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What You May Not Expect When You're Expecting

Thursday, September 27, 2018 8:49 AM

Being pregnant is a special experience; it can even be overwhelming when learning about how your body changes. There are a lot of books to understand what to expect when you’re expecting. However, every pregnancy is unique and you may experience things that aren’t discussed frequently. You may be unsure if it’s normal or if everything is okay.

Pregnant Woman

Carl Buccellato, MD, Obstetrics & Gynecology at NorthShore, discusses five symptoms that you may not expect when you’re expecting:

Urinary Incontinence

Frequently urinating may have turned into urinary incontinence or the leaking of urine. This is common during pregnancy, especially when you sneeze, laugh or cough. About 40% of pregnant women experience urinary incontinence. Hormonal changes, especially fluctuating levels of Relaxin and Progesterone, are mainly to blame.

Here are a few things that may help lessen the urinary incontinence:

  • Do your Kegel exercises, and understand the benefits of them.
  • Avoid coffee, citrus, tomatoes, soft drinks and alcohol. These can irritate your bladder and make it harder to control those leaks.
  • Continue drinking at least 12 to 13 glasses of fluids every day. If you cut back on water it only makes you vulnerable to dehydration and urinary tract infections.

Excessive Salivation

If your mouth is filling up with more saliva than usual, it is probably happening early in your pregnancy. This is the body’s way of protecting your mouth, teeth and throat from the corrosive effects of stomach acid that comes with morning sickness. Experts aren’t sure what causes excess saliva but they would say the main cause is pregnancy hormones.

You may not be able to get the excess saliva to evaporate but you can try a few different remedies such as:

  • Chewing on ice
  • Using minty mouthwash
  • Brushing your teeth often
  • Chewing sugarless gum

Hot Stuff: Excess Sweat

Up to 35% of pregnant women do have hot flashes during pregnancy. Excess sweat is a completely normal symptom of pregnancy. You will probably feel extra hot during the first and third trimester and even postpartum. What causes excess sweating during those times? Pregnancy hormones are the main cause. Another cause could be weight gain, so try to keep your pregnancy pounds to what your practitioner recommends.

There is no solution to stop the sweating but there are some ways to feel more comfortable:

  • Stay hydrated
  • Be in a cool air conditioned environment
  • Wear loose and light clothing
  • Carry a hand held fan
  • Avoid hot drinks and spicy foods

Edema (Foot growth-fluid retention)

Edema affects about three quarters of pregnant women around week 22 to week 27. Body fluids increase to nurture both you and your baby, and accumulate in your tissues as a result of increased blood flow and pressure of your growing uterus on the pelvic veins. This results in swollen ankles and feet. In addition to edema, the rest of your ligaments are loosening because of the hormone Relaxin, allowing your bones to spread out. This causes your feet to grow and they may permanently stay up to a full shoe size larger.

Here are some tips to lessen the swelling:

  • Avoid long periods of standing or sitting
  • Kick up your feet
  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Drink lots of water
  • Limit the salt

“Linea Nigra”

This is Latin for the “black line” that appears on the middle of your stomach. It is actually always there but it gets darker when you’re expecting. Pregnancy hormones are behind the appearance of this line. The line is likely to be more pronounced if you have darker skin. Also the skin all over your body becomes hyperpigmented, or darkened during pregnancy.

How to make the linea nigra less pronounced:

  • Try not to tan because it can intensify skin discoloration during pregnancy- so use sunscreen and keep your stomach covered up as much as possible.
  • Folic acid deficiency can be related to hyperpigmentation. Eat a healthy diet with plenty of folate from green leafy vegetables, fruits and whole grains.