Blush: Early Pregnancy Symptoms

Back in August, I asked the moms of Keladry’s due date group if they had any super early warning signs that they were pregnant. I’m talking about before a missed period and before an hCG test would show a positive.

It seemed like an appropriate time to ask, as many of the moms were announcing second (or third) pregnancies.

I got an excellent response. Many of the moms had unusual early pregnancy symptoms, as the only symptom mentioned pre-week 4 in any of the research I did was mild cramping/spotting.

Keladry chose the colour. Image from amazon.

Common

  • mild cramping and spotting can happen as early as 1 week after the last menstrual period (LMP)

Uncommon (according to my informal research done on the subject)

  • tired
  • ovaries hurt when sneezing or coughing
  • breasts hurt/get hard/sore
  • pimples
  • abdomen hard/cramping/pulling feeling
  • bloating
  • heartburn
  • nausea
  • couldn’t drink/taste coffee (taste sensitivities)
  • extreme lower back pain
  • tasting blood (copper taste in mouth)
  • vivid dreams
  • sensitive skin
  • sensitive to smells
  • there are tons more

Lots of these “uncommon” symptoms show up later in pregnancy-related research. So why is there only one symptom listed pre-week 4?

There are a couple reasons for this, one being that it is hard to study people who don’t know they’re pregnant yet. Another, in my opinion, is that every pregnancy is so different, even in the same family, so the results are varied that it’s hard to publish because there’s no consistency.

Or you could be like me, and have no symptoms at all until I see a positive on the pregnancy test. Does that mean my symptoms are psychosomatic? Perhaps. And that is pretty hard to prove.

References

https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/early-symptoms-timeline

https://www.kidspot.com.au/birth/pregnancy/signs-and-symptoms/first-symptoms-of-pregnancy-what-happens-right-away/news-story/2683c7eed8bb3fe71f95599078bddea5

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/symptoms-of-pregnancy/art-20043853

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Blush: Pregnancy Physio

A friend of mine recently told me that she’s pregnant (woo!!!) and I asked her to let me know if she thought of anything that made her go “Wow! I didn’t know that!” about pregnancy.

She said this:

“In my second trimester, I’m going to get recommended to a physiotherapist. I didn’t do it for my first, but I really think I should for my second.”

That really made my day.

Because, while my pregnancy with Dragon was pretty mellow, I did have pain in my hips when my ligaments shifted to accommodate the pregnancy changes. And it never ONCE occurred to me to go to a physiotherapist for it.

It seems pretty obvious now.

I thought I should do some research into why it’s recommended, and if there are any risks.

Image from americanpregnancy.org.

Please note, I am not in the medical profession. If you have any questions about whether this is right for you, please see your doctor. I don’t know your medical history, whether you are considered high risk, or other factors.

Searching for resources on physiotherapy during pregnancy was difficult, to put it mildly. Most of the sources I found ended up being written by physiotherapists on how to exercise safely while pregnant. Since I thought that was also important information, here is the best article I found on that subject.

Physiotherapy is recommended to prevent and help lessen pain in the lower back and joints of people who are pregnant. It will also help prepare for labour.

A good physiotherapist will also give home exercises to do to keep mobility up and pain down.

Risks that I found seemed to be related only to exercise in general (if you’re bleeding, stop; if you feel increased pain, stop; etc). However, any physiotherapist will tailor their routine to your needs and that of your body.


References

https://physiotherapy.ca/pregnancy-related-pelvic-girdle-pain-words-can-hurt-susannah-britnell

http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/pregnancy-and-physical-therapy/

http://dynamicphysiotherapy.ca/blog/physiotherapy/is-it-safe-to-undergo-physiotherapy-during-pregnancy/


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Blush: How could someone not know?

