The weird world of pregnancy - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

The weird world of pregnancy

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By Marcia Whyte Smart
 

Surging hormones and a growing body trigger some intense physical changes during pregnancy. While some of these alterations will seem almost alien to you, rest assured that most of them are normal and will go away after delivering your baby. Here, a roundup of common physical symptoms you might encounter:

  • Chloasma
    Usually called "the mask of pregnancy," chloasma is the appearance of patchy dark skin on the forehead, nose and cheeks. It coincides with a rise in hormones and melanin during pregnancy. Dark-haired women tend to be more susceptible. The patches will fade a few months after pregnancy. In the meantime, to prevent the area from darkening further stay out of the direct sun, and wear sunscreen and cover up.
  • Linea Nigra
    Everyone has a faint line that runs from the belly button to the pubic bone, but it can darken substantially when you're expecting. The same culprit that causes chloasma, an increase in melatonin, enhances the color of the linea nigra. The line should fade a few months after pregnancy, when your hormones level out.
  • Breast Changes
    You may not recognize them anymore: bluish veins appear under the skin's surface, the area around the nipple (the areola) darkens and increases in size, nipples protrude more, and the glands on the areola become raised and bumpy in preparation for breastfeeding. And by the end of the first trimester, your breasts might leak a thick and yellow liquid called colostrum. Most of these symptoms will subside after delivery or after you stop nursing.
  • Bleeding Gums
    An increase in your body's blood flow helps move nutrient-rich blood to the uterus, but it can also send extra blood to your teeth and gums. You may notice that your gums bleed more easily when you brush. This symptom will subside after delivery; until then, try using a softer toothbrush and floss gently.
  • Hair Growth
    Your entire body is growing to accommodate your baby, and your hair is no exception. New hair is growing more rapidly and old hair is shedding more slowly. Your mane may feel thicker, and you may notice hairs sprouting in odd places, like your belly, breasts and nipples.
  • Skin Tags
    Skin is growing and stretching to accommodate baby, and you may notice pieces of "accessory" skin, called skin flaps, on your breasts, armpits and neck. Skin tags are harmless, but they won't diminish after you deliver. You can have them easily removed by a doctor.

While most physical side effects of pregnancy are harmless and will fade soon after delivery, call your doctor if you can't keep liquids down, or if you have a fever or sudden swelling in your face or hands.

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Marcia Whyte Smart is a freelance writer based in San Francisco who writes frequently about women's and children's health.

 

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