Category Archives: Body Changes

10 weird things you didn’t know about being pregnant – Part 2

 

From the bionic fatigue, food aversions and just general “yucky” feeling in the first trimester, to the itchy, bitchy and huge feeling in the third
trimester, being pregnant is not for the faint-hearted.  I touched on five of the the strange pregnancy symptoms that you never knew to expect (Read Part 1).

Here are another five pregnancy phenomenon to look out for and make peace with.

  1. Cue the snoring orchestra

Especially in the third trimester, snoring can occur as the mucous membr
anes in your nose swell.  This is caused by the higher levels of estrogen as well as the increased amount of blood during pregnancy.  Add to that the possible excess weight you are packing thanks to a growing baba, you have extra tissue around your head and neck which doesn’t help the snoring phenomenon much either.  So the heavier you are, the more likely you are to have trouble breathing when sleeping.  Baby Centre.com gives some practical advice on how to deal with snoring during pregnancy.

  1. Where did I put my keys

“Porridge brain”, “Pregnancy Brain”, “Momnesia”, “Mommy Brain” – whatever you prefer to call it – most moms-to-be talk about being forgetful during (and after) pregnancy.  The truth is that the capacity of the brain remains unchanged as does your IQ during pregnancy.  So what’s the cause?  According to Louann Brizendine, MD, director of the Women’s Mood and Hormone Clinic at the University of California, San Francisco, “There is 15 to 40 times more progesterone and estrogen marinating the brain during pregnancy.  These hormones affect all kinds of neurons in the brain. By the time the woman delivers, there are huge surges of oxytocin that cause the uterus to contract and the body to produce milk – and they also affect the brain circuits.”  In other words, when you’re pregnant, you have higher than normal hormone levels and a whole new set of priorities which can lead to apparent forgetfulness.  Let’s be honest, growing a little human being is one of the most important tasks you’ll ever face, so why should writing that memo at work or cleaning that bath tub seem that important?

  1. Is that a contraction?

That baby bump didn’t just come out of nowhere.  Your uterus has to grow and expand to accommodate that little life form growing inside you, so other things have to make way to help the expansion project.  The round ligaments that surround and support your uterus and connect to the groin have to stretch and thicken to allow for this change, and this you will feel as possible sharp pains in your belly or hips.  It’s not a contraction, but it may sure feel like one.  Then there’s the Braxton Hicks contractions, or false labour pains, that many women experience in pregnancy especially in the third trimester, but some as early as the second trimester.  The contractions are a tightening in your uterus that’s irregular, infrequent and unpredictable.  These contractions are not a “pre-labour” sign, just your body preparing for the real deal when baby is ready to come.

  1. My gums are bleeding doc!

You’re brushing and flossing your teeth as normal, but now your gums are bleeding. Don’t stress, it’s just another one of those interesting little pregnancy quirks.  Some experts call it pregnancy gingivitis, but all it really means is that due to those pesky surging pregnancy hormones that cause swollen nasal membranes, your gums can become more inflamed and are also more susceptible to bacteria and plaque.  Try switching to a toothpaste specifically for sensitive teeth and gums and try opting for a softer toothbrush.  Don’t abandon the flossing, just be more gentle.

  1. Big and weepyIMG_0495

There are 101 things that happen to our bodies when we fall pregnant, some unexpected and undesirable, and some to be celebrated as the miracle being pregnant really is.  I’ve walked a long journey to falling pregnant, and while I’ve finally conquered infertility this time round and am trying to appreciate every little aspect of being pregnant, I can’t help still feeling like a big, unattractive pregnant mare.  Then it’s the idea of bringing a little human into this big, wide world.  Will I be able to give this child everything she needs?  Will I be able to protect her and keep her safe from harm?  Will I be a good parent?  There are so many questions …

It’s all perfectly normal I’m told.  So if you feel the same way, rest assured that you and every other new mommy are feeling the same way.  We’ll be just fine :)

The problem with relying on good looks

When you are young, slender and beautiful, the world is your playground. A sparkling smile, a flip of the hair and a batting of the eyelashes accomplishes far more than the average person would suspect.

