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Gertie Consults on the Second Trimester of Pregnancy

The second 13 weeks (14 to 27 weeks) of pregnancy is the best part and it will just fly by if you don't pay attention! I mean, you’re filled with snot, you sweat like a pig, heartburn rules your life, you leak from strange parts of your body, you fart a lot, your head hurts, you want chocolate more than the Bush twins want beer, you have to pee every ten minutes, the size of your butt rivals Jennie Lopez’s, you crave pickles, your legs cramp, your back hurts, you cry during ketchup commercials, your belly itches, and on top of it all you can’t take a dump.

Let me try to help …

Dear Gertie, my cousin is about six months pregnant and her birthday is coming up. I'd rather get something for her, not the baby. What do you think she'd like?


Dear Tammy, since she’s probably got the appetite of a suck pig (and the manners of one too), get her some tie-dye maternity t-shirts. Try for colors that reflect her favorite foods. For example, if she’s craving chocolate, pintos, steak, ice cream, or chili, get her a tie-dye shirt with browns, blacks, and yellows. If she’s craving cobblers, ribs, watermelon, barbecue, or pizza, get blues, reds, and pinks. That way when she inevitably spills food on her shirt, the stain is instantly covered up.

Dear Gertie, why does my back hurt all the time? What can I do to make the pain go away?


Dear Betty, your poor old back is going through some interesting changes. First off, your pelvic joints are softening and loosening up in preparation for the baby to pass through your pelvis during birth. Also, your posture has changed - with that big ol’ belly pooching out and your butt getting bigger, you have a tendency to slump your shoulders and stick your belly out further. Don’t do that! Bad posture contributes to most back pain. Don’t exert your back bending over working on the carburetor or leaning over the hot stove frying okra - take it easy! Try to avoid long periods of sitting or standing if you can help it. Put your feet up and listen to Johnny Cash for a while.

Dear Gertie, last night my wife jumped out of bed and hopped up and down howling about a knot in her leg. Is it normal for Norma to have these leg cramps?


Dear Dean, yup. These pesky cramps are common and may be due to an inadequate amount of calcium in Norma’s diet, or Norma’s lack of rest, or even pressure from the baby on Norma’s legs.

Have Norma try the following to prevent cramps:

  • Take frequent breaks from sitting or standing
  • Applying local heat using her trusty hot water bottle or heating pad (set on low)
  • Stretch the calf muscles before bedtime
  • Eating bananas (they are chock-full of vitamins and minerals)

When she gets a cramp, she might be able to relieve it by straightening her knee and gently flexing her foot upward, or even standing on a cool surface (like the hood of your El Camino). If all else fails, bend over and let her to kick you in the butt a couple of times. It may not help with the pain, but it'll improve her disposition.

Dear Gertie, no matter what I eat or drink, I get heartburn. Help!


Dear Bella, your growing belly is pushing on your stomach, moving it higher and higher up in your abdomen and squashing it. In addition to this, all those hormones floating around your body causing you to cry, clean, and cramp are slowing down your digestive system so that nutrients are allowed more time to be absorbed into your bloodstream to reach your baby.

What to do? First off, don't overeat! Eat frequent and small meals and don't overfill your stomach with those pork rinds and M&Ms that you love so much. Avoid lying flat on your back and try to prop up as much as you can. Also try to lay off the greasy and spicy foods like bean burritos, onion salad, and loaded chili dogs. Talk to your doctor and find out what antacid is best to take during pregnancy. Myself, I prefer Tums® for an after dinner mint.

Dear Gertie, I have two questions. First, the weather down here in South Alabama is just gorgeous and I've been working on my tan. Being 23 weeks pregnant, I can't lie on my stomach to get my backside tan, so how do I even up my tan? Also, for some reason I'm getting these weird dark splotches on my face. I've never had them before. Is it because I'm pregnant?


Dear Sally, to even up your tan you could stand with your fanny facing the sun in the 98º heat and 110% humidity, or you could call your Avon lady and order some self-tanning stuff. You could always try to face everyone, that way no one would get a glimpse of your pale backside.

The dark spots on your face are thought to be caused by all those daggum hormones. Skin darkening is worsened by exposure to sunlight or other UV light (tanning beds and possibly lighting from the gun shows and tractor pulls). Wear a sunscreen with a SPF of at least 15 - even when it's cloudy. Wearing that pretty baseball cap from the feed store will help keep the sun off your face too.

Don't worry too much - skin darkening almost always fades after delivery.

Dear Gertie, I can't have a nice B.M. every morning like I used to. Even coffee doesn't help! What can I do?


