5 Icky Pregnancy Side Effects

Some side effects of expecting aren't exactly pleasant—or meant for dinner conversation. Find help for these common conditions.
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When you're pregnant, there's plenty to talk about. You'll want to get the scoop from other parents about how they got their babies to sleep, you'll have to discuss decorating the baby's room, and you'll likely pepper your doc with more questions than an interrogating detective.

But we also know that there may be things you don't want to discuss because some of the side effects of pregnancy are, frankly, a little embarrassing. While you may want to keep those unpleasant bodily functions behind closed mouths, we urge you to bring up any concerns with your doc.

1. Bladder Infections

Normally, the pelvic floor is made up of tight muscles that keep everything in your pelvis in place. But when the hormone relaxin increases during pregnancy to loosen everything up (so the baby can eventually slide out), the pelvic floor becomes less taut, meaning you're more likely to leak urine or allow bacteria to flow in. Antibiotics that are safe for pregnancy can treat these infections, and drinking 100 percent cranberry juice can help.

2. Bacterial Vaginosis

If your vagina smells like ammonia (and you have a milky discharge and some irritation), you may have bacterial vaginosis, which is an infection caused by an overgrowth of flora in the vagina.

There is some link to bacterial vaginosis and premature labor, so it's important to get treatment if you suspect you have an infection. During the first trimester, all you can use is topical treatments. Docs usually wait until later trimesters to give oral medication a try. And all throughout pregnancy, with or without this condition, we recommend a probiotic capsule twice a day. 

3. Yeast Infections

Because the vagina is an acidic environment, changes to the pH balance can decrease the population of protective bacteria in the area. Along with the increased amount of sugar in vaginal secretions that occur during pregnancy, it's a recipe for yeast to flourish.

Redness, cottage-cheesy discharge, and itching can signal a yeast infection. They're not considered a serious health threat to you or your baby, and anti-fungal medications can help. or, try a probiotic.

4. Gas

During pregnancy, fluctuating levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin (which is also found in your gut) can cause your intestines to move in ways that expel gas in less-than-predictable times.

To quiet the storm, don't gulp your food and avoid chewing gum (swallowing air can increase gas); try probiotics or anti-gas meds for gas pains; and avoid foods that cause gas (such as beans, cabbage, milk products, juice, and carbonated beverages).

5. Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids occur when veins near the anus bulge because of the relaxing effects of pregnancy hormones on the walls of the blood vessels. That, combined with heightened pelvic pressure from your expanding uterus and the straining from difficult bowel movements, can cause the blood vessels to distend and poke through the sphincter that keeps the anus closed. When you're trying to move hard poop to the exit (if you're constipated), those swollen hemorrhoid veins are scraped so they bleed and cause pain.

Drink more fluids, aim for 25 grams of fiber a day, or try taking a supplement of 200 milligrams of magnesium twice a day. To ease the pain of hemorrhoids, try soaking in a warm sitz bath with Epsom salts (use about 3 tablespoons in a full tub). Preparation H and Anusol are also safe to use.


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