One of the many mom groups I’m in on Facebook has a member who just found out she is pregnant – at 26 weeks 5 days. Some people (in her real life) are questioning her about how she didn’t know. I don’t know the specifics of her case, but the point is, she didn’t know. Here are some reasons why she might not have known:

Pregnancy tests are crap

Pregnancy tests look for hCG in your urine. There are ways to get false positives (like some fertility treatments – how awful is that?), but it is very easy to get a false negative as well. If your levels of hCG are low, it won’t be detected by home pregnancy tests.

Weight gain is inconsistent

Not everyone gains a ton of weight when they get pregnant, or look like they’re smuggling a beach ball, watermelon, cantaloupe, etc. In my personal experience, I lost 9 pounds over the first 4 months of my pregnancy. And I didn’t get a noticeable pregnancy bump until around 5-6 months, because I already had a tiny bit of extra in my lower abdomen. Someone who is extremely exercise conscious, who is tall, who has extra pounds, who is stressed (all different cases there) could easily not know they are pregnant. They may not have this symptom, or it might go unnoticed.

6 months
6 months

6 months
6 months

7 months
7 months

9 months
9 months

2 days overdue
2 days overdue

 

“Morning sickness”

I didn’t get nauseated in the morning. I got it at 5:30 pm, like clockwork. However, if I ate small snacks throughout the day, or took a nap in the afternoon, I didn’t get it. And I only felt a little queasy – I didn’t have any vomiting.

But morning sickness can show up all day, at any time during the day, or not at all. If they are one of the lucky ones who fall into the latter category, then this symptom wouldn’t help to define pregnancy.

What about menstruation?

Sure, if you’re regular, you might notice that you’re not menstruating. But irregular periods happen… er, regularly. There is also a chance of period-like bleeding happening whilst pregnant. I was told by my doctor to keep an eye out for spotting, so it’s fairly common.

Baby movements

Not all babies move in distinct ways. Personally, I didn’t realize that the uncomfortable gas bubbles I thought I was feeling was actually the baby moving until week 19, when she made my stomach pop out a bit. I can see how someone who didn’t know they were pregnant would just think they had bad indigestion or something.

Also, my baby moved A LOT. Some babies don’t. We’re told to count 10 distinct movements every day. I had 10 in under a minute. The doctor counted. He said that he didn’t often feel them moving that much…and this was well after the 6 month mark, because my baby was shy when somebody else’s hand was on my belly (including my husband!).


There are many more reasons, including existing health issues, contraceptive use, infertility, etc that might hide a pregnancy from all involved.

Do you know anyone who didn’t know they were pregnant? How did they find out? When did they find out? Tell me the story in the comments!


Reference

http://health.howstuffworks.com/pregnancy-and-parenting/pregnancy/issues/10-reasons-you-might-not-know-you-are-pregnant11.htm


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Blush: Toddler Touching

While Blush is primarily aimed at people over the age of 8, the other day someone contacted me and asked me if I had any recommendation about their toddler touching themselves.

They didn’t want to discourage their toddler from exploring, but they wanted to know how to tell them that they should be doing that in private.

So I did a little digging. Most of the first pages that pop up in a search are forums, parents helping other parents, with no valid sources. However, www.psychcentral.com provided me with a great article (follow the link to read it) written by a valid source, and peer reviewed by another.

To boil it down: treat the child as a whole person with valid wants, and teach them that what they want to do is normal, healthy, and should be done in private. You can explain to them where “private” is, and remember, be prepared to do so many times over, because children forget.

I hope that helps! If you have further questions on this topic, you can ask me anonymously here.


I am going to be writing a new game – a sort of sequel to Blush! I have do NOT have a publisher for it, I don’t have completed questions for it, and I don’t have a full concept for it, but I could use your help.

So if you have any questions about pregnancy, anything that surprised you while you or someone you know was pregnant, anything about newborns (first 3 months) – PLEASE submit them through our anonymous question box, found here.

Thank you!

You can find Blush: A Card Game for purchase at Renaissance Press.

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Blush: More Weird Pregnancy Stuff

You can read the first part here.

There are some things that I’ve only recently realized were weird during my pregnancy, like that hair grows abnormally fast. Armpit and leg hair included. Or maybe it just grows slower now that I’m nursing.

