Saturday, March 7, 2009

Pregnancy Week 33: Pregnancy and how I physically feel

Since in this blog, I tend to focus mainly on my emotional feelings, events that happen, doctor's appointments, stories etc, I think it is time I give an update on how I am feeling physically. When people ask how I am feeling, I typically say, "I feel great! I've been lucky and have had a really amazing pregnancy so far." And that is completely true. I am blessed, and I have had an easy pregnancy compared to a lot of people. But obviously, I do not feel as I did before I was pregnant, so for the blog record, here is my list of physical aspects that are different since I became pregnant (mostly from the second trimester on--the first trimester, I barely felt any different):

1) Heartburn: I had this more in the second trimester than I do now, but occasionally, I still feel it. It is as though a pill is stuck in my chest and burns there. It usually passes after a few minutes to an hour though (and like I said, is pretty infrequent at this point). It seems to help when I breathe deeply, drink water, lift my hands over my head.

2) Acid Reflux: Yes, this pesky little thing has made its way into my life. This started toward the end of the second trimester and has continued into the third. I notice it especially when I eat "too much" (not necessarily too much by my old standard, but apparently too much to fit into my squashed stomach at one time), or if I drink a lot of acidic fruit juice. It is gross when it happens (maybe 1-3 times a day), but it is pretty short-lived, so I forget about it quickly (hence eating too much again and having it happen again! I'm like a fish.)

3) Lower back pain: This actually started for me in my first trimester. I initially noticed it when a few juice bar employees left the Yoga Studio I managed, and I was covering part of their shifts. I was standing for long periods of time, and after just a day or two of that, I suddenly had lower back pain (which I'd never had before in my life). A month or so later, we did replace the employees, and I did not work as much on my feet. This helped some, but from then on out, I had lower back pain when I would stand or walk for relatively short periods of time. Even in Antigua, where I was very relaxed, due to the amount of walking I did, my lower back hurt a great deal. It still hurts now, especially if I am standing with my weight on one leg, then have to move and shift my weight to both legs. I have finally purchased a pregnancy band which I wear around the house, and sometimes stick a heating pad in it. That seems to help a little bit. There are good days and bad days with my back. I do still go to a chiropractor, so he helps relieve some of the pain from time to time also.

4) Numbness: For a few months now, I have been experiencing a decrease in sensitivity in my left leg hip/leg area. It falls asleep frequently when I lie on either side, and even when it is not "asleep," I can tell it is less sensitive than my right leg. I told my OB about it and he could not give me a definite answer. He said it could be a lot of things related to being pregnant, but not to worry about it.

Over the past month or two, I have also noticed a true numbness in my right side, near my ribs and stomach. I first noticed this when I would feel the baby push against my ribs and then stay there, very close to the surface, as a hard oval ball. After a while of this, I noticed the skin against his body had gone numb. My skin does return to having sensations later, when the baby moves, or I move around, but it has continued to do that several times a day now. My OB said this may have to do with my having a petite frame, and the baby's body pushing against nerve endings close to the skin. But again, he said there is nothing to worry about.

5) Shortness of breath: I have bouts of becoming out of breath for no apparent reason. It has nothing to do with exercising, but may happen when I'm simply typing on my laptop, in the car driving, or watching a movie. I just suddenly feel out of breath with an increased heart rate. I know this isn't abnormal either, depending on the positioning of the baby.

6) Discomfort from my belly: I love my belly and I love being so close to my baby, but I have the obvious effects as all pregnant women do, of not being able to bend straight over. To put shoes and socks on, I now lift my leg up sideways now, instead of straight up. It has taken me some time getting used to turning the heel of my sock to the side before putting it on. I also now feel the baby up in my ribs quite often, either just pressing there, hanging out there, or kicking there, which makes sitting in many ways (especially driving) very uncomfortable. My larger belly also causes me to bump into things, or accidentally scratch it on items! I'm still not used to it in all ways, or used to the fact that I can't suck it in to get past people, or to squeeze in somewhere.

7) Weird-feeling stomach muscles: My stomach muscles feel...yeah, weird. I don't really know how to describe it. I gave up sit-ups a few months ago. It felt so strange to try to do them, it almost grossed me out, the feeling of utilizing the stomach muscles like that. And in something as common as going from lying down to sitting up in bed, you use your stomach muscles. But now it feels weird to use those muscles. When I lie back and make a stomach muscle, it also looks strange in my belly. It looks skinnier than usual, a lot of this appearance is probably because I am not used to seeing as much belly surrounding the stomach from the sides, so it turns into a sort of triangle.

8) Round Ligament Pain: According to babycenter, this is "a brief, sharp, stabbing pain or a longer-lasting dull ache that pregnant women commonly feel in the lower abdomen or groin, starting in the second trimester." I did feel this in the second trimester, mostly when coughing, sneezing, or getting up quickly, but it was not very often. I still occasionally feel this when I stand up quickly, but again, not frequently.

