Thanks to the movies and television, many of us have a very specific idea of what happens to a woman once she finds out she’s been knocked up. After peeing daintily on a stick, she’ll inevitably face the mirror and then turn to the side, imagining the swelling belly she’s about to endure.
We’re here to tell that idealistic gal that sure, her belly is about to balloon, but that’s just the beginning of the weird stuff that’s about to go down. Because let’s face it — although having a baby is one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences women can be lucky enough to go through, it sure as heck isn’t always pretty. Especially when you run a risk of developing any of these completely weird and unexpected pregnancy symptoms.
1. The Hemorrhoids
With pregnancy comes constipation. And although you can do the usual (drink water, increase your fibre intake) to try and curb the problem, odds are you may find that your bathroom habits are a little out of whack. And if you are among the lucky few that don’t develop hemorrhoids as a result of those changes, chances are you may during the actual delivery itself. All that pushing takes a toll on more than your vagina, after all.
2. The Sandbag Boobs
Oh they’ll be bigger all right, but they’re also be tender AF. As in, bras will no longer fit, hugs will no longer feel nice and you may or may not become obsessed with rubbing your own nipples. Furthermore, your areolas will grow darker and can develop little bumps, all while your nipples begin excreting liquid known as colostrum, that early type of milk baby will covet once it exits the womb.
If you’re super lucky, you’ll also get boobilicious stretch marks from the sheer weight of them. If you’re rubbing the tummy down with coconut oil, be sure to get the boobs too. Not the nipples though — those you’re going to want to scratch the crap out of in the shower with a hard loofah to toughen them up for the months (years?) of breastfeeding ahead (if that’s your game plan, at least).
3. All the drool
We’re not talking about a little bit of spit in your dreams — the amount of drool that can develop in a previously perfect mamma-to-be’s mouth once she becomes pregnant can be akin to baby spit-up. And it happens at all times of the day. You’ll be carrying on a perfectly normal conversation and the next thing you know you’ll need a tissue to sop up the newly formed saliva leaking from your mouth. Whatever you do, don’t think of pickles, which is a trick doctors have used for ages to get patients to whet their whistle when necessary. It only makes matters worse.
4. A Human Snot Machine
Pregnant, are you? Stock up on tissues now. Women carrying a baby to term have been known to suffer through extremely stuffed up noses. Try bringing a humidifier into the bedroom at night, which should definitely help, but it won’t eliminate the boogers all together. Plus, if you’re super lucky, you’ll blow your nose so much it starts to bleed from all the battered blood vessels. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal when you’re pregnant. Aside from flaky skin around your nostrils, your biggest problem will be figuring out a way to practice your deep-breathing techniques around the stuffiness.
5. Debilitating Leg Cramps
Most of us have had leg cramps at some point in our lives. Especially women previously on the pill, who have long been told to look out for them as they can indicate a blood clot. The same rules of caution apply when you’re pregnant (if you experience bruising or a dark colour see your doctor asap), but leg cramps can be much, much worse, especially towards the end of a pregnancy. Thanks to increased weight, more blood to pump through those veins and a higher demand from the body on vitamins and minerals, they can strike at any time.
Unfortunately, that usually means in the middle of the night when your body is relaxed. Once minute you’ll be stretching out your legs and flexing your toes; the next your calf has seized up and you’re crying in pain — alarming your partner in bed next to you who probably thinks your water broke or something. If you can manage, the best way to work it out is to flex your toes back towards your shins and then to rub the offending area to work out any lactic acid buildup. With any luck you’ll actually be able to walk without hobbling the next day.
6. Bleeding Gums
As it turns out, visiting the dentist is doubly important when you’re preggers, since all those hormones also mean your gums can become super inflamed. That means you could be dealing with yummy blood-coloured toothpaste in the sink and bloody strings of floss, but hey — it’s all normal, according to the body. So long as you’re seeing the dentist regularly, it shouldn’t be anything major to worry about. It’s just kind of gross.
7. Itchy Casts Have Nothing on Your Stomach
You may want to consider keeping your nails short, because as your tummy expands to make room for that growing alien within, the skin that’s stretching will itch like crazy. That aforementioned coconut oil sure helps, or if you can’t stand smelling like a beach try Bio Oil or lotion instead. There’s a caveat though: stay away from anything with a scent, whether it’s lotion or soap. Things that didn’t used to bother you can suddenly make the itchiness way, way worse.
8. You’ll Still go Through Lots of Underwear
Not having a period is lovely, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be excreting fluids constantly down there. Vaginal discharge can become heavier than normal, meaning that your panties aren’t sparkling clean for nine months. Basically it’s your body’s way of keeping the passageways clear of any potential infections. Some women will also still spot, although it’s important to keep an eye on things. If you experience actual bleeding, be sure to call your doctor right away. Same goes for any discharge that appears to be green- or yellow-tinged or that come in super thick with a foul-smelling odour.
9. A Hairy Beast
As your tummy grows it will be impossible to really shave anyhow, but know that extra hair during this precious time is also a very real thing. It can pop up anywhere and everywhere, including your face, nipples and tummy. Even peskier is the fact that it can grow in quicker than ever before, making personal hygiene an extra long chore.
10. Varicose Veins
Painful, painful and more painful is the best way to describe these puppies, which can pop up middle-to-late pregnancy on your legs and genitals, and can make every day bathroom functions near impossible. Hemorrhoids are actually a form of varicose veins, although they can appear on their own elsewhere. Some women who experience them are simply affected by their unsightly appearance, while others have said they make their legs feel achy and heavy. Thankfully they tend to go away after pregnancy, but if you’re finding them particularly daunting, invest in some compression stockings.
11. You’ll Cry Like a Baby
Everyone knows that with increased hormones comes a woman who is probably slightly more emotional than before her pregnancy. As such, you’ll probably cry at the smallest of things you never thought imaginable. A really thoughtful gesture or gift from a friend or relative. A commercial that you’d otherwise deem silly. Your pet cuddling with you at the end of the day. Whatever your trigger is, invest in some waterproof mascara along with that next pregnancy test. Because pregnancy hormones are oh-so-real.
12. Bloating, Bloating and more Bloating
If you find out you’re pregnant, don’t be going out to buy any fancy footwear. Your feet, hands and face can become extremely bloated over the course of nine months, making your own body unrecognizable. For some women those changes go even further, and their nose can increase in size or they’ll feel like they suddenly have two necks. Oh, and that baby bump? Expect it to shift in size from morning to night as you eat and the baby shifts positions.
13. You Really Will “Glow”
Sure, those aforementioned hormones can make your skin, hair and nails look nicer, but when someone says you have that pregnancy glow what they probably don’t realize is that it’s plain old fashioned sweat they’re seeing. That’s right — sweat, and lots of it. Welcome to the days of hot-and-cold, along with extreme overall uncomfortableness.
14. Your Voice Changes
Adele wasn’t lying when she said that her voice was affected during her pregnancy — for many women, it’s natural for your voice to lower an octave or two while you’re expecting. Your changing lung capacity and muscle control are the main culprits, which means things should be back to normal after delivery. If you remember what “normal” ever quite felt like in the first place, that is.
But hey — by the end of nine months you’ve got a beautiful, beautiful baby. And isn’t that worth all of these and more? Hemorrhoids, schmemorrhoids.