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Easing Pregnancy Discomforts

In The Mood for Love -- Or Not

Early in pregnancy, levels of estrogen and progesterone soar -- increasing blood flow and sensitivity in the breasts, vagina, labia, and clitoris -- which may turn you into a sexual dynamo. On the other hand, when you're dealing with nausea, fatigue, and moodiness, you may find sex as appealing as your annual exam. The key for you and your partner is to expect fluctuations in desire, so that when it wanes, you can stay intimate in other ways -- by holding hands, snuggling, or giving each other massages.

By the way, there's no reason to fear that you'll harm the baby during intercourse. She's well-protected in her amniotic bubble, and unless you're at risk for miscarriage or preterm labor (in which case, you should seek your doctor's advice), sex generally poses no danger whatsoever.

The Emotional Roller Coaster

Consider yourself hormonally challenged: During pregnancy, estrogen can climb to 60 times its normal level. In general, higher levels of both progesterone and estrogen can make you feel good, but sometimes the huge fluctuations can also puncture the euphoria. In fact, a wide range of emotional states is perfectly normal -- quiet and withdrawn, scared, anxious, elated and excited, easily angered or tearful, ambivalent, worried, and happy. But you can try to stay on an even keel with enough rest, exercise, and communication with your partner.

On the other hand, if your symptoms include prolonged weepiness, anxiety, sleeplessness, guilt, anger, pessimism, or detachment, talk to a professional about pregnancy-related depression. This potentially serious condition can last anywhere from weeks to months, and it can be treated safely with therapy and medicine. Women who experience severe depression during pregnancy are also at high risk of postpartum depression, so this is one condition you don't want to wait out.

When Woes Are Serious

With everything your body's going through during pregnancy, it can be tough to tell which changes are simply uncomfortable and which are dangerous. Don't hesitate to call your doctor when in doubt. And be sure to talk to her if you experience any of the following symptoms: