When you first learn that you’re pregnant, you’ve probably had enough experience being around pregnant women in your family or seen them around that you know what’s coming. Mood swings, stretch marks, bizarre cravings, and let’s not forget, the pain of childbirth.
Now you can read every book there is but to be honest, while there are certain symptoms all pregnant women experience, how they react to those symptoms and how exactly those symptoms may manifest themselves are uniquely individual. One pregnant woman might crave pickles, while they make another pregnant woman nauseous.
There are some things that you may experience that another pregnant woman may not, and there are some changes you never see coming.
Navigating Change, Understanding the Future
Let’s start with some of the more common changes. Now you may know to expect these changes, but you may not be aware of why they occur. You know that as your pregnancy progresses, you’ll seem to be running to the bathroom to urinate more frequently. This is because, as your baby grows, it’s obviously taking up room inside of you and pressing down on your bladder. But you may not know that your bladder is not the only thing pushed aside to make room for your baby. All your internal organs are shifted from their normal position, including your heart, your lungs, and your kidneys.
The volume of blood in your body goes up because you have to supply more nutrients to your baby and because of this your heart rate goes up. Some women claim that they can feel their hearts beating more strongly when they are pregnant.
Because of your baby pushing against organs like your lungs beneath the rib cage, you may find yourself short of breath more often, especially in your last trimester.
You probably expect your breasts to get bigger, but you may not be ready for the blue veins that run just underneath the skin of your breasts to become more visible. You hear that your nipples will become darker but also be prepared to see little raised bumps that are glands that will produce oil that will help moisturize your skin as you breastfeed. Don’t be afraid if you see your breasts leak on occasion. At about sixteen weeks, the glands in your breasts will begin to produce food for your baby in preparation for breastfeeding and, throughout your pregnancy, some of it may leak out.
More Unexpected Changes
You’ll develop the ‘baby waddle:' the amusing walk common to all pregnant women is caused by more than just the heavy weight of your baby. The forward growth of your belly changes your center of gravity.
You may have never heard of it but a condition called Leukorrhea is extremely common among pregnant woman. The reason you’ve never heard of it is that most women are too embarrassed to discuss it, which is saying something, considering that when pregnant women get together, it seems they discuss every single symptom they have. Leukorrhea is an excessive vaginal discharge that occurs in all women in varying degrees. Some have enough discharge that they may think they are leaking amniotic fluid. The amount of discharge usually increases as the months go by and some women choose to wear panty liners.
On the emotional side, you expect there to be mood swings. Don’t try and ignore them, hoping they’ll go away eventually. You need to allow yourself to feel the myriad of emotions caused by both hormones and your own feelings about becoming a mother. Make sure you talk to other women in your family and your friends whenever you need a shoulder to cry on. Keep in mind, however, that your partner may also be feeling the emotional upheaval as well. This should be a happy time for the two of you but if you don’t communicate your fears and doubts about the new life you will be welcoming soon, don’t be surprised to find an increase in arguments between the two of you.
If you have other children, you may find them acting up more than usual… particularly whenever you mention the baby. They’re afraid they’ll be replaced in your affections. Make sure to spend some time with them that’s ‘baby-talk’ free as well as show them ways in which they will be included and important to the new baby’s life.
Your sex life will definitely change. Sometimes your sex drive will increase. Sometimes you’ll have no sexual desire at all. It depends on where you are in your pregnancy. Many women experience an increase in desire around the fourth month of pregnancy. Your nerves are more highly sensitized, especially your breasts. Because of increased blood flow to the genitals, you may find you reach orgasm much quicker. But you might be surprised to find that your partner might suddenly lose his sexual desire for you. He suddenly sees you as a ‘mother’ and in his mind, lumping you in the same category as his own mother, a boundary goes up that will take time to get past. It also may be disconcerting to him to engage in sex while his child is ‘in there’. Be patient but make sure to communicate that your relationship needs intimacy if it’s going to stay strong. Towards the end of your pregnancy, you will be uncomfortable and that will certainly affect your sex drive, but you may also experience an increased resentment of your partner for ‘doing this to you’ which will certainly make you feel less than amorous towards him.
As your body changes, it may become as foreign to you as the new life you’re carrying. Keep a support system of family and friends close by to help you through these new waters and don’t forget to ask your doctor for information about anything you don’t understand. That’s what he or she is there for.