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NOTE: Opinions and advice provided on this website are based on the personal experience of the author, Stacy Quarty. Ms. Quarty in no way claims to be a professional source of medical, psychological or statistical information.

Alcohol Consumption
Am I Pregnant?
Back Pain
Belly Issues
Birth Control
Bleeding
Body Odors
Breast Changes
Breast Feeding
Calculating Conception / Due Dates
Cancer
Cervical Cerclage
Cesarean Sections
Chronic Health Problems
Cigarette Smoking
Constipation, Diarrhea & Gas
Contractions
Cotton Mouth
Diet & Exercise
Drug Use
Ectopic Pregnancy
Edema / Swelling
Epidurals
Fatigue
Fertility Drugs
Fetal Movement
Genetics
Gestational Diabetes
Getting Pregnant
Hair
Harmful to the Fetus?
Heartburn
Heightened Thermostat
Hemorrhoids
Horror-monal Hysteria
Hysterical Husbands & Partners
Incompetent Cervix
IVF (Invitro Fertilization)
Labor
Leg Issues
Maternity Leave
Medications
Miscarriage
Miscellaneous
Morning Sickness
Nesting
Paternity
Placenta Previa
Placental Abruption
Postpartum Depression
Post-Pregnancy Issues
Premature Labor
Pre-Menopause
Prenatal Testing
Pregnancy Symptoms?
Rh Factor
Sex, Orgasms & Masturbation
Single Parenting
Skin Changes
Sleep Deprivation
STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease)
Teen Pregnancy
Tilted Cervix
Unknown Pregnancy
Unwanted Advice, Comments & Touching
Uterine Cramps & Pains
UTI (Urinary Tract Infections)
Vaginal Discharge
Vaginal Pain
Vaginal Swelling
Vaginal Tears
Varicose Veins
VBACs (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean)
Weight Gain
Worries During Delivery
Yeast & Bacterial Infections

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Belly Issues

Q. My baby is amazingly active throughout the night. As soon as I lie down, the baby thinks it’s time to party. I can't sleep through this baby mambo. Is there anything I can do?
-Anonymous, Oregon

A. In-utero babies are usually the most active a few hours after the mother has eaten. That's when the baby gets his or her infusion of nutrients and sugars via the umbilical cord. Perhaps you should have your dinner earlier so that the baby may do so as well. Having your largest meal of the day at mid-day could also prove to be helpful.

During the day a mother's voice and movements can be quite soothing, allowing the baby to sleep more. Short of sleeping in a moving vehicle, you could try a vibrating mattress or mattress pad.

I hate to tell you this, but if you're having trouble sleeping now, you're really going to be sleepless in a few months when backache, heartburn, constant peeing, leg cramps and nightmares set in.

Q. Since I was eight months pregnant I started noticing my belly button becoming rough, and now, when I touch it on the inside, it feels scabby or scaly and it looks gray. This is my third pregnancy and usually my belly button pops out, but this time it is still in. Is that normal?
-Anonymous, North Carolina

A. I, too, had different navel experiences with my two pregnancies. With the first, my could-never-see-the-bottom “innie” became completely flat. With my second, I developed an umbilical hernia and my navel became very painful and popped waaaaaaay out.

It's possible that the growth and position of the baby is different from your other pregnancies. Maybe this baby is not pushing as much out front towards your navel. As long as you don't have any pain around your navel, I wouldn't worry about the rough, scabby feeling with gray coloring. It sounds like one of the many perfectly normal belly button oddities during pregnancy.

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Q. I am 35.5 weeks along and I noticed right above my belly button is a hard spot. It also hurts there when I press on it or lift anything. I am wondering if this is a herniated belly button? I felt it during my last pregnancy, too. This is my sixth pregnancy, including one miscarriage. Should I be concerned?
-Tonya, Minnesota

A. I think you’ve made a pretty good self-diagnosis. It sounds like you have a herniated navel, which I also had during my second pregnancy. With each subsequent pregnancy, the muscles in and around the abdomen and navel become stretched and a little weaker. A hernia is actually a hole or gap in your muscle wall. At times, bits of your innards may push out through this hole. Not only does it look gross, but it can be quite painful. My OB/GYN suggested that I just push the tissue back in with my finger for relief. She also informed me that there is nothing that can be done during pregnancy to repair the gap because the belly is ever-expanding and would not be able to hold stitches.

I don't think you need to worry. Chances of a large piece of your innards busting out through your herniated belly button are very minimal. It's just something you will have to tolerate until the end of pregnancy.

If your belly button condition becomes constantly painful, you may try using an ace bandage or a garment that puts counter-pressure on your navel. I found the ace bandage quite useful in the last few weeks to relieve some of the gut-popping discomfort.

Q. What is “hardening of the uterus” while pregnant?
-Anonymous, Maryland

A. You may notice a hardening feeling in your lower abdomen in early pregnancy as your uterus begins to grow.

Another "hardening of the uterus" may be felt later in pregnancy while experiencing Braxton Hicks or real contractions. (See other questions about contractions and labor for more details.)

Q. I have heard that the brown line (linea nigra) on the stomach means you are having a boy. Is this true?
-Lindy, Missouri

A. From my experience, I would have to say no. I had a very dark linea nigra with both of my pregnancies and had two girls. I think the appearance of the line has more to do with the hormones of pregnancy and the coloring of your skin than the sex of the baby.

The linea nigra starts just under the navel and ends at the top of the pubic bone. The line, clinically referred to as "linea nigra," 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've 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 looking like its former self (if you don't count the sagginess and stretch marks, that is!).

It sounds like you heard just another one of those "old wives' tales," like if you carry high it's a boy or if you crave pickles and ice cream it's a girl.

