Most expectant moms spring for new undies: not sexy ones, but practical “granny panties.” They not only accommodate a growing belly, but they can also be good throwaways considering all the unexpected things that are going on down below during pregnancy.
It’s the little things that really get us worked up. Things like a weird discharge, a spot of blood, a wet pair of underwear or an annoying itch that just won’t go away. These little things create big worries for a lot of mothers and are the source of many emails I receive from women all over the world. Let’s tick these off our TMI (Too Much Information) list one at a time:
Every week, a few women email to ask if their early-pregnancy spotting or discharge means they’re going to miscarry. They’re terrified and looking for reassurance and a guarantee that everything will be OK with their pregnancies. I have plenty of reassurance to offer and I wish I could offer that guarantee, but the best I can do is tell my readers that probably, everything will be OK.
Early in her pregnancy, Deborah Johnson (not her real name) started having on-and-off light bleeding. “At first I was really freaked out,” she recalls. “My immediate reaction was, ‘Oh, this can’t be good.’ ”
She called her doctor, who was concerned but calm. “She said she was going to play it safe by giving me progesterone, but that if the baby wasn’t meant to be, no amount of progesterone was going to make a difference,” Johnson says. Though the spotting continued throughout her entire first trimester, Johnson gave birth to a healthy baby boy six months later.
One minute, the sight of your partner makes you want to put him out with the weekly garbage; the next, you might want to play a couple of rounds of naked Twister. Par for the course during pregnancy.
See, as your estrogen and progesterone levels rise, they cause changes in your body that boost libido. Estrogen in particular, which serves such pregnancy-related functions as boosting blood flow to your uterus (and to your entire pelvis), also increases vaginal lubrication and heightens sensitivity in your breasts and nipples.
It’s not pretty, but it is very important and serves as grist for lore and ritual the world over: Some cultures bury it, some consider it the baby’s sibling, some even eat it. Not only is the placenta the trading post between the mother’s and the baby’s blood supply, at around week 12 it takes over the production of hormones needed to sustain the pregnancy. And recent research found that its structure may even determine the length of a pregnancy.
Although the placenta usually functions flawlessly, occasionally a problem arises:
Six weeks into her second pregnancy, Kim Schuler Heinrichs thought all was lost. After learning she was pregnant, Schuler, now a mother of three in Allentown, Pa., started bleeding and cramping. "My husband and I were sure we were losing the baby," she says, "but soon the doctor found a heartbeat." A trouble-free seven months later, Schuler gave birth to a healthy girl.
1. You’re losing steam in the middle of the day. Sleepless nights are affecting your daytime performance and causing you to be sluggish, grouchy or forgetful. Plus, you find yourself stressing about all the neglected preparations waiting for you at home.
2. Sitting and standing are uncomfortable. Backaches, swollen legs and feet, and breathlessness are signs that you need more horizontal time, especially if your job requires spending a lot of time on your feet.
I’ve been deluged with reader questions lately that all share one thing. They all ask: Can you tell me if I’m OK? I’ve gotten questions about breastfeeding, stomach pain, spotting, missed periods, cramps, discharge and many other subjects. Readers range from “not sure they’re pregnant” to somewhere near the end of their pregnancy. They’re all confused about a symptom, feeling or piece of information they’ve picked up somewhere and just want me to tell them: You’re OK.
Readers are thinking about sex and stuff this week. No surprise there. It's cold outside and no one can afford any outside entertainment so...whatcha gonna do? I got two emails from ladies who are still early in their pregnancies and had a little bleeding and brownish, gunky discharge after sex. Neither one had cramps and both felt fine otherwise but, obviously, bleeding's a worrisome thing.
Let's talk about cramps. You thought you'd leave those suckers behind for nine months once you got pregnant. You figured you'd have a bunch of big whoppers when you went into labor but other than that, you'd be cramp-free. Along with no period, isn't that supposed to be one of the perks of pregnancy? But then you notice some twinges. A little aching that comes and goes. Maybe you're just a few weeks along and worried there's a miscarriage coming. Maybe you're in your second trimester and worried it's preterm labor.
Kelli wrote this week, very upset and having an all-around tough time of it. She apparently had a normal period in August but only a speck of spotting in early September. She's having abdominal pain, cramping and urinary frequency. She's taken a few pregnancy tests and they've all been negative. Smart girl that she is, Kelli saw her doctor who told her she isn't pregnant but has a urinary tract infection (UTI); commonly called a bladder infection. Yuck, I hate those things.
I've gotten quite a few emails lately with questions about miscarriage and first trimester bleeding. Nadine had an early miscarriage recently and was advised to wait three months before trying again. Amber had her first OB appointment and was told she wasn't nine weeks along as she thought but six weeks. Her placenta was big and there was no heartbeat. Kerri recently had her first prenatal appointment and reported a little spotting but didn't get any response or advice from her doctor.