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The Truth About Pregnancy Symptoms

Page Updated on November 24, 2007

Some women say that pregnancy was the happiest time of their life. They loved it. They would do it a hundred times. I think these women are crazy.

I loved the idea of being pregnant, growing a human inside of my body, feeling my baby grow, kick, stretch, turn, jump when startled, and hiccup. I was creating a life, a child, a person, possibly even a future world leader or famous artist. It was miraculous and sometimes unbelievable. Pregnancy itself, however, wasn't as much fun.

The Pregnancy Books

When I discovered that I was pregnant I read all of the pregnancy books and thought that I knew exactly what to expect. After all, I'm one of those people who likes to be prepared for everything, so I researched the subject thoroughly. What I learned from my own experiences as well as from my friends was that most pregnancy books do little to convey the truth about pregnancy symptoms. Here are some things to keep in mind when reading those pregnancy books:

The Book to Reality Translation for Symptoms (in no particular order)

The book says: "A missed period is the first sign of pregnancy."

Translation:

Maybe. I had two periods before I started to get my first pregnancy symptom, exhaustion. Even the third period came in as spotting after I discovered that I was pregnant. Doctors like to do things based on the first day of your last period, so I went to the OBGYN assuming that I was only ten weeks along and was pregnant with an alien-looking pre-human-form creature. I left the doctor's office finding out that I was already in my second trimester and had ultrasound pictures of the cutest tiny baby to prove it. My stomach had been hard, but I had also been constipated, so I assumed the firmness came from bloating. I discovered that the firmness I felt was actually a baby and that those tiny gas bubbles were actually my baby's movements. It was amazing to say the least.

Remedy:

I don't know how you can keep this from happening, but if you're actively trying to get pregnant, try taking a pregnancy test at least every other month.

The book says: "You may feel a bit moody."

Translation:

You may cry when you see sentimental commercials, happy or sad moments in a Saturday morning cartoon, children, parents, families, beautiful scenery, ugly scenery, beautiful people, ugly people, your reflection, your partner, clothes you can no longer wear, clothes you could never wear, a cemetery, a hospital, a dead animal on the side of the road, any food product that may have once been alive (yes that includes vegetables), and just about anything else that crosses your path. You may also become depressed by thoughts of life and death, feel guilty about everything from putting your mother through pregnancy to not being the sex goddess you would like to be for your partner, develop phobias, or feel paranoid for no reason whatsoever. You may also experience anger in a way that you've never experienced it before. Your husband who has been so sweet to you and whom you have never fought with will suddenly become the most despised thing on earth just because he didn't say "Hello" in a way that pleased you, and you may scream at him or even feel like hitting him for it.

Remedy:

Remind yourself that it's probably just hormones. Get a journal and write everything down; it will help you vent and will give you a good laugh after you have the baby. Just try to not take things out on your loved ones (or even complete strangers), and don't use it as an excuse to act bitchy.

The book says: "You may feel fatigued."

Translation:

You will be so tired that you sleep thirteen hours a night, sleep on the way to work (and we hope you're not driving), fall asleep at your desk, come home and take a nap, and then go to bed again. I actually fell asleep while standing in front of the refrigerator with the door open as I searched for an afternoon snack that wouldn't make me vomit. I woke up on the kitchen floor with the refrigerator door wide open about fifteen minutes later still feeling exhausted.

Remedy:

They say that exercise helps, but I was far too tired to exercise. Extra sleep seemed to make a difference sometimes, but for the most part you just have to wait until it passes.

The book says: "You may feel nauseated."

Translation:

You may feel the urge to vomit every time you see a food commercial, see food in reality, think about food, smell food, or get hungry. You may also feel this urge when you brush your teeth, which develops into an unusual ritual: brush teeth, throw up, brush teeth, throw up again, brush teeth again, have dry heaves, rinse with mouthwash, have dry heaves again, rinse with water, gag, and lay down on the bed until you don't feel like throwing up anymore. You may become nauseated by the smell of flowers, perfumes, deodorant, certain people, some detergents, pet food, smoke, gas stations, or anything else that may cross your nose. You may become nauseated by movements, including movement in cars, planes, or trains, walking, and sex, or even imagined movement from dizziness or watching other things move around.

