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6 weird things that may happen to your body during pregnancy

Pregnant woman experiencing heartburn
Heartburn is a common condition during pregnancy.

Pregnancy is a very exciting time, but it can also be overwhelming when your body starts changing and suddenly you don’t feel or look like yourself anymore. You might even find yourself googling strange symptoms in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep.

Morning sickness, extreme tiredness and stretch marks are more widely known discomforts and signs of pregnancy, but there are also some lesser known symptoms and conditions that can occur in pregnancy that you might not know about.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that causes pain, numbness and tingling in the hand and arm. It can develop during pregnancy thanks to hormonal changes – an increase in fluids during pregnancy compresses the median nerve in the wrist causing a sense of weakness in the hand and the tingling feeling.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can range from mild discomfort, sporadically painful, or severe. Symptoms of carpal tunnel are tingling and numbness in the hands, which usually resolve on their own soon after birth. Splinting and resting the wrist, physiotherapy or anti-inflammatory medication may be helpful for some women experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome.

If you are experiencing tingling and numbness in your hands make sure you let your maternity care provider know.

Skin tags

You may have been told that you’ll be glowing during pregnancy but unfortunately skin conditions like acne, stretch marks, rashes and skin tags are also common.

Skin tags are a type of skin lesion that not uncommon and are non-cancerous. They are hormonally related and can increase in number during pregnancy. Skin tags are caused by the hyperactive growth of your skin and is most likely brought on by hormonal changes and increased blood flow. They usually appear in areas that are often rubbed or hot, moist areas such as you neck, torso or breast folds.

Skin tags are not painful and there is nothing you can do to prevent them. When you give birth it’s possible they will disappear. Your GP or dermatologist can easily remove them by scalpel, or by freezing or burning them off.

Restless leg syndrome

Restless leg syndrome is exactly what it sounds like: you become restless and it often can prevent women from sleeping during pregnancy. It is a condition of the nervous system which presents as an urge to move your legs due to a burning, tingling or itching feeling. You may also experience symptoms such as uncontrolled jerky movements or have similar sensations in the arms. Treatment includes having hot baths, leg massages, reducing caffeine and managing your stress levels.

Discoloured vagina

During your pregnancy, you may have noticed your skin darkening in certain body parts such as your nipples, scars and/or face but did you know your vagina can also darken in colour? This is known as Chadwick’s Sign and can be an early sign of pregnancy.

The cervix and/or vagina can turn a deep bluish-purple colour during pregnancy, due to increased blood flow. So, if you look downstairs and notice things are looking a little unusual, don’t panic!

Cramping legs

Up to half of pregnant women will experience leg cramps. These are more likely to occur in the second and third trimester. Cramps occur when a build-up of acids cause a contraction in the muscle and will most likely happen at night.

During a cramping episode you can walk around, stretch and massage the affected muscles to disperse the build-up of acids or try applying a warm pack to the muscle. Speak to your maternity care provider if you’re thinking about taking any new supplements during pregnancy to help ease symptoms.

Pregnant woman feeling tired

Heart burn

Heart burn, also known as acid reflux, occurs when the contents of the stomach backs up into the oesophagus, the tube connecting you stomach to your mouth. This can cause an unpleasant burning feeling. It can happen to anyone, but is more common in pregnancy because of the hormone progesterone.

Progesterone relaxes the muscles in the body and affects the entire digestive system. It is also likely to occur in the latter stages of pregnancy as your uterus places pressure on the stomach. It’s best to avoid big fatty meals, caffeinated drinks and spicy foods if you are experiencing heart burn.

You can find out more about treating heartburn here.

Worried about pregnancy symptoms?

It’s normal to be concerned when you notice a change in your body, especially during pregnancy when changes seem to happen daily! If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or you’ve noticed anything else new, make sure you let your maternity care provider know or call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for more information.

Last updated: 7 February 2019