As rewarding as pregnancy is, and as grateful as we are to have our babies, it’s also important to keep it real. Pregnancy is not easy and it’s going to test you in big ways. Even for an easy pregnancy, there will be pain and discomfort and annoying side effects. And therefore, here’s a comprehensive list of the things they don’t tell you about pregnancy.
If you’re planning to get pregnant, this list is not meant to scare you. Rather, it’s important to understand what you are in for so that you can prepare for it.
If you are starting to get anxious, remind yourself that:
- relatively speaking, your pregnancy will go really quickly—it is only 9 months;
- millions of women get pregnant every day and they live happily ever after to tell the tale;
- you may not experience all the symptoms, (but even if you do);
- not all the symptoms come at the same time, and;
- for some women, pregnancy is actually pleasant because the good parts of their pregnancy outweigh the bad.
Things They Don’t Tell You About Pregnancy
Having your baby will be totally worth it, but there is no denying that pregnancy is tough. Complicating your emotions may also be a general sense of pressure from society (i.e your mother-in-law) to love every precious moment of this experience. But if you don’t love being pregnant, you’re certainly not alone. As is evident from this list of things they don’t tell you about pregnancy, we all suffer in some way or another.
You’re Gonna Be Tired
Your first trimester will probably the most tired you’ve ever been. Pregnancy fatigue begins as early as conception and implantation. The pregnancy hormones will instantly affect your body, your metabolism, your brain, your moods, and your sleep patterns, according to Healthline.
Other than just sleeping, there is no dealing with pregnancy fatigue. Accept it, and take a nap whenever you feel the need to do so.
The second trimester is way easier, but for some, that fatigue may come back during the third trimester, when you’re carrying a heavy load.
Morning Sickness Can Last Longer Than The First Trimester
Not everyone gets morning sickness. Some of us may feel a little nauseated, some of us are actually throwing up. Also, if you had morning sickness with your first pregnancy, you may not have it for your second pregnancy because all pregnancies are different.
Morning sickness can happen at any time, day or night. If you’re going to get it, “it usually begins around the 6th week of pregnancy, peaks around week 9, and disappears by weeks 16 to 18,” according to Kidshealth.
But that’s not the case for everyone. For some, it doesn’t go away, so it’s really hard to enjoy being pregnant if you feel nauseous for the entire 9 months.
You’ve Never Been This Hungry
If you have ever fasted, or you’ve been so busy that you skipped two meals in a row, you will understand that feeling of being starved.
When you’re pregnant, you’re not going to be skipping meals, yet you will feel starved at every meal. It will feel like there is a giant hole in your stomach, and there is not enough food to fill it.
There’s Going To Be Pregnancy Cravings
Cravings are your pregnant body’s way of telling you what it needs. For example, if you’re craving pretzels, your body probably needs salt. The funny thing about pregnancy cravings, though, is that we’re generally not craving the healthy foods. It’s the ice cream, pizza, hamburgers, fries, chocolate, and chips that we crave.
Medical professionals say it’s okay to give in to your pregnancy cravings sometimes, but not all the time. Instead, find a healthy alternative to your cravings. For example, instead of fries, have sweet potato fries. Or instead of a hamburger, have a lettuce wrap burger.
There May Even Be Weird Pregnancy Cravings
You’ve heard about the craving for pickles and ice cream. It’s not a myth. Some of us have the weirdest pregnancy cravings.
You Can’t Eat and Drink Whatever You Want
Everyone knows you can’t drink alcohol when you’re pregnant. That’s a given, but there’s more. Those big lunch meat sandwiches that you may enjoy? That’s out. So are unpasteurized cheeses, raw fish, fish that are high in mercury like swordfish, shark, etc.
You Can’t Do Whatever You Want
If you love to luxuriate in a super-hot bath, forget that. Do you love a vigorous workout, forget that too. Your doctor might recommend modifying or entirely giving up certain activities during your pregnancy.
You May Be Disappointed In The Baby’s Gender
If you’ve desperately wanted a boy, and you find out you’re having a girl,—or vice versa, that can be disappointing.
We all know that having a healthy baby is the most important thing. Nonetheless, gender disappointment can be a big source of sadness and anxiety.
You May Be Anxious
People say that you may be anxious about your first pregnancy because you don’t know what to expect. This is especially the case if it’s a high-risk pregnancy or you’ve had previous miscarriages. However, for some of us, anxiety comes with every pregnancy.
No matter how healthy you are before pregnancy, it may be impossible to predict whether you’ll have a healthy pregnancy, so there is always that uncertainty. You worry about little things like “Was it safe for me to eat that”, “Could this hurt my baby”, “Is my baby growing as he/she is supposed to”, “I haven’t felt him/her kicking today—is my baby okay.”
And it doesn’t end there! You’re also worried about the tests you’re supposed to take during the pregnancy, hoping that they will turn out okay.
As you get closer to your delivery, you may worry about the labor and delivery. For some of us, the worry and anxiety don’t end.
