Pregnancy does a number on the body—and weird, wacky (and occasionally TMI) side effects are often more normal than not. Our motto: expect the unexpected—and always check in with your OB-GYN.
Ellen Manos, MD, an NYC-based ob-gyn weighed in on what you might expect—and what you can do to deal with all those changes happening.
First trimester fatigue
Nope, it’s not your imagination. Creating a human is exhausting — particularly in those early days. The good news? The fatigue should pass. “Welcome to pregnancy!” Dr. Manos said. ” It is a perfectly normal response to the changes in multiple hormones in the first trimester. After 14 weeks, fatigue often lifts and many patients experience a burst of energy.”
Second trimester fatigue
If you’re still bone-tired during the middle of your pregnancy, you may want to check in with your provider. “When fatigue occurs in the second trimester, it is often associated with low iron/anemia as the needs of the growing fetus become greater,” Dr. Manos explained.
Third trimester fatigue
Yup, welcome back to the land of “it’s totally normal to be this tired.” According to Dr. Manos, you can thank physical discomfort and your, um, overactive bladder for disrupting your sleep, which (understandably!) leads to fatigue. Nap when you can for relief.
Excess gas and bloating
Hate to break it to you, but that may not be a brand new baby bump you’re seeing — it could have more to do with gas and bloating, both of which are common early on in pregnancy. Dr. Manos chalked this up to the increase in progesterone, which can slow down your digestive system.
As you slow down—so do your bowels. “The progesterone hormone increases a lot in pregnancy, causing all smooth muscles in the body to relax, so the entire GI tract slows down,” Dr. Manos said. “When this happens in the large intestine, gas and constipation can occur.” Be sure to chat with your OB before taking anything (even an over-the-counter remedy) to relieve the issue.
A change in your usual allergies
“Interestingly enough, most people afflicted with severe allergies actually improve during pregnancy,” said Dr. Manos. “It’s nature’s way of dulling the immune system slightly to accommodate the fetus (which, of course is half alien to Mom’s immune system).” Not everyone sees improvement here, though. “Progesterone can cause mild nasal congestion and should be treated with simple, nonmedical treatments,” Manos explained. “If environmental allergies do worsen (as they can in one-third of pregnant patients), there are safe medicines that can be used, only after discussing them with your OB—never use over-the-counter medication without checking first.”
Crampy pelvic pain
Scary? Yup — but don’t worry, those pelvic cramps are likely totally normal. “Mild crampy pelvic pain is very common and normal in the early stages of pregnancy as the uterus slowly expands,” Dr. Manos shared. There’s a caveat, though: “If it is severe or accompanied by any vaginal bleeding, your OB should be consulted,” Dr. Manos warned.
They may catch you off guard, but pregnancy nosebleeds are a thing, and likely associated with dry mucus membranes. Talk to your doctor if yours become persistent.
It might feel uncomfortable, but it's common due to increased blood flow to the gums during pregnancy. Still, you want to be on guard abotu this one: “Every pregnant patient should go to the dentist for routine care/cleaning since teeth/gum disease can be associated with an increased risk of preterm labor and delivery,” she said.
Consider this one a “probably-normal-but-you-may-want-to-chat-with-your-doctor” symptom. Itchy skin can be a symptom of one of the many pregnancy-related skin conditions, the great majority of which are harmless, but annoying,” says Manos. “Hydrating orally and hydrating your skin with a hyaluronic acid containing lotion regularly usually does the trick. Nonetheless, your OB should be consulted since there are a few rare conditions where itchiness in the second and third trimesters are associated with something more serious.”
Most of us assume pregnancy ushers in a vacation from any and all bleeding down there, so you might be bummed (or terrified) to see some blood. “Since blood flow increases intensely to the pelvis in early pregnancy, a simple thing like intercourse can sometimes break a small blood vessel on the cervix and cause spotting,” says Manos. Always bring it up to your doc—no question is too small.