Heartburn. Constipation. Backaches. No one ever said being pregnant was a walk in the park. The good news? Some of the tough-to-take side effects can actually be a sign that your pregnancy is healthy and thriving, says Yvonne Bohn, M.D., co-author of The Mommy Docs' Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy and Birth. Here are four icky pregnancy symptoms that can benefit you and your baby.
When it happens: Usually early in the first trimesterWhy it's good: Blame your tender tatas on rising levels of estrogen and progesterone, both of which are needed for pregnancy. Sure, the surge of hormones may make you feel like you're dragging around two sand-filled bags, but it's also an indication that your little love nugget is thriving, Dr. Bohn says.
When it happens: Around 4 to 6 weeksWhy it's good: Seeing traces of blood in your underpants can make any mom-to-be a little anxious. But if it happens early in the pregnancy -- typically 10 to 14 days after conception -- it could simply be a sign of implantation bleeding. This early indicator of pregnancy is when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the lining of the uterus, which can result in light pink or brown discharge. It's okay if you don't experience spotting, though -- not every woman does (and some mistakenly attribute the bleeding to their period).
When it happens: Usually in the first trimesterWhy it's good: Though fighting off waves of nausea for weeks on end can be downright debilitating, morning sickness is considered part and parcel of a healthy pregnancy. No one knows the exact reason behind the queasiness, but experts believe a rapid rise in the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (hCG) could be to blame -- and that increase in hCG is needed for a pregnancy to progress.
In fact, those frequent trips to the bathroom could be beneficial for you and your baby. New research suggests that moms-to-be who experience morning sickness are less likely to miscarry or deliver prematurely; plus, their babies have fewer birth defects and may even perform better on IQ tests.
It's also been suggested that nausea and vomiting help prevent pregnant women from eating foods that could harm their baby in the first trimester, when organ development takes place. "The idea is that meats and many vegetables may have toxins or parasites that could hurt the fetus," Dr. Bohn explains. "Forcing a mom to eat bland food prevents the potential exposure of toxins."
That said, don't worry if you're not experiencing morning sickness. Many women don't and go on to deliver perfectly healthy babies.
When it happens: Throughout pregnancyWhy it's good: Noticing more wetness down there these days? You're not alone -- lots of women see an uptick in watery, clear, odorless discharge during pregnancy. The culprit: an increase in estrogen. Besides being a sign that your pregnancy is on the right track, the extra discharge is thought to help cleanse the vagina and even prevent infections from entering the womb. Win-win!
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