The miracle of life is exactly that — a miracle. Whether planned or unplanned, there is something beautiful in giving life to something new. A woman’s body is spectacular in this sense, with being able to conceive, carry and birth a baby. Nothing else compares to this biological wonder. As a new father, this is something I can say with certainty.
And while it is truly a wonderful, biological process, there are plenty of not so wonderful changes and symptoms that occur during the nine (long) months of pregnancy. The body undergoes plenty of changes, leading to plenty of common symptoms that can make your day-to-day a bit different than before your pregnancy. The good news is, there are plenty of clever women who have gone through the process before and learned a thing or two on how to deal with these symptoms and push on through the nine months.
Pregnancy can be broken down into three phases called trimesters. Each trimester comes with different developmental stages. The first trimester, which is the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, is when all the major systems and organs of the baby are developed. The second trimester, which is weeks 12 to 24, is when the fetus has completed the development of its organs and major systems and begins growing in weight and size. The third trimester, which is weeks 24–40, is when the fetus continues to grow and the body systems complete maturing. The mother, as well as the baby, is getting ready for the delivery of the child.
With each of the developmental milestones that occur throughout each trimester, there are pregnancy symptoms that also occur in conjunction. More often than not, they are not things to worry about, as they are your body’s natural reactions to the hormonal changes.
According to an article on whattoexpect.com, some common pregnancy symptoms that occur in the first trimester are morning sickness, fatigue, heightened sensitivity to smell and food aversions and cravings.
Morning sickness is a wide-known symptom of pregnancy, but it does not always result in vomiting. Some women will experience nausea plus vomiting, some only nausea and others will experience neither. Regardless, morning sickness can be attributed to the body’s changes in hormones, especially estrogen levels. Eating small, frequent meals without a lot of greasy and/or fatty foods, plus drinking plenty of water can help in dealing with morning sickness. Prenatal vitamins are also important during this early stage of pregnancy.
Fatigue is another big symptom during the first trimester. The amount of energy it takes to produce a baby and placenta and deal with all the changes in hormones and your metabolism is quite high, which leads to fatigue. A balanced, healthy diet and some extra sleep can help curb the fatigue.
A heightened sensitivity to smell sounds cool at first — like a comic book superhero superpower. Unfortunately, it is a bit different when it comes to pregnancy. Pregnancy hormones increase sensitivity to smell, which can lead to overwhelming smells from anything to everything around you. It is said that scents like lemon and ginger can help keep you at ease.
One last common symptom during the first trimester is food aversions and/or cravings. When it comes down to it you might end up with a mighty strong craving for a certain food or you might be disgusted at the sight of even your favorite snack. It is important to try not to indulge too much when it comes to your cravings and simply avoid foods you cannot stomach when it comes to your aversions.
Moving into the second trimester, more symptoms develop. Common symptoms at this point can be pregnancy brain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and increased energy and appetite.
Pregnancy brain is just another term for forgetting things or having a brain fart. It can happen because of a lack of sleep or simply because of pregnancy-induced changes in the brain. Regardless, simply utilize notes and other reminders to make sure you do not miss a thing outside of your pregnancy.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a very common symptom of pregnancy and is more likely to begin or worsen during the second trimester, according to an article on babycenter.com. It is caused by fluid retention that causes swelling and increases pressure on the carpal tunnel.
Dealing with carpal tunnel can be something simple like adjusting how you sleep or by just identifying the activities you do that cause or aggravate your carpal tunnel. Yoga has also been known to help with the pain. It is also important to note that if your carpal tunnel symptoms persist after the baby is born you should contact your healthcare provider for what steps should be taken.
In contrast to the first trimester, you will be experiencing an increase in energy as well as appetite. The energy comes from your body finally growing accustomed to the pregnancy and the appetite is because you are eating for two. Still, you do not need to overeat when it comes to your increased appetite — a few hundred more calories will take care of the new life you are carrying.
With the third and final trimester comes the return of fatigue as well as symptoms like frequent urination, shortness of breath and achiness in the lower abdomen.
Frequent urination occurs due to your baby bump putting pressure on the bladder. Simply leaning forward while urinating will help completely empty the bladder and avoiding caffeine can help with the frequency of urination.
Shortness of breath comes with the fact you are bringing oxygen to your baby while your respiratory tract muscles are relaxing. This leads to a shortness of breath. Give your lungs more room to breathe by sitting up straight and do not overdo it with exercise or physical activity.
Achiness in the lower abdomen is nothing to be concerned about. It occurs because of your expanding uterus and you will feel it more when you laugh, sneeze or change positions. Wearing a belly band can help with the achiness in the lower abdomen.
Outside of the symptoms related to each trimester, there are pregnancy symptoms that are common throughout the whole pregnancy. Things like bloating and gas, constipation, trouble sleeping and breast tenderness can also occur. Keep in mind that each pregnancy is different and you may experience all, some or none of the aforementioned symptoms. Be sure to have an open dialogue with your doctor throughout and following your pregnancy.
And remember, the miracle of life is a beautiful thing. There are plenty of moments that will far outweigh the pain and discomfort that comes with pregnancy symptoms. A beautiful, new life is well worth it.