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Q. Is it harmful to the baby if I sleep on my belly? I am 15 weeks pregnant.
-Anonymous, Puerto Rico

A. I don't think you need to worry. The baby is surrounded by plenty of amniotic fluid and padding and won't be able to tell the difference between sleeping on your back, side or belly.

I recommend sleeping on your belly as much as possible while you still can. In a few weeks it will be very uncomfortable and in a few months it will be physically impossible. As the months go by, you will find that sleeping on your left side is the most comfortable position and it promotes optimum circulation, which is beneficial to you and your baby.

During my last pregnancy I longed to be able to lie on my belly. I remedied the situation with a trip to the beach every now and then. I dug a big pit in the sand, threw my towel over it and then was able to finally rest, sunny side down.

Q. I delivered my baby six weeks ago and the brown line on my belly (the linea nigra) has still not disappeared. Why not and what can I do to get rid of it?
-Anonymous, Canada

A. It takes a few months for all of the hormones of pregnancy to leave your body. Until that time, you still may have patches of hyper-pigmentation on your skin, including the linea nigra. Don't worry, it should disappear in time. Keeping your belly hidden from sunlight will help it fade faster.

Unfortunately, skin changes such as new moles, skin tags, freckles and stretch marks will not disappear after pregnancy. They are here to stay unless removed.

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Q. In the past week or so, it feels as though my belly "dropped," like I'm carrying my baby much lower. I am 31 weeks along. Is this normal? Could it cause my belly to be sore anytime I move - and painful when I sneeze? Hope you can help. Thanks!!
-Anonymous, Massachusetts

A. Most women have the baby "drop" or "engage" between 36 and 40 weeks, but there's a lot of room for variation. Dropping at 31 weeks still puts you within the realm of normality. If your baby has dropped, the head should be engaged in the pelvis, making it ready for the passage through the birth canal.

The advantage to this dropping phase is that you may feel less pressure on your lungs and stomach, making breathing, eating and issues with heartburn easier. The disadvantages are an increased pressure on the pelvis, bowels, bladder and lower extremities. This pressure can make you feel sore, get sharp stabbing pains (especially with sudden movement, like sneezing), have varicose veins and hemorrhoids pop out and increase the frequency of urination and diarrhea. To relieve these symptoms, you might try keeping your lower body elevated and/or floating in a pool or a bath as often as possible to relieve some of the pressure.

Q. I'm 36 years old and 31 weeks pregnant. Last night my stomach was upset, so I figured I might have eaten something bad and gotten gas pains. This morning I had a little diarrhea. I stayed home from work and rested all day. Now my stomach hurts whenever I move, bend, stretch, try to turn in bed, stand or sit. My entire stomach feels a little hard at times, but I don't seem to have any of the other symptoms of Braxton Hicks contractions. I'm very concerned about losing the baby or starting labor early and not recognizing it. I haven't been able to sleep but a few hours the past few nights. I'm afraid to call my doctor. The last time I did, about three weeks ago, I had some brown spotting and he had me monitored in the hospital for about four hours, then I was ordered off my feet for the next three days. He told me that if this happened again, he would put me on bed rest. I really need to work, and can't afford not to. I don't get benefits or sick time. Also, we're moving into a new house in a few weeks, and I really need to be able to pack up our belongings. My sore tummy right now has me very concerned! Also, I experienced some mild vaginal pains this evening. The baby is still active, but it almost hurts now whenever he moves around. What do you think is causing the soreness/pain and tightness I feel? Should I call my doctor?
-Anonymous, Massachusetts

A. I can understand your concerns, especially since you don't want to be put on bed rest, but I think all of the symptoms you've explained sound normal for your stage of pregnancy. Extreme gas pains and diarrhea plague many women throughout their pregnancies. Belly pains and hardness sound like Braxton Hicks contractions. I remember in my last trimester having such a sore belly at times that it felt as if I had a bag of sharp rocks in my uterus. Bending, stretching and turning were all quite uncomfortable, if not painful at times. The vaginal pains are normal, too. As the pregnancy progresses, you will find you have more and more "stabbing vagina pains." (See the other vaginal pain questions for more details.)

I don't think you need to be concerned about not recognizing the signs of labor. Real contractions are usually something you won't be able to overlook. When you find the intensity of a contraction is so strong that you cannot talk, then you should call your doctor.

It's rare, but sometimes labor can be brought on by too much physical activity. Since you are moving, try to be aware of what your body may be telling you. If you experience stabbing pains, shortness of breath or extreme backache, stop what you are doing. Take a rest from packing boxes. It will get done eventually. Your baby's birth only happens once.

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Q. I was sitting on a chair at work and bent forward to pick up a pen off the floor. As I did I felt a crunching (like that of two bones being rubbed together) in my tummy where the baby's head is. Is it possible that I may have caused damage?
-Anonymous, United Kingdom

A. This crunching, rubbing, bag-of-rocks-in-the-belly feeling is normal. Before I was ever “with child” I remember thinking that a pregnant belly would be very much like having a fat stomach. I found quite the contrary to be true. Unlike soft, pliable fat, my stomach felt like it was filled with a bag of rocks that would crunch against my ribs and pelvic bones when I bent over or squatted. Don't worry; the baby is well protected and quite pliable. After all, the baby's head and body will get squished considerably more during childbirth.

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Disclaimer: This web site, Frankly Pregnant: The Reality Site of Pregnancy, and the book it represents, Frankly Pregnant: A Candid Week-by-Week Guide to the Unexpected Joys, Raging Hormones, and Common Experiences of Pregnancy, in no way claim to be sources for expert medical or professional advice of any kind.

©2006 Frankly Pregnant: The Reality Site of Pregnancy, by Stacy Quarty. All rights reserved.

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