Pregnancy Symptoms You Don't Expect When You Are Expecting

    You expect to have morning sickness when you are pregnant but there are many other symptoms that nobody told you about.

    "All Day" Sickness

    Morning sickness is probably the best known of the early pregnancy symptoms, but many people don't realize the term is inaccurate. Nausea may be more common in the mornings because stomach acids build up overnight. But most women who get morning sickness also feel nauseous at other times of day.

    Sickening Scents

    Even before the nausea kicked in some women develop "an extremely-heightened sense of smell." Scents were so over-powering, they avoided cooking for several weeks, relying instead on bland take-out.

    Exhaustion

    Fatigue tends to be most common in the first trimester, but often occurs later in pregnancy as well. Carrying around all that extra weight can make you tire easily in the third trimester. In addition, you may have trouble sleeping if your growing belly makes it hard to get comfortable. We recommend that expectant moms with severe fatigue be evaluated for anemia and depression.

    Bathroom Breaks

    Frequent urination is another early pregnancy symptom most expectant moms know all too well. The culprit is often hormonal in the earlier stages. Later in the pregnancy, frequent bathroom breaks are often caused by an enlarged uterus (and the rapidly growing baby inside) putting pressure on the bladder.

    Enlarged Breasts

    Many women find they gain a bra size or two during their pregnancy. (For better or worse, the change is usually not permanent.) The swelling, which signals an increase in fat reserves and milk gland size, may be accompanied by soreness.

    Itching

    Itching is a very common complaint and can occur throughout pregnancy. The usual areas are the breasts and abdomen, where the skin is stretching to accommodate your growing shape.

    Constipation

    Here's one pregnancy symptom your mom may not have warned you about - you're likely to get constipated, especially in the late second and third trimesters. Constipation may result from a number of factors:

    Changes in digestion

    • This is also caused by the hormone progesterone
    • Increased water absorption in the large intestines
    • Iron supplements
    • Pressure of the uterus on the rectum

    Heartburn

    Also common in the second and third trimesters is heartburn, a burning sensation between the breastbone and the throat. Progesterone is once again to blame. The hormone relaxes the sphincter at the bottom of the esophagus, allowing gastric acid to come up. Tips for easing heartburn:

    • Avoid spicy foods
    • Don't eat immediately before lying down
    • Elevate the head of the bed -- try blocks under the head of the mattress
    • Take antacids (Check with your doctor or midwife first.)

    Unpredictable Allergies

    Seasonal allergies and asthma may become unpredictable during pregnancy. Some women see their symptoms improve, while others notice the opposite. Expectant moms with asthma generally should continue using their inhalers. If you don't breathe, your baby won't either.

    Changes in Balance

    In the third trimester, many women find they are perpetually off-balance. This change happens later in pregnancy, but very few women expect it. While a growing belly tends to throw off your center of gravity, there's more to it than that. A hormone called relaxin kicks in toward the end of pregnancyand its main purpose is to loosen the pelvic joints so they are more flexible during labor. But this hormone also works on the hips, knees and ankles. This makes [expectant mothers] more wobbly and achy and likely to fall."

    Abnormal Pregnancy Symptoms

    With so many changes taking place in your body, you may be tempted to dismiss any new discomfort as normal during pregnancy. But certain symptoms could signal a serious problem:

    Bleeding or spotting - Bleeding or spotting is rarely if ever felt to be normal during pregnancy. Spotting is common in the first trimester and probably not a cause for alarm. However, in the second and third trimester, bleeding could provide advance warning of a serious complication, such as preterm labor or problems with the placenta. Always report any bleeding or spotting to your doctor or midwife.

    Severe itching

    In the late second and third trimester, severe itching may signal a rare liver problem that sometimes develops during pregnancy, known as intrahepatic cholestatis. 

    Blurred vision, severe headaches and pain in the right side of abdomen

    These symptoms, whether they occur alone or in combination, may indicate severe preeclampsia - the medical term for dangerously high blood pressure during pregnancy. Women who experience any of these symptoms should contact their health care provider immediatelyand early delivery may be necessary to avoid life-threatening maternal and fetal complications.