Pregnancy is a wonderful time of life for some mothers, the fulfillment of a lifetime of dreams. However, for other mothers, it can be a time of worry, illness and humiliating medical issues. Some of these pictures give a scary preview of what can be in store when a woman becomes pregnant.
Few women look forward to the labor part of giving birth to a baby. Some women are so scared of this that it causes devastating mental struggles. Some mothers have given birth to babies up to 15lbs in size. If the birth takes place in a hospital there is every chance that the staff will be safe and reassuring. Some women do not have that luxury.
1. Stretch marks
Every pregnant woman fear stretch marks, but some can be worse than others, and last for long. Some are pale and tone in with the flesh color, some are vivid red and very obvious. They affect more than half of all pregnant women. Women struggle with body image after pregnancy and pictures of celebrities looking super tanned and fit straight after birth do nothing to dispel this concern.
When the skin on the stomach is forced to stretch to its limits to accommodate the growing baby, it forms scar tissue in some areas of the skin, notably the middle layer or dermis, and this is what forms the stretch mark. The skin has reached the point where its elasticity has been exhausted and the skin layer scars. The scars will not disappear but can fade with time. There are specialized skin products which aid this process but stretch marks may have to be embraced as the battle scars we receive for the joy of our babies. There is no proven way to eradicate them completely, but as they pose no health risks they are more of an inconvenience than a hazard.
9. Jelly belly
So, you’ve given birth, you’ve lost your post-baby weight and your stomach still looks flabby and sagging. Still, your stomach looks like a deflated bouncy castle. Folds of skin are still loose and you can knead the flesh like a lump of dough.
When you give birth, the vertical lines of muscle in the abdomen stretch to accommodate the baby. Sometimes these snap back and the stomach returns to normal after birth, sometimes the muscles do not go back to the original position and there is a gap. This condition is known as diastasis recti and affects many women post birth. There are exercises that can improve this situation and after time the muscles will return to their correct position and give the stomach a flatter appearance.
If you have a c-section, it affects the muscles in your abdomen and this can cause sagging or muffin top. Age also has an influence, as the collagen or elastic in your skin reduces with age and stops your skin from snapping back to its correct position. Aside from diet and exercise, there is not much you can do to get rid of the last bits of jelly, other than surgery, so embrace it!
8. No boobs afterwards
Don’t expect your pre-pregnancy boobs after you have given birth to your baby. You might be lucky and have the same chest size after you have your baby, but many women do not have this experience. New first-time mums are often shocked to find how radically different a post-pregnancy body can look.
If you are able to breastfeed your baby this can affect the way your boobs look afterward as well. The spaniel ears look is a post breastfeeding look that many women bemoan. Cosmetic breast enhancement surgeons are making a fortune from the situation. In fact, some report that it is the mainstay of their surgical work. It can be a shock for women to find that the pert and fulsome breasts they conceived with have shrivelled to a shadow of their former selves.
One new mum from England lost her pre-pregnancy breasts and was left with what she described as ‘empty sacks’, according to the Daily Mail. She said she had lost confidence in her body and was nervous about having a physical relationship because she was so conscious of her chest. She is now considering breast implants.
7. Mother nearly died at birth
The days of mothers and babies dying during labor are far behind us for the most part. However, there is still risk associated with delivery for mother and baby. This might explain the rise in the incidences of cesarean section. There is no doubt that the operation has saved many lives.
Midwives and mothers bemoan the ‘knife happy’ surgeons who swoop down during a difficult labor and announce that it’s time for theatre. However, many modern mothers and babies would not survive the situation and whilst the number of c-sections has risen in the western world, the number of maternal and baby deaths has dropped.
Pre-eclampsia is still a fatal risk to mother and baby. While blood pressure drops and platelets in the blood can sink to a dangerous level. Delivery is the only solution and a quick one at that. This is one of the situations where a surgical birth really does save lives.
However, death does still happen sadly. Panellist Nadia Sawalha had a traumatic birth with her first child and her husband, who was with her thought she wouldn’t make it. Luckily mother and baby were fine, but Nadia described her baby, Maddie as ‘a survivor of torture after a difficult birth’.
6. Gave birth in a train loo that flushes onto the track
One mother had a horrendous birth experience when she gave birth on a train. Manu was traveling on the train in Rajasthan in India when she felt unwell. She went to the loo on the train and passed out. Her baby was born and it slithered down the toilet and fell onto the track below. Many trains on Indian trains have the primitive plumbing so that the loo opens straight onto the track.
Fortunately, a train guard heard cries from the track and was able to alert the driver, who stopped the train in time to save the baby. The baby and mother were taken to a hospital at the next train stop and both were checked over and found to be fine. The baby had suffered no permanent injury and recovered from his ordeal.
