The down and dirty about what's going on in your belly.
Don’t judge a bump by it’s cover! What looks cute and miraculous from the outside, can feel more like a war zone to the mama carrying it. There is so much more going on inside our pregnant tummies than meets the eye!
As if growing a tiny human wasn’t enough, our bellies are a rollercoaster of nausea, gassiness and constipation -- among other things! Pregnancy is a long nine months, and our bellies certainly don’t make it easy on us. Here’s the lowdown on what you can expect from your ever expanding midsection.
1. Morning Sickness. Maybe you’re trying to get pregnant or maybe you’re not, but you know it’s time to take that test when you wake up and run straight to the bathroom. More than 50% of women suffer from morning sickness. Morning sickness doesn’t hurt you or your baby, but if you’re throwing up a lot all day, you may have hyperemesis gravidarum, which requires medication. Medication for hyperemesis gravidarum helps you temper the nausea so you can stay hydrated and full of the nutrients you need to grow a happy, healthy baby!
For some mamas, the itchiness comes first. Itchy bellies, itchy boobs, itchy booties. Anywhere you skin is stretching, it’s itching. To ease the itch, try taking cool showers instead of piping hot ones, and make sure to slather on the lotion! And while you’re at it, try some lotion or oil high in vitamin E to help keep stretch marks at bay. In most cases, itchiness is completely normal, but if your itching is severe or accompanied by a rash, make sure to let your physician know so you can be evaluated.
Pardon me! We don’t need to tell you what the most embarrassing tummy trouble is. Just blame that gassiness on the bump. The pregnancy hormone progesterone amps up during the first trimester, relaxing muscles and slowing down digestion, making you extra gassy… on both ends!
Plush, reclining chairs might have no place in the aesthetic of your home, but you’re going to wish you had one when the heartburn strikes! Every pregnant mama has a night (or three dozen), when the pain is so bad you have to sleep sitting up. Again, pregnancy hormones relaxing your muscles are to blame, allowing acid to splash back up through your esophagus. It doesn’t help that your growing belly is pushing everything up, too. Silver lining: heartburn is a great excuse for downing a pint of ice cream before bed!
Here’s one nobody warns you about: the double flusher. Diarrhea is one super unpleasant side effect of your curvy new body. While diarrhea is super common during pregnancy, if you’re hitting the toilet three or more times a day you should talk to your healthcare provider. It can cause you to become dehydrated, too, so make sure you’re drinking plenty of water.
Sometimes pregnancy just hurts. Abdominal pain and pelvic floor pain are ubiquitous, especially as your baby gets bigger. That stabbing round ligament pain is often felt in the bottom of your belly, your groin, and on one or both sides. Yay! You’ll also start feeling pelvic floor pain toward the end of pregnancy as your body starts producing relaxin, a hormone that, yep, relaxes your ligaments. If you’re feeling this pelvic floor pain, be extra careful -- it could also make your legs a little extra wobbly, putting you at risk for falls.
How about the belly issues you can see?! Stretch marks. Oh, the stretch marks. As our ever-expanding bellies stretch, sometimes the deepest layer of our skin can’t keep up. Rapid growth leads to stretch marks. And while we know stretch marks are a genetic thing (sorry, mama), you can use lotions rich in vitamin E to try and fend them off. If that doesn’t work, there are also laser procedures.
While our bellies may have us in knots during pregnancy, there is one belly phenomenon that makes it all worth it: feeling our baby kick! There’s nothing like the first time you feel your little one flutter inside you to make all the gassiness, heartburn and toilet flushing worth it.
Photo from Very Well.