Ten Things Your Mother Never Told You About Being Pregnant
NEW YORK (JUNE 23, 2003) - While mothers and grandmothers are quick
with advice about everything from baby names to where, when and how often a
newborn should sleep, a new survey reveals that the majority of pregnant women
wish their mothers had told them more about what to expect when they are pregnant.
According to a recent survey by the makers
of Dulcolax, a safe and gentle stimulant laxative product line for constipation,
nearly two in ten women who are currently pregnant say they wish someone had
told them more about being overly tired (18%) and having constipation (17%)
before their pregnancy. Other issues they would have liked more information
about include incontinence, morning sickness, strange cravings, and weight gain.
"Women who are pregnant with their first child don't necessarily know what
to expect in terms of the symptoms they may experience - including ones that
are as common as constipation," observed Donnica Moore, MD a leading women's
health expert, TV personality and columnist. "That's why I'm encouraging more
openness and discussion about this very common pregnancy symptom."
But just how prevalent are certain symptoms such as constipation among pregnant
women? According to the Dulcolax "Break the Silence" survey, pregnant women
are more likely to report suffering from constipation than women who are not
pregnant. In fact, 60 percent of pregnant women surveyed say they are suffering
from constipation during their pregnancy, compared to only 37% who say they
have not experienced this condition. What's more, pregnant women are also more
likely to experience constipation more frequently. Sixty-four percent of those
pregnant women who report experiencing constipation say they are suffering from
it at least once or twice a month - including 44% who are experiencing constipation
once a week or more. Just 33% are experiencing constipation infrequently or
less than once a month.
"Mum's the Word" Among Moms To Be
But just because they experience symptoms like constipation doesn't mean pregnant
women are comfortable talking about it. Compared to other pregnancy-related
health issues, constipation is one of the most uncomfortable topics for
women who are pregnant or who have experienced pregnancy - right up there with
incontinence. Nearly 30 percent of women say they are very or somewhat uncomfortable
talking about constipation, followed by 27 percent who say they are uncomfortable
talking about incontinence. Other common symptoms women would prefer not to
discuss include weight gain (7%); morning sickness (4%); strange cravings (3%)
and being overly tired (2%).
"Pregnant women need to feel more comfortable talking about the symptoms they
are experiencing - with their doctors or even a friend or family member," notes
Dr. Donnica. "Knowledge is power. The more you know, the better off you are."
Dr. Donnica also adds that it is particularly important to mention these symptoms
to your doctor in case they are signs of a more serious condition and not "just"
a normal symptom of pregnancy.
What to Expect - Common Pregnancy Symptoms Revealed
According to Dr. Donnica, other common, yet often not discussed, pregnancy
symptoms may include:
- Pregnancy gingivitis. Ever wonder why your gums bleed more when
you're pregnant? Experts say it's because pregnancy exaggerates the body's
normal response to dental plaque. As a result, excessive plaque build-up
often leads to bright red, tender, swollen, sensitive gums that may bleed
- Backaches. It's the law of physics, sort of. As your abdomen grows,
so does the pressure on your back. It's common to experience backache after
walking, bending, lifting, standing or excessive exercise.
- Leg Cramps: While they can happen any time, leg cramps seem to
strike most often at night - usually when you're trying to get some much needed
sleep. You'll know it when you get one - it's that pain in your calf that
often causes your foot to point - or spasm - involuntarily.
- Skin Problems: Not everyone is blessed with a pregnant
glow. For some women the increased secretion of oils wreaks havoc with their
complexions, causing breakouts not seen since junior high.
- Sciatic-Nerve Pain: Located behind the uterus, in the pelvic area,
the sciatic nerve runs down into the leg. Sciatic nerve pain is an often
sharp (some would even say memorable!) pain felt in the buttocks and down
the back or side of either leg. It tends to occur more frequently the further
along your pregnancy gets.
- Heartburn & Indigestion: Gastrointesinal
discomfort such as heartburn and indigestion will most likely haunt you throughout
your pregnancy. The cause is usually the same as it is when you're not pregnant
- overindulgence., although now you have far less room for expansion.
- Shortness of Breath: As the baby grows, your uterus pushes your
stomach and other organs upward and reduces the room your lungs and diaphragm
have for breathing. Women are most likely to experience shortness of breath
during their last trimester, especially in the hot summer months.
- Early Contractions: Called "Braxton Hicks" contractions, they often
feel as though the uterus is bunching up and hardening. Braxton Hicks contractions
typically begin sometime after the 20th week of pregnancy and are
the body's way of "rehearsing" for labor. Braxton Hicks contractions are
very common, but Dr. Donnica recommends that women talk to their doctor when
they begin: sometimes they can be a sign of preterm labor and it may be tough
to tell the difference.
- Swelling/Edema: Doctors say that blood volume increases as much
as 40 percent during pregnancy, which means that your circulatory system is
working harder than usual. The increase in blood volume sometimes slows down
your circulation, so a certain amount of swelling is normal in late pregnancy.
This should be monitored at each prenatal visit, however, because more than
a little swelling may be an indication that something more serious is wrong.
- Hemorrhoids: The increase in blood volume can also lead to varicose
or enlarged veins. Hemorrhoids are simply varicose veins in the rectum, which
may appear as small bulges at the edge of the rectal opening, or they may
be internal. They can hurt and may bleed when you have a bowel movement,
especially if you are constipated.
Created: 7/18/2003  - Donnica Moore, M.D.