Pregnancy conditions, from the strange to the serious

Posted in Pregnancy Complications.

Pregnant belly conditions

Growing a baby means a gorgeous bump to carry around, but it also means huge pressure on your body. The body that you’ve become so familiar with begins to change in ways that leave you both in awe and scratching your head (and other parts of your body).

Haemorrhoids, skin tags and thrush leave you feeling like a whole different person, while anemia, aches and pains give new meaning to exhaustion. Some pregnancy symptoms kick into gear right from the get-go, while others rear their head further on into the second and third trimesters.

Here are the strange and serious pregnancy conditions you may experience while growing a bub.

First trimester pregnancy conditions

Early pregnancy signs and symptoms

The huge hormonal surges in the first few weeks open the door on physical and mental conditions that impact the way you feel, look and think.

Depression – Everything’s new when your growing a tiny human, your body is different and there are all sort of thoughts in your head. But if you’re feeling intense sadness and helplessness have a chat to your doctor about depression.

Listeriosis – Food that’s been contaminated with the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes can make you seriously ill, and it’s even more dangerous if you’re pregnant. It’s the main reason we’re told not to eat certain foods while pregnant – including pre-cut fruit.


Second trimester pregnancy conditions

Gestational Diabetes: pregnant mum holding belly in peach top

Lots of people will tell you this is the cruisy trimester but it’s also a huge time of growth for your baby and body. That means plenty of changes are afoot.

High blood pressure – This can be a sign of preeclampsia after the 20th week, so it’s on the doctor checklist at most appointments in the second half of the second trimester. It’s the most common medical disorder in pregnancy and can be life-threatening for mum and bub, and the cause is unknown.

Chloasma – or ‘mask of pregnancy’ are patches of discoloured skin that appear on the cheeks, forehead or nose and are thought to be triggered by hormones. Dark patches on fair-skinned mums and light patches on dark-skinned mums.

Placenta praevia – is when the placenta is lying unusually low in the uterus, either partially or completely covering the cervix. The main symptom is bleeding without pain during the second trimester and is picked up in the second-trimester ultrasound. Depending on how much it’s covering baby’s exit route, it usually means a c-section delivery.

Yeast infections – harmless but annoying, thrush while pregnant is pretty common thanks to the increased levels of hormones in your body. Itching, irritation and swelling of the vagina and surrounding area, sometimes with a creamy white cottage cheese-like discharge are common symptoms. Take a trip to your doctor who can pop you on the right treatment, as some of the usual ones aren’t recommended in pregnancy.

Haemorrhoids – Hormones do all sorts of crazy things to bowels during pregnancy – including block you right up. Constipation is one cause of haemorrhoids. They’re painful, itchy, ache, bleed and cause discomfort during and after bowel movements. Upping the amount of water you drink and eating lots of fruit and veggies are a good way to steer clear of constipation.

Vulval varicosities (varicose veins of the vulva) – Basically varicose veins on the outside of the vagina they are annoying, yet harmless. Vulval varicosities are caused by increased blood volume, hormones and pressure. Try and avoid standing for long periods of time and wear firm underpants or pressure shorts to ease the discomfort. The good news is they should disappear once bub comes along.

Carpal tunnel syndrome – Fluid retention in the wrist tissue (thanks pregnancy hormones!) can squeeze the nerves leaving tingling, pain and numbness in the fingers. Ouch! Thankfully it disappears soon after birth.

Anaemia – During the second trimester, your blood volume significantly increases, and with it, depletion of your iron stores to produce all those new red blood cells you’re making.

Third-trimester pregnancy conditions

Pregnant Belly in the autumn light

Ow, my back, neck, boobs, hips, legs. Yep, it’s the third trimester and everything hurts.

Skin tags – These little pieces of extra skin tend to show up on your arms or breasts during pregnancy (thank those hormones!). They are harmless and usually go away on their own after birth.

PUPPP – Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy is a mouthful and super annoying. It’s a rash that tends to gather around stretch marks but can also appear on arms and legs. Not much can be done to ease the unbearable itch, other than giving birth to your baby. There’s also an old wives’ tale that says you’re more likely to be having a boy if you get PUPPP.

Urinary tract infections – These are much more common in pregnancy because of changes in the urinary tract. You may have no symptoms or any of these: burning or painful urination, cloudy or blood-tinged urine, pelvic or lower back pain, frequent urination, feeling that you have to urinate frequently, fever, nausea or vomiting. Make sure you let your doctor know if you have any of these symptoms.

Toxoplasmosis – Cat lady? It’s best to get someone else to change the kitty litter until you have bub. Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a parasite that’s found in cat poo. If unborn babies are exposed to the parasite it can cause serious health problems.

Group B strep – GBS is a bacteria that normally lives in our bodies, and many women carry it without any symptoms. However, in some rare cases, it can cause serious illness in newborns, which is why you’ll most likely be tested for it in your third trimester.

CMV – Cytomegalovirus is a common virus that many people carry, but if you’re newly infected while pregnant, there’s a risk your unborn will also become infected, which can lead to serious complications. However, not every woman will be tested for this virus. It’s spread through close, intimate contact with an infected person through their saliva, urine, breast milk, or other bodily fluids.

Pelvic pain – Pregnancy can be a pain in the pelvis. Your body’s producing the relaxin hormone so the ligaments in your pelvis are being softened. This causes pelvic pain, either at the front, which can be symphysis pubis dysfunction or at the back which is known as pelvic girdle pain. Some exercises may help; you can also pay a visit to a physio.

Round ligament pain – These sharp, jabbing pains on the sides of your abdomen are pretty common during pregnancy as your uterus grows. Try easing the discomfort with rest, good posture, changing positions, light massage and warmth – either a heat pack or bath (not too hot!)

Restless leg syndrome – This frustrating condition may be keeping you up at night, as it causes sensations of crawling or tingling inside your feet and calves. Some women even suffer cramps and pain, and an overpowering urge to move their legs. The experts don’t quite know what causes it, but there’s some that think the trigger could be a lack of folic acid or iron.

Bell’s palsy – While it’s not known exactly what causes it, Bell’s palsy is more common during pregnancy and causes the temporary paralysis of some of the muscles in the face, causing one side to droop.

Read next …

Want to know what else you’re in for? Take a look at the pregnancy symptoms you’re likely to encounter each trimester:

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