Pregnancy brings with it numerous changes to the body. When women get pregnant, they expect to gain weight, retain water, suffer from morning sickness, and have odd food cravings. These symptoms have been sensationalized, but there are many changes that the body will undergo that are by no means sensational—in fact, some changes can be quite awkward, which makes it hard for newly pregnant mothers to ask their OB-GYN questions. Here is a list of questions that many new mothers find hard to ask their doctors.
WHY AM I HAVING SUCH TROUBLE WITH MY BOWEL MOVEMENTS?
Many expecting mothers have trouble with constipation. This can be attested to the hormones called progesterone that the body releases during pregnancy. It relaxes the intestinal muscles, which in turn causes food to pass slowly through the intestines. Another contributing factor to constipation is the iron in prenatal vitamins. According to the Mayo Clinic, the vitamins are imperative, but there are some ways to help prevent the constipation that accompany them. A diet high in fiber along with lots of water and some doctor approved exercise can help make bowel movements much easier for expectant mothers.
WHY AM I HAVING SUCH AN INCREASE IN DISCHARGE NOW THAT I AM PREGNANT?
Sheryl Ross, an OB-GYN at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, said it best in her interview with Healthline.com when she proclaimed that a women’s vagina takes on a personality of its own when she becomes pregnant. This can easily be seen when it comes to vaginal discharge because it is different in all women. The medical reason for this discharge is because the cervix and vaginal walls are softening, which in turn causes the body to produce additional discharge to preclude infection. Discharge can also be a sign of infection when it appears yellow, green, or grey in color and is accompanied by a foul smell, swelling and itchiness. Even though it may be embarrassing, it is important for expecting mothers to discuss discharge with their OB-GYN.
HOW WILL MY SEX LIFE BE DIFFERENT AFTER I DELIVER THE BABY?
There are many factors that will change a new mother and father’s sex life after their baby is born, from fatigue to low hormones and changes to the mom's body. Physically speaking, the vagina will have changed and undergone trauma, which can cause sex to be painful and less pleasurable. According to WebMD, the reason is because the levels of estrogen in women’s bodies go down and cause their natural lubrication to decrease. The dryness can make sex uncomfortable. Additionally, the vaginal walls stretch during pregnancy, so it can reduce the pleasure that men feel as well. WebMD’s discussion with Elisa Ross, Cleveland Clinic OB-GYN, revealed that regaining muscle tone in the vaginal walls could take time. Kegel exercises can aide in tightening these muscles, and they are especially beneficial to those who had an episiotomy or vaginal tears during delivery.
WHY ARE MY NIPPLES SO ITCHY?
Itchy nipples are a direct result of the breasts preparing themselves for breastfeeding. And for most, the intense itching spells always begin in the most inopportune public places. Luckily, there is a reason as well as some preventative measures expecting moms can take to ease the discomfort. As the breasts grow to prepare for the milk, the skin stretches, and as a result, the nipples stretch. The stretching results in the itchy sensation. As pregnancy progresses, and especially towards the end, the itching can become quite severe. Vitamin E, coca butter, and aloe are all great cures to subside the discomfort, and a few conscious choices with regard to soaps and fabrics can prevent some of the distress. Mild, scent free soaps and a quality nursing bra are well worth the investment for those expecting moms who are suffering from the embarrassment of itching nipples.
IS THERE A WAY TO HELP MY HEMORRHOIDS?
Hemorrhoids during pregnancy go hand in hand with the constipation that expecting mothers experience. These swollen veins around the anus and rectum can be quite painful. One way to treat the hemorrhoids is to treat the constipation. This means drinking plenty of water and eating a diet high in fiber. If the hemorrhoids persist, Roger W. Harms, M.D., recommends a few other remedies in his Q & A session with the Mayo Clinic: soak in warm water, use witch hazel, reduce the extent of sitting. He also explains that expecting mothers should consult their doctors about over the counter medications because they only treat the symptoms, not the condition. While hemorrhoids may seem embarrassing, they are quite common during pregnancy, and it may be necessary to speak with an OB-GYN to ensure that safe treatment options are being applied.
HOW CAN I CONTROL MY GAS?
Like most of the embarrassing side effects of pregnancy, gas too, is caused by the increase of the hormone progesterone. The hormone causes the muscles to relax which makes it harder to control when expecting mothers pass gas. So, passing gas in the most inopportune place is bound to happen, but rest assure, it happens to most. Although it is close to impossible to prevent gas while expecting, there are a few ways to reduce the odds of these embarrassing mishaps. Avoiding foods that cause gas is a great first step. Since everybody’s body is different, expecting mothers should track their diets to see what foods increase their gas. This will give them insight into what foods to avoid. The American Pregnancy Association has found that some foods cause more gas than others, and these include: carbonated beverages and fatty foods. It also recommends eating smaller meals and exercising to stimulate digestion. A healthy diet is imperative to a healthy pregnancy, so make sure to get the right amount of healthy foods regardless of their embarrassing side effects. The health of the baby trumps an awkward moment in public.
Regardless of what awkward changes that a woman’s body undergoes, an OB-GYN has most likely seen it and dealt with it, so newly expecting moms should feel secure enough to ask whatever they want to know. While most of what a woman’s body undergoes during pregnancy is challenging and often times embarrassing, it is an essential part of the circle of life, and therefore, the changes, although disconcerting, are certainly a blessing.