Category: Mom's Body Changes
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Flaunt That Bump

Are you past the “I just look bloated” phase and into "I'm definitely pregnant"? Here are a few tips for dressing to flatter your new curves.

Forget the oversized shirts and dresses and buy clothes that are made to fit your pregnant body. Look for tops made of pregnancy-friendly fabrics that will gently hug your growing bump while allowing plenty of room for growth. Features such as tie backs or side shirring also help ensure your top will flatter you throughout your pregnancy.

Tops or dresses that include a gathered hem below your belly bump are always flattering to pregnant women. This type of dress or top will give your body some form and show off your curves, while also being comfortable.

One look we love that is comfortable and stylish is pairing a bump-hugging top with a long skirt made of soft fabric, like jersey material. You can also pair a bump-hugging wrap top with your favorite pair of jeans and knee-high boots for an always-trendy look.

An article from SHEKNOWS.COM.

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Lowdown On The Down Below

Hemorrhoids? Constipation? Horrible gas? No one said pregnancy was always ladylike. Get the lowdown on the stuff that can be so hard to talk about, let alone live through.

Pregnancy changes your whole body, including your digestive system. Even before you get a positive test, you might notice your stomach is more easily upset than usual. Over the next nine months, there will be even more changes. Understanding can help you deal.

Ok. It was me. Pregnancy also makes the digestive process slow down. That helps you and baby get more nutrition from your food, but also lets foods spend more time fermenting in your stomach. And like a shaken beer, all of that fermentation can cause gas to build up. If flatulence is a big problem, it’s safe to take an enzyme-based anti-gas dietary supplement, or over-the counter anti-gas medications.

So, why can’t I go? Slowed-down digestion can also lead to constipation, which, in turn, can lead to hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are veins and connective tissues around the opening of the rectum that have become swollen or inflamed. The pressure from the baby’s weight in late pregnancy can also be a major aggravating factor. Take care not to strain or linger on the toilet — if nothing’s happening, try again later, and ask your health care provider to recommend or prescribe a stool softener.

Help for the pain in the... You may be able to prevent (or at least postpone) hemorrhoids by getting lots of fiber in your diet — experts recommend 25 to 35 grams a day during pregnancy. Drinking lots of water and taking a quick walk after meals can also help your digestive system keep moving.

For really severe hemorrhoids, try sitting in a tub filled with a few inches of warm water with a cup of Baking Soda. Medicated ointments and pads for hemorrhoids are also safe to use in pregnancy. And boy, they can be really helpful, too.

Sandy and Marcie Jones are the authors of Great Expectations: Your All-in-One Resource for Pregnancy & Childbirth. Order your copy from Barnes & Noble.

An article from the HUGGIES® Brand

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Do You Have The Glow Of Pregnancy?

They promised you you'd be glowing by now. Maybe you are and don't even feel it. Hear from a few other moms-to-be about what they're feeling now.

I was told yesterday I had a glow, too, but I didn't feel glowing. However, we were having parent-teacher interviews, so I had my "dress-up" clothes on and must have looked the cute pregnant woman...but a glow, I'm not convinced. I've got lots of acne I cover up with makeup and I'm constantly blowing my nose these days, so I don't feel "glowing." — Sue

I have received numerous compliments about having a glow. Personally, I don't know what they are talking about. I feel so unattractive most of the time. — Crystal

A lady at work told me once that I was glowing. I think it was because I was happy that day and smiling a lot. But on the other hand, my hair is looking pretty good and so is my skin. I think the extra water and prenatal vitamins are helping out a lot. — Gisel

When I can be bothered to put a little moisturizer and mascara on and go out, people say to me "you look really well" or "you really are blooming now." I think they are just saying it to make me feel better though, because when I look in the mirror I really do look like crap! — Meg

With my daughter, I really did glow. I think it was because during my second trimester I felt so good (better than I ever had before) and I was so happy. I'm still waiting for this with this pregnancy. I am looking a bit better. The "green" look of the first trimester has left, and I'm not looking so old. — Stephanie

I think that if I am dressed nicely, freshly showered and feeling good, then I am glowing...if I am not any of these things, you can be sure the "glow" is just because my skin is oily from not having been washed. — Shannon

Nope, no glow here either. I'm just sick and exhausted all the time, and the best I've gotten from people is, "You don't look so green today." — Tricia

