embarrassing symptoms of pregnancy

Embarrassing symptoms of pregnancy

Pregnancy changes your body in ways you never imagined – here are the completely normal, but often embarrassing symptoms of pregnancy.

A beautiful baby bump, glowing skin, and the excitement that you are about to become a mother; these are the traits of pregnancy that most women expect or at least wish for.

Unfortunately, not all of pregnancy is comfortable and beautiful.

Women often suffer from symptoms such as excess gas, itchy nipples and leaky breasts. Luckily, these common but sometimes embarrassing issues can be easily dealt with.

Excess gas

The noisiest embarrassing pregnancy symptom, excess gas can leave you mortified in public situations. High levels of progesterone are the cause of this as progesterone relaxes the muscles in your gastrointestinal tract and slows down digestion. This leads to a build up of excess gas.

Bear in mind that the average person passes wind about 15 times a day, and that anything up to 40 times a day is normal.

How to help yourself:
The foods most likely to cause wind are those containing unabsorbable carbohydrates. Watch your diet and cut out obvious offenders such as fizzy drinks, beans, cabbage and the likes. Eating small meals several times a day can also help.


Haemorrhoids, which are also known as piles, are enlarged and swollen veins in or around the lower rectum and anus. Anyone can get piles – they don’t just happen in pregnancy.

When you’re pregnant, piles can occur because hormones make your veins relax.

Constipation, which is also common during pregnancy, can put further strain on you.

How to help yourself:
You can get some relief from haemorrhoids by making some changes to your lifestyle. Eat plenty of high-fibre foods such as fruit, vegetables and wholemeal bread. Drink plenty of water and avoid standing for long periods.


A fit of laughter or an unexpected sneeze can be two of the causes that see you wetting yourself in the most surprising situations.

As your uterus presses against your bladder, it makes it extremely difficult to control your urine output causing leaking situations that are out of your control.

How to help yourself:
Ways to try to combat this potentially embarrassing problem are to practice Kegels, the pelvic muscle-toning exercise. You can do Kegel exercises, also known as pelvic floor muscle training, discreetly just about anytime.

Find the muscles you need to stop urinating. To identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream. If you succeed, you’ve got the right muscles.

Squeeze these muscles for three seconds, then relax for three seconds.

Sanitary towels or special incontinence pads can help to absorb urine. Avoid coffee, citrus, tomatoes and soft drinks — all of which can irritate your bladder and make it harder to control those leaks.

things i learned when pregnant

Morning sickness:

With its misleading name, many pregnant women find out the hard way that ‘morning sickness’ in fact has nothing to do with the morning.

In the first trimester, hormone changes can cause nausea and vomiting and it can occur any time of the day. Morning sickness usually subsides by the second trimester.

How to help yourself:
Eat several small meals instead of three large meals to keep your stomach from being empty.

Don’t lie down after meals and try to avoid smells that upset your stomach.

Eat bland foods that are low in fat and easy to digest, such as cereal, rice and bananas.

Visit your GP if you have flu-like symptoms, which may be a sign of a more serious condition or if you have severe, constant nausea and/or vomiting several times a day.

Itchy nipples

A big surge in the size of your breasts during pregnancy is a common symptom that most women are familiar with. However, what they’re not told is that the stretching of the skin that happens with the growth can cause a constant itchiness.

How to help yourself:
To avoid having to keep scratching your nipples, especially when in public, lather on a natural moisturiser after you shower. And when you feel the need to scratch, try dabbing on a thick emollient cream.

If the itching persists and spreads, you should report it to your GP or midwife to rule a condition called cholestasis.

Breast leakage

Even if you haven’t started breastfeeding yet, your breasts can start leaking before the end of your pregnancy. This is caused by large amounts of the hormone prolactin, the hormone that makes your breasts ready for nursing.

How to help yourself:
Simple daily activities such as changing your clothes or showering can cause your breasts to leak. While this cannot necessarily be avoided, it can be dealt with by wearing nursing pads inside your bra, which will absorb any liquid that leaks out.

Mood swings

An overload of hormones combined with the overwhelming feelings you have about becoming a parent can lead to very understandable bouts of heightened emotion, good and bad. A lot of women notice enhanced moodiness between six and 10 weeks and then again towards the end of the pregnancy.

There are so many natural fears and worries about becoming a parent that mood swings can sometimes be inevitable.

How to help yourself:
Take part in activities that you enjoy, try to take it easy and take some of the pressure off yourself and try to bond with your partner or someone close to you and air your feelings. Don’t carry all the worry by yourself; talking about how you feel and any worries you may have is a great way to relieve your stress.

love heart sweets

Indigestion and heartburn

The high levels of hormones you produce early in pregnancy relax the muscles throughout your body. That includes your digestive system. This relaxation slows your digestive processes. After a meal, this can cause indigestion, which can leave you with symptoms such as bloating, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, and bringing up fragments of food.

How to help yourself:
Avoid foods and drinks that cause your indigestion to flare up. Rich, spicy foods, chocolate, fruit juices and fatty foods. You could try keeping a food diary to see which foods make your symptoms worse.

If you have indigestion at night, try to eat your dinner at least three hours before you go to bed.

Also try sleeping with your upper body propped up with several pillows.


Elevated hormones during pregnancy can bring on a variety of skin changes including acne.

Hormones called androgens are partly responsible as they prompt the sebaceous glands in your skin to get bigger and also boost production of oil called sebum.

This sebum gets blocked in your pores and combined with hair follicles, shed skin cells and bacteria on your skin can multiply, causing spots.

How to help yourself:
You can minimise the outbreaks by keeping skin clean, washing it with mild soap or face wash. Some washes have salicylic acid, which reduces outbreaks, however this is not recommended for use when pregnant.

Be sure to consult your doctor before you start any acne treatment.

Vaginal discharge

Many women will see an increase in vaginal discharge. However, if you have any ‘itching’ vaginal discomfort, or when your discharge becomes foul smelling, talk to your GP.

If you are concerned that it is more than a discharge (that your waters have gone) then go immediately to the hospital.

How to help yourself:
You can’t prevent or limit the discharge, but wearing cotton underwear may help you stay dry. It’s more breathable and absorbent than synthetic fabric. Use an unscented panty liner too but make sure to change it frequently.

More like this:

12 body changes in pregnancy
Worrying pregnancy symptoms
How to treat heartburn


Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….


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Ask Tracey

Midwife Tracey Donegan answers your questions about pregnancy and birth

Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier. Contact your antenatal clinic for more information. In Ireland, most women will have two scans in a healthy pregnancy – a dating scan and an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. However, some units provide a dating scan only. Private scans are also available in most cities and many parents use these services for additional reassurance and to find out the sex of their baby.