Contractions don’t necessarily hurt very much at the beginning. It took mine about 7 hours to start being anywhere near the realm of what I would call painful.

Then there’s all the weird delivery stuff that happens:

  1. You will get used to, or not care, that you are naked in front of people
  2. Labour might be way longer than you expect
  3. You will probably throw up during the pushing part of your delivery because of how hard you’re pushing (I did)
  4. You will probably poop at some point during delivery (I didn’t)
  5. The placenta is bigger than you think, and very squishy-hard when it comes out
  6. The first time you get up from the toilet (whatever you excrete) will be terrifying – there is SO MUCH blood in the toilet. Don’t worry – the next time will have a lot less
  7. You still look pregnant after delivery – it’ll take some time for the belly to go away. This makes for a great resting place for the baby if you choose to nurse

img_20160919_130022_01
Photo credit to Kat, who managed to sneak in just before noon to meet Keladry.

There’s also some pretty strange things that nobody tells you about having a newborn, like cluster feeding – this is what helps the milk to come in, and it happens over the second day and night. It’s exhausting, and would definitely have made us think we were doing something wrong, because she woke up every hour to feed a tiny bit and then go back to sleep. Every time the baby has a growth spurt, this happens again, except on a slightly smaller scale.


If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press

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Blush: Weird Pregnancy Stuff

I have recently been made aware of a few weird things about pregnancy.

  1. There’s a mucus plug that blocks the cervix. This adds an extra layer of protection for the baby.
  2. Stretch marks can appear overnight.
  3. Dizziness can happen very suddenly. Always have protein within arms reach, and go sit down.
  4. Blood volume increases by 50% while pregnant. This causes the body to be warmer than normal, and can cause “the glow”. It also burns more energy (see number 3), and can cause swelling in extremities.

The stretch goal questions have been sent to the publisher, and will be edited by professionals soon. Keep an eye open for updates – the pre-order should be available soon!

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Blush: Reusable Products

Rather than pull a question from the bank, I thought I would do some research on a topic that I’ve been thinking about A LOT recently, because I’m freaking out about it a bit. What am I going to do about my first period after the baby comes?

Let me explain why this has become such a big deal in my head: I have exclusively used a Diva Cup for over 8 years now. I don’t remember what it was like to use a pad, other than “ick, uncomfortable!” and I really don’t want to revert back to disposable methods.

What is a Diva Cup?

My dad asked me this the other day, and I didn’t have time to answer because my sister came down the stairs, and then I forgot about it. Pregnancy brain. A Diva Cup is a reusable cup that is inserted into the vagina to collect discarded menstrual fluid. There are many types of menstrual cups (Moon Cup, Luna Cup, etc) available for purchase, if you know where to look, but the Diva Cup is probably the most easily accessible at the time of this post in Ottawa, Canada. They have it in Shoppers now! I get incredibly excited when I see them on the shelves, even though I don’t need a replacement (or anything at all at the moment), because it means that they can be accessed by everyone.

Why can’t you use a Diva Cup after giving birth?

For the same reason that tampons can’t be used after giving birth – and this goes for any type of delivery. The uterus (and vagina) need time to heal. Using an internal menstrual product can cause infections. (And you probably don’t want to put something inside the vagina after pushing out a watermelon-sized baby, if you chose to deliver vaginally, but that’s apparently besides the point.)

Side note:

This first “period” is not actually a period, it is postpartum bleeding, and is a combination of blood, tissue from the uterine lining, and bacteria. It lasts for up to 6 weeks, and starts out as bright red, but transitions to pale pink or dark red, and finally to a yellowish or light colour.

So what is your solution?