I am definitely not glowing. I'm so washed-out looking. I do have to say though that my skin has been much clearer than normal and I do have great pregnancy hair. Usually I have to wash it every day because it looks oily and limp. Now it's shiny and full looking. — Pam

I've noticed a constant flush in my cheeks, and I think when people say I'm glowing, that's why. — Lilladybug75

I, too, have had people tell me that I am glowing. In fact, a number of people have said it from the beginning of my pregnancy. I don't think I am glowing at all, but who knows. Actually, I had more people tell me that during my first trimester. Maybe it was all of the broken blood vessels on my face from throwing up. — Amy

I WANT TO GLOW! TELL ME HOW! I keep hearing/reading about this whole "glow" phenomena but it's just not happening with me. Maybe I need to tell more people I'm pregnant so they don't think that belly sticking out in front is a beer gut, and then the "glowing" compliments may begin? — Melita

An article from SHEKNOWS.COM.

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Pregnant? It's Time To Get Moving

Healthcare experts agree that when you're pregnant, exercise and a balanced diet can raise energy levels.

You'd think that after having two kids, Tracy Coyne would have recognized the most obvious sign that she was pregnant once again: no energy. As a result, at night she was going to bed at the same time as her toddlers and during the day she found herself sneaking in naps whenever possible.

"I attributed my exhaustion to the hectic holiday season," said the suburban mother, who lives south of Boston. "Once I realized I was pregnant, it made sense. There's no feeling like the complete exhaustion of your first trimester."

While there's little you can do to offset low energy levels early on in pregnancy, healthcare experts agree that as long as there are no health-related conditions that would limit a woman's activity during pregnancy, exercise and a balanced diet are the best ways to fight off fatigue.

The benefits of regular activity are undeniable for pregnant women. Keeping fit during pregnancy not only helps maintain energy levels, but can also make it easier to get back in shape after childbirth. Exercising at least 30 minutes a day can reduce backaches, prevent gestational diabetes, improve mood, promote muscle tone, help you sleep and, yes, give you more energy, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

As with any exercise regime, always keep your mind in tune with your body, as there may be times when you physically can't participate in that low-impact step aerobics class at the gym. The first 24 weeks may be the easiest times to exercise because you don't have a large belly getting in the way. As the fetus grows, however, your joints are prone to injury because the hormones produced during pregnancy cause the ligaments supporting your joints to relax, according to the ACOG. In addition, the added weight of the baby may affect balance or cause back pain.

If during the first trimester you'd much rather sleep than swim, that's fine. For most women the second trimester gets easier. "At the end of my first trimester the weather improved, which allowed me to go for long walks," says Coyne. "This increased my overall energy level. I found I was sleeping better at night and able to sustain a higher level of energy throughout the day."

Other helpful hints include not skipping meals — especially breakfast — and getting outside for both the fresh air and the sunlight. "You don't have to run a marathon or overachieve, just go for a walk," says Ann Douglas, author of The Mother of All Pregnancy Books. "Find an exercise buddy and validate that you'll do something together on a regular basis."

Of course, in the third trimester, the extra weight and the lack of sleep can lead you full circle back to a state of exhaustion. But most experts say there's no reason why women can't exercise in their final weeks of pregnancy, although the activity will probably need modification.

Warning signs

While moderate exercise is recommended throughout pregnancy, stop exercising and call your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

• Vaginal bleeding

• Dizziness or feeling faint

• Increased shortness of breath

• Chest pain

• Headache

• Muscle weakness

• Calf pain or swelling

• Uterine contractions

• Decreased fetal movement

• Fluid leaking from the vagina

Stephanie Neil is a freelance writer based in Scituate, Massachusetts

Source: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; www.acog.org.

An article from the HUGGIES® Brand

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What's Up With Your Skin During Pregnancy?

You’ve got that lovely pregnancy glow—and maybe a few unexpected skin surprises, too. Dermatologist moms explain them, and tell you what to do.

What’s up with the pimples? Your pregnancy hormones can get a little slap-happy during the first trimester, triggering acne. Use a gentle cleanser and an oil-free moisturizer, and check with your doctor before using any acne treatment since certain medications should be avoided while pregnant, says Debra Jaliman, M.D., a spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology and a mom of one in New York City. Happily, a surge of estrogen during the other trimesters can sometimes clear up skin. “Now that I’m in my sixth month, my face has never been so smooth,” says Amy Golding, an expectant mom from Allentown, Pennsylvania.

