Just as the side effects of a medication lessen when you become accustomed to the dose, the side effects of pregnancy hormones begin to lessen as your body adjusts to their presence. During these middle months, most pregnant women finally feel better physically, and many feel better than they ever have in their lives. Here are common changes you may notice:
You have finally gotten your body back, at least to some extent. If you’re like most women, you’re enjoying not having to think about food – if, when, what, and where to eat – all day. You may even be able to go a few hours between snacks without experiencing empty-stomach nausea.
If this is your second or third pregnancy, most likely you are obviously showing by the fourth month. If this is your first pregnancy, you may still be in that “is she or isn’t she” stage. Whether or not others notice your pregnancy, you will. You may still be in that in-between stage of your regular clothes feeling too tight and maternity clothes looking too large.
With the “bed and bathroom” stage of pregnancy behind you (though these will still be important places of refuge throughout your pregnancy), you may find you are now able to resume many of your usual activities. How quickly and to what degree energy returns varies from woman to woman. Most mothers-to-be are not (and should not expect to be) able to function at the same energy level as they did before becoming pregnant. A small percentage of women, however, claim they feel more energetic during this trimester than at any other time in their lives.
The frequent need to urinate that sent you running to the bathroom day and night last trimester will lessen a bit over the next month or two as your uterus rises out of your pelvis and away from your bladder. In the two months, when your uterus enlarges and baby drops, it’s back to the bathroom again.
You may feel overheated during the remainder of your pregnancy. You are walking around with a body temperature one degree warmer than usual, courtesy of your pregnancy hormones. This phenomenon is similar to the slight increase in temperature that accompanies ovulation during your menstrual cycle. You are like a biological machine in high gear. Your body is working overtime, and it gets hot. Expect to perspire more. It’s your body’s way of self-cooling.
A milky, slightly odorous vaginal discharge the consistency of egg white is normal during pregnancy, and often occurs in increasing amounts as your pregnancy progresses. This mucoid discharge resembles premenstrual vaginal discharge, except that it’s heavier and constant. The same mechanisms (pregnancy hormones and increased blood flow to the tissues) that prepare the vagina for the passage of the baby are also responsible for this increase in secretions. Many women change their underwear several time a day, or wear panty liners to stay comfortably dry.
Vaginal yeast infections may recur throughout your pregnancy. While irritating to you, they are harmless to your baby, although a baby can pick up a yeast infection while traveling through the vagina during birth. Yeast can cause a mild infection of the mucous membranes of baby’s mouth, called thrush, which generally appears around a week after delivery. Thrush can spread to the mother’s nipples and cause pain and tenderness during feedings. Occasionally, a harmless yeast dermatitis may also develop in the newborn and can be treated easily with over-the-counter anti-fungal creams.
Keep your tissues handy. The same pregnancy hormones and increased blood volume that cause increased vaginal discharge also cause the mucous membranes in your nose to swell, secrete fluid, and produce an annoying post-nasal drip. Allergic mothers who suffer from asthma and hay fever may find they wheeze, sniffle, and tear more while pregnant, but even women with no history of allergy or sinus trouble often report constant sniffles while pregnant. (See Ways to Reduce Congestion Naturally.)
Guess what? Those pregnancy hormones that affect the mucous membranes throughout the rest of your body also cause changes inside your mouth. In addition to increased salivation, you can expect your gums to be sensitive, swollen, softer, and to bleed more easily during brushing and flossing. Have a dental check-up sometime around the fourth month. The dentist, hygienist, or periodontist may be able to help you prevent these gum changes from leading to inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) or gum infections. If you need dental cleaning, dental x-rays, or a local anesthetic, don’t worry. These will not harm your baby. (Since you are pregnant, or think you could be pregnant, be sure to inform your dentist who will drape a protective lead apron over your abdomen as a precautionary measure during x-rays.) Should you, because of certain heart valve problems, need to take a couple doses of antibiotic right before and after having dental work done, make certain your dentist knows that you are pregnant, even though the antibiotic commonly used in this situation is safe to take while pregnant.