More Body Changes
"My body aches."
Along with muscle-loosening progesterone, the hormone relaxin is flooding your cells, especially in the third trimester. One of relaxin's main jobs is to loosen the joints in the birth canal so they can open and flex as Baby makes her way through. But the equal-opportunity hormone relaxes all of your joints, which means that everyday wear and tear can take a faster toll on your body. What's more, as your posture changes due to your burgeoning bump, lower-back aches can become a bother. If you can, try swimming, which is especially helpful in relieving back pain, says Diane Ashton, M.D., deputy medical director of the March of Dimes in White Plains, New York. Prenatal massages from a certified therapist can give relief, as well as smart moves like wearing low-heeled, supportive shoes and giving yourself permission to rest a little each day.
"My taste in food has totally changed."
Don't stress over the wackadoo things you Must Eat Now -- or the everyday staples, like your favorite grilled chicken sandwich, you fear you'll never enjoy again. Intense cravings and nausea may be related to your surging levels of HCG, a hormone produced by the placenta. HCG kick-starts progesterone production, which your body needs for a developing pregnancy. Levels tend to peak around ten weeks, Dr. Burney says, so by your second trimester, you may not be sending your guy out for chocolate-glazed doughnuts at 2 a.m. anymore.
"I'm fussier than my 2-year-old."
If you don't have mood swings, we may have to ask you to check your pregnancy test! Out-of-the-blue crying jags and totally undeserved outbursts at your hubby for forgetting the bananas (or whatever it is today) are practically programmed into your noggin. "The rapid change in hormones affects neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate mood," Dr. Ashton says. Rides on the emotional roller coaster tend to be especially intense during the first trimester, when hormones are rocketing, and they often return again in the third, she says. Biology aside, keep in mind that being pregnant and having a baby is a life-changing experience in the most wonderful -- and stressful -- ways. So cut yourself a little slack. Do what calms you: Exercise, turn in early, meditate, kvetch to your partner. There's no one silver bullet, but keep trying till you find what works for you. If, however, you feel your mood swings are interfering with your life, or you're starting to lose interest in things you used to get a kick out of, check in with your doctor.
"My sex drive is turbocharged!"
Oh, mama! Thanks to that increased blood flow mentioned earlier, the skin and muscles of your perineum, vulva, and vagina are supersensitive now and ready for action -- possibly lots of it. As long as you have the green light from your doctor, grab your partner (or go it alone), hop in the sack, and get your O on!
Originally published in the June 2012 issue of American Baby magazine.
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