What’s up with the stretch marks? Those bright pink lines (hey, consider them a badge of honor!) are caused by breakage of elastic tissue, and will fade over time, says Dina Strachan, M.D., a Manhattan-based dermatologist and mom of one. Retinoid creams can help lighten them up but don’t use these creams until after baby is born.

What’s up with that dark stripe? Technically known as the “linea negra,” that stripe running from your navel down your blossoming belly is not some directional for your doctor. Blame those pesky hormones and, no worries, it will disappear after pregnancy.

What’s up with the dark spots? Called the “mask of pregnancy” (or melasma), those temporary spots on your face are caused by a combo of hormonal changes, genetics, and skin color. Sun exposure can make them worse, so use sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 15 and UVA/UVB protection. The spots will usually go away post-pregnancy, though for women with darker skin, it can take longer.

What’s up with the moles? Pigmentation changes can make moles darker and cause new ones to pop up. Though they’re typically harmless, get any new moles (or changes in old ones) checked by a dermatologist. “When I was pregnant with my son, I developed a small growth on my shoulder,” recalls Jennifer Katz, a mom of two in Manassas, Virginia. “My dermatologist easily removed it in his office. Luckily, the only other skin side effect I had was pregnancy glow—my cheeks looked rosy all the time!”

An article from the HUGGIES® Brand

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Pregnancy Weight Gain: What’s Just Right?

Keep your pregnancy weight gain under control. Hungry all the time? Craving ice-cream, ice-cream, and…ice-cream? Here’s how to avoid scale shock at your next prenatal visit.

Know the numbers. "Gaining too much weight isn’t good for you or your baby," says Ari Brown, M.D., a pediatrician in Austin, Texas, and author of Expecting 411: Clear Answers and Smart Advice for your Pregnancy. "It increases the potential for gestational diabetes and complications during delivery because the baby gets too big." Research shows that gaining more pregnancy weight than necessary also increases your baby’s chances of being overweight in life.The current recommended guidelines for weight gain: 25 to 35 pounds if you’re around your ideal weight at the start of pregnancy; 28 to 40 pounds if you’re underweight; and 15 to 25 pounds if you’re overweight. In general, pregnant women should take in about 300 more calories a day than usual. Talk it over with your doctor.

Eat more often. "I was so hungry," says Sara A. Bloom, a mom of two in Houston. "But instead of eating three big meals, I did five smaller ones. This kept my hunger in check so I didn’t completely stuff myself."

Avoid that "It’s for the baby!" excuse. Craving a milkshake? Your baby must "need" the calcium, right? Nuh-uh. Experts say cravings have little to do with your growing baby’s nutritional needs. Think about it: Ever had an overwhelming urge for spinach? Exactly. Becca Keaty, a mom of two boys in Chicago, couldn’t understand why she kept craving meat during her last pregnancy. "My doctor said, ‘You could just be craving steak because it’s delicious.’ It was a good point!" She indulged but kept her inner carnivore in check so she wouldn’t pack on too many pounds.

Enjoy some sweets! Again, just don’t OD, and include the good-for-you kind, too. "I tried to keep healthy options around—little dark chocolate pieces, vanilla yogurt, and granola bars," says Bloom.

Find an exercise buddy. Pick a pregnant friend or a willing partner. Dr. Brown enlisted her husband as her personal trainer during her two pregnancies. "We started swimming laps after work," says Dr. Brown. "I never would have been that consistent if it weren’t for him." Don’t fear exercise while pregnant—it will control weight gain, keep up your energy, and prepare you for delivery. Just talk to your doctor first.

An article from the HUGGIES® Brand

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You...Only Bigger. Embracing Your Growing Pregnant Body

There is such a thing as "healthy weight gain." At least when you're pregnant. A healthy attitude and these tips can help keep you on a healthy track.

The transformation your body goes through during pregnancy is nothing short of amazing, despite all of the not-so-miraculous side effects (indigestion, for one). In nine months your body adjusts to accommodate your growing baby, until you—and possibly everyone around you—can hardly believe what you're carrying around. (That's when you start getting those oh-so-supportive comments like, "Wow, you must be having twins" or "How are you still walking?")

