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Picturing yourself glowing with the miracle of life and proudly showing off your growing bump, you'd always visualised pregnancy to be a beautiful time. Instead you're leaking all kinds of body fluids, farting and belching like a trooper and can't stop scratching your boobs. What's going on?

Minor and sometimes embarrassing pregnancy ailments are common in most pregnancies, but thankfully most can be easily remedied! Read on for some of the body challenges you may face, and what to do about them.

HELP ... I'm leaking milk!

So you're wrangling your now-ample chest into your new maternity bra when suddenly you realise you have two round, wet
patches on each cup. Leakage alert! Don't panic, though, because dripping a little milk is perfectly normal.

Why it's happening

This typically happens in the later stages of pregnancy, as your body is gearing up for breastfeeding. Think of it a bit like a systems check! The milk that you see is called colostrum, which is thick, yellowish and nutrient-rich for bub's first feeds after birth.

How to cope

Dr Kathleen Matthews, a Sydney-based GP, says that the leakage you see will normally only be a few drops. Arm yourself with some breast pads to absorb the fluid and to prevent wet patches and dribbles showing on your clothes.
Stimulation of your breasts during bedroom romps may result in milk leaks or even squirts, so you may want to bear this in mind while getting busy between the sheets.

HELP ... I've got lots of discharge!

Lately when you look in your knickers you seem to be finding a milky white or clear and mucous-like discharge - it seems like your nether regions are producing more than ever before.

Why it's happening

"Extra vaginal discharge is very normal during pregnancy," Dr Matthews assures. It's due to the increase in hormones such as oestrogen, which leads to the vagina producing more natural lubrication.

How to cope

Pop some liners into your undies to help absorb the discharge and, if you feel the need, pack a spare pair of undies in your bag. Also keep an eye out for signs the discharge is related to an infection, such as very thick or yellow discharge and itching, burning or irritation. These can signal thrush, which Dr Matthews says is also common during pregnancy. See your GP if you're concerned.

HELP ... I'm so itchy!

You're talking to your boss at work but are having trouble concentrating on what she's saying because all you can think about is scratching an itch - one in an inappropriate spot!

Why it's happening

According to Dr Gino Pecoraro, from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, itchy skin is a common complaint for many pregnant women. It typically hits areas where the skin is being stretched, such as your tummy and breasts. If you have eczema, you may also find it worsening during pregnancy (though for some lucky women the condition improves).

Severe itching can, however, indicate a liver problem called obstetric cholestasis or signal a rash called PUPPS (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy).

How to cope

Dr Pecoraro recommends keeping your skin well moisturised and avoiding soap-based cleansers. You may also find a warm or cool compress in your bra can help distract from the itchy feeling I If your scratching is severe, especially on your palms and soles of your feet, make an appointment with your GP.

HELP ... I'm craving really strange foods

They're food combos that would normally make you gag, but for some reason you have a hankering for peanut butter with anchovies and tomato sauce on ice-cream.

Why it's happening

Food cravings during pregnancy may be due to hormonal changes, while some experts believe they're your body's way of telling you what nutrients it needs. Some women also have the desire to eat non-food items such as sand, dirt and chalk during pregnancy, which is a condition called pica. Dr Pecoraro says this phenomenon is typically associated with iron, copper and zinc deficiency.

How to cope

If your cravings are for junk foods, try to curb your munchies by eating breakfast every day and keep up your daily exercise. If you suspect you might have pica, don't be embarrassed to speak up. Ask your caregiver to check things out and find a solution to suit your needs. "While you can eat some dirt, it's much easier to take an iron tablet!" Dr Pecoraro says.

HELP ... I can't stop farting and burping!

You're usually the kind of girl who blushes at burps, but suddenly you have very little control of when and where you let your gas go - planes, trains and elevators, it's all fair game for flatulence and belching!

