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The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy (Girlfriends' Guides)by Vicki Iovine
Chapter One: So, What Makes You Think You're Pregnant?
Quite often nature provides us with physical clues that might make us suspect we are pregnant even before modern science confirms it. Usually, when you find out that you are, indeed, pregnant, you say to yourself with a sudden awakening, "Oh, so that's why my (Fill in the symptom "boobs hurt"; "bladder falls"; "husband drives me crazy.") Especially in retrospect, you will see that there are usually abundant physical changes to inform you in no uncertain terms that you are pregnant. That is why I am always cynical when I read those stories about unsuspecting women giving birth to babies in airplane bathrooms after nine months of not knowing they were pregnant. Come on now! Most eight-month-old fetuses kick and tumble so fiercely in your stomach that you can watch your abdomen go from round to nearly square. And what about that inevitable weight gain? Who are these women trying to kid? Either they are trying for the Immaculate Conception excuse or they just are not really paying enough attention to themselves. There are plenty of other changes that, when put together, might lead you to suspect that you are pregnant long before you confirm it with a pregnancy test. What follows is a list of the common early warning signs.
One of the most common changes in the pregnant woman's body is in her breasts. The newly pregnant woman often gets the same puffy breasts that she gets premenstrually, but the consensus among the Girlfriends is that these breasts are a lot more sensitive. In fact, taking a shower can be agonizing if you face the stream of water, sleeping on your stomach becomes unbearable and if your husband should happen to touch your breasts you will feel completely justified in hitting him with the bedside lamp. Not only are they sensitive and sore, but they are getting bigger and bigger every day. The good news, especially for those of us who have always secretly longed to be big busty gals, is that they will continue to grow, and they will stop hurting eventually. In a month or so, you and your husband will have a nice new set of playthings.
Another symptom that the Girlfriends found in early pregnancy was the need to urinate a lot. You may find yourself getting up two or three (or more) times a night to pee when you used to sleep all night long without even hearing a peep from your bladder. Since fatigue is often another early sign of pregnancy, you will probably learn to loathe all of these interruptions of your precious slumber. There is some old folk wisdom that says that all this getting up and down all night to pee is nature's way of preparing you for early motherhood, when the up-and-down drill is much the same. I happen to think that this folk wisdom is incorrect, because you will start being able to sleep again later in your pregnancy and everyone knows a pregnant woman cannot be expected to remember something that she learned six months earlier; heck, she probably can't remember what happened yesterday.
All these nighttime trips can, indeed, be annoying, but it usually is not as bad as it sounds because almost all of us Girlfriends discovered that we could get out of bed, walk to the bathroom, pee, wipe, walk back to bed and crawl in, all without opening our eyes one single time. Some of us could even manage to take a drink of water without looking. I, however, was almost always hungry at night, and I frequently ended up in the kitchen after one of my nocturnal pees. If the trip downstairs hadn't awakened me, the refrigerator light was sure to.
The tiredness of a newly pregnant woman is like a heaviness or being on nighttime cold medication permanently. One of my Girlfriends, Becky, who sells real estate, was so tired that she fell asleep in the car every single time she went to houses of prospective clients. Fortunately for Becky, she has a partner who did most of the driving. The newly pregnant woman may find herself at work, unable to think of anything but lying down. My Girlfriend Rosemary used to lock her office door and nap on her sofa for a few minutes every day. Those of us who are fortunate enough to actually take a nap sleep like the dead, waking up with blanket creases on our faces, red cheeks and bedhead hair — and usually little more refreshed than we were before. Forget about renting a video for a cozy night in with your husband. You will be snoring by the time the warning not to bootleg the tape and sell it for profit is over. This fatigue can also lead to an inability to stay awake long enough to have sex. Please hand this book to your husband right now.
Phantom menstrual cramps can be another sign of pregnancy. Many Girlfriends have never been more certain that their periods were going to start than when they were pregnant. Pregnancy and serious PMS (which is always serious) have several similarities, such as lower back pressure and that slightly crampy feeling you get right before your period starts. Since I was always paralyzed with the fear that I might miscarry (which, by the way, I never did), I really hated the feeling that my period might start at any minute. I can't count the number of times I felt a little trickle and dropped every thing to fly to the bathroom to see if my period had begun. As you will soon learn, in pregnancy, there is a lot of trickling going on as your body goes into overdrive in the vaginal secretion department.
With all four of my children, I did experience some bleeding early in the pregnancies, and while this is not particularly common, it may happen to you. A general rule of thumb is that if the blood is brownish with no clots and doesn't fill more than one or two sanitary pads, everything is probably all right. If the bleeding is bright red or has clots in it, call your doctor right away. And if there is cramping with the bleeding, call your doctor immediately and ask whether they want to meet you at their office or the nearest hospital.
Believe me, I know how hysterical you can feel if you are pregnant and you find blood in your underwear, but if it makes you feel any better, all four times my bleeding was bright red (but without cramps) and my doctor just had me rest with my feet up for a couple of days until it went away. My pregnancies were just fine after that. It is perfectly natural to call your doctor for reassurance, but it's not always a call for alarm.
Quite a few of my Girlfriends said that they were light-headed early in their pregnancies. Getting out of bed too quickly could give them tunnel vision and make them see stars. Bending over to tie their shoes could result in them having to lie on the floor until the blood returned to their head. A word of caution here: A significant number of women have gotten pregnant after too much to drink, and sometimes pregnancy and a hangover are hard to tell apart. The general rule should be that a hangover that lasts for more than a couple of days could be pregnancy, and it might be a good idea to give up the partying until you know for certain. Even if you aren't pregnant, if you have hangovers that last more than a couple of days it is probably a good idea for you to give up partying anyway.
If you are light-headed, it is usually nothing to worry about, but you could pass out and bonk your head or something, so move slowly and le
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