Remedy:

If you know something makes you sick, avoid it. Ignore all those books with lists of what things will cause nausea because it's different for everyone. You may actually crave everything on the "to avoid" list. Saltines do help a bit. The most important thing is to never let yourself have an empty stomach because that will make it worse. Nibble throughout the day instead of eating big meals.

The book says: "You may experience heartburn."

Translation:

Even after your nausea goes away, you may continue to burp frequently and have the privilege of tasting the last ten things you ate over and over and over again all at the same time.

Remedy:

If you get it while you sleep, sleep on your right side (anatomically it does make a difference). Pay attention to foods that may make it worse and avoid them. You can always use Tums.

The book says: "You may experience food cravings."

Translation:

You may wake up at 3:00 am with the urge to have a jelly sandwich with marshmallows and pretzels. You may also have cravings for normal foods, but you will crave them with such desire that you will do anything to get them, including driving for several hours, spending hours on the Internet to find the recipe so you can make it from scratch, and making sure that you buy these favorite foods by the case when you go shopping, so you never run out. My favorites were bean and cheese burritos, Skittles, Popsicles, cheese enchiladas, watermelon, Starbursts, English muffins, lots and lots of milk, strawberry milk, grapes, cashews, almonds, and pears. Some women even crave things like dirt.

Remedy:

Just don't eat anything dangerous to you or your baby, and try to get some healthy foods in their too.

The book says: "You may have breast tenderness."

Translation:

You may never want your partner to touch your breasts again, and if he tries, you'll hit him again and again until he gets the message. They will hurt if you wear a bra. They will hurt if you go braless. They will make you want to rip them off. You can't sleep on your stomach because of them, and sometimes you will go nuts wearing a seatbelt (but you have to do that anyhow).

Remedy:

Wear a supportive yet stretchy bra (sports bras are best) and just wait it out.

The book says: "Your breasts may become larger and your areolas may darken."

Translation:

 "Whose boobs are these, and how did they get on my chest?" Your bras may eventually become far too tight to wear, so you'll have to buy some new ones. Some shirts may also become too tight to wear. You may even develop back pain from the weight of your breasts. Your husband will like to touch your boobs because of their new "super fun size," but they'll probably still be sore, so you'll have to resort to hitting him again until he remembers that they hurt. Your nipples get huge! My husband looked at me while I was changing my clothes and said, "Oh my God Honey, the kid can't fit those in its mouth." While we were looking at "naturally shaped" bottle nipples we commented on how big they were. I insisted that no human nipple is that big and that those bottle nipples were in deed not natural. After my first week of breastfeeding, my nipples made those bottle nipples look tiny.

Remedy:

Live with it.

The book says: "You may experience frequent urination."

Translation:

I'm sorry, I don't have time to translate this. I have to find a bathroom right now! Just like I needed to do fifteen minutes ago and fifteen minutes before that.

Remedy:

Birth. Whatever you do, don't cut back on your intake of fluids to reduce the amount you pee. You'll just get dehydrated and put your baby at risk.

The book says: "You may leak a small amount of urine."

Translation:

You may suddenly be shocked when you sneeze and discover that you have to change your pants because you just peed in them.

Remedy:

It's time to get the sanitary pads and panty liners back out . . . and you thought you wouldn't need them for nine months.

The book says: "You may experience dry, itchy skin."

Translation:

You may beg your partner to scratch your back for hours on end while you attempt to slather yourself with a gallon of lotion several times per day.

Remedy:

Drink lots of fluids and use lotion immediately after you get out of the bath/shower (don't dry off first).

The book says: "You may develop the pregnancy mask."

Translation:

Your face may develop dark patches that make you can't cover up with your foundation as well as you had hoped, and it makes you feel incredibly self-conscious.

Remedy:

It might go away after birth, but some people have it forever. If you have it for a few years after the birth of your child, you could consider seeing a dermatologist.