There's no way around it, pregnancy means growth, in more ways than one. You can't give birth to a healthy, full-term baby without putting on some pounds—after all, it's natural, it's healthy and it's a requirement. If you're a chronic weight-watcher, this is the time to step away from the scale and cut yourself some slack.

Of course, pregnancy isn't an excuse for a nine-month junk-food frenzy, either. Good nutrition is more important than ever, for yourself and for your baby. We've got some tips to help you make sure you're on the right track throughout your pregnancy, which we hope is healthy, happy and heartburn-free.

Weighty issues

How much weight you need to gain depends on several things, such as your pre-pregnancy weight and BMI (body mass index), your health, and your baby's health. While you'll need to consult with your healthcare provider to figure out what's right for your own specific situation, here are some general guidelines on pregnancy weight gain from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:

If your pre-pregnancy weight was considered underweight: 28-40 pounds

If your pre-pregnancy weight was considered normal: 25-35 pounds

If your pre-pregnancy weight was considered overweight: 15-25 pounds

Some new moms-to-be are surprised (and bummed) to find out that of the (average) 25-35 pounds gained during pregnancy, only 7.5 pounds belong to the baby! If you're curious about where the rest of the weight comes from, here's how it breaks down:

• 7.5 pounds is about how much the baby will weigh by the end of pregnancy

• 1.5 pounds is how much the placenta weighs

• 4 pounds is attributed to increased fluid retention

• 2 pounds is the weight of the uterus

• 2 pounds is the weight of breast tissue

• 4 pounds is a result of increased blood volume

• 7 pounds is attributed to maternal stores of fat, protein and other nutrients

• 2 pounds for amniotic fluid

It all adds up to a grand total of 30 pounds (remember, that's only an average example). There's a common misperception that all or most of the weight should be featured only in the belly, but that's simply not true. The goal is to gain enough weight not only to grow a healthy baby, but to build up fat stores for delivery and breastfeeding. Thank goodness for ultra-stretchy maternity wear!

Guidelines for gaining

By gaining a healthy amount of weight, not only will you be supporting your baby's health, but you'll also make it easier on yourself to get back in shape after the birth. Sticking to some common-sense habits during your pregnancy helps make sure you and your baby are getting the right nutrients (let's face it, a container of chocolate-peanut butter ice cream isn't exactly a well-rounded meal).

During the first trimester, most women don't need to gain much weight-good news for those who suffer from morning sickness (which can sometimes really throw your appetite for a loop during those first weeks). If you're starting out at a healthy weight, an extra 150-200 calories a day (about the amount in a container of low fat yogurt) is sufficient.

In the second and third trimesters, steady weight gain becomes more important (especially if you're underweight). An extra 300 calories a day might be enough for you to gain the average of approximately 1-2 pounds per week, but do check with your healthcare provider to find out what she recommends for your rate of gain.

Don't pile on the calories by always going for junk food over healthier choices, though. Here are ways to make sure your meals are rich in nutrients (and still satisfying!):

• Swap white breads and pastas for whole-grain varieties

• Have sliced fruit available for snacking, instead of cookies or chips

• Drink juices that are high in vitamin C, like orange and grapefruit

• Choose dark, leafy greens instead of iceberg lettuce

• Try some high-fiber, low-fat meals featuring rice, beans and low-fat cheese

Not everyone finds it easy to put on enough weight: Approximately one in four or five women gain an inadequate amount during pregnancy. If your healthcare provider is concerned, follow her suggestions for increasing your caloric intake.

Focus on the positive

If your doctor isn't worried about your weight gain, you shouldn't be either. Learn to love your pregnant body, no matter how different it looks from what you're used to! You're carrying a new life inside your own body, which is far more important than fitting in your skinny jeans (you can worry about that later). Embrace your ever-changing shape, give yourself the nutrition you and your baby need, and let go of unreasonable body image standards during this time.

Indulge in a couple outfits that really show off that marvelous belly. (Show the world that you're large and in charge.) Remind yourself that despite all the discomfort, a brand-new life is on the way, thanks to you...and your miraculous body.

An article from the HUGGIES® Brand

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10 Things To Love About Your Growing Bump

…besides, of course, the genius, adorable child growing within it. That one’s a given.