In my case, because I don’t want to go back to disposable pads (for good reason, imho), although the natural pads don’t seem too bad, I bought some reusable pads from Crafty What-Knots. They arrived on Monday, and I’m rather excited about them. I wish I had thought of the fact that I would need to wear pads BEFORE we got pregnant, so that I could try these out (and get used to the idea of wearing a pad again) on my last period, without the added complication of delivery, but I didn’t. Look at the picture! Didn’t she choose great patterns for me?? I will write a review on them once I use them in September (or maybe August – one never knows with babies, right?) I requested two different sizes – right after delivery, so they are extra long; and regular. I will be getting reusable liners from Terra 20 this summer.

Reusable menstrual pads by <a href="http://www.facebook.com/craftywhatknots">Crafty What-Knots</a>
Reusable menstrual pads by Crafty What-Knots. Best material choice ever!

Have a question about reusable menstrual cups? Have any experience with postpartum bleeding you wish you share? Drop me a email, or post a comment here or on the Facebook post!


References

www.americanpregnancy.org

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Blush: Pregnancy

Ultrasound picture.

Blush’s Kickstarter is now LIVE! Please share this link on Facebook, through email, and in person with everyone you know! You never know who might want it (everyone, hopefully). Here is the link: www.kickstarter.com/projects/1357195744/blush

Renaissance Press is publishing the game. I'm so lucky to have such a great team with me every step of the way!
Renaissance Press is publishing the game. I’m so lucky to have such a great team with me every step of the way!

If you didn’t think I was going to talk about pregnancy, you don’t know me very well. I’ve been saving up the questions, because I was afraid I’d be giving something away if I talked about it earlier!

This is my baby! Meet dragon. 😀 They are asleep in this picture, with their legs crossed at the ankle and both hands are on their forehead. Too cute.

Question

If I take a pregnancy test, and there’s a faint second line or plus sign, does that mean I’m pregnant?

Answer

Most likely. It is very difficult to have a false positive, but you can double check in a few days with another test (use a different colour of test, so if you had blue the first time, get a pink one, and vice versa) or by going to your doctor.

This is what happened to me. I took a test on New Year’s Eve morning, not because I thought we might be pregnant, but because if I didn’t take one, I’d spend all of my period wondering if it was less than usual, and was I actually pregnant? (Because you can still get your period while pregnant.) I was very surprised (but thrilled) to see a faint second line, and that’s when we found out that a faint line means positive, after scouring the internet for proof. We still took a second test on January 3rd (plus sign, this time), and then I went to the doctor for confirmation and to start all the things that need to be started.

Question

What does a pregnancy test measure? And why are there different kinds of test? Is one better than the others?

Answer

Pregnancy tests measure the amount of hCG hormone. hCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin, and it is a growth hormone that helps your baby, well, grow. As your pregnancy progresses, more of it is in your system, until it levels out at around 12 weeks. Doctors are suggesting that “morning” sickness is the body’s reaction to this hormone. Some people can handle its presence better than others, and so feel less illness than others.

There are different kinds of tests because some are more sensitive than others. The digital ones are *usually* more sensitive than the lines or plus/negative ones, but that doesn’t make the latter bad. It’s best to wait until just before your period anyways, so that you have a normal amount of hCG. On the side of the box, there is a place that says the test’s sensitivity – it will either be 10 or 25 mIU/mL. 10 is more sensitive than 25.

They are all testing the same thing (amount of hormone). You could go to the dollar store and buy a test, and it would be just as accurate (if not expired) as one from the drugstore.


 

If you have any questions (because there are a LOT of questions to be asked out there) fill out our anonymous question box, and I will answer them. And possibly include your question in the game! If we reach our first stretch goal, we’ll be adding 50 more questions to the game, so spread the word!


References

http://www.babycentre.co.uk/x7105/my-home-pregnancy-test-showed-a-faint-line-am-i-pregnant

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Blush: Condoms

So far we have received almost three digits worth of questions, but I’m greedy, and I want more! Ask us your anonymous questions here!

Star Wars condoms? Why not? Image from mic.com
Star Wars condoms? Why not? Image from mic.com

Question

Who should buy condoms? When should they be bought?

Answer

You should buy condoms when you and your partner are ready to have sex.

But…should the boy or the girl buy the condoms?

