How your life's changing: You're just a week shy of the halfway mark. You may notice some achiness in your lower abdomen (perhaps extending to your groin) or even a quick, sharp, stabbing pain on one or both sides, especially when you change position or at the end of an active day. This is round ligament pain, and it's caused by the stretching of the muscles and ligaments that support your growing uterus. It's nothing to be alarmed about, but if the pain continues even when you're resting or becomes persistent and severe, call your practitioner.
You may also have noticed some skin changes lately. Are the palms of your hands red? Nothing to worry about — it's from increased estrogen. Patches of darkened skin are also common during pregnancy. When they show up around your upper lip, upper cheeks and forehead, they're called chloasma, or the "mask of pregnancy." You may see these splotches on your arms or other areas that have been exposed to the sun. Your nipples, freckles, scars, underarms, inner thighs, and vulva may also darken during pregnancy. That darkened line running from your belly button to your pubic bone is called the linea nigra, or "dark line." All of this darkening is due to a temporary increase in melanin, the substance that colors your hair, skin, and eyes. For most women, these darkened spots will fade shortly after delivery. In the meantime, protect yourself from the sun, which intensifies the pigment changes. Cover up, wear a brimmed hat, and use sunscreen when you're outdoors. And if you're self-conscious about your "mask," a little concealing makeup can work wonders.