All About You
Each time you go to the doctor or clinic, they dip a strip of paper in a cup of your urine to measure your blood sugar level. What's with that blood sugar test, anyway? It's to make sure you're not developing gestational diabetes, a condition that affects around one to two percent of all pregnant women. When blood sugar levels are controlled (through diet and sometimes medication), women can have normal pregnancies and normal, healthy babies.
Pregnancy Weight Gain and Other Symptoms
Daily, your body's changing inside and out to accommodate your baby-to-be. As your skin stretches, your breasts and abdomen may become itchy. Your baby bump will begin to change your posture so that your back may ache. Inside your body, your stomach is getting more cramped, sometimes leading to heartburn, indigestion, and flatulence. You may also notice mood swings as pregnancy hormones continue to play with your emotions.
Unsightly Pregnancy Signs
Your body undergoes many changes to give your baby-to-be enough room to grow. Some of these changes are comforting—your rounded belly and your full breasts, for example—while other signs can be troubling. Keep in mind that many of these physical changes will last only until your baby arrives.
- Bleeding gums: Your blood volume has increased dramatically to provide nutrients to your baby-to-be. This increase, along with swelling caused by pregnancy hormones, might make your gums bleed.
- Stretch marks: Whether or not you have stretch marks is a matter of genetics. No amount of specialty abdominal creams or Vitamin E pills are going to prevent stretch marks (despite claims to the contrary), but most women find that these stretch marks fade over time after the baby's birth.
- Weight gain: You should expect to gain 25 to 35 pounds during your pregnancy. As distressing as weight gain can be for some women, those pounds are necessary for your growing baby. Much of the weight is extra fluids (such as blood), tissues (like your breasts), and of course, your baby. (Find out how it all adds up here.) If you eat a sensible pregnancy diet and stay fit, you should be able to lose much of your pregnancy weight after your baby's birth. (Some women are able to shed pounds in a matter of weeks; others need as much as a year to get their bodies back in shape).
- Dark line (linea nigra): As your abdominal muscles stretch to make room for your growing uterus, you may notice a dark line extending from your belly button to your vaginal area. After birth, this line will disappear.
- Swelling (edema): Your body retains water to provide the necessary fluids for your growing baby-to-be. You can prevent much of this swelling from drinking plenty of fluids and keeping your legs up. You may also want to purchase socks designed to improve the circulation in your feet.
- Skin spots: The skin's pigmentation may deepen around certain parts of your body during pregnancy, such as your nipples and freckles. You may also notice spots of color on your face, called the mask of pregnancy or chloasma. These pigmentation changes will fade after your baby's born.