1. Catches crumbs before they hit the floor. Also handy for laundry-folding.

2. Gets you to the front of the line faster than you can say, “I realllly have to go to the bath—”

3. Makes maternity clothes look good (seriously, imagine the sacks they’d be without it).

4. Very entertaining on the dance floor at weddings.

5. When your arms are full, it’s an excellent door closer/grocery cart pusher/chair scooter-inner.

6. Yay: No x-rays at the dentist’s office!

7. It’s every bit as sexy as a celeb’s bump. Maybe even sexier.

8. Makes you The Most Awesome Woman at the gym, hands down. Even if all you’re doing is walking on the treadmill at 2 mph. Or just standing there, holding a towel.

9. Convenient perch for a good book, the remote, a cup of tea, an iPad, a box of chocolates—pick your pleasure.

10. As it grows, so does your husband’s awe and respect for what you’re doing in there.

An article from the HUGGIES® Brand

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What No One Tells You About Post-Partum Life
Once the medical experts have had their say, it's time for another kind of expert — a mom. This mother of three is here to talk about loving your life after baby.
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10 Snacks That Might Help You Slim Down

Check out these top-10 low-calorie and healthy foods that will help satisfy your hunger and help you meet your goal of losing the baby weight.

Trying to lose the baby weight still lingering after your sweetie pie made her way into the world? Even moms who don't have time to exercise can shed unwanted pounds by snacking right.

Most moms barely have time to themselves, let alone time to exercise. But even the busiest of moms has to eat. The average adult needs to consume about 2,000–2,500 calories per day, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And, if you are a breastfeeding mother, experts recommend that you consume an extra 500 calories per day on top of that.

The great news is that even moms on the go can shed the baby weight without ever having to use the word diet! How? By boosting your metabolism. "To do so, eat real food," advises Michelle Pfennighaus, CHC and RYT of findyourbalancehealth.com. "Vegetables, whole grains and meat or fish are real food. Real food will improve your digestion, give you more energy and allow your metabolism to work as it should."

So before you head for the cupboard for a snack, stock up on some of these calorie-burning munchies that will help give your metabolism a boost and help you shed the baby weight.

Carrots and celery sticks

Certain foods like carrots and celery are considered negative-calorie foods. "The theory is based on the idea that a person burns more calories in chewing and digesting a food than they absorb from it," explains Pfennighaus. "Celery, being extremely low in calories, is often cited as an example." Snack on these calorie crunchers and you'll be curbing your hunger at the same time you're slimming down.

Grapefruit

Another negative-calorie food, the fiber in grapefruits uses up extra energy in order for your body to break it down. It also lowers your insulin levels that tell your body to store fat.

Apples

Apples are packed with fiber and just like grapefruit, eat up extra calories needed to break it down. An added bonus? It falls into the negative-calorie foods category as well.

Turkey

Protein-rich turkey boosts your metabolism and burns additional calories while it builds lean muscle tissue. Roll up some turkey with some cheese and you'll be adding calcium, another metabolism enhancer.

Almonds

Thanks to fatty acids in almonds, you will be increasing your metabolism with these small smackerels. But just a handful will do, since almonds pack a lot of calories per crunch.

Yogurt

You knew that yogurt is great for your digestive track, but lucky for you, the high protein content of this yummy treat requires your body to expend a lot of calories to digest it, too.

Beans

Protein and fiber share the credit for the extra energy required to digest legumes, causing your metabolism to get moving. They are also filling and low in fat.

Oatmeal

Fiber-filled oatmeal needs extra time, and lots of calories, for your body to process. Like grapefruit, it also lowers your insulin levels as it expedites your metabolism.

Fortified soy milk

Sip off the pounds as this calcium-packed beverage gets your metabolism on the fast track. Avoid the sweetened soy milks to avoid extra calories.

Cinnamon

Sprinkled on your apples, in your yogurt, or in your favorite morning beverage, this spicy element helps regulate your blood sugar levels and metabolize sugars more effectively. Bye-bye, calories!

Several small meals per day will keep your body burning calories consistently, so don't wait to go hungry. So, pack these snacks, even when you are on the go, to avoid overeating when you are on empty. Even though you can't live on a regimen of these foods alone, when you reach for a snack, these tasty treats will help tip the scales in your favor!

An article from SHEKNOWS.COM.

