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
- 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
- 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.