Why Is Pregnancy So Hard? Understanding The Struggles Of Moms-To-Be

The mood swings, morning sickness, pregnancy cravings, and all the physical and psychological changes are quite daunting for expecting women. The first trimester of pregnancy breeds body changes, sickness, and anxiety. The last trimester is also the phase where moms expect physical pain, and pregnancy risks are high. But moms, all those are part of the process. The end is tenfold beautiful and rewarding for such a selfless sacrifice you are going through or about to go through when you become pregnant.

Things women hate about pregnancy

With all the excitement and anticipation of pregnancy comes the troubling phase that most women swear by. It is not just about back pains and nausea or your fear of vaccine shots.

Little frustrations such as finding clothes to wear may also get on your nerves at times.

Missing some of the fun stuff – alcohol, certain foods, and extreme activities – is not also as thrilling to think of.

Pregnant women complain about flabby arms, rounded noses, dark skins, and pregnancy acne. The list of pregnancy troubles goes on, and here are a few of them in brief.

The first trimester

The first trimester marks the time from your last menstrual period until the 13th week of confirmed pregnancy.

This is the critical and crucial phase as the baby develops his body organs and physical structure. During this period, you will undergo rapid changes in your body as your baby begins to grow.

Morning sickness

A young woman who recently found out she was pregnant is feeling morning sickness after waking up.

Apparently, morning sickness is unavoidable, and about 70% of women suffer from it in the first trimester.

It’s characterized by nausea and vomiting, where some are worse than others. Some women even suffer from dehydration because of it. In some cases, it can last for the entire duration of pregnancy.

Morning sickness is mostly due to the pregnancy hormones kicking in. The best ways to alleviate it are the following:

Body changes

A slight bleeding, breast soreness, fatigue, and frequent urination are telltale signs of pregnancy other than a missed period. Food aversion and food cravings may take their toll on your physical appearance too.

Mostly, women will start gaining weight which is a good thing for the pregnancy only if you don’t overdo it.

Unfortunately, the extra weight that you pack also slows down your blood and body fluid circulation. It can affect your day-to-day activities and set off your fatigue level.

It is also about time to shop for maternity dresses as your current clothes may not accommodate you anymore. But, the size of the pregnancy belly also varies. For some reason, some women carry bigger baby bulges while others appear quite latent.

Skin changes and hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation, or the darkening of the skin, is one of the changes in a woman’s body during pregnancy. It occurs on all skin tones but is more common for women with darker complexions.

It affects the areola, genital, the line under the abdomen, face, and the back of the neck. If you have scars, birthmarks, or freckles, they will also become well-defined and darker.

Some consider it gracelessly embarrassing. Thankfully, it is just a passing phase that you will eventually get through.

You may use safe sunscreens to prevent your skin from going too much on the color spectrum. You may also apply creams if your scars or stretch marks are itching.

Mood swings

Hormonal changes invite a rollercoaster of emotions that are a handful to deal with. You will feel listless, tired, moody, too sensitive, and irritable over things.

You’ll also feel enormously anxious, especially if the pregnancy is unplanned. But even if it is planned, financial matters, health conditions, the pain of childbirth, and the little whatnots can also worry you.

It only takes a second to go from a resentful angry bird to a depressed crybaby during this time. Thus, you will need positive reinforcements from the people around you and a little more from yourself.

Although these mood swings may last until the end of the pregnancy, you still have control over your feelings and emotions.

The second trimester

A pregnant woman in her second trimester is sitting with her OBGYN, reviewing the ultrasound on the baby.

From the 13th to the 28th month, the middle stage of pregnancy is where your baby bump gets more defined. This is by far the easiest stage of the pregnancy as your symptoms start to ease out.

The morning sickness may have already resolved at this time. Your fatigue and listlessness are also lessened. Your expectation about the baby in your tummy becomes your main focus right now.

Embarrassing symptoms

Your complexion and worsening acne are not the only things that challenge your confidence level.

There are also small embarrassing details that are normal, albeit shocking. For once, your hormonal surge will trigger a lot of gas. The hilarious thing is that you will have little control over it. So you need to just let it pass.

Appalling hemorrhoids, body odors, and facial hair growth may also happen. Incontinence may happen involuntarily while sneezing, coughing, or laughing. You will also have no control over leaking urine. However, regular emptying of your bladder can help prevent it.

More physiological changes

In the second trimester, your uterus has already expanded. It starts to press against your blood vessels.