Why it's happening

As embarrassing and uncomfortable as it can be, it's another normal joy of pregnancy. Your digestive process slows, Dr Matthews explains, which can lead to more wind than is normal for you. "During pregnancy your sphincter muscles are more relaxed, so you're less able to control the passing of wind too," she adds. Burping may also go hand-in-hand with that other pregnancy delight, heartburn.

How to cope

Exercise can improve the motility of your gastrointestinal tract, allowing food to move through it faster and so giving it less time to ferment and produce gas. Avoid foods that can cause gas such as beans, cabbage, broccoli, fizzy drinks, dried fruit and chewing gum, sit up straight when eating and try to eat slowly. And remember to hang in there, as the problem will pass (pardon the pun) once bub is born.

HELP ... I'm sex crazed!

Perhaps you thought sex would be the furthest thing from your mind during pregnancy, but you're actually ready and raring all of the time, jumping your partner as soon as he walks in the door.

Why it's happening

Many pregnant women report experiencing a dramatic increase in sex drive during pregnancy and the second trimester seems to be a popular time for this. Dr Pecoraro explains that wanting sex more often and finding it more pleasurable can be due to the increased blood flow to the pelvic area, especially the vulva, during pregnancy. This makes things more sensitive and easily aroused.

How to cope

Embrace the benefits and enjoy yourself! "Sex isn't dangerous in any way for a normal pregnancy, so if you feel like it, it's okay," says Dr Matthews. It's also perfectly okay if you're feeling less in the mood for romping. The changes you're going through, inside and out, affect every woman differently.

Help... I'm wetting my pants!

You're having a catch-up with the girls but find yourself stifling every laugh or sneeze for fear of opening the floodgates in your pants.

Why it's happening'

Urinary incontinence during pregnancy is extremely common. Your pelvic floor muscles start to soften and stretch, plus they have to support the weight of your growing baby, so any sudden abdominal pressure - such as that sneeze - can result in urine escaping.

How to cope

Ask your caregiver to recommend some pelvic floor exercises. Dr Matthews also suggests to take a pee break every two hours (your bladder capacity is reduced during pregnancy, too)

Help... I'm hairy in the wrong places!

Everyone’s been commenting on how luscious and thick your hair is, but little do they know your head isn’t the only place where it’s growing thick and fast. You may be sprouting hair on your chin, tummy and nipples, too.

Why it's happening

While this problem isn’t incredibly common, it still does hit its fair share of mums-to-be. Fluctuating hormones are the cause of the excessive hair growth.

How to cope

You can safely tweeze, wax and shave the hair, but bleaches or depilatory creams are generally recommended. You can look into more permanent options of hair removal, such as laser and electrolysis, but the extra hair should fall out within a few months of bub’s birth.

Help… I’ve got haemorrhoids!

Usually you can tell your local pharmacist anything without blushing, but the thought of telling her you need bum cream for your new haemorrhoid is turning your face red.

Why it's happening

The pressure from your baby, plus the increased blow flow to your pelvic area, can cause the veins in the rectal wall to swell, bulge and itch – throw in straining on the loo from constipation and voila, you’ve got a haemorrhoid.

How to cope

Dr Pecoraro suggests drinking three litres of water a day, eating plenty of fibre-rich foods and keeping an eye on your diet in general to help prevent haemorrhoids.

“Taking a fibre supplement can really help make a difference,” Dr Matthews adds. To help soothe an already sore bottom, apply a cold compress, and chat to your doctor about ointments or other treatments you can try.

Help… I’ve got acne!

You’re in your second trimester but instead of flaunting your pregnancy glow you’re busy covering up pimples. It’s like you’re reliving the teenage years.

Why it's happening

“One in 20 to 30 pregnant women experience acne,” says Dr Matthews. Pregnancy hormones can stimulate oil production in the skin, leading to more blackheads and breakouts.

How to cope

Use a gentle cleanser on your face twice daily and opt for an oil-free moisturiser. While certain acne medications are off-limits during pregnancy, you can chat to your doctor about which lotions and potions are suitable. And however tempting it may be, don’t pop those pimples!

Practical Parenting wants to know - did you go through any unexpected changes during your pregnancy?

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