If the movies are to be believed, pregnancy is nine short months of glowing beauty, an adorable baby bump and accidentally getting paint on your cheek as you paint the picture-perfect nursery. In reality, however, far from being nine months of stress-free perfection, pregnancy can be a 40 week long initiation into embarrassment and awkwardness for some women. Let's put it this way, you got 99 problems, but your dignity ain't one.
Don't worry though, this initiation will come in useful when you have a toddler who is the absolute master in public humiliation. By the time your child is old enough to announce to total strangers that mamma did a big, smelly poo this morning, you'll be able to keep a poker face and remain unphased… all thanks to pregnancy preparing you for embarrassment with the following problems:
Embarrassing Pregnancy Problem #1: Gas Escaping At The Most Inappropriate Times
Pregnancy is a very flatulent period in a woman's life. As your insides are shoved, squeezed, softened and stepped on by that growing baby of yours, expect to encounter at least a few digestive problems. From time to time, you will find yourself producing foul odours that would make Pumba from The Lion King blush. Don't think you'll be able to control the gas, or that it's something you'll be able to do in private. Oh no, your muscle control won't be up to the job of holding it in, so you'll find yourself dropping bombs all over restaurants, public transport and your workplace. Read about how to minimise gas output in our article on Gas During Pregnancy.
Embarrassing Pregnancy Problem #2: The Sweats
Pregnancy is a time of breathlessness, overheating and, of course, increased sweating. Sweat patches are as much a part of a maternity wardrobe as stretchy jeans and striped t-shirts. You will sweat almost constantly, which will intensify every time you have to climb more than two stairs, speak on the phone whilst walking, or walk briskly to catch a bus. Aside from the obvious impact on your personal odour, the embarrassment in this problem lies mainly in the ‘sweatache' you will be wearing. That is, of course, a moustache made entirely of sweat. That's probably what your friends and family are referring to when they say you're glowing.
Embarrassing Pregnancy Problem #3: Undesired Hair Growth
Aren't hormones fun? One of the great gifts they bring during pregnancy is increased hair growth. Yeah, you'll probably be loving it when your mane is extra thick and glossy, but what about when your sideburns start to take over your face? Or the odd black hairs under your chin? There's nothing quite like that crippling fear you get while wondering if anyone else can see your facial hair, or whether you're just being paranoid.
Embarrassing Pregnancy Problem #4: Increased Vaginal Odour
The fun really never ends, does it? When you're not worrying about the smell from your pits, or trying to blame the dog for an unpleasant stink, you'll be wondering if the stranger next to you on the bus can smell your vaginal discharge. Rest assured, they can't. During pregnancy, your vaginal discharge may change in quantity, appearance and odour, but your sense of smell also increases too. It's your keen hunting nose to blame for your acute sense of what you smell like, so rest assured, the whole world hasn’t noticed.
However, if you notice a pungent, fishy odour, you could have an infection (for example, bacterial vaginosis). In this case, please see your caregiver who can help you with a course of action. It’s also a great idea to see a naturopath so you can get started on a course of probiotics that are specific to the female reproductive tract. There are many strains of good bacteria, and they all have different functions. Two in particular have been identified to be hugely beneficial for women’s reproductive health. You can read about them here.
Embarrassing Pregnancy Problem #5: Incontinence
During pregnancy, you should try to refrain from sneezing, coughing and laughing, because for some unlucky women, all of these activities can result in some bladder leakage. After conquering the potty aged just two, you've now come full circle. If you find incontinence to be an issue, an osteopath can be of great help, advising you on how to strengthen your pelvic floor.
Embarrassing Pregnancy Problem #6: Leaking Breastmilk
Breastfeeding is wonderful, of course, and certainly nothing to be ashamed of. But if you weren't planning on starting your breastfeeding career at just six months pregnant during the quarterly staff meeting, then chances are you're probably going to feel pretty embarrassed when colostrum starts seeping through your shirt. It will happen when you least expect it, and probably at the most awkward moment possible. While some women will last their entire pregnancy without any leakage, you may like to be prepared just in case. A pair of breastpads in your handbag can be a relief should this happen to you.
Embarrassing Pregnancy Problem #7: Vaginal Thrush
During pregnancy, you are more prone to thrush, which is due to hormonal changes affecting the vaginal area. Even when you’re not pregnant, one of a woman’s most embarrassing health nightmares is the insatiable urge to itch your bits, something that is ironically believed to be a manly thing for those of the male persuasion. But on a more serious note, if you find yourself on the recipient end of thrush it can really get you down. However, lifestyle and diet play a huge role in how susceptible you may be to thrush, so the good news is that you can actively prevent thrush from home as well as help yourself to overcome it. You’ll find loads of info in our article on Thrush In Pregnancy.
Embarrassing Pregnancy Problem #8: Mood Swings
At the time, mood swings aren't embarrassing. In fact, they don't even exist. You will feel adamantly that you were reacting rationally when you screamed in the face of the new receptionist because she put the wrong type of milk in your tea. And you will argue to the death that anyone would have cried and thrown the Monopoly board across the room if they'd missed out on completing the purple set. And, in fairness, most pregnant women would agree that your partner got exactly what he deserved when he dared to mention your hormones during an argument. The mood swing shame won't come until long, long after the pregnancy, when you look back at your fond memories and realise that you had well and truly lost the plot.
To help with mood swings, make sure you’re taking a good quality fish oil supplement (krill oil is best) and are getting enough sleep, exercise (30 minutes, three times a week minimum) and vitamin D, as well as getting enough magnesium in your diet. Acupuncture can also help to balance your hormones, as well as relieve the side effects of hormones being off-balance.
Embarrassing Pregnancy Problem #9: Itchy Nipples & Breasts
To stop you missing out on your ever-changing body, your skin itches to alert you to the bits that are growing. You know, in case them actually growing was something you could miss. An itchy bump in infuriating, and the itchy groin is no picnic either, but it's the itchy nipples that really force this into the embarrassing problem category – because you won't be able to stop itching them. Those poor, tender, swelling nipples with be begging out for a scratch. You will find yourself walking down the straight itching them in what you hope is a covert manner (it isn't) by rubbing them with your wrists. Colleagues will find you jamming pens down your bra as you try in vain to satisfy the itch. Try and prevent and relieve itching by moisturising with virgin coconut oil, which is a brilliant moisturiser that you can use safely on your pregnant body, and your new baby who is on the way! It also contains antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.
A Final Note About Embarrassing Pregnancy Problems…
It’s VERY important that you speak to your carer about any worrying pregnancy problems you have – embarrassing or not. Don’t let the fear of an imagined reaction stop you from getting some reassuring help. Trust me, they’ve heard it all before!