Changes and Challenges During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is an amazing time in your life, filled with excitement and anticipation. You might read every book, shop in every baby clothing and supply store, and attend parenting and childbirth classes. However, there are some things moms-to-be just don’t expect while expecting. And there are some things that even your girlfriends might not have experienced (or shared).
Varicose Veins Where?
Varicose veins are those blue veins you can see just below the surface of the skin. They enlarge due to extra pressure on the circulatory system and the particular vein, and extra fluid can compound this problem. During pregnancy there is a lot of both pressure and extra fluid retention, and while you might expect a varicose vein on the back of your leg, many women also suffer from them on their labia – yep – down there where no one wants to think of this painful condition developing.
If you are having a lot of pressure and pain in that region, consider a belly binder – one of those belts that fits around your abdomen to help lift and support your growing belly. Your OB probably has one sitting in his office somewhere, or can give you a prescription to have one fitted. The good news is that these veins usually reduce in intensity after delivery.
You can also do the following to help alleviate the severity of varicose veins (no matter where they are)
- Avoid standing for too long in one position.
- Exercise as much as possible and recommended by your OB (swimming is a good, gentle exercise that will promote healthy blood flow).
- Prop your feet up on a stool when you are sitting, especially if you have a desk job.
Skin Changes During Pregnancy
You’re expecting your insides to change, both physically and emotionally, but you also need to be prepared for your outside – your skin – to change as well. To top that off, your skin is a gateway for your baby as well, so whatever you put on the outside can eventually get to the inside. Always check with your OB for questions, but make sure you even do so for over-the-counter medications like rash treatments – many of these contain medications that are not recommended for pregnant women.
Check your cosmetics and lotions to make sure they don’t contain
- Retinoids – While studies are inconclusive to the effects of topical use of this, doctors say it is still best to avoid, especially in larger amounts.
- Salicylic Acid – Smaller amounts are OK, but when used in acne treatments on the face (where pores are more likely to have higher rates of absorption) it can be too much of a good thing. It is considered similar in effect to taking one aspirin.
- Soy – In your moisturizer it can actually increase the dreaded “mask of pregnancy” symptoms.
You also might find yourself with a condition known as PUPP – pruritic urticarial papules and plagues. Yuck, right? This common (about 1 in every 150 pregnancies) condition is where itchy, red, raised bumps and patches develop on the skin of your abdomen. Fortunately this will go away after delivery, but until then
- Try oatmeal baths to relieve the itching.
- Contact your OB to discuss safe moisturizers and anti-itch creams that can alleviate symptoms.
Comments and Invasions from Strangers
Apparently pregnant women are a draw to the hands of strangers. It is endearing that complete strangers can feel so connected with and excited about your growing baby that they can’t help but reach out and give your belly a pat-down. However, there are creepy factors and too much of a good thing can get really annoying. Prepare yourself with a standard line that might not prevent the act (unless you plan to karate chop at the invading hand), but remind the stranger that in the future it is polite not to dive in with a belly pat-down before the first date. Usually only my husband gets away with patting my belly – when said with a genuine smile – can be a good reminder.
People also tend to freely hand out pregnancy advice and delivery horror stories – and no matter how many you hear, your own will be totally different and unique. To ward off some of those comments, go find some funny and appropriate t-shirts that say it all – check out this slideshow of shirts, including one for Dad.
Pregnancy is a time of change – some wonderful and amazing, and some as joyous as varicose veins on your labia. Embrace it all and use these tips to survive the changes and challenges as you get ready for the biggest change of all – that beautiful baby.