50 Pregnancy Symptoms & Discomforts Every Mom-to-Be Should Know About

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  • Nipple Changes

    pregnant woman

    Whoa! A pregnant woman's nipples might get bigger and darker. It's probably due to hormones -- and some people believe it's to make them easier for a newborn to spot for those first breastfeeding sessions.

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  • Pregnancy Brain

    pregnant woman lying on bed

    Over the years, different studies have "disproven" and "proven" the belief that women become more forgetful during pregnancy. But whether or not science says it's true, it's certainly normal to feel more absentminded. From planning for maternity leave, to setting up a nursery, to learning what life will be like with a newborn, expectant mothers certainly have a lot on their minds, making it understandable that they might lose their keys or forget to make a call or two.

  • Vision Changes

    woman squinting at computer

    Blurry vision? Fluid changes in the cornea can affect a mom-to-be's eyesight, in which case her vision will go back to normal after her baby is born. It's important a pregnant woman's doctor knows about any vision changes, since some pregnancy complications can affect eyesight as well.

  • Leaking Breasts

    pregnant woman in bed

    She might not expect it until after pregnancy, but as early as the second trimester, her boobs are creating baby's first food: colostrum. It's normal for this nutrient-rich milk to leak a bit before baby's arrival.

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

    woman with wrist pain

    Increased swelling during pregnancy can cause carpal tunnel syndrome -- pinching of a nerve in the wrist. This can cause pain, tingling, and numbness in the fingers and hand. It can also make it tough to do everyday tasks, such as buttoning a shirt.

  • Bigger Feet

    pregnant woman foot

    Sorry, but bigger feet might not be just due to pregnancy swelling. Around 60 to 70 percent of women's feet grow permanently during pregnancy, according to one study. Use it as an excuse to buy some cute new shoes.

  • Headaches

    pregnant woman with headache

    A headache during pregnancy could be a sign of hunger, stress, dehydration, fatigue, or caffeine withdrawal. Check with the doctor before taking anything -- rest, food, and water might be all that's needed to feel better -- but many consider acetaminophen (Tylenol) safe for pregnant women.

  • Lightheadedness

    pregnant woman feeling faint

    Pregnant women can feel faint -- or can actually faint -- for a variety of reasons. These include low blood sugar, anemia, and the pressure her growing uterus puts on her blood vessels. Lightheadedness is considered normal if it's not accompanied by abdominal pain, bleeding, blurred vision, headaches, or other strange symptoms.

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  • Linea Nigra

    woman's pregnant belly with linea nigra

    Hormones are probably the cause of the dark line that runs vertically down the middle of many pregnant women's bellies. The linea nigra is Latin for "black line" -- it may start out a shade or two darker than the woman's skin tone and then get gradually darker as pregnancy progresses. It will eventually fade after delivery.

  • Stretch Marks

    pregnant woman with stretch marks

    Stretch marks are tiny tears under the skin, caused by all that fast stretching happening as a pregnant woman's belly expands. It may be genetics that decide whether a woman gets stretch marks -- but most do! The bad news is they never really go away completely, but they fade quite a bit after pregnancy.

  • Skin Discoloration

    pregnant woman looking at skin in mirror

    Pregnancy hormones can increase the level of melanin, which gives skin its pigment. And so this might cause dark skin patches called melasma, aka the mask of pregnancy. Keeping skin protected from the sun may help prevent melasma.

  • Weight Gain

    pregnant woman on scale

    Obviously, pregnant women should gain weight! A woman's doctor will advise her on the ideal amount of weight for her to gain -- it may be somewhere between 11 and 40 total pounds, depending on her BMI (body mass index) -- and will keep tabs throughout the pregnancy. Gaining weight at a healthy rate helps mom and baby stay healthy, and abnormal weight gain could be a sign of a pregnancy complication.

  • Heartburn

    pregnant woman with heartburn

    Those darn pregnancy hormones relax a bunch of different body parts, including the valve meant to stop stomach acid from creeping up the esophagus. The result, of course, is uncomfortable heartburn. Avoiding greasy and spicy foods may help prevent bouts.

  • Braxton-Hicks Contractions

    pregnant woman sitting on bed

    Call it a warm-up for the big game. Braxton-Hicks contractions aren't the same as labor contractions. They're tightening of the uterus that's irregular and infrequent; they can be so subtle a woman might not even notice she's having them. Drinking lots of water, getting enough rest, and changing positions can help prevent or relieve uncomfortable Braxton-Hicks.

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    pregnant belly with rash

    PUPPP (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy) is a rash of itchy, small red bumps that can appear on the belly and may spread to other parts of the body. Usually it goes away after the baby's born.

  • Spider Veins

    spider veins

    Spider veins -- visible red blood vessels -- may appear because of hormonal changes and the high amount of blood pumping through a woman's body during pregnancy. Little blood traffic jams, spider veins are considered harmless, though sometimes they're uncomfortable. Getting enough exercise and putting up her feet to promote circulation may help get traffic moving again.

  • Varicose Veins

    varicose veins

    Not to be confused with spider veins, varicose veins are swollen, sore, and blue. They happen on the lower half of a pregnant woman's body -- usually legs and sometimes vulva, vagina, and rectum (as in hemorrhoids, sorry) -- because of all the pressure the uterus puts on the veins down there.

  • Nail Changes

    brittle fingernails

    Some women report their fingernails or toenails grow faster, get stronger, or get more brittle during pregnancy. It just goes to show how unpredictable pregnancy truly is!

  • Swollen Ankles

    pregnant woman with sore ankles

    Women retain more fluid during pregnancy. That, combined with the extra blood flow, can cause ankles to swell. Minor swelling is considered just another side effect of pregnancy, but if it's sudden or severe, it could be a sign of preeclampsia, a dangerous complication.

  • Excess Gas

    pregnant woman surprised

    Pregnant women shouldn't be surprised if they get a little more gassy than usual, since digestion can slow, and hormones can relax the muscles that would normally stop it from releasing. In other words, moms-to-be get a pass to fart in public.

  • Snoring

    pregnant woman sleeping

    In the third trimester, the trifecta of weight gain, swelling, and nasal congestion can cause a woman to begin snoring in her sleep. It's probably just a pregnancy thing that will go away after delivery, but snoring could cause a few other problems, so it's important anyone sawing logs notifies the doctor.

  • Hip Pain

    pregnant woman with hip pain

    The human body is an amazing thing! Hormones naturally relax and soften hip joints and ligaments to prep for baby's delivery. But that amazing change can open up the possibility of hip discomfort, especially now that the mom-to-be's uterus is heavier and her posture has changed.

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