Did I mumble?

How many times have I heard this question? Too many to count, in all its various forms. “The guy should buy the condom, because he doesn’t want to get the girl pregnant.” or “The girl should buy the condom, because she doesn’t want to get pregnant.”

This is frustrating for many reasons. One, this presumes that the hypothetical couple is heterosexual. Better to not assume. Two, it focuses only on the prevention of pregnancy. Sure, condoms are great for that. But they are used for so much more! Three, gender stereotyping is bothersome in all its forms!

And why is it so bad for both partners to buy condoms? Having too many is not a problem!

Condoms should be used as protection when you and your partner are unsure of your sexual pasts. Until you both get tested, even if it’s your first time, you cannot be certain that you are clean from Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). Protect both of you by using condoms.

Condoms are great for protecting against pregnancy if used properly, although pregnancy isn’t an issue for everyone.

If you are part of a couple and are planning on having sex, (where you and your partner have given enthusiastic consent) why not go shopping for condoms together? It can ramp up the anticipation, you get the right size, and the brand you both prefer.

If you plan on getting together with a one-night stand, (I’m not judging, have consensual fun as adults!) you should have a condom with you, whether you are a male or female. You can’t assume that your partner will have thought of it, or have the right size, or know that you have a latex allergy. (If you’re a homosexual female, condoms can still come in handy. Read here about how to transform one into a dental dam!)

If you’re allergic to latex, there are several options available:

  1. Polyurethane condoms
    • longer shelf life than latex condoms, no scent, not as sensitive to temperature
    • transfer heat between skin and condom better
    • thinner, and less elastic, so you should use water or silicone based lube to avoid breakage
    • Trojan Supra is one such condom
  2. Polyisoprene condoms
    • synthetic latex material that does not produce the allergen
    • stretchier and more resistant to breakage
    • pair well with water and silicone based lubricants, but DO NOT use oil based
    • Lifestyles SKYN is one such condom
  3. FC2 female condom
    • strong, thin, flexible nitrile sheath
    • fits inside the woman before sex
      • note: I have not read anything about anal use for these condoms. Not recommended.
    • will fit any size of penis
    • FC2 is one such female condom
  4. Natural skin condoms
    • also known as sheep skin condoms
    • these condoms are NOT good enough to prevent STIs, as they are very porous, but will prevent pregnancy
    • completely biodegradable
    • transfers heat well, and can barely feel it
    • note: an odour is noticeable from these condoms, as they are made from an animal byproduct
    • Trojan NaturaLamb is one such condom

Use only one condom at a time. Two condoms, even one male and one female, will cause friction and break. Not can, will.

Also, when you are done with your condom, please throw it out in the garbage!

Story time! When my husband and I first moved into our house a year and a half ago, we noticed that the master bathroom sink was leaking. We finally found the source of the leak: the stopper had scraped its way through the metal of the pipe at the back! We bought a new pipe and stopper and replaced it (with my dad’s help). When we took out the old pipe, we found a very old, blackened condom that hadn’t been able to get past the stopper and was blocking the pipe! Gross!

Moral of the story is: throw your condoms in the garbage, NOT down the sink or in the toilet! If you’re trying to hide its use from your parents/kids/friends, you should buy Blush: A Card Game when it comes out, to open communication lines and remove the taboo surrounding sex! But seriously, if you’re trying to hide the evidence, wrap it in a tissue and stuff it in the bottom of the garbage can.

While you’re checking out condoms, check out the cool new Star Wars condoms! Are you a Sith or a Jedi? Either way, protect yourself!


References

http://www.yourtango.com/experts/lucky-bloke/4-fantastic-alternatives-latex-condoms-expert
http://www.sexualityandu.ca/stis-stds/how_do_i_protect_myself_from_stis_stds/male-condom
http://www.sexualityandu.ca/stis-stds/how_do_i_protect_myself_from_stis_stds/female-condom
http://www.sexualityandu.ca/en/health-care-professionals/contraception-birth_control_methods/condoms

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