Hair Loss + bleeding gums
My Nana always used to say that your hair is your crowning glory, so when it started to shed in fistfuls I must say that I cried one or two vanity laced tears. I had always heard that your hair and nails grow longer and thicker during pregnancy. Alas, I experienced the exact opposite. Luckily, this all came to a halt during my second trimester. My hair routine during this time changed only slightly. I invested in silk pillows to minimise friction and incorporated lavender oil into my hot oil treatments at home as this natural oil is known for healing the scalp and combating hair loss. Wide tooth combs plus minimal brushing and fussing with my hair in general throughout this period was essential.
Even more unsettling than losing hair is gingivitis – which is basically the inflammation of gums leaving them swollen and prone to bleeding. Hormonal changes during pregnancy increase the blood flow to the gums causing them to be more sensitive and irritable. Whilst I for sure don’t have the perfect teeth, I definitely do have very good oral hygiene instilled by my mother and my orthodontist in my younger years. Admittedly, the bleeding was pretty prolific initially, but is easing up now. My advice would be to make full use of the free dental care offered by the NHS to pregnant women. I know I did!
skin tags + stuffy nose
Moles are no stranger to me, given their presence on both sides of my family. I already have small moles peppering my face like freckles and was born with a large mole on my back which I had removed almost 10 years ago. Skin tags are similar to moles in that they are small flesh-coloured growths of skin that stick out from your body like a thin stalk. Thankfully they’re not very long, and I only have a few, so no need to call the dermatologist just yet. Plus, I am told that skin tags usually disappear after pregnancy and drop off by themselves, a huge relief.
Another unexpected side effect of pregnancy that I had to endure (mostly in my second trimester) was rhinitis – which is just another term for a stuffy/ runny nose. It feels similar to the nasal congestion you get when you have a cold and can start in almost any gestational week. Rhinitis is again caused by hormone changes – particularly when levels of oestrogen are higher. The lining of the nasal passages swell as a result, producing more mucus. I was constantly sneezing and wiping my running nose, which would drip constantly. Not great at a time when you’re already feeling significantly less attractive.
A new baby is like the beginning of all things; wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities. – Eda J. Le Shan
Pelvic pain + anxiety
Sporadic pelvic pain has plagued me in recent weeks. A stabbing sensation in the joints cradling my pelvis come and go at the most random times making it difficult to walk. According to my midwife, this is known as symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD). SPD (also widely known as Pelvic Girdle Pain) occurs when a hormone called relaxin is produced during pregnancy. The network of ligaments that make up the pelvic joints are usually quite dense. Relaxin softens these ligaments to allow baby to pass through more easily. Great in theory, but if like me your body doesn’t adapt so well to the stretchier, looser ligaments caused by relaxin you may feel very unstable on your feet.
Pregnancy has certainly played havoc with my emotions. I find myself getting anxious over trivial things lately and have become super protective, worrying about unseen dangers and nonsensical hazards. Hyper caution probably bordering on mania, driving has been less enjoyable. I get clammy palms worrying that someone may crash into me and largely feel as though my centre of balance is no longer aligned. Crowded spaces spark mild panic in me also, as I have found people to be generally unaware of their surroundings, walking blindly into me and bump. Public outings have become a highly thought out and strategic affair, simply to keep my blood pressure at a reasonable level and reduce my anxiety.
I must admit, all of these side effects, whilst a nuisance, have had a minimal affect on my day to day life. My major struggle has been with heavy bouts of fatigue which are making me more and more unproductive the closer I get to my due date. Have you experienced any of the above? And were you as oblivious as me that these symptoms even existed?