It will lead to dizziness that can worsen when you are standing or sitting for long periods of time. Headache and heartburn are also nasty occurrences that are still triggered by hormonal changes.

Here’s what to do:

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Have some light physical activities
  • Eat regular meals
  • Rehydrate with plenty of fluids
  • Take acetaminophen when you need it for headaches. Do not take ibuprofen or aspirin as they are not safe for pregnancy.

Disappointment over ultrasound result

If there is one thing that everyone is anticipating early in the pregnancy, it is perhaps the baby’s gender. By the second trimester, the baby’s genitals are already formed, and it is the best time for an ultrasound result.

It often brings joy or some disappointment on the side over unmet gender expectations. Gender disappointment is a thing with parents that can happen after the ultrasound result is out.

For a while, moms-to-be can experience a slight period of depression over the particular sex that she prefers. This negative feeling will eventually fade as she learns acceptance, and the love for her blossoming baby takes over.

Ultrasound tests may also shock you, such as when you find out that you are carrying multiple babies.

The third trimester

A pregnant woman in her third trimester is about to walk around to help induce labor.

You are drawing near your expected due date, and the whirlwind of emotion gets stronger. Your body is also going through false contractions to ready you for labor.

Your baby bulge has grown bigger, and it is getting quite hard for mobility. You may also wake up to mornings of wriggling and heaving as your baby moves inside your belly.

Braxton Hicks contractions

You will experience mild contractions by the time you reach the third trimester. It is felt as sudden tightness of the stomach and irregular contractions. This false labor is normal and may get stronger as you get nearer the due date.

There is nothing to worry about the false contractions. But if you experience regular and frequent tightening of your belly, call your doctor for a check-up.

Health concerns and complications

A prenatal check-up is imperative starting in the first trimester and is more frequent in the third. By this time, you are expected to get the necessary vaccines that you need. It includes tetanus toxoid, pertussis vaccine (Tdap), flu vaccine, and diphtheria toxoid.

Pregnant women are also screened for various conditions like gestational diabetes, iron deficiency anemia, or group B strep. Around this time, pregnancy complications will show up and are confirmed by more laboratory results.  

Pre-eclampsia, or high blood pressure, will also manifest even in women who used to have normal blood pressure. Pregnancy complications become more apparent at this time. These complications place the fetus at risk for miscarriage or premature birth.

Swelling and edema

The swelling of the feet is a common complaint among pregnant women. However, it is also a natural symptom that you should not worry about. The growing pressure from your baby and all that extra fluid in your body is the culprit of pregnancy swelling.

Often, these fluids pool up in your feet and ankle. This is usually painless but still aesthetically unpleasing. It can also affect the hands sometimes. However, it should not be more than just a mild puff.

When the puffiness affects the face or around the eyes, you need to call your doctor immediately.

Childbirth and delivery

Finally, with all the anticipation, your baby is due for delivery!

Everything that you have gone through will culminate with an excruciating pain that will all be worth it in a while. You may elect different methods of delivery that your doctor thinks is safe for you.

Some women decide on natural birth, C-section, assisted delivery, or painless ones. A birth plan is a convenient checklist that helps make your pregnancy and delivery unique, conducive, and convenient.

FAQs

How soon can I set an appointment for a prenatal?

The sooner you visit your doctor after learning about your pregnancy, the better. The first ideal prenatal checkup is between the 6th to 8th weeks of pregnancy. It is the time when pregnancy test kits and serum results are accurate.

What is a birth plan?

The birth plan is a list of a mother’s preferences on the type of delivery, care, and pain management that she wants. The plan is guided by a doctor on the best and suitable method for safe childbirth.

Takeaway

Having your little bundle of joy is going through a semi-sweet struggle with the battle scar of motherhood.

But it always means a lot to become a mom, and most women are gladly willing to endure the hardships of pregnancy for the sake of bearing their children.

No one said pregnancy is easy, but most women also agree that it is yet the best part to ever happen in their lives. So hang in there moms, blissful days are coming as you prepare to meet your tiny bundle of joy.

Ann Marie is a licensed nurse in the Philippines. She experienced handling and assisting deliveries of newborns into the world. She also trained in labor rooms and pediatric wards while in nursing school - helping soon-to-be mothers and little kids in the process. Though not a mother by nature but a mother by heart, Ann Marie loves to take care of her younger cousins as well as nephews and nieces during her free time.

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