According to Christine C. Greves, M.D., an Ob-Gyn at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies in Orlando:
“Pregnancy is the only normal human condition characterized by pain and discomfort—and it lasts months… And naturally most women are never at peace until their newborn is in their arms and they have counted the fingers and toes.”
There’s Going To Be Heartburn & Acid Reflux
Heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux—these are very common during pregnancy, particularly around the second and third trimester.
If this becomes a problem for you, talk to your doctor at your next appointment. He/she may recommend an over-the-counter remedy, but if that doesn’t work for you, ask for a prescription for something more effective.
There May Be Gas
Gas is another common pregnancy side effect that makes its appearance around the 3rd trimester. The gas may come out at the top (burps), or embarrassingly at the bottom. But even if you’re lucky enough to have the gas come out as burps, it is so annoying because there is so much and it feels like it’s never-ending.
There May Be Constipation
Another annoying pregnancy side effect! Fortunately, pregnancy constipation can be fixed by eating more fiber, drinking enough water, and exercise. If that’s not enough to ease your constipation, check with your doctor about taking a stool softener.
There May Be Headaches
According to Healthline.com, 39% of pregnant women suffer from headaches. Most headaches during a pregnancy are primary headaches, which means that the headache pain happened by itself. It is therefore not a sign or a symptom of another disorder or a complication in the pregnancy. If you are suffering too often from headaches, let your doctor know.
There May Be Swollen Feet & Ankles
This is another common occurrence that can be fixed by drinking more water, drinking less coffee, reducing your salt intake, getting more potassium, wearing comfortable shoes, exercising, getting a foot massage, elevating your feet, and wearing compression socks or stockings.
You’re Gonna Pee… A Lot!
This one takes the prize as one of the most annoying things they don’t tell you about pregnancy.
When you’re pregnant, your body’s fluid levels start to increase. This means that your kidneys have to work extra hard to flush that extra fluid, so you’ll have to pee more. But wait, it gets worse. During the third trimester, your baby is bigger and he/she is pressing even more on your bladder. Therefore, you may need to wake up several times during the night to go pee… which can cause insomnia. You may even feel an increased urgency to pee because of the added pressure.
You May Need To Stand Further Away From Things
You won’t have this problem until the last trimester, but you are going to have to stand further away from the sink while you’re trying to do the dishes or brushing your teeth. If you have a top-load washing machine, good luck getting the laundry out.
You May Not Be Able To Get Out Of Bed
During your last few weeks of pregnancy, this may be a real problem for you. Instead of just getting out of bed, you may need to roll out.
There May Be Leg Painful Cramps
Leg cramps during pregnancy make their appearance around the 3rd trimester, and they mostly come at night.
You May Get Stretch Marks
Your stomach is going to stretch a lot. According to Americanpregnancy.org, 90% of us will get stretch marks, so you should expect them. Other than your belly, they will also appear on your thighs, your chest, and your bottom.
Unless you take action early (the first trimester) to prevent it, they’re going to come for you.
After A While, You Don’t See Your Feet
If you are used to standing up and seeing your feet, it’s going to feel weird to be unable to see your feet or your private parts.
Your Skin Will Be Itchy
Itching is common in pregnancy. As your belly grows, your skin is stretched around your belly, which is why it’s itching. If you’re moisturizing your belly daily to help prevent stretch marks, that may relieve some of the itching.
There May Be Insomnia
I think most of us will agree that insomnia is one of the seriously annoying things they don’t tell you about pregnancy. It may happen anytime during your pregnancy, but it often starts in the second to third trimesters. Here’s why:
- With your big belly, it may be harder for you to get comfortable;
- You’re making frequent trips to the bathroom;
- Your baby is doing acrobatics in your stomach;
- You’ve got heartburn, indigestion, or painful constipation that is keeping you awake;
- You’ve got painful pregnancy leg cramps;
- You’re experiencing pre-birth worries and anxiety;
- When you do go to sleep, you’re experiencing vivid or disturbing dreams.
The great thing is that there are safe, over-the-counter medicines you can take. Check with your doctor to see what he/she recommends.
You Can’t Pick Things Up From The Floor
Once you’re in your third trimester, there will be no more bending down. You’ll have to squat, but there is no telling if you’ll be able to get back up.
And You’re Waddling
You’re a penguin! This mostly starts to happen in the third trimester, but research indicates that even in your first trimester, your center of mass is farther forward than normal. Pregnant women are also leaning backward more often and we bend our knees less while walking. This is why we’re waddling when we’re pregnant.
Strangers May Touch Your Belly
Yes, this is a real thing. Sometimes strangers will invite themselves to touch your belly. But there is a remedy for that!
You May Experience Skin Changes
This is one of the most irritating things they don’t tell you about pregnancy.
Some pregnancy skin changes will go away after you’re pregnant. Unfortunately, some are permanent.
