The two scariest pregnancies are often your first – and your second. You really don’t know what the heck is normal or not the first time around. Then, the second pregnancy can be so different than the first that you can’t tell what’s normal or not in that one either. The rule of thumb is always, “When in doubt, call your OB/GYN or your midwife” to find out whether or not you should be concerned.
You never want to let a potentially harmful situation get worse. That being said, the majority of the time, the little hiccups and discomforts experienced here and there are completely normal and are rarely a cause for concern.
Here are some of the typical questions we get from mothers regarding what’s normal and what’s not during their pregnancies.
Bleeding. This is one of the scariest things a woman can experience during pregnancy. In fact, from the minute a woman finds out she’s pregnant, any hint of moisture in the nether-regions can send her high tailing it to the bathroom for a panty check. The good news about bleeding is that it’s pretty darn common in small doses. As many as 40% of women experience minimal vaginal bleeding during their first trimester. This can happen for a variety of reasons including implantation, sexual intercourse, an internal exam by a doctor or midwife and hormonal changes.
After the first trimester, bleeding is less common. In either case, we recommend you call your doctor’s office and describe what you see and experience so she can advise you accordingly. While bleeding is usually minor and does not indicate a medical emergency, you want to err on the side of caution.
General bathroom issues. Oh, my. Pregnancy does a number on all of the organs related to….well…all of the organs. Your heart has to pump more blood and your lungs can get squashed up there during your 3rd trimester. Look at a picture of the internal view of a 3rd trimester pregnancy and it’s not hard to see why frequent urination, stomach upset, gas, constipation, hemorrhoids, etc., are such a common occurrence. Quite frankly, it’s amazing that anything can work at all in this stage of the game.
In addition to anatomical changes, your hormones are doing a number on the inner-workings of your body, which further complicates things. The best thing you can do is drink plenty of water, eat a diet high in fiber, especially from fresh veggies and fruits, and rest when your body tells you to. Over-the-counter hemorrhoid cream should provide some relief as well. If things seem to be excessively uncomfortable, make an appointment to speak to your doctor.
Swelling. As mentioned above, significant hormonal and anatomical changes means business is decidedly not as usual, and circulation is one of the things that is affected. A pregnant woman’s body retains more fluids than normal and the bigger she gets – and the more weight she carries – the more things tend to get puffy. Drinking water is incredibly important, even if your retaining water, in order to keep the toxins flushed out of your system. Put your legs up as much as possible and keep your salt intake to the recommended doses. If swelling is prolonged and doesn’t seem to dissipate, it has migrated to your fingers and face or you are experiencing other physical discomfort such as headaches, go in and have things checked out. This can be a sign of pre-eclampsia, which can become serious if it isn’t addressed immediately.
Contractions. Giving birth is a big job, and your body spends about nine full months preparing for it. In addition to loosening the ligaments and joints – especially in your pelvic area – your body also starts doing “practice” contractions. These have been named “Braxton-Hicks” contractions and are NOT the official start of labor. Braxton-Hicks can be quite powerful sometimes but there are things that set them apart from the real deal such as:
- They usually slow down and stop altogether once you’re laying down and resting.
- They do not occur at totally regular intervals, nor do they continue to increase in strength or duration (becoming longer, stronger, and closer together) the same way regular contractions do.
- Your cervix will not respond to the contractions.
These contractions can begin as early as 5 months. By the time you’re nearing your due date, they can be surprisingly strong and occur fairly regularly. However, if you experience more than 4 in the same hour, they are accompanied by a sensation similar to menstrual cramping or lower back pain, your water breaks (or seems to be leaking) or you notice “bloody show,” call your healthcare provider.
Looking for a OB/GYN who provides tender loving prenatal care and will patiently guide you through your own “what’s normal and what’s not during pregnancy” questions? Give Overlake OB/GYN a call. (425) 454-3366.