The book says: "You may develop acne."

Translation:

You may break out in the similar way that you broke out during those emotionally scarring teenage breakouts just before the big dance.

Remedy:

Keep your face clean. Don't touch your face unless necessary. It will get better after your hormones get back to normal.

The book says: "You may develop the linea nigra."

Translation:

You may develop a dark line that goes from your navel to your pubic area. Nobody knows why it happens, but since your stomach is covered up most of the time anyhow, it probably won't be too much of a bother unless your partner makes an issue of it.

Remedy:

It will eventually go away after your baby is born.

The book says: "Dark areas on your skin may become darker."

Translation:

Yesterday it was a freckle. Today it looks like a huge nasty mole.

Remedy:

Some people say it goes away after birth. Others insist they stay dark forever. If it doesn't go away on you after several years, see your dermatologist. (You might want to bring it up to your doctor to take a quick look at to make sure it's not cancerous.)

The book says: "Your palms and soles of your feet may become red and itchy."

Translation:

You may spend hours scratching your palms vigorously and rubbing your feet on the carpet for relief. The thought of wearing gloves, socks, or shoes is frightening.

Remedy:

I tried lotions. I tried soaking them. I tried drying them out. Unfortunately it didn't go away until after I had my baby. One way to find relief is to get a hair brush with lots of thin, bendy (but not limp) bristles and use it to scratch your palms and feet. Ahhhh, that's better ... until you stop scratching.

The book says: "You may develop skin tags."

Translation:

You may actually grow extra skin in the form of tiny bulb-like growths, usually underneath your armpits or anywhere that skin rubs together, and it makes you feel oh so attractive. If they grow where you shave, don't be surprised if you shave them off, and if you do, it usually only hurts a bit and bleeds.

Remedy:

You can have them excised by your doctor or dermatologist after birth, or keep them and try to start a new fashion trend like the beauty mark.

The book says: "You may notice an increase in hair growth."

Translation:

Women aren't supposed to have hairy chests and stomachs, are they? The hair on top of your head gets longer, but you suddenly discover hair all over your body getting longer, especially in places where you don't want it to grow.

Remedy:

Just wait until after your baby is born when all of your hair starts to fall out. In the mean time get out that facial wax and rip off that mustache.

The book says: "You may develop stretch marks."

Translation:

You may discover what it feels like to look like a zebra. You can get these usually purplish marks on any place that gets bigger, such as your boobs, stomach, thighs, hips, butt, etc. The ones below your waste are the scariest because you can't see around your big belly to look at them. It's only after you have the baby that you scream out, "Dear God, what is that? Get it off! Get it off!"

Remedy:

They'll probably be there for life, but they will lighten up over time. You can try all those creams (cocoa butter, vitamin E, etc.), but I know very few people who claim that it actually works.

The book says: "You may notice that your nails grow longer."

Translation:

This is one of the nice symptoms. Even though the rest of you seems to be falling apart, at least you can have nice nails.

Remedy:

Who would want one? If you don't like it, cut them. Give yourself a manicure every week because you deserve to feel girly.

The book says: "You may experience an increase in saliva."

Translation:

You may discover that you are constantly swallowing, spit when you talk, and drool in your sleep. I often woke up on a soaked pillow.

Remedy:

Sometimes it will go away before the baby is born. Sometimes you'll have to wait until the little one arrives. The good news is that lots of saliva is actually good for reducing cavities.

The book says: "You may experience an increase in vaginal discharge."

Translation:

Get out the sanitary pads and panty liners again. Vaginal secretions increase, which can be good for sex and keeping germs from invading your reproductive system, which helps protect the baby, but it's a nightmare on your underwear, which you may have to change several times per day. Sometimes it can have an odor that isn't always pleasant, but if it smells really bad, be sure to tell your doctor, so he/she can check you out for an infection.

Remedy:

Just wait until your body recovers from the birth.

The book says: "You may feel congested."

