5 Pregnancy Changes You Might Not Expect

September 01, 2021

By Dan Tracy, Editorial Contributor

Morning sickness. A missed period. Fatigue. These are all common signs of pregnancy.

But there are lesser-known changes that can take hold early in pregnancy too, says Dr. Marilyn Fudge, a board-certified OB-GYN with Bayfront Health St. Petersburg Medical Group OB-GYN.

Here are five you might not expect:

  1. Acne. Acne is a common side effect of hormonal changes, so a breakout may be a sign you’re pregnant. About 40 percent of pregnant women experience it. While many had it before pregnancy, more than 13 percent will experience it for the first time.
  2. Gastrointestinal issues. During pregnancy, surging levels of progesterone slow down the muscle contractions responsible for moving food through your system, which might cause gastrointestinal issues. Acid reflux also can lead to complications. If you’re experiencing pain below the ribs, call your doctor.
  3. Headaches. The sudden increase in blood volume during the first trimester can cause headaches because of additional pressure on blood vessels. Fatigue, tension and stress, increased hunger and low blood sugar also can cause headaches.
  4. Smell sensitivity and palate changes. Some pregnant women discover that formerly beloved scents — their favorite perfume or fresh coffee — suddenly cause nausea. The shift generally occurs in the second trimester. As with other signs and symptoms, hormones are to blame. In this case, estrogen is the culprit.
  5. Breast changes. Cells in the breast begin to secrete a substance called colostrum as early as the 12th week of pregnancy, and some women may experience nipple discharge. Breast tenderness is another possible sign of pregnancy.

“If your pregnancy symptoms are disrupting your quality of life, talk to your doctor about over-the-counter or holistic remedies such as ginger for nausea and stool softeners for constipation,” Dr. Fudge says.

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