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The good and the not-so-good things that people don't tell you about pregnancy

Kerina De Floras Kerina De Floras 8 Mins Read

Kerina De Floras Kerina De Floras

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Are you getting a lot of advice during pregnancy? Trust us, there’s more you need to know. Here are a few things nobody would tell you about being pregnant

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The good and the not-so-good things that people don't tell you about pregnancy

From the moment your pregnancy is confirmed, it’s a celebration. People in the family will give you that extra time and while you may be basking in joy, hogging all the limelight, you will get tons of advice as well. From relatives to strangers, everyone will voice their concerns. In every conversation, chances are, you will hear a lot of ‘Did you try this?’ and ‘No, don’t do that’. But amid that barrage of confusing opinions and suggestions, your well-wishers may not tell you everything about pregnancy. Yes, you read that right – they wouldn’t. But fret not, we will handhold you through this beautiful journey toward motherhood and help you through the ups and downs.

The good part

“What nobody told me about was the magical feeling you experience both physically and emotionally. Listening to the baby’s heartbeat for the first time, experiencing the kicks in the second trimester – every moment was really comforting and joyful. You might read or hear about this, but the experience is unique to every mother” - Devisalini Sivaraj, mom

1. Healthy skin and hair

You’ll get a lot of ‘Wow, you’re glowing!’ comments everywhere you go, as you sport lustrous locks of hair, glowing skin, and healthy nails. The greater volume of blood during pregnancy makes the skin look flushed, and changes in hormone levels (estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone) in your body produce more sebum (oil), thus giving you the ‘pregnancy glow’. Rock the glow mommy!

2. Reduced risk of diseases

During pregnancy, there is an exchange of cells between the mother and the fetus.  Microchimerism is when these cells are found to be present in the mother, even after delivery. Male microchimerism, the presence of Y chromosomes in the blood, has been found to have a positive impact on the health of women.

A study titled Male microchimerism and survival among women, published in 2013 in the International Journal of Epidemiology states the following.

“We report a 60% lower all-cause mortality among male microchimerism positive compared with negative women, primarily driven by a markedly reduced risk of death from cancer.”

3. Mindful eating

Pregnancy sets you on track to a healthier lifestyle. You suddenly find yourself eating healthier, checking labels on packaged foods, getting some exercise, and making sure your baby gets the nutrition needed. You tend to drop unhealthy food habits and adopt better lifestyle changes instead, even after delivery.

4. Lower risk of breast cancer

Did you know that the probability of a woman being diagnosed with breast cancer, in the long run, is reduced by pregnancy? This is more so if the woman has had a full-term pregnancy before the age of 30. Researchers have found that genes related to the body’s immune system increase during pregnancy, and those related to growth are reduced. This considerably reduces the risk of breast cancer in the long run.

An article titled Pregnancy duration and breast cancer risk published in the Nature Communications journal of the US National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine, says:

“Women who have been pregnant for a minimum period of 34 weeks have been found to have a lesser risk of breast cancer, than other women. Having more than one child also reduces the risk."

5. Healthier heart

Say hello to a healthier heart, thanks to your pregnancy! In the study titled Duration of Lactation and Risk Factors for Maternal Cardiovascular Disease, researchers state the following:

“Women who breastfed their children for at least 12 months, were found to be lesser susceptible to cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, and diabetes. Lactation increases a mother's metabolism by around 480 kcal/day. This is also why lactating mothers lose more weight in the postpartum period than women who do not breastfeed. Changes in hormones, like increased production of oxytocin also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease."

7. Reduced menstrual cramps after delivery

Do you usually suffer painful cramps during your menstrual cycle? After pregnancy, the pain becomes more manageable, as childbirth results in the loss of prostaglandins receptors in the uterus. These are the hormones that help in the contraction of the uterus during childbirth and also cause monthly menstrual pain.

What to enjoy during pregnancy

Napping at random times
You can nap at any time and will even be encouraged to do so!
Being the center of attention
Your family will provide assistance at any time of day, you can cancel plans without feeling guilty, and strangers will offer their seats for you wherever you go.
Enjoying maternity clothes
Pull off the cute look effortlessly, in your pajamas! Throw on a cute maternity dress or just a pair of sweatpants, and you’re good to go.
No waiting anywhere
No more waiting in lines at counters because you have a privilege now!
Feeling the baby’s kicks and heartbeat
Can it get any more magical than listening to your little one’s heartbeat for the first time, or feeling the kicks?
Baby shower
One more reason to enjoy as you get pampered by family and friends and create beautiful memories to cherish forever.

The not-so-good part

“You will receive great attention and care from everyone around you. Even from strangers. You will be given priority while waiting in line, or in a bus. But all the care and attention shift toward baby after delivery!” - Shanmuga Priya, mom

1. Morning sickness

The most common discomfort women complain about during pregnancy is morning sickness or hyperemesis gravidarum. Nausea and vomiting are experienced in women in their first trimester and are most often caused by a strong smell or taste. The pasta or roti you loved before might be a trigger now!

2. Heartburn and sleepless nights

Women in their second and third trimesters often experience heartburn. This is caused by acid reflux from the stomach. Why does it happen during pregnancy? The changes in hormones during pregnancy cause the muscular valve (oesophageal sphincter) between your stomach and esophagus (food pipe) to relax. As the baby grows and the uterus pushes down on the stomach, the stomach acids are easily pushed up, causing heartburn.

3. Stuffy nose

During pregnancy, the mucous membrane lining the nose swells up as there is more blood flow to the nasal cavity and swelling in the nasal veins. Check with your gynecologist before using any nasal spray for relief. The symptoms usually wear off after the baby is born.

4. Pregnancy brain

Many women have experienced ‘momnesia’ or ‘pregnancy brain’ -- a memory lapse due to a surge in hormones. Lack of sleep and multitasking all the time during pregnancy might contribute to these bouts of memory loss. But does your brain really get affected during pregnancy?

Researchers at the University of Sunderland in the UK conducted a study titled ‘The maternal brain’, published in The Psychologist in 2010.

"When the performance of pregnant and non-pregnant women on 15 tests was compared based on memory and attention, very little difference was found between them. There was no difference in their performance in two driving simulator tasks either.”

5. Swollen feet

Swollen ankles or feet are normal during pregnancy, say experts. The growing uterus can interrupt the flow of blood to your legs, causing a fluid build-up in the veins. This extra fluid accumulates in the tissues, causing your feet to swell. Unless the swelling becomes painful and causes high blood pressure, there is no cause for concern.

6. Mood swings

One minute you’re laughing with your family at a movie scene, and the next you find yourself crying. This emotional roller coaster is part of being pregnant. Women usually experience this during the first and third trimesters. Practice yoga, get lots of sleep, and pamper yourself to keep the mood swings at bay.

Wow! Does it seem bittersweet? Well, as everyone says, all pain is forgotten when your baby’s tiny fingers hold on to yours, and from then on only the good memories remain. Remember to take care of yourself and prioritize your needs as well as the baby’s at all times for a safe and enjoyable pregnancy.

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