Dear Paula, unfortunately being constipated is one of the most common and uncomfortable side effects of pregnancy plus getting all blown up with gas makes you bigger than you really are. If you were a guy, you'd probably enjoy the gas, but since you ain't try these remedies to get your colon happy again:

  • Eat foods high in fiber - like fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods. Eat those beans, sugar!
  • Drink lots of fluids, especially fruit juices and the famous prune juice. Warning: pintos and prunes could prove to be quite ... uh ... explosive.
  • Increase the amount you exercise. Walking can break up that poop real quick!
  • Get your doctor to recommend a mild laxative like milk of magnesia or a doody softener.

Soon you'll be back on the throne havin' a big old time! (Don't forget your reading material.) Constipation can cause those dreaded hurt-a-roids.

Dear Gertie, last night I started craving a cat food smoothie (you know, put cat food in a blender with milk and ice). My husband said I was nuts. I had a friend that ate dirt when she was pregnant.


Dear Earnestine, those wonderful hormones of yours are making you view eating in a whole new light. From pickles to ice cream or ice chips and laundry starch to dirt, simple items take on a different appeal to a pregnant woman. It usually isn't harmful unless the stuff you're craving (dirt, laundry products) contains harmful parasites or chemicals. In researching your answer, I found one web site that recommended, "If you experience a craving for something that isn't food, report it to your doctor." Now this isn't bad to do cuz your doctor needs to be kept abreast of all your symptoms, although I wonder what your doctor could actually do besides laugh at you behind your back and tell you, "No, don't eat a cat food smoothie." BUT: Some doctors think that strange cravings stem from an iron deficiency, so baring your embarrassing craving could be a good thang.

So what can you do about your craving? Try these substitutions:

  • Craving cat food? Try croutons tossed with flake tuna. Apparently, you have deep psychological problems with your cat and you subconsciously hold a grudge against Fluffy for *something. This can *include but isn’t limited to: unrolling the toilet paper, licking the fuzz off the peaches, leaving hair balls in the middle of the kitchen floor, or loudly scratching in the litter box at 3am. Either make amends with him or kick his butt outside with the dog until the baby is born.
  • Craving dirt, cement, or clay? Get some Oreos and a small bucket of potting soil. Crunch up some Oreos and eat them by the spoon full as you deeply inhale from the bucket of potting soil. [Of course, they probably have those fancy organic dirt stores over in Caley-forney where you can get a pint of dirt with a side order of tofu and café au lait to wash it down with - daggum Yankees’ll eat anything.] This craving might be caused by an inferiority complex regarding the poor growth of your okra or tomatoes. Get some chicken manure or Miracle Grow™, pour it on those needy plants, and soon you’ll feel better.
  • Craving soaps and cleaners? Resist the urge to lick your Ivory soap by sticking a favorite sucker in your mouth when you clean and do laundry. What’s causing this? Either you’re cleaning too much or you ain’t cleaning enough. In the first case, turn off that television in front of that lounging husband of yours and show him the art of removing hair from the drain, skid marks from underwear, and rings from the toilet. In the latter case, you need to use ol’ Judge Judy to motivate you to do a bit of cleaning. It won’t hurt you - I promise.
  • Craving motor oil or gasoline? Breathing gasoline fumes is dangerous and I imagine drinking motor oil might cause some interesting gastrointestinal developments. Try eating/drinking bacon grease or vegetable oil while watching Busch racing on Saturdays and Winston Cup racing on Sundays. Cravings of this sort definitely come from NASCAR withdrawal. If your craving is bad, go down to Wal-Mart and get some of those NASCAR Hot Wheels and have your own race.

Cravings are rough - I know. Only other mommas can understand the fierce urge to munch on a watermelon (or two). You’re in my prayers, hon.

Dear Gertie, I never had nosebleeds before I was pregnant, but now I have them a lot. Also, my nose seems to be stuffed up much of the time, although I dont have a cold or allergies. What can I do?


Hi Darlene, as much as you want to, pickin' your nose won't help. It'll just aggravate the lining of your nose and gross out your co-workers/family. This ailment is quite normal and it happens because of your increased blood flow to the mucous membranes of your body. Here are some ideas to help:

  • Try to increase your fluids. (As if you weren't peeing quite enough. Heck, you'll already be in the bathroom blowing your nose, so why not pee while you're in there?)
  • Use a humidifier to loosen nasal secretions and impress your kids with the huge boogers that you can produce.
  • Apply a small amount of petroleum jelly inside each nostril or try using saline nasal spray to keep your nose from becoming dry. You don’t want dry boogers because they tend to whistle loudly when you least expect it - like at church or during budget meetings.

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