Translation:

Those vaginal secretions are made by mucous glands, similar to the ones in your nose, so naturally when your vaginal secretions increase, so does your nasal secretions. This also contributes to an increase in snoring, which interrupts your sleep as well as your partner's sleep and in some cases the sleep of individuals who live next door. The worst part is that you aren't supposed to take decongestants, so you just have to live with it. Get out your tissues, vaporizers, and saline nose drops.

Remedy:

Birth, but you can try using saline nasal spray and using a vaporizer. Also, Breatheright strips can help.

The book says: "You may experience an increase in thirst."

Translation:

You may begin to wonder exactly how much you can drink before you drown yourself. Water is best, but you'll be likely to grab anything wet. Sports drinks may cause you to swell up even more than you already will naturally.

Remedy:

Drink more. Thirst is a sign of dehydration.

The book says: "You may experience constipation."

Translation:

This one is self explanatory but incredibly uncomfortable.

Remedy:

Eat lots of fiber. Prunes are still a favorite for dealing with this, and oatmeal and bran work well too. Don't forget to drink your water.

The book says: "You may have difficulty sleeping."

Translation:

You actually daydream about sleeping because you never get to do it. You toss and turn but every position is uncomfortable. If you lay on your right side, the muscles on the left side get strained. If you lay on your left side, the muscles on your right side get strained. If you lay on your back, your baby smooshes everything into your spine or diaphragm. And, don't even think about trying to lay on your stomach because it's just not going to happen. Let's not forget how difficult it is to actually move your stomach from one position into the next. You suddenly become the queen of pillows because you'll have tons of them in all sorts of positions in order to prop your body in the perfect position. (You may even need to kick your partner out of bed or take up residency on the couch or recliner to do this.) Then when you find the perfect position the baby kicks and wakes you up, a loud noise wakes you up, or it's just plain time to get up.

Remedy:

You won't get comfortable until after the baby is born, but then you'll be up all night with a crying baby. Later it will be a toddler who wants a glass of water, has monsters under the bed, and "I'm not tired." Eventually you'll be up all night waiting for your teenager to come home, most likely after curfew. Just learn to appreciate the moments you can sleep. Don't worry, you will get to sleep for an entire night once in awhile. While you're pregnant though, try using pillows (lots of pillows if necessary or try a body pillow or maternity pillow) to support various areas of your body (everyone is different, so experiment with your pillow locations). You can also try sleeping in a recliner. During the last two months of my most recent pregnancy, I lived in my La-Z-Boy recliner because not only was it the only way I could get comfortable enough to sleep, but it was also the only way I could sit to get rid of my back pain, and it allowed me to put my feet up to reduce swelling. I love my La-Z-Boy.

The book says: "You may experience unusual and vivid dreams."

Translation:

Out of embarrassment I won't even begin to tell you the details of some of the weird dreams I had. Lots of women have dreams about taking their baby out of their stomach and playing with it, then putting it back. Others had those dreams psychologists say are all about your subconscious fears such as screwing things up, running away, being under pressure, etc. I personally kept having dreams about not being able to do anything. For example, I dreamt that I went to the store and didn't know how to go shopping! I saw all the stuff on the shelves, but I didn't know what to do with it. I would also have dreams about my food cravings. One of my biggest nightmares was a dream in which the grocery store ran out of milk. They only had one gallon left and were selling Dixie cups full of milk for more money than I had on me. When I woke up, I immediately checked the refrigerator and poured myself a glass of my beloved milk.

Remedy:

None. Write them down and laugh at them later. If you tend to have nightmares (mine were often about bears for some reason), write those down as well because it may help you work through whatever it is that is bringing out those nightmares. Ignore those books about dream interpretation. They're really not psychology text books, and when you consider how two people interpret something completely differently, there's simply no way to say that "this object symbolizes xyz."

The book says: "You may experience some pelvic discomfort or contractions."

