ice chips and saltine crackers.
– Take small, frequent meals.
– Move slowly when changing positions.
– The first three didn’t work for me, but taking Metoclopromide thrice daily, as prescribed by my OB, provided me with considerable relief.
2. Your eyes will eventually turn puffy, and it’s not because of insomnia.
As your belly grows, so does your body’s tendency to retain water. As with the other parts of the body like the feet, hands, ankles and face, your eyes will retain water and puff up due to hormonal fluctuations. Mine started looking puffy by the 8th month.
Slight puffiness is different from extreme swelling, of course. If your face, eyes and hands suddenly turn all swollen, and especially if it’s accompanied by visual disturbances, headaches, gastric pain, and an increase in blood pressure, notify your doctor immediately. These may be signs of pre-eclampsia, a life-threatening condition in pregnancy.
3. You will develop dark, uneven pigmentations on your body, regardless if it’s a boy or a girl.
Often, we hear elders making gender guesses on someone’s unborn child just by looking at the mother’s skin. “The darker and uglier the mother gets, the bigger chances it’s a boy.”
I find that to be purely superstition. In general, all pregnant women tend to develop darker tones in specific body areas such as armpits, neck and nape, belly button, areola, the bikini line and buttocks, regardless of their baby’s gender. You may have also noticed linea negra, that brown vertical streak running from above the genitalia to your belly button, sometimes extending up to your breastbone.
Unsightly as it may be, it is also inevitable as your placenta releases darkening hormones. Not to worry, though, as it will gradually lighten after pregnancy.
4. Pregnancy works wonders for your cup size.
…So hold back on that thought about implants!
Towards the end of your first trimester, your breasts will begin to feel sore and tender (and really heavy!), and will grow bigger as time progresses (and I don’t mean just a small percentage!). The rise in the hormone progesterone prepares your breasts for birth, pumping it with additional fluid and fat stores, and filling your glands with milk.
You might have already read about how grotesquely big my feet have become since I turned 32 weeks. Edema or excess fluid accumulates in the extremities particularly in the last trimester mainly because of fluid-retaining hormones and your growing belly, which puts pressure on the vein on the right side of the body that’s responsible for carrying blood from your lower extremities back to the heart. This results to a slow return of blood to the circulation, pooling fluid in your feet and ankles.
The condition tends to worsen as the day progresses and in warm weather (both of which, I found to be true), and in worse cases, may be an impediment to daily activities, turning painful if you stand, squat or walk for an extended period of time.
How to dodge it:
– There are no medications that can relieve the swelling, although elevating your feet up when sitting and sleeping (preferably at or above the level of the heart) helps.
– A low salt, high protein diet (e.g. monggo, meat, 6 egg whites a day) is also recommended.
– If your work requires you to be stationary most of the time, take short hourly breaks to stretch and exercise your feet.
– Sleep on your left side.
6. Arthritic? That’s fluid in your wrists.
Some women would develop a painful syndrome around the wrist and thumbs called, “Pregnancy carpal tunnel syndrome”. You’re lucky if it only affects one wrist. But for soon-to-be moms like me whose left and right wrists are both affected, the condition can be very frustrating, as it impedes day-to-day functions, making it nearly impossible to even carry a pitcher, turn a faucet on or twist the door knob without much pain.
In addition, you may also notice a numbing and tingling sensation in your hands and fingers early in the morning and at night. Both of these conditions are caused by fluid accumulation in your hands, compressing the nerve that runs through that area.
How to dodge it:
– Try to immobilize the affected wrist with a splint, especially at bedtime.
– If your work requires repetitive use of your hands (such as writing, typing or clerical work), try to move them slowly, and avoid twisting or bending them.
– If your symptoms are severe, consult your physician for pain relievers.
7. It’s going to be one emotional rollercoaster ride.
Did you suddenly transform into a huge crybaby when you got pregnant? Does the smallest of things tend to affect you emotionally or make you feel rundown?
It can be explained in the simplest terms:
A boost in female hormones + feelings of becoming a parent = mood swings + increased sensitivity + sudden and embarrassing bouts of crying in the streets
Soak it up, sister. At least you have reason to behave irrationally right now. Haha.
8. Pregnancy makes you prone to warts.
I was horrified when in the middle of the second trimester, I found tiny, brown warts growing in burgeoning ranks all over my neck, upper chest and chin. I found out from many women in the n@w forum that they, too, have experienced the same while pregnant.
I was already contemplating on having them removed, but my OB explained that it’s better to delay the treatment until after I give birth, as pregnancy makes the body conducive for wart growth due to a drop in the immune system. I was assured that it won’t cause any harm to the baby. True enough, the mommies I talked to were advised the same, and they all have healthy breastfed babies!
9. If you haven’t sweat and stank all your life, this time, you will.
Your metabolism speeds up as your body works for two now. Also, the additional hormones leave you with double the sweat and even a strange smell in your pits. Be sure to stock up on some all-natural, parabens-free deodorant like Human Nature’s (sadly, good old tawas doesn’t work for me anymore) and always wear comfortable, sheer, cottony clothes.
10. Your gums will bleed when you brush.
Often, people would tell me “You’re eating for two now”, as they shove more carbs to my plate. While you may already have a growing peanut inside you, it is not true that your body needs to feed twice than you’ve been eating pre-pregnancy.
In fact, during the first trimester, there’s no need for you to increase your daily food intake. During the second trimester, you only need 300 extra calories, and up to 450 during the third trimester. Packing on excessive calories is not only deleterious to you, but also to your baby. Overweight babies are more prone to stress, diabetes and heart problems.
How do you know if you’re achieving the appropriate weight gain for pregnancy? During the first trimester, you should only gain about 2-4 pounds, and 1 pound each week for the remainder of the pregnancy. In total, that should be 25-35 pounds for women of average weight pre-pregnancy, 28-40 pounds for those who used to be underweight, and about 35-45 pounds for overweight ones.
12. Forgetful? Me, too.
Strangely enough, when I got pregnant, my usually-reliable memory turned rusty, and I began to forget things all the time. Studies on this strange phenomenon are still inconclusive, although more and more women report absent-mindedness and forgetfulness once they become pregnant. We can’t say for sure what causes such, but hey, take it lightly on yourself. It’s not your fault.
13. P is for peeing in all places.
As early as the 6th week of pregnancy, you’d notice an increased need to urinate, especially during the night when fluid from your lower limbs come back up to the circulation (I, for one, am awakened 3-4 times during the night by that urge). It’s not even uncommon for you to wet your underwear when you cough or sneeze during the last months into your pregnancy.
Again, hormones are the culprit, increasing blood flow to your kidneys. In addition, blood increases by up to 50% in your body to accommodate your growing child’s needs, which places more fluids in your kidneys. It also doesn’t help that your growing uterus presses on your bladder.
How to dodge it:
– Avoid diuretic drinks, or those that increase urination including coffee, soda, and tea.
– Drink plenty of water throughout the day but reduce consumption before bedtime.
14. You won’t love being pregnant all the time, but you also won’t be able to stop thinking about someone 3,999,999 times a day.
Pregnancy isn’t always a pleasant journey. In fact, there would be times (most probably in the first tri) when you’d ask yourself, “Why da heck did I get pregnant, anyway?” It’s not something you should feel guilty about. Because despite all the pain and unpleasant things pregnancy brings, the fact that you’re willingly submitting yourself to those and sidetracking yourself in the name of that little seed, is enough to let him know how much he means to you.