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Post-Partum Weight-Loss: When Everything's Going To Shrink Back

The bump’s gone (well, mostly)—but some other stuff is still b-i-g. Will you ever fit into that Wonderbra again?! A look at when your parts will readjust.

When will my abs be flat again?

For the first three or four weeks after giving birth, it is completely normal for your belly to be pouchy (unless you’re a supermodel, in which case there is nothing normal about you). Your uterus hasn’t yet shrunk back to size, and your abdominal muscles are still loose from childbirth. A combination of postpartum exercise such as cardio, weight training, and ab exercises will usually have you back in your pre-baby bikini in six to nine months; just get your ob-gyn’s okay before starting an exercise routine. “For me, keeping up with my yoga practice after my son was born really helped me to feel better about my softer abs and wider hips,” says Donna Raskin, a mother of one in Princeton, New Jersey.

When will my breasts return to their usual size?

If you’re breastfeeding, your cup size may be even larger than during pregnancy, at least for the first six months or so, says Mary Rosser, M.D., an ob-gyn at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. Once you’ve weaned and gotten back to your pre-pregnancy weight, your bra size will likely return to normal, too. Bottle-feeding? It’ll take about four months for your breasts to simmer down. Even then, they may not be the same.

When will I get my old feet back?

If your pre-pregnancy shoe collection is gathering dust in your closet, blame your hormones. “They cause your feet to spread out, so you may go up a shoe size during pregnancy,” explains Dr. Rosser. Swelling sure doesn’t help. Once you’ve had the baby, your feet should return to their old sexy selves within a couple of months.

Many women say they’ve come to not only accept the changes in their postpartum bodies but also feel good about them. “I know I will always have this little bit of flab around my belly button no matter how hard I work out. And you know what, I am fine with that,” says Michele Spraklin, a mom of one in British Columbia, Canada. “I have a gorgeous son instead of a flat stomach, and I think that’s a great deal.”

An article from the HUGGIES® Brand

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Q&A: Pregnancy Stages
Everything you need to know about your changing body and your growing baby. Learn what changes to expect with each trimester.

<p><b>Should I feel kicking at 17 weeks?</b></p>
<p>I'm 17 weeks through my second pregnancy and I am wondering: Is it common to be able to feel baby kicking quite hard and regularly this early? Sometimes I can even feel it scraping its limbs across my belly and it hurts sometimes, too.<p>

<p>It is very common for women to feel fetal movements earlier in subsequent pregnancies. Women may also feel more discrete fetal movements rather than "flutters" at an earlier gestational age.<p> 


<p><em>Used with permission. © Meredith Corporation. http://www.meredith.com, All rights reserved. </em></p>
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Q&A: My Pregnant Body
<p>For 40 weeks a woman's pregnant body goes through extensive changes, and we're not just talking about a growing belly. Learn about cravings, lactation, itchy spots, dark lines, and other bodily changes you might experience and why.</p>


<p><b>What happens if you lose your mucous plug early?</b></p>

<p><em>What happens if you lose your mucous plug 25 weeks into pregnancy?</em></p>

<p>The mucous plug is usually lost when a cervix begins to soften or dilate; however, many women who have already had a vaginal delivery can lose their mucous plug much earlier in a subsequent pregnancy. Any changes in pregnancy, such as losing your plug at 25 weeks, need to be communicated with your OB to allow him the chance to determine if further work up is necessary.<p>

<p><em>Used with permission. © Meredith Corporation. http://www.meredith.com, All rights reserved.</em></p>
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Pregnancy Complaints: Vaginal Pain
<p>This may be your cervix dilating as your body prepares for labor. Find out what causes vaginal pain at the end of pregnancy and how to feel better.</p>
<p>By the editors of Parents magazine</p>
<p><b>What causes vaginal pain in pregnancy?</b></p>
<p><b>What you may be experiencing:</b> Late in pregnancy, you may feel pain inside the vagina- usually a sharp, piercing pain that comes and goes suddenly. What you're feeling, most likely, is your cervix dilating, or opening, as it prepares for the passage of your baby. Dilation can take place several weeks or just hours before labor begins. Normally, it's not cause for concern, but you should tell your healthcare provider about it. If the pain occurs in your lower abdomen, call your practitioner immediately.</p>
<p><b>What relieves vaginal pain in pregnancy?</b></p>
<p><b>What helps:</b> Try relaxing in a warm shower or bath. And remember that the pain is a signal that your baby is well on its way!</p>


