Pregnancy. Prior to experiencing it for ourselves, we all draw roughly the same picture in our heads of what it will look like for us someday.
Glowing skin and luscious locks. Draping ourselves over a toilet bowl first thing in the morning every day. Funny cravings for pickles and ice cream. Cute pregnant-lady tantrums over minor, hilarious things.
And while this doesn’t necessarily paint an inaccurate picture, it doesn’t really paint the whole picture either. Generally, we do get the pleasure of experiencing many of these stereotypical pregnancy symptoms (though the tantrums aren’t as cute and hilarious as we may have imagined!) But pregnancy is a little more complex than they tell you, and a lot of the finer points are glossed over – that is, until you’re in the thick of it yourself.
Let us walk you through some of the lesser-known (but surprisingly common!) pregnancy symptoms…
1. All Day Sickness
Erase the term “morning sickness” from your brain; it will only set you up for disappointment. If you’re prone to nausea in pregnancy, it WILL strike at any time, day or night. Or day AND night, if you’re one of the lucky ones. Do whatever you can to get through it – eat all the carbs, chew all the gum, and if you can’t stop throwing up, pop in and see your doctor. Oh, and here’s the other little known gem – sometimes it lasts the WHOLE pregnancy, not just the first 12 weeks.
2. Gorilla Syndrome
While not technically a medical term, this pregnancy symptom will ring true for a lot of pregnant women. Those beautiful, thick tresses gifted to you by your pregnancy? It turns out they’re not the only hair follicles getting special attention from your hormones. Oh hello, armpit hair that you shaved just a couple of hours ago. Popping out to say hello again? Of course it is, because you are a hair growing MACHINE.
Also, those tiny, seemingly insignificant hairs on your tummy may become a little more prominent and dark (or… erm… a lot. Sorry.)
3. Cramps and Pains
“Yay! No more period pain for 9 months!” – every pregnant woman.
“Heh heh heh. Just you wait.” – every pregnant woman’s uterus.
While your uterus won’t be shedding its lining every month, it will still be working crazy hard to try and keep up with your growing baby. And that uterus isn’t the only thing starting to pull and stretch; all kinds of body parts join the party, most notably your round ligament, which prior to pregnancy you’ve probably never even been aware of. Tightness, soreness, twinges and even stabbing pains can be normal – but if they’re accompanied by any bleeding, seek medical attention immediately.
4. Loose Joints
You know what they say. Loose lips sink ships, and loose hips… make pregnant women lose a lot of sleep. One of the cocktail of hormones that floods your body in pregnancy is relaxin, and its sole purpose is to loosen you up and prepare you for birth.
This is unexpectedly painful, particularly when you’re lying down, and you may find it difficult to get comfortable in bed and get a good night’s sleep. Invest in a pregnancy pillow and unashamedly kick your husband aside to make room for your new bedfellow.
5. Hot and Cold
Many women feel extra hot in pregnancy (and we don’t mean in a “damnnnn girrrrl” kinda way!). But some women reach the other extreme and are freezing cold, especially early on. Pregnancy causes a higher-than-usual basal body temperate, and our bodies naturally respond by trying to cool themselves via sweating, faster breathing and increased blood flow to the arms and legs. However some women’s cooling efforts go into overdrive, and they find themselves shivering through the first trimester. If you’re feeling cold, it may be a normal pregnancy symptom, but it’s also worth a trip to the doctor as it can be a sign of hypothyroidism.
6. Wet Undies
Let’s not beat around the bush; pregnancy just ain’t glamourous. Many women experience a crazy increase in discharge which may stick around for their entire pregnancy. If you experience it, stick on a panty liner but don’t be tempted into using a tampon, as these are a strict no-no in pregnancy.
Pregnancy discharge should be clear and odourless, and shouldn’t cause itching. If your discharge doesn’t meet these targets, check in with a doctor as you may have an infection.
7. Unfortunate Leaking
Your lady parts aren’t the only ones weeping tears of joy over this new life… your boobies may just join the party too! A handful of women report leaky breasts from as early as the first trimester, and many more experience it closer to their due date. Stuff your bra with breast pads and change them when they become wet, in order to avoid chafing.
8. Patchy Skin
Sometimes that “pregnancy glow” is a little less glow-y, and a little more “WTF has happened to my face”. Pregnant women may experience a condition called Melasma (or “the mask of pregnancy”), which causes brown coloured patches to appear around the cheeks, forehead, nose and chin. While this pregnancy symptom doesn’t cause physical harm, it can affect your confidence. The good news is that it should clear itself up without intervention post-pregnancy.
9. Bleeding Nose and Gums
Your blood volume increases by almost 50% in pregnancy, so you are pretty much bursting with the stuff. You may find that your gums bleed when you brush your teeth, or your nose randomly bleeds after blowing it, thanks to all that extra blood circulating around in there.
10. Metal Mouth
Woken up with the feeling that you’ve chowed down on a handful of loose change? You might be pregnant! Some super lucky women experience an inescapable metal flavour in their mouth in those early days, and chewing all the gum and sucking all the breath mints in the world won’t cure it. Thankfully this unpleasant symptom usually disappears by the time second trimester rolls around.
11. General Un-Glamourousness
Pregnancy is the height of femininity and womanly wonder – at least, that’s what it seems from the outside. But expectant mums are afflicted with some pretty un-pretty pregnancy symptoms, including (but sadly not limited to!):
- Excessive farting and burping
- Snoring like a chainsaw
- Peeing when they sneeze or laugh
- Accentuated/darker veins
- Boatloads of sweat
- Swollen ankles and feet
- Excess saliva and drooling
- Mega dinner-plated sized nips.
Plus, to add insult to injury, baby bumps just make it hard to sit close to the dinner table, and are often unceremoniously splashed with food on the reg.
The good news is, this too shall pass. There is an end in sight, and before you know it, all of this will be behind you as you soak up newborn cuddles.
But to keep you ahead of the game, we’ve also prepared a list of expectations vs. reality for life with a newborn.
You’re welcome, mama.