There are other less dramatic stories of train and station births, so beware of travel when you are nearing your due date! One mother in France had a lucky outcome when her baby was born on a Parisian train. Her baby was given free train travel until his twenty-fifth birthday! Mother and baby survived intact and were taken to a local hospital.
5. Infidelity during pregnancy
It may seem like the ultimate betrayal, but there are many stories of men cheating on their partners while they are pregnant. Relate Marriage Guidance explains that fathers to find the stress of becoming a father overwhelming, and this can lead them to stray as a bolt hole and a fantasy situation away from the reality of impending fatherhood.
Other fathers say that they felt pushed out because the mother was so focused on the unborn baby. Other simply say they found their partner’s pregnancy body a turn off or were not getting sex from them so they looked elsewhere.
One British mother, Adele Barkley found out that her husband had cheated on her when the other woman rang her phone. She confessed that she and Adele’s husband had been together on the night her baby son was born. Adele was crushed by the admission and her husband confessed all. The effects on a hormonally charged, sleep deprived new mother can only be imagined.
Adele attributes her husband’s infidelity to a new found confidence after losing twelve stone. The couple split for a while and reunited, only to split for good eventually. The relationship had been broken and Adele’s trust could not be given to her husband again.
4. Hyperemisisgravidum – permanent morning sickness story
Hyperemesis gravidum is a frightening condition that affects women in the first half of their pregnancy, and sometimes lasts for the whole nine months. One woman told her story of being 13 weeks pregnant, unable to move for fear of vomiting, or of even having her husband near her in case she threw up.
It got so intolerable she contemplated ending the pregnancy after losing two stone and being emotionally and physically drained. Thankfully she didn’t and gave birth to a healthy 8lb 10oz boy. HG used to be a significant cause of maternal death, there is still no known cure, but thankfully we can now treat the life-threatening symptoms.
Women’s symptoms vary but it seems to creep up on a lot of pregnant women. They start to feel nauseous and go off certain foods. A few weeks into the pregnancy, the sickness starts and then it seems impossible to keep any food or drink down at all. Of course, the permanent illness can affect the wider family as well as the mother. Other siblings may feel neglected and the husband may not understand why his wife is permanently bed ridden. All in all, hyperemesis is a devastating blow at what should be such a hopeful time.
3. Losing teeth in pregnancy
It may be an old wives’ tale, that a woman loses a tooth for every child, but there is scientific evidence that being pregnant does cause teeth to fall out. The reason behind it is the hormonal changes in the body, namely oestrogen and progesterone in the bloodstream. They make your gums more sensitive and lower your resistance to plaque and decay.
There is actually a dental term for this – pregnancy gingivitis and it is a recognized phenomena. So, the old wives’ tale of losing a tooth for each birth may not be so far off the mark.
As plaque can build up quickly during pregnancy, it is important to clean teeth regularly and avoid sugary foods. This is easier said than done when cravings kick in and other children mean eating on the go. Add morning sickness into the equation and it is easy to see why pregnant women suffer so badly from dental problems.
A study done in Denmark on eighty-year-old men and women, revealed that the more children a women had had, the worse her teeth were. Women who had five children or more were more likely than their peers to be completely toothless.
2. PUPPS – horrific pregnancy related skin condition
PUPPS stands for pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy. It’s a horrific skin condition that only begins during pregnancy.
It can start with just a few bumps on the skin, but can gradually spread over most of the body, forming huge blisters that burn with excruciating pain. There is no cure except delivering the baby, and topical creams and steroids are given to ease the symptoms. For some women, the condition doesn’t leave immediately after giving birth, but at least then it’s possible to take stronger drugs to alleviate the condition.
It can be a very serious condition that can lead to premature labour and made the mother very sick after birth. If itchy skin starts to develop during pregnancy, it is worth seeking medical advice. It generally occurs in a first pregnancy and is most common in the third trimester. It usually starts on the abdomen in stretch marks that form there, over the pregnancy bump. There is some indication to suggest that the male hormone is responsible for causing the rash, as three quarters of the women who suffer deliver baby boys. Fortunately, once it has gone there are no associated complications.
1. Varicose veins
Many women suffer from varicose veins in pregnancy, but sometimes they can be severe. They can spread down the legs to the foot and cause the limb and foot to swell. Compression stockings can slow their progress but will not cure them. They are caused by weakening in the valves which regulate blood flow, causing blood to pool in veins, which then stretch and protrude. The fact that your baby and extra weight are pushing down on your body and more blood flows round the body in pregnancy, exacerbate the situation.
They are very painful and can throb and ache and relief may only be achieved by lifting the feet, hence the traditional theory of ‘putting your feet up’ when you are pregnant. It’s important to avoid strain on the affected veins, so heavy lifting and exercise can exacerbate the problem.
Take advantage of a great reason to rest and let other people around you help. A third of women will suffer from varicose veins and there isn’t much that can be done to prevent them. They don’t usually pose a problem to your baby and most likely fade after the baby is born.