Translation:

You may have some light cramps at the beginning. Later on these cramps will turn into contractions. Some people don't even notice their contractions, others have to stop and practice their breathing and relaxation techniques to get through every one of them. It may feel like your baby is trying to stretch out in every possible direction or as though your abdominal muscles have a mind of their own as they squeeze tighter and tighter. I even had difficulty breathing during my Braxton Hicks contractions and would become extremely light headed; it almost felt like the sensation you get when you go through a loop in a roller coaster. My doc couldn't figure that one out, but I think it had something to do with connective tissue pulling on my diaphragm and my blood supply rushing to my uterus.

Remedy:

None. Relax through them. The more you fight them, the more they'll bug you. Take slow, deep breaths. Even after birth you feel contractions as your uterus shrinks back to its normal size. If they seem unusually painful or strong or come at regular intervals, call your doctor.

The book says: "You may experience mild pains in your hips when you change position."

Translation:

Mild? Stabbing pains in your hips is just the beginning of it. Your body produces a hormone called relaxin to relax the ligaments of your pelvic joints. (Your pelvis is actually three bones, not just one. I bet you didn't know that.) Unfortunately it also works on every other ligament in your body, and if any of these ligaments become stressed, from let's say a baby pulling on them, it hurts. You can feel these ligament pains anywhere, even in your ribs.

Remedy:

Wait until your hormones go back to normal after birth. Until then, no quick movements. Try warm baths and heating pads. You may even need to change the way you move (bring on the funny pregnant-woman walk).

The book says: "You may experience genital discomfort."

Translation:

Your vagina, clitoris, and labia may actually become swollen and sore as well as increase in sensitivity due to extra blood flow to the areas. Some people like the swelling and increased sensitivity because it enhances their sensations during sex and improves their experience, but others find these sensations to be too intense or even terribly painful. (I was part of the painful group.)

Remedy:

If you like it, what's to fix? If you're in pain, just wait. Some people get better during pregnancy. Others say it didn't get better until they fully healed after birth. Unfortunately, some women are never the same again, and you may need to find new, gentle ways to keep your sex life alive.

The book says: "You may have a change in libido."

Translation:

Two scenarios: the thought of your significant other attempting to have any type of sexual content is repulsive or sex 13 times a day just isn't enough. This new sex drive, or lack of a sex drive, is caused by hormonal changes. It can make your significant other either incredibly frustrated and create tension in the relationship, or it can make him feel like the luckiest man alive and enhance your relationship.

Remedy:

It can take several weeks (and sometimes months) after the birth of your child for your hormones to return to normal (and even after they do, you may be too exhausted from taking care of a newborn to care about sex). If you and your significant other are happy with this new level of sex drive, enjoy it. If not, have patience and hope. Hormones change daily, so tomorrow could be better, but don't forget that it could also be a long time before such changes happen, so in the meantime get creative and have patience.

The book says: "You may occasionally feel a sharp pain in your vagina."

Translation:

You may feel a stabbing pain that seems to shoot to your cervix and makes you want to jump out of your chair. This is caused by pressure on the cervix. All of the professionals insist that there are no nerves in the cervix, but this sensation makes that idea hard to believe.

Remedy:

It should be gone by the time you fully heal after birth. Practice your poker face in the meantime because there's nothing like suddenly developing the look of death while you shriek during a business meeting. Shift in your seat, change position, breath deeply, and pray it goes away. If it's extremely strong, call your doctor.

The book says: "Your gums may bleed."

Translation:

Increased blood in the body and swelling makes it easy to make your gums bleed from brushing your teeth. It's just more annoying than anything else.

Remedy:

Keep brushing your teeth and flossing, and visit your dentist. Be aware that bleeding gums are like an open door for germs, so please be careful about what you put into your mouth because you may be inviting a nasty infection (and yes, I mean everything from nail biting to stuff that my site isn't rated for).

The book says: "You may experience dental problems." Translations:

The placenta is taking calcium out of your body to build your baby's bones, and this can result in things like an easy tendency to get cavities or even just general decalcification.

Remedy:

Drink your milk! Eat lots of stuff with calcium. Take calcium supplements. (Don't take your calcium supplements with your iron pill or prenatal vitamin because your body will absorb one chemical but not the other; usually calcium gets absorbed while iron takes the back seat resulting in anemia.)

