Nobody Told Me: 4 Unpleasant Body Changes During Pregnancy
Something happened to me during pregnancy that I was completely unprepared to face. I haven't talked about it for three months, but maybe part of the healing process is discussing it, so here I go: I had a hemorrhoid.
OK, OK. I know there are far worse things a person can experience, but this one threw me for a loop. Hemorrhoids are only one of many uncool things that happen to your body while you're growing a child. I had no idea what it was at first, but after some careful research with my most trusted advisor (thank you Dr. Google), I self-diagnosed and told my husband.
“Babe, I have something to tell you. It's super gross.”
“More gross than all the blood?”
“Yeah, like, 1000% more gross.”
It always gets me how much moms-to-be and experienced moms talk about the basics of pregnancy: having to pee all day, or back pain, or the burning sensation as you push your baby out, but no one ever told me about hemorrhoids. I guess it's not one of those things that you bring up in polite conversation over a cup of coffee. Still, I could have used a heads up.
I'm here to warn moms-to-be — those newbies who have yet to experience the joys of pregnancy–about four unpleasant things that will likely happen to your body during pregnancy. Here's your heads up.
Let's get this out of the way first. You–yes, you–can get hemorrhoids, even if you give birth via c-section. Up to 50% of all pregnant women experience pregnancy or post-partum hemorrhoids, which are actually varicose veins in the rectum. They resemble marbles or grapes and are caused by increased blood flow and pressure in the uterus that leads to swelling and bulging in the rectal wall. Constipation during pregnancy can exacerbate hemorrhoids, as can pushing during labor and irregularity after birth. They range from itchy and uncomfortable to incredibly painful. Luckily, hemorrhoids aren't especially dangerous or harmful and often go away on their own. Staying regular, drinking lots of water, refraining from sitting or standing for long periods, and sleeping on your side can all help alleviate pain and help hemorrhoids disappear faster.
Me and constipation weren't exactly strangers before my pregnancies, but during them, constipation just moved in and made itself comfortable. It's an incredibly common pregnancy concern, with as many as half of pregnant women complaining of it at some point. Experts say one of the biggest factors is the increase of progesterone, a hormone that relaxes the digestive tract so food moves much more slowly. Another factor is the high level of iron found in many prenatal supplements. Constipation during pregnancy can be reoccuring, so prevention is key. Eat high-fiber foods like brown rice, whole-grain cereal, and lots of fresh fruits and veggies. Drink lots and lots of water and get plenty of exercise to keep your body moving. Also, never delay the urge to go; listen to your body.
Gosh, I hate snoring. I don't like to hear it beside me in bed (thank you, hubby), and I certainly don't like it when I snore. If I had a nickel for every time I woke myself up snoring, I'd be a thousand-aire. Snoring isn't something that's widely reported during pregnancy, but it can indicate issues, as studies have linked snoring several times a week with a higher c-section rate and babies with lower birth rates. If you're snoring often it's worth mentioning to your doctor.
The culprit for snoring during pregnancy is most likely the increased blood in your body, which causes swelling in nasal membranes. Also, estrogen levels can cause you to produce more mucus in your nasal passages, and any extra weight can shrink the passages in your throat. Most pregnancy-related snoring cases resolve soon after birth. Use drug-free breathing strips on your nose and sleep on your side instead of your back to help prevent snoring.
No, there is nothing wrong with you. Your underwear is soaked, and it's not because you didn't get to the bathroom in time. Leukorrhea, the normal discharge you had before you were pregnant, increases due to increased estrogen production and increased blood flow to the pelvis. As you approach your due date, you'll see even more of this normal discharge in your underwear. Although, as you begin to dilate, this could be part of your mucus plug (especially if the consistency looks like egg white or is tinged with blood.) Although increased discharge is normal, keep a very close eye on it. If you notice any burning, itching, or foul smell, you could have bacterial vaginosis (a bacterial infection) or trichomoniasis (a sexually transmitted disease.) If you're less than 37 weeks along and see blood-tinged mucus, call your doctor.
Did you discover any unpleasant body changes during your pregnancy?