Nearly 50% of pregnant women will see some signs of the “mask of pregnancy,” which is melasma and chloasma. Melasma is a result of increased pigmentation. It typically causes dark, splotchy spots on your forehead and cheeks. These skin changes may fade after your baby is born.
To try to prevent it, use a good sunscreen daily, and reapply it during the day, especially if you’re out in the sun.
You May Experience Sciatica
Sciatica may pop up in the third trimester. It’s like a sharp, shooting pain, tingling, or numbness. It starts in your back or on your bottom, and it radiates all the way down the backs of your legs. It can be very painful but fortunately, it’s temporary.
Sciatica during pregnancy is caused by:
- Increased weight gain;
- Increased fluid retention;
- Your expanding uterus;
- Your growing belly shifting your center of gravity forward;
- Your baby’s head resting directly on the nerve, or
- A herniated or slipped disc is causing extra pressure on your growing uterus.
You’re Short of Breath
This is more common in the third trimester. You’re more likely to be short of breath because your baby is pushing your uterus against your diaphragm, and your diaphragm is moved up from its prepregnancy position. Your lungs are also somewhat compressed, which means you are unable to take in as much air with each breath.
You’ll Have A Lightning Crotch
Lightning crotch is like a sharp, shooting pain in your pelvis. It’s usually short-lived and usually makes its appearance during the third trimester.
According to Dr. Joyce Gottesfeld, M.D., OB-GYN for Kaiser Permanente in Denver, the following can lead to lightning crotch pain:
- Your baby is descending into the birth canal and getting into the proper position for delivery (i.e head down, facing your back). As this happens, your pelvic bones pull away and separate.
- Your baby’s head might be pressing against your cervix;
- Your baby could hit a sensitive nerve ending near your pubic bone.
You Don’t Have Enough Clothes To Wear
Sure, you are going to get maternity clothes, but it’s unlikely that you’re going to have all you need. What if there is a wedding you want to go to or a special outing? Are you going to buy a maternity outfit that you are likely to only wear once?
There May Be Mood Swings
Everyone should be well-advised not to mess with a pregnant woman because pregnancy hormones can trigger a wide range of emotions. Don’t let it freak you out! Your moods are a normal, and logical response to all these changes in life.
You May Experience Excessive Weight Gain
Weight gain is expected and normal, but excessive weight gain can add to existing health problems. It also can cause new concerns such as type 2 diabetes, back pain, or high blood pressure.
If you’re not enjoying your pregnancy as much as you imagined, give yourself a break. Society and pop culture often make pregnancy out to be the most glorious thing, when truly, it is not. Rewarding, yes. Glorious, no!
If you’re feeling a little down, surround yourself with other pregnant women or friends who allow you to feel all of your emotions. If that’s not an option, grab a bowl of popcorn and watch pregnancy movies and documentaries that may not only educate you but also help you feel normal.
Things They Don’t Tell You About Pregnancy – Unplanned Pregnancy
Pregnancy is hard if you have been planning it for yonks. However, it’s a double whammy if your pregnancy is a surprise.
You May Be Anxious
It’s 100% reasonable for a woman who was surprised by pregnancy to be anxious or sad. Surprise pregnancies can be downright stressful for women and/or families.
You May Be Worried
If your financial situation is uncertain, you’re probably worried about how you’ll be able to pay for diapers. Will you be able to keep your job? Who’s going to take care of your baby while you’re working?
If you’re not in a secure relationship, you may also be worried about the future of that relationship.
If you have other kids, you may also be worried about how this pregnancy may affect your family life.
Note From The Author
When I was doing the research on this post, I had to shake my head at the recommended remedies for gas during pregnancy. For example, reputable sites like Healthline recommend that you drink more water, eat a lot of fiber, and exercise to relieve gas. I don’t know if it’s just me but no! I stayed active through all my pregnancies because I walked almost daily. I love fruit so I consume a lot of fiber, and fortunately, I’ve developed the habit of always drinking a lot of water. None of that mattered. Not to be mean or weird, but I guess that’s what you can expect if the advice is medically reviewed by a male doctor. I’ve had relatively easy pregnancies and for me, one of the worst parts of being pregnant was the gas… the never-ending gas!
And the heartburn, indigestion, and acid reflux! Honestly, I think we just need to accept it because it’s part of the prize. Your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter medication like tums. For some of us, that works, but if it doesn’t, don’t despair. Let your doctor know and he/she may give you a prescription to help relieve it. Otherwise, the discomfort of heartburn is maddening.
One more thing—after writing this article, I realize that pregnancy sounds like no fun at all. That is not my intention. This is just my five cents but I think that if you focus on the end goal—a healthy baby—these unpleasant pregnancy symptoms will not overwhelm you. What helped me was to accept it as the price I needed to pay for my babies. As one mom to another, I recommend you do that because otherwise, you’re fighting a battle you cannot win. The fatigue, heartburn, gas, insomnia, itching, etc will come whether you like it or not, so you might as well accept it and try to enjoy the experience.
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