It’s a catch situation:  you know you’re gorgeous; and because you know it, you ooze confidence and charisma; and because you ooze all this charm, people notice you wherever you go; and because people pay attention to you all the time, you know you’re gorgeous.

Whether anyone will willingly admit it or not, if you’re beautiful, things seem to come easier. It therefore becomes quite natural to rely on your good looks to get your way.  Unfortunately, that’s where the real danger lies! Forget the other jealous and insecure women who are not at all enchanted by your youth and beauty, it’s when your good looks start to wane with age that the real challenge is afoot.

Speaking from experience, I relied heavily on my good looks in my twenties.  Tall, pretty face, slender body – I got used to the attention I attracted simply by being attractive.  No wonder I went into crisis mode when I hit thirty!

The ageing process isn’t for sissies

For the vain woman (and yes, I hang my head in shame), it feels like a death sentence. Your attention is taken away by younger, prettier girls and alas, you find yourself in the shoes of the older, jealous woman that you pitied in your earlier years.

beautyTo quote Liz Smith, “One of the best parts of growing older?  You can flirt all you like since you’ve become harmless”.  It’s an appropriate quote, especially to me.  Flirting in my younger years was my weapon of choice; now, flirting is not really something that I can get away with in too many situations. If I’ve learnt anything it’s that physical beauty is not permanent and it’s not ageless.  Relying on good looks alone will only get you so far and no further.

Yes, I do still nostalgically dwell on my twenties at times, but with age has thankfully come a little more wisdom.  It’s far better to be revered for your inner beauty, intelligence and strength of character, than simply as a pretty face that can be easily forgotten.

True beauty is timeless and that is something that can only come from within.

Sweaty armpits and BO crimes against humanity

What’s that smell? Amazingly, as soon as we smell something stinky, our first reaction is to take a deeper whiff!  And that’s just what I did! Standing in the isle of my local grocery store, breathing in deeply while taking a quick look around to try to pinpoint the source of the stench.

My brain is working at 6000 revs per minute to solve the odour crime against humanity.  An internal dialogue takes place in literally one-tenth of a second.

“Is the stench a silent but deadly fart?”
“No …”

Stinky feet?”
“Nobody has their shoes off …”

“Smelly perfume?”
“Hmmmm, close …”

“Body odour?”
BINGO!

 

verschiedene Deodorants

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The culprit is a young man standing behind me in the isle gazing forlornly at the neatly stacked cans of deodorant.  Clearly he’s come to the right section, but golly gosh, why did he leave it for so long? The body odour (BO) is so bad that my eyes are actually watering!

Once I’ve grabbed my husband and the trolley and dart around the corner, I instantly feel guilty. Some people do have a problem with excessive sweating and body odour. In fact, I myself have been experiencing some … er … problems in the armpit arena (blush).

My sweaty tale of woe started when I went off the contraceptive pill last year. I had been on the pill, without a break, since I was 17.  However, with plans to prepare my body to start a family, I decided to go off the pill at the ripe age of 34.

Little did I know what horrors were awaiting me.  Besides developing an oily skin with pimple breakouts that is reminiscence of my teens, the worst was the change in my natural body scent. Suddenly my deodorants, roll-ons and perfumes didn’t smell so kosher.  I was definitely perspiring a lot more too. I was mortified. I had never, never had a problem with how I smelt and yet, there I was, an honorary member of the BO Offenders.

One year has passed, and truthfully I’m still battling to find a suitable antiperspirant. I’ve found one deodorant that seems to work better than the rest and thankfully, any armpit aromas are limited to one week a month, which is linked to when I am ovulating.

Over and above carrying my trusty deo can in my handbag, Ive done a little research on the subject of BO due to hormonal changes.  Apparently supplements such as a combination of Vitamin B and Magnesium, or Zinc and Magnesium, may just help my little problem. The article I read also suggested Chlorophyll tablets. As an added precaution, I need to curb my soaring coffee intake as caffeine is an alleged BO accomplice.

