Did You Know After Six Months, Your Baby…
- is over a foot long and weighs more than two pounds?
- is beginning to open his or her eyes?
- currently has more taste buds than it will ever have in his or her life?
- will respond to bright lights and loud noises?
Now that you are about to enter your third trimester, you likely have been noticing some interesting things happening to you – some harmless and some downright annoying.
Let’s first discuss the mental effects of pregnancy and how they may affect your everyday life.
Mental and Emotional Changes
Mood Swings – While many women experience mood swings more frequently in the early months of their pregnancy, some women still struggle with them throughout their entire pregnancy.
It is common for pregnant women to feel irritable, irrational, depressed, upset, unsure and even unattractive, but later feel happy, excitable and energetic. These are a result of all of the hormonal changes your body is experiencing and all of the complicated thoughts you may have about having and raising a child.
Accept that these mood swings will most likely happen at some point during your pregnancy. So, if you begin to cry in the middle of the store or laugh out loud at a sad point in a movie, understand that it is normal behavior among pregnant women.
To minimize mood swings…
- try to focus on other things in your life besides just the pregnancy.
- allow yourself plenty of time to do the things you like to do.
- talk openly to your boyfriend, spouse, parents or friends about how you are feeling.
- get plenty of rest.
Pregnancy Brain – Many pregnant women experience bouts of absentmindedness, which has been appropriately named “pregnancy brain.” But does pregnancy brain really exist?
Some studies have suggested that no, pregnancy does not biologically result in those symptoms. However, no matter how many studies claim pregnancy brain to be a myth, there are still a countless number of women who believe it to be true.
The reality is that being pregnant and raising a child is such an important event in a woman’s life that it sometimes makes everything else secondary. So for example, if you forget an appointment or forget to get the milk at the store, it is likely due to you being so wrapped up in your pregnancy. And rightfully so!
If you have experienced any forgetfulness during your pregnancy, remember that you aren’t the only one who has. Most people have heard about pregnancy brain and will obviously give you a break if you forget to attend a meeting or pick up something at the store. After all, you have more important things to concern yourself with during this time.
Physical Body Changes
Along with the mental effects caused by pregnancy, you will also experience some or all of the following physical changes:
Swelling – Nearly all pregnant women experience swelling not just in their bellies but also in their face, neck, arms, legs, hands and feet. You may notice that swelling subsides during the morning and becomes more apparent at night. To minimize swelling as much as possible, try:
- drinking lots of water.
- getting some form of daily exercise.
- avoiding standing and sitting for too long; try to alternate throughout the day.
- resting on your side to allow higher kidney efficiency.
Breast Changes – Within your first four to six weeks of pregnancy, you may have noticed tenderness or swelling in your breasts in preparation of breastfeeding. Enlarged breasts are a natural part of pregnancy and shouldn’t be a cause for concern. However, if your breasts are not growing, it could be a sign of another medical issue in which you should contact your healthcare provider.
Protruding Belly Button – Usually a protruding belly button is only temporary and will revert back to its normal position after pregnancy.
Itchiness – Many women experience itchy skin during pregnancy, particularly around their bellies. As your skin continues to stretch over the passing months, it becomes less moisturized. Ask your healthcare provider about some recommended lotions to cure your itchy skin.
Clumsiness – Sometimes a result of “pregnancy brain,” clumsiness is common among pregnant women. Your center of gravity is changing, your joints are loosening, and you are retaining more water than normal. The main thing to remember is to not put yourself in any precarious positions, like standing on a chair or running up and down stairs. If you have a minor fall, it is usually nothing to worry about; however, if you have a particularly nasty spill, you should call your healthcare provider immediately.
Back Aches – The more weight you put on, the more stress you put on your body, resulting in aches and pains. Back aches are among the most common aches and pains, but they can be treated by wearing supportive shoes, doing Yoga, using a heat pad, getting plenty of rest and using good posture.
Leg Cramps – Also known as “restless legs syndrome,” leg cramps tend to strike when you lay down for bed. They are more annoying than painful, but they can result in many lost hours of sleep. If leg cramps bother you, try alternating your legs between active and relaxed throughout the day, and try to stretch them out early in the evening before bed.
Hemorrhoids – Over half of all pregnant women get hemorrhoids at some point during their pregnancy. To reduce your chances of getting them, try not to sit on the toilet for too long, and don’t stand or sit for long durations of the day. If you have hemorrhoids, try an ice pack, cream or a hot bath to reduce pain. If you do take a hot bath, turn on the water while you are already in the tub. You don’t want your body temperature to fluctuate too fast. And for that reason, avoid hot tubs altogether.
Frequent Urination – Pregnancy causes an increase in fluids within pregnant women’s bodies. The sensation of needing to urinate can also be caused from increased pressure on the uterus. To limit urination frequency, try not to drink many fluids before bed, and try to empty your bladder completely.
Constipation – Over half of pregnant women report experiencing constipation during pregnancy. This is typically caused by the uterus putting pressure on the rectum and hormonal changes slowing the digestive system. As with everyone, a high-fiber diet and a regular exercise routine can help eliminate constipation.
All of the above body changes are a completely normal part of pregnancy. However, there are some symptoms that are not normal, in which you should contact your health provider immediately:
- Heavy bleeding not caused by hemorrhoids or anal fissures
- Severe abdominal pain
- Sudden severe swelling
- Inability to urinate
- Vision abnormalities
Next up is to prepare for the big day – labor and delivery!