Men's Articles

Weird Pregnancy Changes You're Not Expecting

Your feet have grown, your belly's got a stripe... stay calm by knowing what will happen to your body over the next nine months. Being pregnant stirs up a host of emotions-you're happy, excited, and even a little scared at times because while you know about the growing belly and tiredness, there are some changes even your gynae doesn't tell you about...

Weird Change 1: Your Gums Bleed

About half of pregnant women develop pregnancy gingivitis, or reddening and bleeding of the gums. Obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Julinda, says, 'Gingivitis is common in pregnancy and is usually an exacerbation of existing gum disease. Hormonal changes affect and exaggerate the response of the gums to plaque, increasing the amount of inflammation there." Gingivitis is usually noticed in the second month of pregnancy, peaking in the last trimester, and may persist for three to six months post delivery. Dr Lee advises, "Oral hygiene is crucial. Brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush at least twice a day and floss at least once a day."

Weird Change 2: A Belly Stripe Forms

During the second trimester, many women develop a dark vertical line, the linea nigra, that links the belly button to the pubic area. This stripe sprouts due to hormones that affect the skin pigment cells in that area. It usually fades or vanishes postpartum, but you may have to wait till baby turns one, and in some cases, it never completely goes away.

Weird Change 3: You Get Giant Feet

After pregnancy, you may find your designer shoes no longer fit. That's because during pregnancy, a hormone called relaxin loosens ligaments in the pelvis to prepare it for childbirth. However, this hormone also acts on the feet ligaments, causing a reduction in your arch and resulting in flatter, wider feet. Dr Julinda adds, "During pregnancy, feet also get bigger due to water retention and the increase in fatty tissue in the feet caused especially by excessive weight gain." Although swelling goes down postpartum, your feet may stay permanently larger.

Weird Change 4: You Get Pimples

Not everyone is blessed with that maternal glow. For some, hormonal changes can make skin oily, causing breakouts on the face, chest and back. Dr Julinda explains, "Some women may produce more hormones that encourage acne changes. These same women may also experience increased hair growth on the upper lip, abdomen and possibly nipples." The breakouts usually occur in the first trimester.

For treatment, Dr Julinda suggests over-the-counter preparations containing benzoyl peroxide which is safe for use in pregnancy. She adds, "Avoid medications containing accutane, retin-A and tetracycline as these have been shown to cause complications. Also avoid products with high concentrations of salicylic acid. If in doubt, consult your doctor."

What's A Nipple

During pregnancy, an accessory nipple, or a third nipple, may develop in some women. It occurs along the line forms between the main nipple and the armpit on the same side. Obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Julinda explains, "This is usually a result of remnant breast tissue that was not completely resorbed by the body during development. It gets prominent as a result of hormonal changes during pregnancy, just like the rest of normal breast tissue-and so may be noticed for the first time then." A third nipple may be painful or painless, and usually gets more prominent and painful during lactation.

How Long Can Milk Keep?

"I have come across differing views with regards to the storage of breast milk in the freezer. One source said the maximum period for storage of breast milk is three to six months and another, two months. I'm confused. What exactly is the recommended storage period? Also, I discovered that breast milk that has been stored in the freezer has a different taste and smell (smells like regurgitated milk), compared to freshly expressed milk and milk that has been stored in the refrigerator. Is this normal? Or has the breast milk turned bad? I stored it in the freezer immediately after expressing."

Dr Julinda: Breast milk can be stored in the freezer for three to six months as most freezers are able to achieve a temperature of -5°C to -15°C. Indeed, breast milk stored in the freezer taste and smell differently from freshly expressed breast milk or those stored in the refrigerator. This is because freezing affect the milk fats, altering the taste and smell. Most babies are not affected by this change in taste and smell. Expressed breast milk can be stored in the refrigerator for 48 hours. Therefore, store only your surplus in the freezer. Use your frozen stock on a weekly basis in order not to waste any of your expressed breast milk. In that way, your baby is constantly having freshly expressed breast milk rather than frozen milk most of the time.

Breastfeeding Stress

"My wife is very worried that our two-month-old baby is not being breastfed fully and keeps supplementing with formula milk. How, can she get help? She is distressed, especially since our daughter rejects formula milk and prefers to breastfeed."

Dr Julinda: Some mothers perceive that they do not have enough milk when their babies start to suckle longer than usual at the breast or require more frequent feeding in a day. It is advisable for your wife to avoid routinely supplementing your baby with formula milk. Frequent feeding on demand by your baby is the best way to build your wife's milk supply. There is no need to supplement your baby with formula milk if your baby is satisfied after a breastfeed, have about six to eight wet diapers, and passes stool two to three times a day.

Most hospitals with maternity units offer outpatient lactation consultation. Your wife can arrange for an appointment with a lactation consultant to have a breastfeeding assessment done, so that appropriate advice and intervention can be recommended to help her achieve full breastfeeding.

Banking On Surplus Milk

"My baby is two weeks old and my concern is whether I can provide her with enough milk. My friend suggested using a tablet for stimulating milk and it did increase supply. But I do not have surplus milk. What should I do to have surplus milk? In addition, if my right nipple is flat, how can I rectify it?"

Dr Julinda: Metoclopramide has been used to assist mothers who want to increase their milk supply. A course of this medication for about a week or two may help to boost milk supply. Long-term use is not advisable as it may cause depression in some mothers. In building a good milk supply, frequent sucking and emptying of the breast are required. In your situation, it is also necessary for you to gradually reduce the amount of formula milk that you are supplementing your baby.

This will let your baby suckle longer at the breast, and this stimulates and empties your breast to increase milk supply. Regular expressing using a breast pump will further increase your supply and help to elongate your right nipple, making it easier for your baby to latch on to this breast eventually. In addition, the breast milk collected can be used in lieu of formula milk.


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