The book says: "You may begin to have headaches."

Translation:

For no reason you may suddenly start having migraines, and you will be imprisoned in your bedroom with the blinds shut while you pray for everyone to shut up. Fortunately, most women just have minor headaches, and some don't get them at all.

Remedy:

Talk to your doctor about what painkillers you can use. Try sitting or laying in different positions. Try a cold compress or a warm compress. Drink more water because it could be a sign of dehydration. Do as much as you can to keep yourself relaxed. ("I can't clean the house, Dear. It stresses me out, and I must remain relaxed to keep those nasty headaches away. Doctor's orders, Dear. The mop's in the closet.")

The book says: "You may feel light-headed or dizzy."

Translation:

The room starts spinning even though you haven't had a drink in months. You suddenly start looking for places where you can pass out without hitting your head on anything hard. Standing up from a seated position or rolling out of bed without the sensation of dizziness caused by the sudden drop in blood to your head becomes an art form.

Remedy:

Don't move around too quickly. Go ahead and look for those soft places to land while passing out because it will make you feel more secure. And, don't forget to hold onto those hand rails when going up and down stairs.

The book says: "You may experience hot flashes."

Translation:

You sitting in a 60 degree F room when suddenly it feels like your face has been dunked in hot water or like you're sitting way too close to the heater. Even worse, you're in a 90 degree F room and suddenly you feel like the temperature just went up to 120 degrees.

Remedy:

If it's cool, use it. Ice packs, frozen vegetables, or even running outside and sitting on the porch in your shorts and a t-shirt while it's snowing will make you feel a bit better. Fortunately, these don't usually last long.

The book says: "You may develop a heat rash."

Translation:

You start to develop a prickly red rash, especially around your neck, on your thighs, or anywhere that tends to get a bit warm.

Remedy:

Try to wear clothing that will let your skin breath and cool off.

The book says: "You may feel unbalanced."

Translation:

When you try to stand perfectly straight, without arching your back, you start to fall over.

This is because your center of gravity has shifted.

Remedy:

Be careful. Just pay extra attention to how you move, and try to always have something nearby to grab onto for support. What's really funny is trying to remember how to stand normally after you have the baby.

The book says: "You may feel like you're in a daze."

Translation:

You may become stupid. Not just forgetful stupid, but really stupid. Pregnant women call it "prego brain." You have difficulty concentrating. You have difficulty processing information. You lock your keys in the car five times in one day. You get half way to work before you realize that you're still wearing your slippers. Even ordinary jokes may elicit a response of "I don't get it" from you. You just get stupid. Doctors say it's because you're so excited about the baby. Mom's say it's because your brain is too busy telling your body how to grow a baby and just takes a vacation from normal, everyday thinking.

This information in no way should be taken to let anyone assume that pregnant women can't handle career and responsibility. It will just take a little extra effort.

Remedy:

It goes away after your hormones settle down, usually about six weeks after birth. Write down your stupid experiences because they're soooo funny later on.

The book says: "Your stomach may become itchy."

Translation:

The combination of dry skin and a stretching stomach can make for a very itchy situation. You'll spend a lot of time scratching, and you won't even care if you're in public with people staring at you.

Remedy:

Get out that lotion. Drink your water.

The book says: "You may have some navel discomfort."

Translation:

Well look at it! Wouldn't you be a bit uncomfortable if you were all stretched out like that? Your belly button may feel tight, sore, sensitive, or even itchy. Sometimes it will pop right out.

Remedy:

Don't let your partner play with it. Try to avoid clothes that press against it. Hey, while you can see the bottom of it, you might as well give it a good cleaning. Chances are you haven't seen those deep little crevasses exposed since it was first forming, and even if you have, you probably won't see it again for a very long time because your stomach may get so stretched out from pregnancy, that after baby is born (and even years later), your out-ie may become an in-ie.

The book says: "You may notice changes in your vision."

Translation:

You notice that it's getting more and more difficult to read, watch television, or drive.

