When a woman becomes pregnant, there are certain "side effects" she knows she should prepare for. However, whether you're on your first pregnancy or your fifth, there are some side effects that will take you completely by surprise.
When a woman becomes pregnant, there are certain "side effects" she knows she should prepare for - morning sickness, fatigue and an ever-expanding waistline, to name a few. However, whether you're on your first pregnancy or your fifth, there are some side effects that will take you completely by surprise. At least that's how it was for me. My first pregnancy, of course, presented the biggest learning curve (who knew growing a baby would mean darkening skin, painful gas and outrageous hair growth?). But as I moved on to baby two and baby three, the surprises didn't stop. Here are five of the most unexpected (and unwelcome) side effects I experienced during pregnancy, as well as a few suggestions on how to deal with them should you find yourself in the same boat. Side effect No. 1: Gas and bloating This uncomfortable (and sometimes embarrassing) condition can be blamed on the pregnancy hormone progesterone, which causes "the smooth muscle tissue in your body (including the gastrointestinal tract) to relax," WhatToExpect.com says. The effect is slowed digestion, which allows more nutrients to reach your baby. Unfortunately, it also produces more gas. Treatment: Eating smaller meals, drinking plenty of water and relaxing are all ways to prevent excess gas, according to WhatToExpect.com. My OB-GYN also recommended Gas-X or its generic, simethicone, for short-term gas relief. Side effect No. 2: Acne – everywhere If you thought your worst bouts with acne were behind you, think again. Pregnant women often experience breakouts thanks to hormones that prompt the body to make more sebum (an oily substance produced by your skin). "This extra sebum, combined with the shed skin cells that line your hair follicles, blocks your pores, creating an environment in which bacteria can rapidly multiply," BabyCenter.com says. And it's not uncommon for resulting breakouts to occur on areas of the body other than your face (for me, it was the legs). Treatment: There's no real way to prevent pregnancy acne, but BabyCenter.com also offers several suggestions that might help lessen the problem: keep your skin clean, pat skin dry instead of rubbing it, and don't scratch or pop the pimples, the website says. For severe cases, some medicated ointments are considered safe, but you should check with your doctor before using them. Side effect No. 3: Itchy belly An itchy midsection is pretty common among expectant mothers. The irritation is mainly due to the rapid stretching of your skin, but BabyCenter.com says hormones can be partly to blame. If you start to develop small bumps, you could be dealing with pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy. The rash is harmless, Health Magazine writer Dr. Roshini Rajapaksa says, but it can be annoying. Treatment: For day-to-day itching, experts recommend avoiding hot showers; slathering on the moisturizer; and even taking the occasional oatmeal bath. For relief from PUPPP, talk to your doctor about the treatments available to you. Side effect No. 4: Dark spots on your face Ever heard of "pregnancy mask?" I hadn't - until I got it. "Some women develop brownish or yellowish patches called chloasma, or the 'mask of pregnancy,' on their faces," KidsHealth.org explains. You can blame your new spotted look, once again, on pregnancy hormones, which cause the body to produce more pigment. Treatment: There's not much you can do about the mask, aside from employing your best makeup tricks. However, once your baby is born and your hormones begin to normalize, the pigmented patches will fade away. Side effect No. 5: Thickening hair While you might welcome an increase to the volume of hair on your head, you're probably not going to appreciate the increase of hair pregnancy brings to your entire body. Pregnancy hormones cause your body to hang on to hairs that would ordinarily fall out, according to BabyExpert.com. At the same time, new hair continues to grow in. This combination can mean hairier arms, legs and even a hairy belly. Treatment: Normal hair-removal methods - like waxing, plucking or shaving - are all safe for pregnant women, but you may want to just wait it out. "After pregnancy, the excess body hair will tend to all fall out, usually within six months," BabyExpert.com says.%3Cimg%20src%3D%22http%3A//beacon.deseretconnect.com/beacon.gif%3Fcid%3D162134%26pid%3D46%22%20/%3E