Maybe I should’ve passed this good advice onto that poor young man in the grocery store?   Somehow though, I dont think hormones are the cause of his troubles.  Im sure a good bath and a strong antiperspirant will easily solve his problem.

The beauty of scar tissue

Last night I watched with interest the Miss South Africa 2012 pageant on TV.  Over the years, the pageant’s popularity has outwardly waned and it is not as widely publicised as it used to be.  I still think the whole affair is good entertainment though, and moreover, the South African beauty contestants are not the stereotypical “airheads” as is sometimes expected.

Perhaps I’m a little bias; after all, I can explicitly recall parading around my garden in my swimsuit at the age of 12 under the pretence that I was a contestant in Miss SA.  I also had high hopes of being a successful model with my face plastered on the cover of every glamorous fashion and lifestyle magazine.  Unfortunately that hope was severely shattered by the realisation that models do not have scars – nevermind facial scars at that!

I actually have many scars – eight to be precise, and three of which are on my face.  Back then my scars were something I felt self-conscious about.  They were also the obstacle standing in the way of my dream to be a beauty queen and model.  Today, I view them differently:  they are a testimony to a life well lived. 

Teatart scar tissueThe two worst scars, on my face and on my upper right arm, were caused by the same knife accident when I was only five years of age. Amazingly, had the cut on my arm been 1mm deeper, I would’ve lost my arm.  Two other scars are visible on my left leg where incisions were made for the insertion of a metal pin in my upper femur.  This was due to a complicated fracture which can often leave people with a leg that is slightly shorter than its partner.  Luckily in my case, both legs are still the same length and I have only lost a little flexibility in my leg. The same can be said for the small scar on my upper lip that was the result of a bull terrier’s bite.  The dog fortunately let go and barring a few stitches, I escaped fairly unscathed and without too much trauma.

Hence, as the scar tissue fades over the years, so has my embarrassment.  I have a new found appreciation for the scars that I once hid behind clothing and make-up. They add to my individuality and more importantly, they are evidence of just how fortunate and blessed I really am!

I believe that every person has scars – whether physical or emotional.  Our scars are life experiences that have contributed to the person we are right now.  They do not make us less beautiful and they do not make us less worthy. Quite the contraire!  They add to our unique value. Remember this, even though our life experiences can often alter our course, in the wise words of Ernest Hemingway: “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end”.

Filling in the hourglass – the bust movement

What am I going to do with these puppies? No, I’m not talking about my pets – I’m talking about my breasts. I swear they’ve grown in size … again! Just last year, after reading an interesting article relating to the fact that the majority of women wear the wrong bra size, I decided to have my bust measurements taken. I was literally gob-smacked: I was no longer a modest size 36 B, but rather an intimidating size 36 D. I was convinced the spaced-out shop attendant had gotten it all wrong. So I marched off to a lingerie boutique to have my measurements taken again. This time, when she told me I was a 36 D, I had to face the truth: I’ve hit the thirties buffet.

It’s my own personal term for when a woman has completely lost that girly body in preparation for babies. Whether a woman wants to have a child or not, we cannot flip Mother Nature the bird. With or without our consent, our bodies will become more curvaceous in celebration of that fantastic phenomenon called “fertility”.

I can lament forever on the fact that I was a lanky size eight in my early to mid twenties, but alas, those days are a distant, rather pleasant, memory. In my frank opinion – and trust me, I have lots of opinions – the stereotypical woman has several milestones in body shape changes. The first significant change is at the age of 25 when the child bearing hips first make their debut. The second significant change comes at the age of thirty. Let’s not even go near the topic of cellulite, stretch marks and the rest of the goodie bag that comes with this landmark!

Now, as I’m sitting at the mid-thirty mark, my dimensions have taken on more of an hourglass formation, and my breasts have joined the party and upped the stakes. After last year’s growth spurge, I think the girls are planning a coup. This morning, while dressing for work, my husband lay in bed transfixed by them. “Wow, they’re massive” he exclaimed as I shouldered my boulders and coaxed them into a bra.

“Please, oh please”, I’m silently praying, “Let them not be a double-D”. Surely I need something to look forward to as I hurtle towards the next marker: the big scary 40?

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