Heartburn. Constipation. Backaches. No one ever said being pregnant was a walk in the park. But the good news is that some tough side effects actually signal that your pregnancy is thriving, says Yvonne Bohn, M.D., co-author of The Mommy Docs' Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy and Birth. Here are three annoying pregnancy symptoms that are signs of a healthy pregnancy.
Sore and Enlarged Breasts
When it happens: Early in the first trimester
Why it's good: Blame your tender breasts on rising levels of estrogen and progesterone. Sure, the surge of hormones may make your chest feel heavy and sore, but it's also an indication that your body is adapting well to pregnancy, Dr. Bohn says.
Increased Vaginal Discharge
When it happens: Throughout pregnancy
Why it's good: Noticing more wetness down there these days? You're not alone. Lots of women see an uptick in watery, clear, odorless discharge during pregnancy. The culprit is an increase in estrogen. Besides being a sign of a healthy pregnancy, the extra discharge is thought to help cleanse the vagina and even prevent infections from entering the womb.
When it happens: Usually in the first trimester
Why it's good: Though fighting off waves of nausea for weeks can be downright debilitating, morning sickness is considered part of a healthy pregnancy. No one knows the exact reason behind the queasiness, but experts believe a rapid rise in the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (hCG) could be to blame.
Aside from being normal, those frequent trips to the bathroom could be beneficial for you and your baby. New research suggests that moms-to-be who experience morning sickness are less likely to miscarry or deliver prematurely; plus, their babies have fewer birth defects and may even perform better on IQ tests.
It's also been suggested that nausea and vomiting help prevent pregnant women from eating foods that could harm their baby in the first trimester, when organ development takes place. "The idea is that meats and many vegetables may have toxins or parasites that could hurt the fetus," Dr. Bohn explains. "Forcing a mom to eat bland food prevents the potential exposure of toxins."
That said, don't worry if you're not experiencing morning sickness. Many women don't and go on to deliver perfectly healthy babies.