Pregnant? What’s Considered Normal?
Updated: Oct 20, 2022
Body changes Obviously, our body changes a lot during pregnancy as well as postpartum. Some of these changes are normal and healthy parts of pregnancy, even if they are a bit inconvenient. Other things are often regarded as “normal” or “just something you have to push through,” but you really don’t because there are things you can do about them do to relieve the discomfort. Other things are serious issues that are often disregarded and not taken seriously, but can lead to more issues later.
Some normal changes during pregnancy include weight gain, enlarged breasts, full hair, fast growing nails, growing belly, changes in taste, enhanced sense of smell, increased blood flow and volume, nausea, and changes in bowel movement, round ligament pains.
As your uterus grows, it applies pressure to your abdominal wall, and can stretch out the connective tissue and separate the abdominal muscles. This is called diastasis recti. To an extent, this is a normal adaption of pregnancy. It becomes an issue when the abdominal muscles separate way too much, and lead to core dysfunction.
As your core weakens, your back muscles work harder to keep you moving, and this can lead to soreness or other types of back pain. Mild to moderate back pain during pregnancy is normal, but if it gets to the point where it is unbearable and you cannot participate in daily life activities, or if it leads to sciatica, it is a problem, and there are things you can do about it rather than just suffer through it.
Belly binding can help support your core as it separates and weakens, and this can also help relieve the back pain. Additionally, physical therapy can help you learn how to use your body differently during pregnancy. Chiropractic care can temporarily provide relief to the back pain as well, depending on the cause.
Urinary incontinence is regarded as a “normal” part of pregnancy simply because it is so common, but it is not something you have to continue to deal with!!! Kegels are usually promoted to help with urinary incontinence, but it is also a good idea to consult a pelvic floor therapist to get a full overview of your pelvic floor muscles and get a guided plan for how to strengthen and stretch them. A pelvic floor therapist can also help with a variety of other pelvic issues including but not limited to pubic symphysis, which is pain in the pubic bone and surrounding areas, and constipation. Severe constipation during pregnancy can lead to a toxic overload and hemorrhoids. Sitz baths, dietary changes, pelvic floor therapy, and increased soup intake can all help with relieving the pain from constipation.
Itchy skin during pregnancy is normal around the belly, hips and breasts as the skin stretches and thins. However, if you feel itchy in the palms of your hands, the soles of your feet, of all over your body, it could be a sign of Intrahepatic Cholestasis, a liver condition during pregnancy. You will have to ask your doctor to run some tests if you suspect this is the case.
Fluid levels in your body also increase to an extent during pregnancy, but too much fluid retention can lead to swelling. Swelling is common during pregnancy, but just like urinary retention, it doesn’t always mean it’s okay. Too much swelling can be a sign of preeclampsia or electrolyte imbalance. Checking your magnesium, calcium, and potassium intake in crucial to determine where the imbalance is. If it comes with blurred vision or a headache, seek medical care immediately.
Dizziness and fainting are NOT normal nor common. These can be signs of anemia or another serious issue, and immediate medical care is required.