<p><em>Used with permission. © Meredith Corporation. http://www.meredith.com, All rights reserved.</em></p>
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6 Symptoms That Require Immediate Attention
<p>You don't want to be a nag, but you shouldn't ignore a problem either. These are the times when you need to call your doctor.</p>
<p><b>Problems can happen </b> </p>
<p>Pregnancy can be tough, both mentally and physically. Not only is your body changing in a million different ways, but every little twinge can put you in a panic, making you worry that something is wrong. Relax, say the experts. "Women need to remind themselves that the vast majority of pregnancies go smoothly," says Bruce Flamm, M.D., an ob-gyn in Riverside, California.</p>
<p>Still, pregnancy problems can, and do, happen. That's why it's important for every expecting mom to know which warning signs she should look out for. These symptoms require an immediate phone call to your doctor.</p>
<p><b>Extreme vomiting </b> </p>
<p>Most cases of morning sickness are annoying, but not harmful. But if you're throwing up so much that you can't keep liquids down or if you're not urinating, you need to let the doctor know. "This can lead to severe dehydration, which isn't good for you or your baby," says Isabel Blumberg, M.D., an ob-gyn in New York City. It can also be a sign that you're suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, a type of extreme morning sickness that can last throughout your entire pregnancy. Also call if you haven't been able to keep food down for two days straight, if you think you have food poisoning, or if the vomiting is accompanied by a high fever. In these cases, you may need to go to the hospital for IV fluids.</p>
<p><b>Intense pain in your abdomen </b> </p>
<p>If you're less than 12 weeks pregnant, you're feeling sharp cramps on one side of your stomach, and you've yet to have an ultrasound, your doctor will want to rule out an ectopic pregnancy (one in which the egg has implanted itself in the fallopian tube rather than in the uterus). Later on in your pregnancy, call if the pain is intense or recurrent, since it could be anything from contractions to appendicitis.</p>
<p><b>Lots of watery discharge or contractions </b> </p>
<p>If you're near the end of your pregnancy, this discharge probably means your water has broken, so head to the hospital. But if you suddenly experience a gush of fluids anytime before 37 weeks, call your doctor pronto. It might be a sign that your amniotic sac has ruptured and you're going into preterm labor. Still, don't assume the worst. "Many women think their water has broken too early, when the baby may have just kicked their bladder hard and they lost some urine," says Dr. Flamm.</p>
<p>Contractions are another potential sign of preterm labor. So if you suddenly feel them when you're between 24 to 36 weeks pregnant, pick up the phone. While they could just be harmless Braxton-Hicks contractions, talk to your doctor to make sure.</p>
<p><b>Bleeding </b> </p>
<p>Any time you have vaginal bleeding, you should talk to your doctor. "In your second or third trimester, it could mean you have a tear in your placenta or another problem that should be diagnosed by ultrasound," says Dr. Flamm. "But don't panic, most bleeding during pregnancy doesn't lead to long-term problems." If you're in your first 12 weeks, keep in mind that many women spot during the first trimester, so bleeding probably doesn't mean you're having a miscarriage.</p>
<p><b>Severe headache or swelling all over your body </b> </p>
<p>If you get a bad headache in your first trimester or regularly suffer from migraines, it's probably no big deal. Ditto if you have some swelling in your ankles as your pregnancy progresses that just means you're retaining fluid. But, if you suddenly get a splitting headache in your second or third trimester, or if your hands and face swell like crazy and won't go down, you could be suffering from preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure) and need to see your doctor immediately. Another possible sign of preeclampsia to tell your doctor about: Your vision suddenly becomes blurry.</p>
<p><b>Lack of fetal movement </b> </p>
<p>If you haven't felt much in the way of kicking for about an hour, no need to call right away. Instead, drink a glass of fruit juice (the sugar in juice will make your baby's blood-sugar levels jump, increasing the chances that he'll start kicking), then lie on your left side in a quiet room for half an hour. "If you don't count three to four movements within that time frame, give your doctor a call," says Dr. Blumberg. "Usually it's nothing, the baby was just being especially still, but your doctor will probably want you to have a stress test or an ultrasound to make sure there aren't any problems."</p>
<p><em>Used with permission. © Meredith Corporation. http://www.meredith.com, All rights reserved. </em> </p>
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