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Pregnancy. A time of witnessing the true power and magnificence of your body—and just how weird it can be.


The truth is that while your body is doing the hard work of growing a baby, it’s also doing some pretty strange things in the process. While it can feel odd to be in a body that’s changing so much, trust that much of it is normal, and you are not alone in what you’re feeling.

Here are 10 pregnancy symptoms you may have never heard of:

1. “Lightning vagina”

What it is: Sharp pains in your vagina, especially toward the end of pregnancy.

Why it happens: As baby’s head is getting lower and bigger, it’s putting more pressure on your pelvis and all the nerves in it.

What can help: Staying active (especially doing activities where your hips move around) can help because it opens up your pelvis giving the baby a little more room. Yoga, dancing and swimming are great!

*If you get this pain over five times in an hour and you are earlier than 37 weeks pregnant, call your doctor or midwife to make sure it’s not preterm labor.

2. Unusual cravings

What it is: This is called pica—craving things with little or no nutritional value. Specific cravings can include (but are not limited to) ice, dirt, mothballs, toothpaste, cigarette ashes, wall plaster, paper towels and charcoal.

Why it happens: We don’t know for certain, but many experts suspect that pica develops when a woman is lacking certain minerals or vitamins in her diet.

What can help: Eating the above mentioned substances can be harmful to you and your baby, so it’s important to seek help if you find yourself craving or eating them. Speak to your provider right away. They may prescribe you extra iron supplement. In the meantime, when a craving strikes, try chewing a piece of gum instead.

3. Stuffy nose

What it is: Otherwise know as pregnancy rhinitis, it’s basically feeling like you have allergies or a cold—all the time. You may have a stuffy/runny nose and sneezing.

Why it happens: During pregnancy, more blood flows to your mucus membranes (areas like your vagina, mouth and nose). This can trigger your nose to run.

What can help: Talk to your provider to make sure it’s not something more serious first. If you’re having difficulty breathing because of it, get medical treatment right away. Otherwise, nose strips can help open up the nasal passageways, while saline nose sprays and cool mist humidifiers can help moisturize things so it feel less irritating.

4. Leaking breasts

What it is: Breastmilk that leaks from your nipples while you are pregnant.

Why is happens: As your breasts prepare to make milk for your new baby, you may find that they start to leak, while you are still pregnant. This doesn’t happen to everyone, and it doesn’t seem to have much significance in terms of breastfeeding ability—if you are not leaking now, it does not mean that you won’t have enough milk when your baby is born.

What can help: As long as it’s not bloody, there’s usually nothing to worry about it (and no way to prevent it). Just make sure to carry breast pads with you, in case it starts to happen in the middle of a meeting.

5. Changed sex drive

What it is: Suddenly wanting to have sex way more than usual, or much less than usual.

Why it happens: Fluctuating hormones can have a real impact on your libido, as can your level of exhaustions, nausea and back pain—all this can of course put a damper on feeling romantic.

The good news is that hormones can also increase your sexual desires. And, all that increased blood flow to your pelvis can make you feel extra in-the-mood, can increase vaginal lubrication and can make sex feel better.

What can help: Listen to your body. If it’s telling you it needs a break, sleep. If it’s telling you it needs sex... well... have fun! As long as you’ve gotten the green light from your medical provider to have sex, enjoy this time of feeling extra connected to your partner—you just may need to get a little creative as your belly grows.

6. Bleeding gums

What it is: Called pregnancy gingivitis, it’s when your gums bleed easily, especially when brushing your teeth.

Why it happens: Can be caused by increased blood flow to your gums, or changes in your body that make your gums more sensitive to bacteria.

What can help: Take great care of your teeth and gums, and get to a dentist. Dental hygiene is always important. and in pregnancy it’s even more so. Routine dental care is safe, and can contribute to many health benefits for you and your baby (including improving those pesky bleeding gums). Just make sure to tell your dentist if you are (or could be) pregnant.

7. Morning sickness is really all-day sickness

What it is: Many women, especially before week 14, feel nauseous all day long, not just in the morning.

Why it happens: Pregnancy-induced nausea is caused by the high levels of a hormone called HCG in your body (the same hormone that pregnancy tests detect). In addition, when you’re pregnant, your body is more sensitive to the changes levels of glucose (sugar) in your body—women often find that when they are hungry, they get nauseous (a totally unfair combo, we know).

What can help: Eat. One of the best ways to curtail nausea in pregnancy is constantly eating small amounts of food. Keep crackers with you at all times and pop a few every hour. Keep crackers in the bathroom and have a few every time you get up in the middle of the night to pee. Make sure to sip on water or juice as well.

(Psst: check out this list of snack ideas too.)

If you spend 24 or more hours without eating or drinking, or throwing up, head to an emergency room—it’s easy to get dehydrated so they’ll likely give you IV fluid (and some medicine to make you feel better).

8. Extreme emotions

What it is: Waves of emotions that are stronger than you’re used to—happy, sad, crying, happy...

Why it happens: Hormones again, for the win. Also, your body is working extra hard growing your baby, and you are anticipating a huge change in your life, all things that can contribute to your emotional state.

What can help: Be gentle on yourself, and allow yourself to feel the emotions you have. Explain to your partner, friends and co-workers what’s going on and let them know how to best support you.

Also, it’s important to know that prenatal (not just postpartum) depression and anxiety exist—if you’re feeling very sad or worries, let your doctor or midwife know, or consult a therapist. And if you feel like hurting yourself or others, get to an emergency room right away. Remember, it’s not your fault and you are not alone.

9. Constipation

What it is: Difficulty having a bowel movement (pooping), hard bowel movements, or infrequent bowel movements.

Why it happens: Hormones that relax the muscles and tissues in your body during pregnancy can also s-l-o-w everything down in you digestive tract. Sometime this can also be caused by the iron in your prenatal vitamins, or by not eating enough fiber.

What can help: Water, water, water. Make sure you’re staying very well hydrated—about 10-12 cups of fluid per day. And eat lots of fruits and vegetables, as well as prunes, bran. and high fiber cereals.

Exercise can also help you get things moving again.

10. Drooling

What is is: Ptyalism, or hypersalivation is an increase in saliva production.

Why it happens: Sometimes it can be in response to all the nausea and vomiting. The hormones of pregnancy can also increase the amount your saliva glands produce.

What can help: If it’s caused by nausea, see # 7 above. Make sure you’re getting regular dental care too. Beyond that, you can try chewing sugarless gum or sucking on candy. Take heart, this often resolves by the end of your first trimester.

Hang in there, mama. We know it’s hard, but you are already rocking it. You’ve got this.

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.

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A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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