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Pregnancy Symptoms - What To Expect??

Pregnancy is a very exciting time; however, it can also be frightening, overwhelming, and uncomfortable.  Almost all women will experience at least one pregnancy symptom over the course of their nine month gestations.  Some of these symptoms are quite common, while others are uncommon and less widely known as pregnancy symptoms.

The most common pregnancy symptoms include:

  • missed periods (this one is universal although some women will have bleeding during pregnancy.  It is not technically a period if it is not the result of unfertilized ovulation).
  • mild abdominal cramping
  • increased vaginal discharge
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • tender or sensitive breasts
  • mood swings or emotional lability
  • fatigue or sleepiness
  • food aversions or cravings
  • heartburn
  • back pain/discomfort

However, there are several additional symptoms that are more unusual and less often associated with pregnancy, though not actually that uncommon.  Pregnancy symptoms, both usual and unusual, are typically related to either the changing hormone levels or the expanding waistline, and these are no exception: 

  • Spider Veins: blood volume expands during pregnancy, which can result in swelling of small blood vessels, making them stand out more against the skin.  Although many women do not like their appearance, they are not actually dangerous.
  • Increased Facial Hair: increased levels of estrogen prolong the growth phase.  This causes hair (on your head, on your body, and on your face) as well as your nails and your baby to grow at a faster rate.
  • Increased Skin Pigmentation: hormonal changes in pregnancy trigger a temporary increase in melanin.  The increased pigmentation is often most noticeable as blotchy areas on the face, areas that are prone to friction like the axilla (armpit), and areas that are already pigmented like moles and freckles.
  • Nasal Congestion: increased estrogen causes swelling of mucous membranes and can even increase mucus production.  Additionally, the increased blood volume that occurs in pregnancy can cause swelling of the small blood vessels in the nose, resulting in additional congestion.  Nasal congestion or runny nose during pregnancy in the absence of infection or allergies is called rhinitis of pregnancy.
  • Metallic Taste: often worse in the first trimester and thought to be caused by an increase in estrogen.  However, some pre-natal vitamins can also contribute.  Do not stop taking your pre-natal vitamin unless your doctor says it’s okay.
  • Increased Saliva: hormones are thought to play a role.  However, it is more common in women with heartburn or vomiting.  Heartburn and vomiting are both common pregnancy symptoms that result in acidic material irritating the esophagus.  Saliva contains a high level of bicarbonate, so more may be produced to neutralize the acid.
  • Flatulence (gas): higher levels of progesterone in pregnancy cause digestion to slow, which can lead to constipation and also allows for air to accumulate in the colon causing gas.

Whether your pregnancy symptoms are on the common/standard fair list or are of the more unusual variety, they are more likely to be uncomfortable and annoying than actually dangerous or harmful.  However, if you are worried about any symptom, it is always a good idea to discuss it with your doctor.

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