Do you remember your first pregnancy? This question is directed at the ladies (obviously :D). We know how all the pains and stress of pregnancy melted away once we held our babies. I remember mine very vividly.To start with, I had no idea I was pregnant. I was doing my house job/internship then and I worked in the Emergency Room (ER). This particular ER was extremely busy, a lot of times and specifically at this time in question. So, I couldn’t afford the distraction of a fever…because that was what I kept experiencing. Fever and that peculiarly Nigerian symptom of internal heat J. I shrugged it off and kept going. But these symptoms were going nowhere! It worsened such that when I smelt perfume, I would throw up and I had this absolutely disgusting taste in my mouth. Sounds like malaria, yes? Well, I freely confess to not being the best patient and so I didn’t run a test neither did I treat myself. I just figured it would go away (Quick disclaimer: please don’t practice this when you are pregnant or at any time at all :D)
Anyways, matters came to a head when I practically shut down my kitchen. I couldn’t stand the smell in there. My kitchen was filled with lots of essences for baking: vanilla, strawberry, banana, orange etc. The mix of the essences were just not agreeing with my nose. Every time I went in there, I headed straight to the bathroom to vomit. And the bathroom? That was no help either. The detergent I was using at that time suddenly became nauseating to me. Well, I felt I could do without cooking and shut down my kitchen, but hey, I had business to transact in my bathroom every day and so something had to give. I got rid of the detergent and had to switch to something else. And finally at this time, some part of my medically trained brain asked the question, ‘are you pregnant?’ I was in shock! My husband was in Port Harcourt while I was rounding off my internship. I didn’t quite plan for dealing with this on my own and so I sorta prayed for this cup to pass me by…at least for the moment.
And so it was at this moment I decided to go get these symptoms checked out. As I already had it in my head that I was pregnant, I decided to go do a scan to confirm (or not) this…not the most orthodox way of confirming pregnancy I know :D. And, yes, I found out that I was pregnant! The rest as they say is history!
So, I always empathise when I watch TV shows that tell us how some women were far along before they knew they were pregnant. The ones that actually put to bed before they knew they were pregnant stretch the imagination but may not be far-fetched. For a first time mother, this is particularly important as she may not know what signs to look out for, what’s normal and what’s not. Putting it in context…I am a medical doctor and I didn’t even know I was pregnant 😀
This post is about the glorious state of pregnancy, the normal signs and the red flags. The red flags are the signs that may spell trouble and which should be checked out immediately without waiting for the next pre-natal (antenatal) clinic visit.
We’ll start with the normal:
Breast tenderness: this is inevitable as your breast ducts prepare for the job of lactation. Bra sizes could go up from 1 to several sizes up. Be sure to get a good support bra and keep going up sizes as your breast size increases. This will help reduce sagging.
Discharge: A thin milky discharge is normal during pregnancy. But if this becomes yellow, greenish or foul smelling, please see your doctor.
Heart burn and Constipation: These happen due to one of the hormones produced during pregnancy. The antenatal vitamins also play a part in worsening constipation 😀
Frequency of urination: As the baby grows in the uterus, it presses on the bladder making you feel like urinating more often.
Tiredness: As your body works overtime to support a growing life inside you, you would feel exhausted.
Food cravings and aversions: Well, I certainly had loads of aversions with my first pregnancy. I can’t remember any cravings as I couldn’t get any food to stay down. However, some people develop a craving for the oddest, craziest foods when pregnant. Go easy on eating for two though…the healthy living dictum of eating loads of fruits/vegetables and low calories does not change during pregnancy. The more you gorge or give in to the food cravings, the more work you have to do to get it off after the baby. However, if you find yourself craving things like clay, sand etc, please see your doctor as it could be a sign of iron deficiency anaemia.
Morning sickness/nausea: This is due to the hormones of pregnancy (again!). This may be mild or so severe that the person actually gets hospitalised. If your nausea is severe, please see your doctor. But generally, you can help push this back by eating some bland food especially in the mornings when it is worse like crackers or cheese.
Now for the red flags…these have to be heard and checked out by your obstetrician immediately:
Significant bleeding. If you’re not sure what is significant and what’s not, please see your doctor all the same. Better safe than sorry.
Severe abdominal pain: This could be a sign of a threatened miscarriage
Severe nausea/vomiting: This could lead to dehydration which could affect the baby adversely
Too little weight gain or too much weight gain: Try to keep weight gain between 11 to 15kg during the pregnancy. Your doctor could have recommended more or less depending on your pre-pregnancy state.
Pain or burning sensation when urinating: This could be a urinary tract infection. It needs to be dealt with.
Vaginal discharge: Foul smelling, yellow or greenish colour could indicate an infection and could affect your baby.
High fever: This could signify an infection.
So ladies, enjoy this fabulous state of pregnancy. Guys, give them all the support they need…and deserve. By the way, did I forget the amazing mood swings that are a very normal part of this state? Guys, be sure to respect and lovingly manage that. It’s all those hormones running amok in the body :D. You play a huge role in ensuring a successful outcome of pregnancy.
As for me, I’m done with all that stuff. I’m a grandmother in waiting! Loads of years before we get there!
So, keep healthy people and don’t let pregnancy get you down. It’s really not a sickness :D. And the products of this process live forever in our hearts.
Here’s to a healthier you!