Saturday, October 8, 2011

Odd Pregnancy Symptoms

When I got pregnant, I certainly wasn’t expecting pregnancy to be nine months of comfort and luxury.  I expected there to be a level of discomfort and even pain, but I thought I knew all there was to know about pregnancy symptoms: morning sickness, heartburn, back pain, swelling.  What I have since come to find out is that pregnancy hormones are unpredictable and their effects manifest in a variety of ways, including some that are just downright weird.  My husband has been referring to What to Expect When You’re Expecting and Google quite often over the past few months, but it seems like all my symptoms are within the broad range of “normal” for pregnancies (but honestly, what isn’t?).  Here are just a few of the unexpected pregnancy symptoms I’ve experienced in the past 32 weeks:

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1. Food allergies: As a woman who has never had food allergies in her life, it took me about a month to realize why I would randomly have a scratchy feeling in my throat and break into coughing fits.  There was nothing random about it, I finally realized that I had developed allergies to bananas, almonds, and strawberries during my pregnancy.  Apparently they will go away as soon as I give birth, but I haven’t been able to find any information about how this may affect the development of food allergies in the baby.
2. Worsening eyesight: I definitely don’t see as clearly as I did before I was pregnant, in fact the difference is quite drastic.  I can tell my contacts don’t fit my eyes as well as they did before (I wear hard contacts).  Just like food allergies, my eyesight should change back after the baby is born.  It’s certainly not worth it to go to the eye doctor or get new contacts for this short period of time (plus, I think they will continue to change for the remainder of the pregnancy anyway).

3. Runny nose: This started very early on in my pregnancy and still continues today.  Apparently, during pregnancy, your body increases mucus production to protect you from germs.  Makes sense, but I can’t recall noticing pregnant women with red, runny noses, even now that I’m looking for them. 

4. Leaky nipples: Well, actually, I expected this one.  What I didn’t expect is that it would begin around 16 weeks.  Every pregnancy book I’ve looked at doesn’t seem to mention leaky nipples until the eighth or ninth month.  Apparently, unlike the procrastinator I am, my breasts like to be prepared extra early.

5. Leg cramps: I guess these are a very common pregnancy symptom, and perhaps it’s just showing the naïve state I was in when I got pregnant, but I seriously had never heard that pregnant women get leg cramps.  I’ll be laying in bed and feel the need to stretch out – bad idea – once I stretch my leg straight and point my toes, that’s when it hits!  It’s excruciating pain, and no matter how hard I try, I cannot bend my foot back.  Thank goodness these only happen at night when I’m in bed because that means I have my husband right next to me and as soon as he hears my screams, he’s able to flex my foot and massage my calf until it goes away.  A couple of times my calf has actually been sore for three days after the cramp!  And what’s the worst about these leg cramps is that doctors don’t really agree what’s causing them so there isn’t really any definitive way to prevent them (although taking quinine, stretching and staying active supposedly help).

    All that said, I’m still enjoying my pregnancy very much and, of course, the baby is worth each of these inconveniences and discomforts!  But I just thought I would share some of these symptoms so they don’t catch some unsuspecting mama-to-be unaware.  If these things happen to you, don’t worry they are normal.  Well, as “normal” as leaky nipples and sudden-onset food allergies can be.
    On a more serious note, you should still discuss all your symptoms with your doctor or midwife, even if you think they are perfectly normal.  A young woman I graduated from high school with was experiencing the symptoms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma while pregnant, but just chalked them up to pregnancy symptoms.  After her little one was born very premature at 26 weeks, her doctors discovered the cancer when these symptoms didn’t go away.  (Thankfully, mama is in remission after a round of chemotherapy and baby is at home now and doing well!)


    1. Oh, I got leg cramps in BOTH legs last night. Oh my stars, it was awful. I remember having it happen with my first pregnancy, but thankfully last night was the first time with this pregnancy.

    2. I've heard that drinking more water can help with the leg cramps. I just read your post about trying to drink more water too so I'm sorry if I sound repetitive. :)

      Also, thank you for bring up the point about seeing your doctor. There are a whole host of diseases that like to pop up during pregnancy and are often dismissed.

    3. I got some oddly-unsolicited yet good advice early in my pregnancy for leg cramps, before I ever even had one (from a male boss, ha!). He told me to stamp my foot firmly on the ground as soon as my leg started to cramp. I tried it (including a time they both cramped together...OW), and it worked! My calves were still a bit sore after, but at least my feet were forced to bend back and the cramping stopped. As for advice on how to get them to stop entirely -- I wish I knew! I hope your symptoms clear up soon. Oh, and I must add that I also wear hard contacts. We are a rare breed, it seems. :)

    4. "Apparently, unlike the procrastinator I am, my breasts like to be prepared extra early."

      Oh Mandi you crack me up! :)

    5. Oh I love this post!
      I was also surprised to find out that after my whole life not being allergic to anything, suddenly I have something that resembles lactose intolerance. I also broke out in an itchy rash that I suspect is caused by our detergent.
      I haven't started "leaking" yet, not sure if it's good or bad.
      And thankfully haven't had any leg cramps even though I used to have then occasionally during pregnancy. Every once in a while when I stretch at night, I can feel my leg muscle almost locking up so I instantly pull back my toes before it happens.
      It's funny how you described what your hubby does is he hears you screaming in the middle of the night. Mine did the exact same thing- so cute!

    6. I started leaking very early too! and it peaked right around 33 weeks, calmed down a bit, and then here I am....7.5 months into breastfeeding, still wearing breast pads every day, going through several (reusable ones, thankfully!) each day!

    7. Knowing the the signs of having a baby is important because each manifestation may be related to something other than pregnancy . 

    8. Louise is totally right about the leg cramps. I get them all the time - I just wake up and all I want to do is streeeetch and there they are! I don't need to "stamp" my foot down, I merely need to stand up. It's easier than it sounds but as soon as the heel hits the ground, it instantly goes away. I have no idea why.


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