Remedy:

If vision changes happen suddenly, call your doctor immediately because it could be a sign of preeclamsia. If it's bad enough to make daily activities difficult for you, you might want to get a new glasses prescription, but your vision will change yet again after your baby is born, so consider whether you want to go through the trouble of getting new glasses since you'll just have to change them again in a few months.

The book says: "You may experience a decrease in eye moisture."

Translation:

You may experience the sensation that your eyes have been recently dried by a windstorm.

Remedy:

Saline eye drops.

The book says: "You may experience fluid retention."

Translation:

You may wake up one day to discover that your wedding ring doesn't fit (and if it's already on your finger it may hurt and not come off). Your shoes may be too tight. My feet were so swollen it hurt to walk on them at all. Your legs are all bloated. Even your face can look puffy. Your skin may be stretched so tight from the swelling that you are constantly aware of your own skin (very annoying) and may feel as if you will pop.

Remedy:

If your swelling occurs all over or especially in your face and neck, call your doctor because it could be a sign of preeclamsia. Otherwise, buy some comfortable, adjustable shoes. (My favorite shoes were oversized men's flip-flops.) Take off your rings. Get rid of those tight outfits (even the tight maternity outfits). Drink lots of water (yes, drink more water; don't cut back) because if you restrict your water intake, your body may respond by retaining even more fluid. It should go away several weeks after birth.

The book says: "You may experience backaches."

Translation:

You may experience back pain so severe that you can barely stand for more than a minute without wanting to scream. My backaches left me almost disabled (and that's why I started this website; I needed something productive to do while in a sitting position).

Remedy:

Back massage. If you can't get your partner to do it for hours at a time, purchase a back massager. My neighbor (God bless her) loaned me her expensive massager that fits on a chair and massages you from the neck all the way down to your thighs. The best part was that it had rollers in it. Not just vibration but kneading rollers. Oh it was heaven, so I finally just bought it from her and kept it all to myself. It wasn't long before I was going to the mall just to sit in the expensive, king size massage chairs (they even massage your legs, feet, and neck now), which I couldn't afford. Also try a shower massager with a lot of force, and make sure you can angle it directly on the painful spot. Heat also helps, so get a heating pad, or take a warm bath. I would crank up the heated seats in my car, which worked as a great heating pad during drives (and I was convinced I would never use all the "winter package" options on my new car ... if the salesman would have told me how the heated seats feature could be used for medical purposes I could have claimed it as a deduction on my taxes, ha ha). I discovered during my last pregnancy that sitting in a recliner perfectly took the pressure off of my back (as well as my ribs) and reduced the pain significantly. I lived in my La-Z-Boy recliner during the last two months of that pregnancy.

The book says: "You may experience leg cramps."

Translation:

You may experience a constant dull ache that goes right down into your bones or a feeling that your muscles have been tied in knots.

Remedy:

Heat. Massage. Also, try taking more calcium or talk to your doctor about a possible calcium, magnesium, or phosphorous imbalance which have been thought to cause the problem. Stretching can help, too.

The book says: "You may experience stiffness."

Translation:

No matter how much you stretch, you still won't feel relaxed. Your range of motion may even be diminished. If you drive, it may become more difficult to look behind you when going in reverse and even turning to see your blind spots can be a strain.

Remedy:

Try to do stretching exercises every day. Yoga is great. Accept that there are two people living in your body now, so there's less room to move around, and you'll just have to deal with it until one of you decides to leave. Once it becomes difficult to drive, I highly recommend giving up the car keys. Yes, it's not fun to need a driver, but it's better than ending up in an accident and hurting somebody else (like a kid walking behind your car) or yourself because you couldn't turn around enough to see behind you when you're backing up.

The book says: "You may experience numbness and tingling in your hands."

Translation:

Every time you try to type, write, use the remote, chop vegetables, reach certain places (we won't describe in detail), or engage in a variety of other movements you will feel a tingle, jolt, lighting bolt, pain, and/or buzzing sensation in your hands. This is caused by the pressure of your swollen tissue in your arms, wrists, and hands pressing on your nerves.

