Flow Woes

November 10, 2008 12:00 AM

Q: I have discharge that smells bad down there. Is that normal?

A: Because this could indicate an infection, a foul-smelling discharge should prompt you to get an exam from the doctor. But there are a few “normal” causes for an unpleasant vaginal odor when you’re pregnant. First, a change in the perception of certain smells accompanies many pregnancies, making an odor that was always there suddenly noticeable or offensive. The increased blood flow can also cause more vaginal secretions, and more secretions provide more fuel for the normal germs that cause odor. Also, the skin in our underarms and groin has special glands that create a musky smell—what we call “body odor”—and pregnancy weight gain and hormonal changes can increase its production. To be sure the cause is one of the above, get checked out by your ob/gyn.

Brain Vacation

Q: I’m pregnant for the second time and my mind seems to be lost. My husband says this happened before, but I don’t remember it. Will I get my brain back?

A: Sometimes referred to as “pregnesia” or “mommy brain,” the foggy, forgetful state many women experience in pregnancy is very common. Just like nausea, breast tenderness, and a heightened sense of smell, this condition affects many, but not all, pregnant moms and may be different for the same mom in each pregnancy. Like these other side effects, the “mommy brain” phenomenon will go away, but you’ll have to wait until you deliver or finish nursing. The reason for the absentmindedness isn’t certain, but hormones usually get the blame. Lesser but similar feelings may occur along with PMS and during perimenopause, when the body is also undergoing hormonal changes. In addition, pregnant women usually have a lot on their minds: Their bodies are changing along with their relationships, status at work, even finances. Sleep deprivation is not uncommon and can contribute to forgetfulness, too.Once baby’s born, “mommy brain” could be replaced by “baby brain,” a similar condition brought on by lack of sleep, nursing, and giving your energies to your child. If naps help, take them. Other ways to make life easier during pregnancy: Avoid over-commitment, make and use lists, eat well, and be nice to yourself.

Loosened Up

Q: I’ve had gas and runny stools almost my entire pregnancy. What’s going on?

A: While constipation is much more common, loose stools can occur during a normal pregnancy. For many women, dietary changes are the culprit. Healthier, more fiber-rich foods lead to softer, more frequent stools, as does an increase in water intake. Consuming more milk and other dairy products also can unmask mild lactose intolerance, so try avoiding them for a week to see if your symptoms improve. Some women react to components in their prenatal vitamin and experience looser stools. Changing brands may help.

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