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Q. I am about 14 weeks pregnant, but a lot of people assume I am about four and-a-half or five months along. When I tell them I am not, they say that I look like I am showing too much. I have actually lost five lbs. (from morning sickness) since I got pregnant. This is my second pregnancy (my first was a miscarriage). I have been wearing maternity clothes for about two weeks now and I love my new shape. I know every pregnancy is different, but is there an average amount I should be showing? I don't think it matters, but do you think I should mention this to my doctor?
A. I don't believe there's any reason for you to be concerned, unless, of course, you've gained a tremendous amount of weight very quickly. If that were the case, I'm sure your doctor would alert you to watch your diet more closely.
In my opinion, "showing" too much should not be considered a curse, but a benefit. The pregnant body is beautiful and something to be proud of. The alternative to showing too much is not showing enough. When a maternal form is not discernable, people may wrongly assume that you are losing your shape when your hips widen and you begin to gain weight. Isn't it better to have people clearly see that you are pregnant than to assume that you are just getting fat?
Q. What can I use to prevent or diminish stretch marks?
-Kathie, New York
A. In my opinion, there is nothing you can do to prevent stretch marks. As with the sagging boobs, I think it's all due to heredity.
There are a number of factors that may or may not make you a candidate for a scar belly: the amount of weight you gain, heredity (the elasticity of the skin), how long you carry the baby and possibly exposure to the sun.
A vast array of lotions, creams and oils claim to prevent the scarring. Although these topical solutions may relieve a little of the dryness and itching associated with an expanding girth, they absolutely do not prevent stretch marks (in my opinion).
My friend Jennifer faithfully used a "miracle cream" from day one of her pregnancy and ended up with a scar belly nonetheless. In fact, she has so many stretch marks it looks as if her ceramic belly was smashed and haphazardly pieced back together again with purple glue- It’s a virtual mosaic of motherhood!
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Q. I am trying to avoid stretch marks. I drink lots of water and use vitamin E and elastin lotions. What else can I do?
A. Besides keeping your belly shielded from the sun, I don't think there's really much you can do. I believe stretch marks are mainly due to heredity. See the other stretch mark question for more details.
Q. When does my stomach begin to harden?
A. Between eight and twelve weeks is when most women first notice the stomach pooching out (usually earlier with a second, third, etc. pregnancy). The "hardening" of the stomach all depends on the individual. If you are extremely slim, you might notice a small, hard uterus as early as week two. If you are overweight, it may take more time for your uterus to push out against the skin and appear hard. The stomach never gets completely hard, though. This only happens when real contractions set in– then your uterus feels like a rock.
Q. This is my first pregnancy and I'm just beginning my 24th week. I am concerned about the growth- I am showing, although it’s very little. I've always kept myself very fit and had an extremely flat, hard tummy. Do these muscles play a role and "hide" the baby at all? When do I really begin to show?
A. Most women are "showing" by week twenty-something, but every woman and every pregnancy can be different. A lot of factors can affect the amount you show: body type, previous pregnancies and the presence of flat, hard stomach muscles like yours.
My plump and petite friend Sarah was "showing" in the third week of her second pregnancy. My tall and fit friend Susie didn't "show" until her eighth month, and even then it was just a little bump.
I don't think you need be concerned. As long as the baby is doing okay, you are fine and within the realm of normality, showing or not.
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Q. I am eight months pregnant and sometimes my stomach feels as hard as a rock. There are other times when I can feel the different parts of the baby and some soft, fluidy areas. Is this normal?
A. When your uterus is relaxed you might be able to decipher where your baby’s head, back or feet are within the soft surroundings. At the times when your stomach is feeling rock-hard, you are probably having a Braxton Hicks contraction. Sometimes you may feel cramping or pressure during a Braxton Hicks and sometimes you won't. These contractions can last anywhere from a few seconds to a several minutes.
Q. Sometimes my husband will try to feel the baby move, and if he can't feel anything, he will jiggle my belly and she will kick. Will this cause any damage? I feel silly asking my doctor and don’t want to offend my husband and tell him to stop.
-Anonymous, New York
A. I don't think you need be concerned. The baby is well cushioned within your uterus and surrounded by amniotic fluid. A vigorous shaking of the belly is probably no more jarring than a gentle nudge.
Q. My wife is three months pregnant with our second child. After taking a shower, she felt something “dropping” in her vagina. When we examined, it didn't seem like there was anything there. There was no blood or discharge either. What do you think it could be?
P.S. Nice site.
-John, New York
A. In the first few months of pregnancy, muscles, ligaments and tendons stretch and reposition themselves. These readjustments sometimes cause uterine spasms or the movement of other innards. Did you know that during the course of pregnancy a woman's intestines can be relocated as far as 12 inches? It's possible that your wife was just very conscious of this kind of movement. A uterine spasm or “gut shifting” may have put pressure on the vagina - like a dropping feeling.
The other possibility is that your wife may have felt a flutter of fetal movement. With second and subsequent pregnancies, most women "feel" the baby sooner.
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Q. This is technically my fourth pregnancy: My daughter is almost eight years old, I had a miscarriage at five weeks in 1996, a miscarriage at six weeks in 2003 and I am now 11 weeks pregnant. My stomach looks like I am six months pregnant already, and my hips are growing also. Being that my daughter and first miscarriage happened a while ago, would this still affect how quickly I show now?
A. If you've ever been pregnant before, you will most likely show sooner with subsequent pregnancies. Once your body gets stretched out- muscle and skin-wise,- it will more easily give in to the pregnant form the next time around. It really doesn't matter how long ago your last pregnancy was. Much like a pair of panty hose, you wear them once and they never are as fitted as the first wear.
Q. When will the line on my stomach begin to show?
A. The dark line (linea nigra) usually appears during pregnancy when your abdomen starts to become distended. Of course, there is quite a bit of variation from woman to woman and even between pregnancies within the same woman. During my first pregnancy, I noticed the linea nigra starting to show around week 22. During the second, the dark line didn't appear until week 32.
The linea nigra usually starts just under the navel and ends at the top of the pubic bone. This dark line seems to be a pretty good indicator of how ripe your melon may be. The more prominent and dark the line is, the closer you are to giving birth.
I have heard that some Asian cultures believe the appearance of the linea nigra is a concentration of "chi". The "chi" energy, creating the new life force, causes hyper-pigmentation where it is most intense:– the linea nigra.
Women with darker skin tones tend to get a darker line. During her last pregnancy, my friend Carla's line was a very dark brown/purple streak, separating her melon into two distinct halves. She thought that her belly would always look as though it had been sliced down the middle and she would be banished from bikinis forever. That was not the case. It may seem impossible to erase such a permanent-looking mark from your skin, but the line does fade after the baby is born — usually enough to have your belly appearing like its former self (if you don't count the sagginess and stretch marks, that is!).
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