Remedy:

It should go away after your swelling goes away, usually well after birth. Use a brace (such as a wrist brace) when doing repetitive movements.S

The book says: "You may have difficulty getting comfortable."

Translation:

(This is the understatement of the year.) You may discover that there simply isn't a comfortable position for you to sit, lay, stand, walk, or whatever-that-weird-position-you've-put-yourself-in-using-all-those-pillows-is-called in. There will be days when you will beg God to give you just a five minute break from your body: "Please, just one out of body experience. I'll never ask for anything again." It makes you grumpy, too.

Remedy:

Daydream about how nice it will be to have your body back after your baby is born and your body starts to return to it's unpregnant state. Until then, pillows, pillows, pillows, and a reclining chair.

The book says: "You may develop varicose veins."

Translation:

These lumpy veins suddenly create a 3-D map of your circulatory system wherever they occur.

Remedy:

You can only get rid of them currently by surgery. Don't waste your money on the miracle creams. There are some treatments that use injections to collapse the vein, but you'll need to talk to your doctor for the details.

The book says: "You may develop spider veins."

Translation:

You may develop annoying blue and purple marks on your legs that make you feel like a kid who just drew all over herself with a blue ball point pen. They're really just varicose veins that don't stick out.

Remedy:

Currently the only treatment is surgery, or you can try an injection therapy.

The book says: "You may experience hemorrhoids."

Translation:

"Oh dear God, what the hell is that around my anus?" The pressure of carrying a baby, constipation, pushing the baby out, and simply gaining weight can cause varicose veins can strike anywhere, including around your anus and in your rectum. They can itch, burn, and bleed, and they're terribly unattractive. Plus, you'll probably be embarrassed that you have them at all because, let's face it, you're too young for hemorrhoids since everybody in those hemorrhoid commercials are at least 50 years old.

Remedy:

Hemorrhoid creams may help reduce swelling and ease the pain of having a bowel movement. Make sure whatever cream you get contains hydrocortisone, which will help the itching and do a better job of shrinking them. Witch hazel wipes can help shrink them as well; plus they make your bathroom experience a bit more tolerable. A high fiber diet will keep you from having hard stools, which just aren't a pleasant experience when you have hemorrhoids. If you're eating the fiber but still having problems, try fiber supplements like Fibercon, Citracil, or Metamucil, or stool softeners such as Colace. Warm soaks in the bathtub can be soothing as well as therapeutic. If over the counter remedies don't work, ask your doctor for a prescription cream or foam. If they don't improve or are so painful that you just can't stand it, you may need to have some more unpleasant forms of medical intervention which usually involves a very painful poke with a needle to a very painful place. I'm referring to the shot they give you to numb you up before they lance or band the hemorrhoid. Yes, it hurts, but it only last a few seconds, and it saves you weeks of worsening pain in the long run.

The book says: "You may be able to feel your abdominal muscles separate."

Translation:

This is a bit gross. You may be able to actually feel your abdominal muscles with a large space in between them (running up and down right in the center of your stomach) as they stretch out to make room for the baby.

Remedy:

Birth.

The book says: "You may experience sciatica."

Translation:

Sharp pains may shoot though your lower back, hips, and / or legs when your baby or uterus presses on your sciatic nerve. (Mine was so bad with movement that I could barely walk.)

Remedy:

Sometimes they go away when you move, or movement could just make it worse. Some people say that heating pads help. You just need to figure out what works best for you.

The book says: "You may experience shortness of breath."

Translation:

You may find yourself getting winded by just walking from the couch to the kitchen or during the process of simply trying to switch from sitting to standing. When you lay down, especially on your back, it may get even worse.

Remedy:

Birth

The book says: "You may experience nesting."

Translation:

You may have a sudden urge to clean everything in your home, alphabetize your pantry and video library, organize your sock drawer, and throw out everything that you once cherished but now consider clutter, and you'll stay up until 3:00 am to get it all done.

Remedy:

Who wants one? Clean your house while you can. You won't have time after the baby is born. Just be careful about what you throw out because you can't get it back and don't overexert yourself (save some of that energy for the birth).

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