9) The Baby's Hardening Sensation: I have no idea what to call this, but for the past month or two, usually a few times a day, I feel a very odd sensation. I will suddenly feel my heart rate increase, and I feel as though I might pass out (but I know I won't)--just a very strange feeling. Sort of like my blood pressure is dropping dramatically. When this happens, I will put my hand down and feel my belly and there will instantly be a rock hard area of my belly where the baby is. I don't feel the baby moving during this process, but somehow my odd sensation and the baby's "hardening" seem to correlate. I asked my doctor about this and he wasn't sure, but again, said, it could be the baby pressing on nerves. It does happen fairly often when I stand up suddenly, as though the gravity change affects the baby's positioning. I will say to Mike, "Quick! Feel the baby--he's becoming a hard ball!" And then after about a minute or so, the hardness will go away.

With any of these physical changes, I still must emphasize that I quickly forget I have these "symptoms" as soon as they pass. Even if someone asks me how I am feeling an hour after I have had shortness of breath and acid reflux, most likely it won't even come to my mind that I was just feeling that. My back pain has been the most persistent, but I suppose I have sort of adjusted my expectations of how my back ought to feel, so again, I don't think it out of the ordinary to feel back pain any more (although I do appreciate and notice not having back pain!).

All in all, everything I've described seems minor to me, fairly common, nothing worrisome. I still feel great, and appreciate my good health during these baby-carrying months!

(Pregnancy Belly Shot Picture Note: In the second picture, I think it's neat to see how the baby is really in a basketball uterus in my belly! He juts right out there!)


Monsoon Mama said...

uggg, yeah, the end of pregnancy definitely gets uncomfortable. some people have a lot of little difficulties that add up, and others have one really big struggle (e.g. they have to sleep sitting up because of bad reflux), but (and i've probably said this before) it's probably the body's way of making you emotionally ready to get the baby OUT!

when we took our childbirth class, the teacher showed us this amazing diagram of a very pregnant woman's organs and how they all get moved around and mushed and compressed by the baby, and it really makes all the symptoms make sense! apparently, the size of teh uterus actually pushed the intestines around so much that part of them goes up and over the top of the uterus up in the ribs! it's totally wacky.

hang in there... it sounds like it's totally normal and nothing serious (as you said), but i know how annoying all these things can be! and again, ice cream (in small amounts as to go enrage the reflux gods) is always a good thing :)

Boston Pam said...

The heartburn means your baby will born with lots of hair! An old wives tale that turned out to be true for me anyway. Heartburn with David = baby born with lots of dark black hair. No heartburn with Shaun = baby born with very little blonde fuzz! Countdown is on. Take it easy now while you can!

Tara M said...

Thanks, MM! That is so interesting about the organs being all smushed! It's so weird how the body just adjusts to this and then will adjust back to "normal" after the baby! Ice cream sounds great right now (although I'm lactose intolerant, so don't have the regular kind--but even a nice coconut sorbet would be nice...)

Hi, Pam! So my baby will have a full head of dark hair! I wouldn't be surprised! My brothers and I were all born with hair, although mike was pretty peach fuzzy, I think. So we shall see what gene dominates! ;)

Anonymous said...

Go, peach fuzz, go! Yup, Tara's been a trooper, despite the backpain, which is the worst. (Coming from someone whose doctor told me I have the lower spine of a 50 year old man.) But otherwise, she really has been quite relatively lucky.

Kat said...

You know, when I read your remarks about the "Baby Hardening Sensation," I immediately thought that you were having Braxton Hicks contractions. I realized during my 2nd pregnancy that the "hardening" sensation in my belly was really painless contractions. I would feel like my whole belly was tight or hard and then it would go away. It would happen more when I was being active, but it could happen anytime. I think it is the body's way of gearing up for the real thing...a type of practice. Just an idea anyway :) BTW, I have heard that it helps to drink more water if this is bothering you.

Tara M said...

That's interesting, Kat! My mom and one of my friends said the same thing, so maybe it is! The odd thing is that it isn't my whole uterus--it's usually just one side, like an oval shape (like it's the baby's back). Unless you can have braxton hicks on just one side? I will try the water if it bothers me--thanks! Right now, it's relatively short lived, but we'll see!

Kat said...

I think you CAN feel it on one side and not all over. Now that you mention it, I remember it feeling like the baby was all scrunched up on one side sometimes. I think that's why I didn't realize it was contractions until my 2nd pregnancy. I just explained it away as that, but it was really the muscles tightening. You are definitely far enough along that you would be having Braxton Hicks!

Monsoon Mama said...

yeah, it totally sounds like braxton hicks to me. i didn't have any with anand, but the OB said that you can start having them as early as 6 months into a pregnancy. i have friends who have had braxton hicks contractions, and like kat, they have said that they were sometimes in one specific place and not the entire uterus. there's so much activity going on in that womb, huh?? amazing.

Tara M said...

Yup--I think you guys are right. I asked my OB about it this week and he said it definitely sounded like braxton hicks, and that it can be just on one side. It is sometimes on both, but the right side usually is harder. It has been happening for a few months (probably 5 months on), and I read that you actually have them even in the first trimester, but you just don't feel them then. So I guess it varies. It's neat though to know that's what it is!