More Body Changes
"My skin's splotchy."
Estrogen can also leave another calling card: melasma, or the mask of pregnancy. The skin across your forehead, nose, and cheeks may darken, as may your moles and freckles, says Dr. Carr. Some women also develop splotches on their arms or other areas exposed to sun. This is all because estrogen may rev up production of melanocyte-stimulating hormone, which regulates skin pigmentation. The discoloration typically fades a few months after you give birth or finish nursing. Till then, you can keep it in check by shunning the sun and using sunscreen with at least SPF 30. (Dr. Callender suggests Aveeno Positively Radiant Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30; Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 55; and La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Lotion.) Try different makeup and concealers to even out your skin. Dr. Callender is a fan of mineral-based lines, such as Jane Iredale, which act as a physical barrier against the sun. Still speckled a few months into momhood? Check in with your derm, who may recommend treatments such as topical hydroquinone, azaleic acid, chemical peels or microdermabrasion.
"Just call me Snuffleupagus."
Feeling congested without any other cold or allergy symptoms? You may have rhinitis of pregnancy. That's the fancy name for when nasal membranes swell due to hormonal changes, triggering congestion. Plus, the extra blood flow now expands the tiny arteries and veins in the nose, so it's no surprise your sniffer can't do its job. Ease symptoms by drinking plenty of fluids (at least eight glasses a day), sleeping with your head elevated, and using a saline nasal spray. Running a cool-mist humidifier near your bed can help too.
Oh, how the girls will grow! By delivery day, you could easily go up a couple of cup sizes. The increased blood flow estrogen and progesterone trigger engorges the blood vessels (don't be surprised if your breasts start to look veiny); then, of course, your milk glands and ducts begin to develop, which contributes to fullness. The hormones can also lead to swelling, sensitivity, and pain. Invest in well-fitting, supportive bras and a bra expander to extend their life as your rib cage fills out. You'll likely have to shop a few times before the baby's born, and again afterward if you plan to nurse.
"I miss my a.m. (or p.m.) BM!"
Pregnancy gums up the works. As many as 40 percent of moms-to-be become constipated at some point, Dr. Burney says. Progesterone slows "intestinal motility" -- doctorspeak for the digestive process. For regular bowel movements, drink up (yes, those same eight glasses), aim for 25 to 35 grams of fiber-rich food a day, and stay active. Exercise can stimulate your bowels, so as long as you're having a healthy pregnancy, 30 minutes of activity three to five days a week can make a difference. Even a stroll with your partner and pup counts.