Pregnancy symptoms abound. Although the onset, type, and duration vary from pregnancy to pregnancy, you can be assured you will feel at least a handful of the typical symptoms—perhaps even some of the outliers. Being equipped with explanations around your newfound sensations may not help you avert them, but it may help you better cope with these unavoidable afflictions.
The silver lining of nausea and vomiting
The experience of nausea, vomiting and heightened sense of smell often present in the early stages of pregnancy, act as a protective mechanism to prevent you from consuming substances that could be harmful to your baby. For instance, many newly pregnant women feel repulsed by the thought of eating animal products, and prior to the advent of refrigerators and modern food sanitation techniques, animal products stored at room temperature were dangerous for pregnant women to consume. Our physiology is still catching up to our technology.
Additionally, symptoms of nausea and vomiting peak when babies are most susceptible to being negatively affected by outside influences (weeks six to eighteen). As pregnancy progresses, you’ll probably notice that your food aversions diminish, which parallels your baby’s strengthening immunity. So, there is an innate wisdom in your early pregnancy eating choices (or lack of eating as the case may be!).
The gain of weight gain
It can be challenging to enjoy the weight gain you experience during pregnancy—even thought it’s for a very good reason. There are a whole heap of factors at work supporting baby’s healthy growth. The adipose tissue is what we commonly call “fat,” and that’s where a lot of important stuff for baby is stored. The placenta also alters your blood sugar, which stimulates weight gain, and estrogen (which is produced in high quantities during pregnancy) is stored in fat tissue that’s concentrated around your belly and thighs.
What’s the gain of all of this gain? These processes help protect and secure your pregnancy. As a side note, most of this weight gain can be lost when you and your baby don’t need the intense nutrients anymore. Think of pregnancy as your body’s way of storing up for a long winter. Basically, your body is conserving what you need for pregnancy, birth, and beyond.
Hidden benefits of threatening pregnancy conditions
Even threatening conditions, which often require medical intervention, may have some protective effects—preeclampsia safeguards some mothers from developing malignant cancers; sickle cell disease also happens to be a secondary defense against malaria (many people with SCD happen to inhabit malaria-infested areas). These are reminders that many things in pregnancy that seem dire may have hidden benefits.
Though nature does have some wisdom in all of this, it doesn’t diminish the fact that you are actually suffering through it! And even though you may not be able to alter your symptoms, understanding their origins and usual course can at least guide some strategies for successfully hanging on.
When there’s no remedy for what ails you, mindfulness, exercise and rest can all be effective tools to offset your discomforts. Although we are beholden to our physiology, this doesn’t exclude seeking comfort and well-being during an inherently uncomfortable time. So, in addition to enlisting any appropriate care, draw on both reasonable indulgences and healthy habits to navigate the bumps of your pregnancy.