Yes, pregnancy is special, a privilege, and to all those super mamas who make it look like a walk in the park, who sail through with minimal symptoms, who enjoy every second of this special time, I applaud you. But for many women, special as it is, it is also hard! It is wrought with aches and pains, tiredness, discomfort, sickness, mood swings and more.
So the next time you are dry heaving into a toilet bowl in your first trimester, or critically evaluating your changing body in front of the mirror, or collapsing from bone-deep exhaustion after a long day, or staying up all night from heartburn, focus on the good news, the silver lining – that many of these annoying, and sometimes debilitating side-effects are actually signs that your baby is thriving. So read on for some much needed comfort:
Morning (All-day) SicknessWho are we kidding here? If morning sickness were restricted only to the mornings, it would be way easier to manage. For many, it’s probably more apt to call it all-day sickness.
The silver lining: Regardless of the time of day it hits you, the good news is that a recent Canadian study shows a positive link between morning (there’s that word again) sickness and your baby’s IQ.
The research suggests that children of mothers who experience sickness are likely to do better in intelligence tests, because the same hormones that make expectant mothers nauseous also aid fetal development.
Sore, tender breastsOne of the earliest signs of pregnancy, sore breasts can be truly uncomfortable. While easier to manage by some, for many, the slightest touch/contact can be intense.
The silver lining: Sore breasts are a sign that your breasts are getting ready to nourish your baby. The fat layer thickens, blood flow increases, milk ducts multiply and stretch – all with the aim of preparing your body to feed your baby. The other good news? The discomfort tends to subside in the second trimester.
Increased urinationGetting up multiple times at night, and planning your trips around toilet availability, is annoying at best.
The silver lining: Increased urination is a result of increased blood flow and the pressure on your bladder from an expanding uterus – both signs that your pregnancy is progressing as it should. Also think of it as training for when your baby starts waking up every 20 minutes at night :D.
Braxton Hicks ContractionsThese are sporadic uterine contractions that cause your abdomen to harden and/or contort, and can often be compared to a feeling of tightening or period cramps. They can start as early as 6 weeks, but are often only felt from about 20 weeks onwards. For first-time mums, these contractions can be worrying and often confused with signs of labor – a key difference however is that Braxton Hicks contractions are irregular and often subside with a change of position or activity unlike labor contractions which do not subside and only increase in intensity, frequency and duration. Regardless, always speak to your healthcare provider when you feel contractions, especially if you are unsure of how to classify them
The silver lining: Once you have eliminated the possibility of labor, think of Braxton hicks as your body’s way of preparing for the real thing, a dress rehearsal if you will, for the big day!
HeartburnThe burning indigestion and reflux that many women feel, especially in 2nd an 3rd trimesters, while normal, can be very uncomfortable and painful.
The silver lining: The good news is that heartburn can be managed by adjusting your diet. The silver lining? Heartburn in pregnancy is typically caused by the hormone Progesterone which helps relax uterine muscles in preparation for birth, but as a result also relaxes other muscles in the body, including the vale between the stomach and the Esophagus causing stomach acid to travel upwards and cause discomfort. So once again, think of heartburn as a sign that your body is working the way it should and preparing to bring your baby into the world.
As always, during pregnancy, if something does not feel right, always consult your doctor/healthcare practitioner. And hang in there mamas! Pregnancy can be tough – lets not sugar coat it! Make sure you have a support system, and don’t be shy to ask for help!