From acne to pregnancy brain, MH speaks to the experts about some of the most embarrassing pregnancy symptoms and how to deal with them.
WORDS CHRISTEL GERALYN GOMES
If you’ve been pregnant awhile, you’ll know that pregnancy comes with a whole host of sometimes unexpected symptoms. Each woman will experience pregnancy differently and we’ve compiled a list of the most embarrassing and most common. Read what the experts have to say!
“Not every woman glows during pregnancy. In fact, more than one out of every two pregnant women are troubled by acne, especially during the first and second trimesters,” says Dr Tan Siew Kiang, specialist in dermatology and consultant at Raffles Skin & Aesthetics. Again, this is caused by the surge of the androgen hormone, which causes the oil glands in the skin to grow and produce more natural oil leading to bacterial infection and breakouts.
Managing acne during pregnancy can be tricky because some prescription and over-the-counter treatment carry the risk of birth defects. Instead, wash your face with a mild cleanser. “Topical antibiotics such as erythromycin, clindamycin, benzoyl peroxide are safe in pregnancy. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF30 and above to protect the skin from pigmentary changes that can happen during pregnancy. In cases where the acne are not responding to topical acne medications, oral antibiotics such as erythromycin are safe and effective. Please discuss the treatment options with a dermatologist,” says Dr Tan.
Have you been feeling extra forgetful lately? Is “pregnancy brain” or forgetfulness a real thing? What causes it and is there anything women can do to make it better? According to Dr Tan Hwee Sim, specialist in psychiatry and consultant at Raffles Counselling Centre, “Although many women report forgetfulness or feeling not as sharp during their pregnancy and after childbirth, clinically there isn’t enough information to support the existence of ‘pregnancy brain’.”
Dr Tan Hwee Sim adds that studies on the topic have yielded varying results. “Some studies have shown that pregnancy impairs a woman’s memory during pregnancy and shortly afterward, possibly due to hormonal changes, sleep deprivation or the stress of a major life transition. Other suggestions for the phenomenon include depressed mood and shift in priorities. Whereas other studies have shown no negative cognitive impacts. One thing is for sure – research has shown that the capacity of the brain is unaltered in pregnancy.”
If you’ve been feeling extra-forgetful, Dr Tan Hwee Sim advises that you get as much
rest and sleep as possible because sleep-deprivation and stress
are known causes of forgetfulness.
Pooping on the Table During Labour
Unfortunately, as much as one might wish this was also a myth, it’s a very real part of childbirth. “It really can’t be stopped but keep in mind it’s natural. While it may be humiliating and embarrassing to you, the doctors and nurses are used to it and it’s simply routine. Just focus on your labour instead of what others are seeing,” says Dr Seng Shay Way, specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology and consultant at Raffles Women’s Centre.
Haemorrhoids or “piles” often come with pain or discomfort when pooping as well as bleeding. During pregnancy, it is usually caused by constipation and hard stool.
“Pregnancy can worsen constipation due to increased intra-abdominal pressure from your growing pregnancy belly.
You should see your doctor to confirm the diagnosis and he or she will be able to prescribe medication to relieve your symptoms such as stool softeners and medication to shrink the haemorrhoids. Increasing water and fibre intake in your diet will help as well,” says Dr Ong Xiaohui, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Hsuan & Xiaohui OG Clinic, Thomson Medical Centre.
Rare is the woman who only puts on 10kg or less. While some women get away with still looking absolutely fabulous throughout their pregnancy, most women will look like they’ve put on a little weight. If you, like me, have friends who are blessed with the meagre 6kg to 9kg weight-gain range, don’t compare!
“Most women gain a total of between 13.5kg to 14.5kg during pregnancy but If you are pregnant with twins, your weight gain will not double, though it will be more than if you were pregnant with just one. You should be looking at a weight gain of about 17kg to 24kg,” says Dr Seng.
Of course, how much weight you gain during your pregnancy is also determined by your pre-pregnancy weight. Dr Seng lists the healthy amount of weight you should endeavour to put on, based on your BMI: