Is my discharge normal?

Probably. Pregnant women have more of a vaginal discharge then nonpregnant women. It is common for pregnant women to wear a panty liner while pregnant because of this discharge. Most of this discharge is physiologic and represents cervical mucus. If your discharge has a bad odor or itches or is green in color, tell your doctor to make sure it’s not an infection. Otherwise, expect to have some discharge throughout pregnancy.

Why does sex hurt?

Sex is safe during pregnancy and often a lot of fun. Most couples enjoy the pregnant woman’s body’s changes during pregnancy but sometimes women can find sex painful and problematic.

Some women find it difficult to become relaxed during pregnancy because they’re worried that sex maybe harmful to the pregnancy; this is an unnecessary fear – sex is not associated with any negative outcomes during pregnancy.

Most of the time discomfort and pain during sex is just related to your changing anatomy and body shape. Familiar positions may become uncomfortable because your belly is in the way and more penetrating positions may become less desirable because your uterus has started to take space away from the upper part of your vagina. Usually, a little creativity can be both fun and problem-solving. Rear-entry positions, with the help of the few pillows or a wedge cushion, can solve several problems at once. The woman on top, as long as it’s not too penetrating, can also be pleasurable for both and it can allow you to determine the angle of injury and the depth of penetration to a degree. Finally, if you lay on your side and draw your top leg upwards, this can allow your partner to straddle your bottom leg and enter at a 90° angle from the normal. This side saddle approach allows for complete control over the angle of entry and allows you to control the depth of penetration with your top leg; he is very unlikely to complain.

Why can’t I breath?

Literally 97% of pregnant women complain of shortness of breath at some time during their pregnancies. Most of the time, this is related to some of the pulmonary physiologic changes of pregnancy that give women the sensation that they are not breathing and deeply or moving as much air with each inspiration; but their actual oxygen status remains unchanged. It is normal to feel as if you are not breathing is deeply or if your rate of respirations increase with less vigorous activity while pregnant.

Rarely, difficulty breathing is a sign of a more serious problem. If you’re having trouble catching your breath even while resting or if you have symptoms of low oxygen levels, like changes in the color of your skin or confusion, then you may need to seek medical care immediately. Women who have underlying asthma may also have shortness of breath related to uncontrolled asthma during pregnancy and this would be a reason to seek immediate medical attention. Also, if you noticed that you can’t sleep without propping your head up with several pillows, you may need to talk to your doctor.

Otherwise, if you’re shortness of breath is just with exertion and becomes improved with rest, this is likely normal.

Why am I itching?

Most itching in pregnancy is related to dry skin. A good lotion can go a long way to reducing or eliminating itching related to this problem. In some cases, itching confined to one area may be related to a reaction to something, for what is called a contact dermatitis. If you suspect this is the case, try to avoid whatever you came into contact with a consider using an antihistamine or over the counter steroid cream until you are better.

In rare cases, itching all over the body that is not associated with a rash can be due to intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy or ICP. ICP is an important diagnosis to not miss and your doctor may need to check some labs to make sure you don’t have this. If you do, she will prescribe medicine to improve the situation and she will likely deliver you a couple of weeks earlier than normal.

These hemorrhoids are a pain in my ***! Help!

Nobody likes a hemorrhoid. Unfortunately, they are common during pregnancy and become more common in the third trimester. All of the normal over-the-counter remedies for hemorrhoids are perfectly fine to use while pregnant, including Preparation H and Anusol HC. Tuck’s Pads, which are pads infused with Witch Hazel, are also effective. Many women will use the pads in combination with one of the creams.

Most hemorrhoids get significantly better after delivery, though they may get worse with pushing. Sitz bath’s with added Witch Hazel, may be your best friend in the postpartum.

Rarely, hemorrhoids become thrombosed and need to be dealt with surgically as an emergency. You should suspect that a hemorrhoid has become thrombosed if you have new and different severe pain, preventing you from even sitting down. If you’re worried about this, ask your doctor immediately.

What can I do for constipation?

Constipation is incredibly common during pregnancy; in the 19th century, some people called pregnancy the Disease of Constipation. The good news is on of the remedies and treatments that you might normally use for constipation are still safe in pregnancy. You should start by increasing your water and fiber intake. Many women will add daily use of MiraLAX or a generic equivalent to their diet. This is a gentle agent that is non-stimulating and safe to use during pregnancy. If it’s been a few days (for a week) since you went, you may need to stimulate a bowel movement from below. Try using a Dulcolax suppository, and if this doesn’t work you can repeat it in two hours or so.

If these over-the-counter remedies are not helpful, talk to your doctor.

Why are my legs and hands so swollen?

Ah, the joys of pregnancy! If constipation, hemorrhoids, and heartburn weren’t enough to make you feel glorious, just wait until your legs start swelling.

Most swelling or edema in pregnancy is normal. Swelling is common; about 60% of women will have significant lower extremity swelling and a large number of these women will also have swelling in their hands that make rings too tight and wrists hurt. Much of the conventional wisdom about swelling during pregnancy is related to a concern for the development of preeclampsia, but swelling is so common, that in most cases this is not really a concern at all. Your doctor checks your blood pressure at your regular visits to make sure that you’re not developing preeclampsia.

Most swelling in the legs is related to the uterus blocking the return of blood that is collected by gravity in the legs. As the uterus gets bigger, it blocks the veins that drain the legs back up to the heart. Since there are no pumps in the legs, then the blood tends to pool and this leads to swelling. You may be able to make this temporarily better by elevating your legs, particularly while laying on your side. But for most women who are up and working throughout the day, there is little opportunity for this. Wearing a pair of support hose may help tremendously.

If your hands are swelling, you may have symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome which is very common during pregnancy. Wearing an over-the-counter wrist splint at night on one or both hands will lead to significant improvement of these painful symptoms.

One common myth about swelling is that a woman should drink more water when she is swelling to make the swelling better. This is simply untrue. If you’re having significant swelling in your legs, you may also find that you are lightheaded or having woozy episodes because you’re water content has left your blood vessels and gone into your soft tissues; in this case, drinking more water may help you not feel as woozy, but it will not affect how badly you are swollen.