03 March 2011

7 embarrassing pregnancy symptoms

Most woman expect pregnancy to be a time of bliss as pregnancy progresses they soon realise that growing a tiny human is not for sissies.


Most woman expect pregnancy to be a time of bliss thinking that morning sickness, hormonal changes, weight gain, mood swings, and weird cravings are the only things they'll have to deal with.

As pregnancy progresses they soon realise that growing a tiny human is not for sissies, check any pregnancy forum and you'll come across dozens of queries related to some very unglamorous pregnancy symptoms.

So what causes those embarrassing pregnancy symptoms and how do you deal with them?

The seven most common embarrassing symptoms.

Pardon me, I farted

During pregnancy the body begins to produce large amounts of progesterone. This hormone relaxes the muscles in the body, including the gastrointestinal tract. The uterus grows during pregnancy and places pressure on the rectum. It makes it hard to control these muscles which usually control the passing of gas.

The fix: Eat six smaller meals. Eat slowly eating as eating too fast means that you swallow air, causing gas pockets in the stomach. Relax, tension also causes you to swallow air during meals and during the day. Avoid foods such as: cabbage, beans, fried foods and onions which cause gas. Keep your weight gain gradual as this limits the amount of pressure on the digestive tract.

Bladder leaks

Pregnancy and urinary incontinence go hand in hand. Leaking urine, especially when laughing, coughing or sneezing is very common during pregnancy.  The pressure of the growing uterus on the bladder makes it harder to hold and store urine.

The fix:  Do at least three sets of 30 Kegel exercises a day. Cross your legs when you cough or sneeze. Train your bladder; urinate every 30 minutes before you feel the urge. Avoid constipation as full bowels add pressure on the bladder. Use sanitary pads to absorb leaking.


Constipation is very common during pregnancy. This is largely due to the effects of the hormone progesterone which slows the movement of food through the digestive tract and also due to pressure that the expanding uterus puts on the intestines.

The fix: Eat a diet high in fibre. Drink lots of water. Exercise regularly, moderate exercises such as walking and swimming help the intestines by stimulating bowel movement. Over-the-counter medications such as Senokot and Metmucial may be used, but consult your doctor before using any medication.


Haemorrhoids are common during pregnancy, occurring during the third trimester, but they may also develop during labour due to pushing. They are swollen rectal veins which can be itchy or painful. You are more prone to getting them during pregnancy as the growing uterus puts pressure on the pelvic veins and the inferior vena cava, a vein on the right side of the body that receives blood for the lower part of the body. This slows down the return of blood, increasing the pressure on the veins below the uterus and causing them to swell. Haemorrhoids are also aggravated by straining due to constipation. Don’t be alarmed as haemorrhoids usually improve after birth.

The fix: Take a warm bath. Apply an ice pack with a covering; ice may help reduce swelling and discomfort. Avoid sitting for long hours. Ask your doctor to prescribe a safe topical cream.


Swelling (oedema) during pregnancy is caused by additional blood and fluid. It usually occurs in the hands, face, legs, ankles and feet. The extra retention of fluid is needed to soften the body which enables it to expand during gestation.  It also helps prepare the pelvic joints and tissues to open during birth. Swelling is particularly common during the third trimester, however sudden and severe swelling should be checked out as it can be a warning sign of pre-eclampsia.

The fix: Rest and elevation of the legs can help. Avoid standing too long. Drink lots of water as it help flush the body and reduces water retention. Wear supportive stockings and comfortable heels, ditch the stilettos. Exercise regularly.

Vaginal discharge

During pregnancy it is common to experience an increase in vaginal discharge. The thin, milky white, mild-smelling discharge is called leucorrhoea. Discharge increase occurs because more blood is flowing to the area around the vagina. As labour nears it increases and can be heavy with a bloody mucous-streaked 'show'. It is the plug that seals the cervix of the entrance of the uterus, and when it loosens it's a sign that labour will start soon. If you experience discharge that is green or yellow, strong smelling, redness or itching see your doctor it could be a vaginal infection.

The fix: Always keep the vaginal area clean and dry, wear loose trousers or skirts, wear cotton underwear and use panty liners for comfort. Don't douche because it can irritate the skin and upset the natural bacteria in the vagina

'Porridge brain'

Forgetfulness is common during pregnancy, porridge brain is a hormonal effect and there is very little that can be done. According to research the brain may be altered during pregnancy affecting short-term memory and concentration. This is nothing to be alarmed about as it's only temporary.

The fix: Write things down, keep a daily calendar, and put items you use often in one place.

(Leandra Engelbrecht, Health24, March 2011)


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