Knowing your baby body

An expectant mom’s body knows exactly what to do for nine months, even if the woman doesn’t. Some of the physical changes she’ll experience are well known, but some are a surprise even to the best-prepared moms.

“One of the most surprising things is how very quickly bodies start to change, almost from the second a pregnancy test turns positive,” said Dr. Jaimey Pauli, a maternal/fetal medicine fellow and assistant professor in obstetrics and gynecology at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. “The body immediately starts to focus on how to alter mom’s body to make it amenable for the baby.”

Typical first trimester symptoms include breast tenderness, thirst — which equals increased bathroom use — and the dreaded morning sickness, which, Pauli noted, “s not confined to morning.”

Sarah Lawrence, 36, of Lancaster, due with her first daughter in October, knows that. “I felt OK most mornings, but by the time 4 p.m. hit my stomach would start to rebel,” she said. “Dinner time was really tough for me.”

While Lawrence subsisted on noodles, potatoes, cheese, yogurt and milk in her first trimester, some pregnant women grow so ill they lose weight.

Craving or disdaining specific foods is common, but “there’s no good explanation for why taste changes,” said Dr. Krista Rebo-Massara of Women First OB/GYN in Lower Paxton Twp.

Oddly, some women crave unnatural items, such as her patient who craved toilet paper.

“You have to be sure it’s not a psychological issue,” she said. “She knew it wasn’t right, but she couldn’t help it.”

Up to 30 percent of women develop a continually stuffy nose lasting through the pregnancy, according to www.whattoexpect.com. Called pregnancy rhinitis, it’s caused by higher estrogen levels that make the nose membranes swell and produce extra mucus.

Fatigue can be rampant, as progesterone soars. Lower blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure and increased blood production can exacerbate it, according to the Mayo Clinic.

While women may feel overwhelmed and excited in the first trimester, major changes “really hit in the second trimester,” Pauli said.

Second trimester […]

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