Your Pregnancy After 35 : How Your Body Changes during Pregnancy (part 6) - Increased Vaginal Discharge

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18. Urinary Discomfort

One of the first symptoms of early pregnancy is frequent urination. The problem continues off and on throughout pregnancy. You may have to go to the bathroom at night when you never did before. It usually lessens during the second trimester, then returns during the third trimester, when the growing baby puts pressure on the bladder.

Some women experience urinary-tract infections during pregnancy; they are also called bladder infections, cystitis and UTIs. If you have an infection, take the entire course of antibiotics prescribed for you. 

You’ll do yourself a favor by not “holding” your urine. Empty your bladder as soon as you feel the need. Drink plenty of fluids; unsweetened cranberry juice helps kill bacteria and may help you avoid infections. For some women, urinating after having intercourse is helpful.

19. Increased Vaginal Discharge

It’s normal to notice an increase in vaginal discharge or vaginal secretion during pregnancy. The discharge, called leukorrhea, is usually white or yellow and fairly thick; it is not an infection. We believe the discharge is caused by the increased blood flow to the skin and muscles around the vagina.

The discharge that accompanies a vaginal infection is often foul smelling, has a greenish or yellowish color, and causes itching or irritation around or inside the vagina. If you have these symptoms, notify your healthcare provider. Treatment is often possible; many medicinal creams and ointments are safe to use during pregnancy.

Do not douche if you have a heavy vaginal discharge during pregnancy; in fact, we do not recommend douching for any reason during pregnancy. Most healthcare providers agree douching can be dangerous during pregnancy because it can cause an infection or bleeding, or even break your bag of waters (rupture your membranes). It can also cause more serious problems, such as an air embolus. An air embolus results when air gets into your circulation from the pressure of the douche. It is rare but can be a serious problem.

20. Time-Saving, Energy-Saving Tip

In early and late pregnancy, you may feel the need to urinate more frequently. If you need to use the bathroom when you’re out and about, there’s usually one very close. Grocery stores, drug stores, discount stores, department stores, malls, convenience stores—nearly all of them have restrooms that are open to the public. If you don’t see one, ask the store manager where it is. Don’t make yourself wait until you get home.

If you have an annoying discharge, wear a light pad if necessary. Avoid wearing panty hose and nylon underwear; choose underwear with a cotton lining.

21. Other Common Changes

Pregnancy hormones circulating through your body may trigger changes in your hair. You may notice less hair loss than usual. After your baby is born, the hair you retained during pregnancy usually falls out. If this happens to you, don’t worry—you’re not going bald!

The same hormones that encourage the growth of your hair also influence your nails. You may have problems keeping your nails filed to a practical length. Enjoy them!

Some women experience increased facial hair during pregnancy. Usually it’s not a problem, but check with your healthcare provider if it worries you. Facial hair will probably disappear or decrease after pregnancy, so wait until after baby’s birth before making any decisions about permanent hair removal.

Pregnancy hormones can elevate your body temperature slightly, which may lead to greater perspiration. If you perspire heavily, keep fluid levels up to avoid dehydration.

22. Breast Changes

Your breasts undergo many changes during pregnancy. After about 8 weeks, breasts normally start getting larger. You may notice they are lumpy or nodular. Tenderness, tingling and breast soreness early in pregnancy are common and normal.

The nipple area may change. Before pregnancy, the areola (the dark area surrounding the nipple) is usually pink, but it can turn brown or red-brown and may enlarge during pregnancy and lactation.

During the second trimester, a thin, yellow fluid called colostrum is formed; it is the precursor to breast milk. Sometimes it leaks from the breasts or can be expressed by squeezing the nipples. Leaking is normal. Leave your breasts alone; don’t express the fluid. Wear breast pads inside your bra if leaking becomes embarrassing.

Some women have inverted nipples, which are flat or retract (invert) into the breast. Women with inverted nipples may find breastfeeding more difficult, but it is not impossible.

To determine if you have inverted nipples, place your thumb and index finger on the areola. Gently compress the base of the nipple; if it flattens or retracts into the breast, you have inverted nipples.

Plastic breast shields worn under your bra during the last few weeks of pregnancy create a slight pressure at the base of the nipple that helps draw out the nipple. Ask your healthcare provider for further information.

23. Lightening

A few weeks before labor begins or at the beginning of labor, the head of your baby begins to enter the birth canal, and your uterus seems to “drop” a bit. This is called lightening. Don’t be concerned if it happens to you.

A benefit of lightening is it allows you more room to breathe. However, as your baby descends into the birth canal, you may notice more pressure in your pelvis, bladder and rectum, which may be uncomfortable.

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