16. Cold feet
You may experience cold feet toward the end of your pregnancy and during labor. This is not the cold feet of wondering if you’ve made the right decision and wanting to get out! It refers to a sensation where your feet are cold all the time, and nothing you do can warm them up. Even during the hottest of summers, some pregnant women find that they need to wear socks to keep their feet warm. While the rest of their body is boiling hot, their feet remain stubbornly cold.
Cold feet are not an abnormal discomfort a woman may experience during her pregnancy. It’s believed that they can be attributed to several causes, some or all of which may affect a pregnant woman. The first is the change in hormone levels in the body.
Pregnancy is a time of great hormone fluctuations. These hormones can affect the autonomic nervous system. This is a part of the nervous system that is responsible for your body’s ability to control breathing, heartbeat, and digestion. Breathing and the heartbeat are the driving factors of circulation. If these are at all affected, blood flow may be disrupted. This is something that affects the circulation of blood in the lower extremities. Blood is warm and keeps your body warm. When it is not circulating correctly to a part of the body such as the feet, a sensation of coldness will follow.
In another hormonal effect, the thyroid gland can be affected by pregnancy. The levels of thyroid hormones fluctuate. This results in an underactive thyroid gland which can leave you feeling cold.
The differences in the metabolic rate during pregnancy can make your feet feel cold too. It slightly elevates the body temperature, which makes the air around you feel cooler.
17. Varicose veins
It’s possible that a pregnant woman may develop varicose veins during her pregnancy. These form in the legs. They are a result of decreased blood circulation to the lower extremities during pregnancy. The volume of blood in the body increases during pregnancy because the fetus needs it for sustenance. Even though there is more blood in the body, less of it is being circulated to the lower half of the body. The body prioritizes the fetus for blood supply. Blood that reaches the pelvis would normally circulate into the legs. But, during pregnancy, that blood is diverted to the uterus.
This affects the blood vessels. The veins are put under more pressure which results in varicose veins. Varicose veins are veins that have enlarged. In a pregnant woman, they will form in the legs, but may also appear in the buttocks or vaginal area.
Another cause of varicose veins during pregnancy is the hormonal fluctuations the body experiences. The progestin levels increase in the body for the duration of the pregnancy. This hormone can dilate the veins. This means the veins are opened wider, making them susceptible to the enlargement that will cause varicose veins.
The pressure of the fetus in the uterus may put pressure on the inferior vena cava. This is one of the largest veins in the body. It carries deoxygenated blood to the heart to be re-oxygenated. The inferior vena cava transports the blood from the lower body up to the heart. The weight of the uterus pressing against the inferior vena cava affects its ability to function properly. The result may be varicose veins.
Varicose veins that are formed during pregnancy get smaller after a woman gives birth. Within three months to a year after birth, they should all but disappear.
18. Bleeding gums
Up to 50% of pregnant women report that their gums are swollen and sensitive. They also state that their gums are prone to bleeding after they have brushed or flossed their teeth. In most cases, it’s caused by pregnancy gingivitis. This condition causes inflammation in the gums and is mild gum disease. The hormonal changes a woman’s body undergoes during pregnancy are what causes pregnancy gingivitis. Changes in hormone levels make a woman’s gums more sensitive to the bacteria in plaque that attacks the teeth.
Pregnancy gingivitis will not affect the baby. The mother needs to practice good dental hygiene. It is advisable to see a dentist if it persists or worsens. Some studies have linked bleeding comes to preeclampsia, premature labor, and low birth weight. However, similar studies have found no causal link exists.
It’s also possible that a pregnant woman may develop a pregnancy tumor or pyogenic granuloma. This is a lump or nodule on the gums. It bleeds when you brush over it with a toothbrush. They can occur anywhere in the body, but most often manifest in the mouth. As intimidating as the name may sound, they are not dangerous and do not cause any pain. The pregnancy tumor accompanies gingivitis. It appears in an area where there is gingivitis. It can cause swelling in the gum that makes it up to 75% larger than usual.
A pyogenic granuloma will in all likelihood disappear as soon as the baby is delivered. However, if it causes extreme discomfort during pregnancy and interferes with eating and hygiene, its removal is essential. If a pregnancy tumor does not disappear after the baby is born, it must be removed.
Pica doesn’t often occur in pregnancy. But it happens with enough frequency that it deserves mention. Pica is a powerful urge to eat things that offer the body no nutritional value. It involves cravings for non-food substances. These include sand, pebbles, and chalk.
Cravings during pregnancy are normal. One of the most common questions pregnant women face related to cravings they experience. They differ from woman to woman. Some women report different cravings when they’ve had multiple pregnancies. Pregnancy cravings are on the whole confined to food. A lot of women report craving pickles or ice-cream during pregnancy. Some report wanting to eat pickles with ice-cream! Cravings are interpreted as the body’s way of telling a woman something is lacking in her diet that her baby needs.
Pica is a different matter altogether. It’s not clear why some pregnant women develop pica. The Journal of the American Dietetic Association speculates that a lack of iron may trigger it. It may not only be iron that the body needs. Pica may be a symptom of a shortage of other vitamins or minerals in the body. This means the pregnant woman is not consuming them at all or is not getting enough in her diet. It’s possible, therefore, that pica in pregnant women can be managed with vitamin supplements and dietary changes.
It is advisable for women to report pica to their doctor so that treatment can be prescribed. That’s because eating non-food substances is not suitable for the expectant mother or her unborn child. Some of the substances ingested may contain toxic elements that are harmful. Chewing sugar-free gum may help to bring the cravings under control. An active support system of caring friends and families can help a pregnant woman with pica when the cravings set in.
20. Pimples or acne
Another frequent side effect of pregnancy that is hard to manage is acne. Outbreaks of pimples or severe acne are common during pregnancy. Up to 50% of women report pimples, acne, or skin blemishes on their faces. It’s usually at its worst during the first trimester. The higher hormone levels in the body are responsible. When girls reach puberty, they have a sudden upswing in hormonal activity.
That’s what causes many of them to have a pimple or acne outbreak on their faces. Well beyond puberty, many women report getting pimples or acne outbreaks when they menstruate. This is also what happens when a woman falls pregnant. Acne and pimples are the body’s response to these increased levels of female hormones.
The surge of hormones in the beginning stages of pregnancy cause the skin to produce more oils that it did before. This is what prompts the outbreaks. Women with a history of pimples or acne during adolescence or around the time of menstruation are far more likely to have flare-ups during pregnancy. If a woman doesn’t experience an episode of pimples or acne during her first trimester, it’s not likely she’ll have any problems during her second and third trimesters.
Acne is difficult to manage without the complication of pregnancy. Many of the treatments that can be obtained on prescription or over-the-counter are not regarded as safe for pregnant women. They bear the risk of causing birth defects. A pregnant woman should avoid any medicine that has the potential to harm her baby unless her doctor recommends it. This will only happen when medication is required to keep the expectant mother to stay alive. Acne and pimples do not fall within this category.
Expectant mothers should use natural remedies for a pimple and acne breakout. It’s uncomfortable and makes them feel self-conscious. But they should bear in mind that it will clear up in time.