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Common Symptoms Of Pregnancy That Aren't Commonly Discussed

When it comes to symptoms of pregnancy, women hear a lot about weight gain, morning sickness, and sleep disturbances but not a lot else.† Pregnancy symptoms include a whole host of other conditions affecting nearly every part of your body and nearly every part of your life.† Here are just a few of the less commonly discussed symptoms.† If you are experiencing any of these, be sure to mention them to your doctor at your next prenatal visit just in case they may be early warning signs of a more serious complication.

  • 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 easily.
  • Backaches:† These are related to abdominal growth and the change of your body's position.† It's common to experience backache after walking, bending, lifting, standing or excessive exercise.
  • Leg Cramps:† While they can happen at 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.† If these pains are associated with heat or tenderness, contact your doctor immediately, as it could be a more serious problem.
  • 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 severely sharp 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:† Gastrointestinal discomfort such as heartburn and indigestion may 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 you should mention them to your doctor when they begin.† Sometimes they can be a sign of preterm labor and it may be tough to tell the difference.†
  • Swelling/Edema:† 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, especially if your blood pressure is also increasing.
  • 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: 8/13/2003  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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