May 24, 2019
Clinical Contributors to this Story
Todd Y Liu, M.D. contributes to topics such as Obstetrics and Gynecology.
By Danielle Schipani
There is no doubt that when it comes to pregnancy, each woman has a unique experience. In the age of social media, it can sometimes appear that being pregnant is easy, or a walk in the park. Some women do in fact have very easy pregnancies, with few side effects. However, this is typically not the case, and a large majority of women normally experience at least a few common side effects.
“Almost every pregnancy has some issues, a few are easier to remedy than others,” says Todd Liu, M.D., chairman of the OB/GYN Department at Southern Ocean Medical Center. Dr. Liu explained that approximately 70 percent of women that he treats experience at least one side effect due to their pregnancy, while about 30 percent of their patients may even require close monitoring.
Dr. Liu offered insight on the top six common, but perhaps lesser known realities of pregnancy, and tips to combat them:
“If you have a history of GI issues, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), food allergies, gluten allergies or diarrhea, then that may unfortunately get worse in pregnancy,” says Dr. Liu. There are a few reasons that women may experience digestive problems, one reason being that your body is under more pressure and is facing much higher demands. This has an impact on your digestive system, and your digestive sensitivity may increase.
As a result of hormone changes, women often experience constipation, which slows your GI mobility. Patients with anemia may also experience constipation, as this is a common side effect of iron supplements.
Heart burn may become more common in women who already struggle with frequent heart burn. “For people who have heartburn, it will be 10 times worse,” says Dr. Liu. This is typically very treatable though, and the majority of women take an over-the-counter ant-acid to treat this.
Morning sickness (or nausea) is a more commonly discussed symptom, but many people think that it (as the name suggests) only occurs in the morning and that after the first trimester, this symptom subsides. “It is worth noting that even though the majority of women experience this symptom in the morning and during the first trimester, it can happen at any time,” says Dr. Liu. A good 50 to 70 percent of women are fairly nauseous. There are a high proportion of women that may even need to take medication, or in extreme cases be hospitalized for their nausea symptoms. They can also have an enhanced sense of smell, which goes along with the nauseous and vomiting.
Pelvic (round ligament) pain
Further in the pregnancy, around the end of the second trimester, women can start to feel pelvic heaviness, also referred to as round ligament pain. This can feel like a sharp, stabbing pain in the pelvic area, or a stretching sensation.
For example, when someone is laying down in bed, they’re accustomed to getting up normally without using hands or any upper body strength. Women begin to find actions like this to be very painful. This is because the round ligaments are under so much pressure, they become strained. To remedy this strain, Dr. Liu suggests that women begin to use their upper arms more, move slower, and that they should afford more time to do things like get ready in the morning. Another option would be to purchase maternity support belts, which help relieve pelvic pain by reducing the pressure on the pelvis.
Women may find that they have trouble catching their breath when doing every day, simple tasks. This is due to the progesterone in your body. “There’s lots of progesterone floating around your body, which can actually make it difficult to breath. The progesterone relaxes your diaphragm, and it can be hard to take deep breaths.” Again, moving slower is key here. Allowing yourself more time to get ready will help you have the ability to move slower, and take the time you need to catch your breath.
A number of women report feeling pure exhaustion during their pregnancy. This common problem can again be attributed to hormones, specifically progesterone. Another reason women may feel this way is because some experience physiologic anemia, a condition where there is not enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the tissues in the body.
With all this said, it is important to remain positive throughout your pregnancy. “Attitude is a big thing to get you through any medical condition. If you become upset or discouraged, that is never good. But if you have a positive attitude, it can help you overcome any difficulties that may occur during your pregnancy,” says Dr. Liu.
It’s important to remember that everything listed above is very treatable, and that you often have to work closely with your OB/GYN to deal with the speed bumps of pregnancy. In the end, when the baby is finally delivered, all the symptoms and side effects will be worth it.
Dr. Liu is currently practicing at Hackensack Meridian Health Medical Group – OB/GYN – Manahawkin, and is accepting new patients. To make an appointment, please call 609-978-9841 or click here to book an appointment online. For more information, or to find a provider near you, please visit HMHMedicalGroup.org.
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.