It's not enough that your back hurts, your head hurts, you're exhausted, and you feel like throwing up all day—your gums just might decide to get in on the act by bleeding every time you brush or floss. A condition known as pregnancy gingivitis causes swollen, sensitive gums that are prone to bleeding. While your first inclination may be to skip brushing and flossing, that's the worst thing you can do. Tooth decay means a buildup of bacteria that are potentially harmful to your unborn baby.
Good oral hygiene is essential throughout pregnancy. See your dentist early on for a thorough cleaning. Getting dental work done during pregnancy, and even having local anesthesia, is perfectly safe. Just avoid getting x-rays, and check with your OB on any medication your dentist prescribes. Throughout pregnancy, brush frequently and floss daily, but gently. Use the softest bristled toothbrush you can find and switch to a toothpaste for sensitive teeth and gums.
Another phenomenon that may affect gums during pregnancy, although it's rare, is the development of harmless nodes on the gums known as pyogenic granulomas. These bumps will be painful and will bleed when irritated by brushing, but they pose no risk to your health or to your baby and will clear up on their own shortly after delivery.
The Lingering After-Effects
The roller coaster ride of pregnancy isn't limited to the 40 weeks of gestation. Some pregnancy symptoms linger on for several months postpartum, while others are permanent.
A common complaint, especially among women pregnant in the warm weather months, is swollen ankles. Moms who expect to slide back into those Jimmy Choo mules once the baby-bloating is gone may have another thing coming. Having a baby can leave you with permanently larger feet. While your feet won't go from a size six to a size nine, most women do find that they need shoes a half-size bigger after delivery.
Another thing that will never again be the same? Your breasts. When you've finally finished nursing and your breasts have returned to normal (a relative term, of course), you're likely to find that they're somewhat smaller and decidedly less perky than they were before baby. While a few women claim that their breasts got larger and stayed that way with each baby, most women will notice a bit of shrinkage—which, by the way, will happen whether or not you nurse. Not only that, but your nipples will never regain their girlish pink hue. The color they darken to during your first trimester is the color you're likely to be stuck with forever.
Each and every woman experiences pregnancy in her own unique way. The maladies and legacies of pregnancy can be weird, gross, uncomfortable, and even amusing. Bear in mind that the major discomforts are fleeting and a small price to pay for giving life. As any mom will tell you, the moment you hold your newborn baby in your arms, you'd do it all over again, tenfold, just for that tiny person—your child.