4. Constipation

Your bowel habits will probably change during pregnancy. Most women notice some constipation. Two things add to the problem in pregnancy—increased hormones and blood-volume increase. You may not be drinking enough fluid, which can cause dehydration (and constipation) in you.

Increase your fluid intake. Foods that contain a lot of water include frozen juice treats, watermelon or a slush made with fresh fruit juice and water. In addition, foods with lots of fiber hold onto water longer, which helps soften your stools.

Exercise may help. It shifts body position, which may stimulate your bowels and increase muscle contractions to help move food through your intestines.

9. The Difference between Indigestion and Heartburn

Some people who suffer from heartburn say they are suffering from indigestion, but indigestion isn’t the same thing as heartburn. Although they have similar triggers, and treatment may be the same in many instances, they are different. Indigestion is a condition; heartburn may be a symptom of indigestion.

Indigestion is a vague feeling of discomfort and pain in the upper abdomen and chest. It includes a feeling of fullness and bloating, accompanied by belching and nausea. Occasionally, heartburn is a symptom.

Several things can trigger indigestion, including overeating, eating a particular food, drinking alcohol or carbonated beverages, eating too fast or too much, eating fatty or spicy foods, drinking too much caffeine, smoking or eating too much high-fiber foods. Anxiety and depression can worsen symptoms.

Many healthcare providers suggest a mild laxative, such as milk of magnesia or prune juice, if you have problems. Certain foods, such as bran and prunes, can increase the bulk in your diet, which may help relieve constipation.

Don’t use laxatives without your healthcare provider’s OK. If constipation is a continuing problem, discuss treatment at a prenatal visit. Try not to strain when you have a bowel movement; straining can lead to hemorrhoids. 

5. How Your Actions Affect Your Baby’s Development

Infections or diseases passed from one person to another by sexual contact are called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). These infections can affect your ability to get pregnant. During pregnancy, a sexually transmitted disease can harm your growing baby. Take care of any STD as soon as possible!

About 2 million pregnant women have an STD. That’s over 40%! Many don’t even know they have one. Ask for a test or treatment if you think you have an STD. Your healthcare provider routinely offers tests for hepatitis B, HIV and syphilis.

6. Genital Herpes

More than 45 million people in the United States over the age of 12 have had active cases of genital herpes (HSV type 2); 1 million new cases are reported every year. It’s not uncommon for a woman to have this problem during pregnancy. In fact, 2% of all pregnant women who do not have the disease when they get pregnant get it during pregnancy. Of those women who have herpes, 75% will have an outbreak during pregnancy.

Herpes can be dangerous for your baby. If you contract herpes during pregnancy, your baby is at highest risk. If your first outbreak is near delivery, your baby has a higher chance of having problems.

There’s no safe treatment during pregnancy for genital herpes. Some women are given valacyclovir during the last month of pregnancy in an attempt to suppress an outbreak. One study found this decreases the chances of an outbreak by nearly 70%. If a woman has a herpes outbreak late in pregnancy, she may have a Cesarean delivery.

7. Yeast Infections

Monilial (yeast) infections are more common in pregnant women. They have no major effect on pregnancy, but they may cause you discomfort and anxiety.

Yeast infections are sometimes harder to control and may require frequent retreatment or longer treatment during pregnancy. Creams used for treatment are usually safe during pregnancy. Avoid fluconazole (Diflucan); it may not be safe to use during pregnancy. Your partner does not need to be treated.

A newborn infant can get thrush after passing through a birth canal infected with monilial vulvovaginitis. Treatment with nystatin is effective.

8. Vaginitis

Vaginitis, also called trichomonal vaginitis or trichomoniasis, is the most common STD among women. It has no major effects on a pregnancy.

Treatment includes metronidazole (Flagyl) for you and your partner. A problem in treatment may arise because some experts believe metronidazole shouldn’t be taken in the first trimester of pregnancy. Most healthcare providers will prescribe metronidazole for a bad infection after the first trimester.

9. Human Papillomavirus (HPV; Genital Warts)

There are over 100 different viruses included under the umbrella term human papillomavirus (HPV)—30 of them are transmitted sexually. In some people, this virus causes venereal (genital) warts, also called condyloma acuminata. Genital warts may grow faster during pregnancy because of lowered immunity, pregnancy hormones and increased blood flow to the pelvic area.

HPV is one of the most common STDs in the United States—20 million Americans have it. HPV can affect your vagina, cervix and rectum, and your partner’s penis.

The Pap smear done at one of your first prenatal visits can reassure you that you do not have this problem. HPV is one of the main causes of abnormal Pap smears. If you have genital warts, tell your healthcare provider at your first prenatal appointment. During pregnancy, certain treatments should be avoided.

Warty skin tags may enlarge during pregnancy; in rare instances, they have blocked the vagina at the time of delivery. If you have many venereal warts, a Cesarean delivery may be necessary. Babies have also been known to get small benign tumors on the vocal cords after delivery.

HPV vaccines are recommended for all females between the ages of 9 and 26. They are not recommended during pregnancy. However, they are considered safe during breastfeeding.

10. Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea presents risks to a woman and her partner, and to her baby when it passes through the birth canal. The baby may contract gonorrheal ophthalmia, a severe eye infection. Eye drops are used in newborns to prevent this problem. Other infections may result in the mother, which are treated with penicillin or other medications that are safe during pregnancy.

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