There's nothing quite like creating another life, Mama! Motherhood is an incredible, transformative journey from your changing body to your growing family. It is filled with lots of excitement and joy but also plenty of challenges like morning sickness, pregnancy cravings, swollen feet, and body aches.
For first-time moms especially, it's natural to have questions and concerns about what is to come. And while most women are happy to share pregnancy stories and tips, some things rarely get mentioned. From strange bodily changes to unexpected emotions, here are 30 things no one told us about being pregnant that we want to share with you. So if it happens to you, you'll know other moms have been there too.
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1. Your Bump isn't the Only Thing Changing
Sure, every mom expects their weight to fluctuate as their bump grows, but some lesser-known physical changes can happen during pregnancy too. Your shoe size might increase as your feet swell, and even your innie belly button could temporarily turn into an outie during the second or third trimester. It's less common, but some women even find themselves with more freckles or a different hair color due to changing hormones and melanin production during pregnancy.
2. Morning Sickness Can Strike at Any Time
Morning sickness affects nearly 80% of pregnant women. While typically more severe in the morning on an empty stomach, it can strike in the evenings or afternoons too. While some lucky women barely experience any nausea, it can be frequent for others. Try natural remedies, or speak to your doctor about managing the symptoms.
3. Your Bladder Will Feel the Pressure
If you notice yourself peeing more than ever while pregnant, it isn't your imagination. It's your growing uterus placing pressure on your bladder. Hormonal changes relax muscles in your urethra and bladder, so it isn't unusual to let out some tinkles during childbirth or afterward. Practicing Kegels can help but don't be so hard on yourself if you aren't as in control of your bladder.
4. Even Your Immune System is Impacted
To protect your growing fetus from being flagged by your immune system as an "invader," your immune response is suppressed during pregnancy. While this is essential for your growing baby, it can lead you to get sick more often, especially during your first and second trimesters. It helps to be aware of this change so you can do your best to stay healthy.
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5. Don't Be Hard on Yourself if You Forget More Easily
You might be surprised at how mentally exhausted you feel during your first trimester, but your body isn't the only thing hard at work. Even if you've had a full night's sleep, it is normal to experience bouts of forgetfulness or to have trouble concentrating. While changing hormones and neurotransmitters play a role, some researchers believe it is your brain's way of making you focus solely on your baby on the way.
6. You'll Have More Wardrobe Changes than Lady Gaga
Your body is changing faster than you might realize; before you know it, your regular clothes will be too small. Don't be surprised if the maternity section doesn't fit quite right at this early stage, either. Rather than playing goldilocks with either too-big or too-small clothes, we recommend sticking with stretchy leggings or oversized tees that adapt to your frequently changing pregnancy body.
7. Smells Will Hit Your Nose Differently
The estrogen uptick during pregnancy can increase sensitivity to certain smells. If you live in an apartment building or ride public transportation regularly, you'll likely detect odors you never noticed before. Conversely, extra blood flow and mucus caused by pregnancy can lead to nasal swelling and congestion or even more nosebleeds later on. All of which can alter your sense of smell.
8. Your Dreams Might Get Weirder
As your body and mind process these new developments, your subconscious works overtime. This can lead to stranger, more vivid dreams. Consider it your mind's way of sorting through all the emotions, thoughts, and changes that come with being pregnant. These dreams can be a comforting way to make sense of this journey and open up your imagination to the motherhood moments to come.
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9. Fiber Will Become Your Friend
Progesterone production during pregnancy puts your muscles at ease. This relaxation of the intestinal tract means waste works its way through your body much slower, causing constipation. While pregnant, it is best to steer clear of laxatives and instead focus on keeping hydrated with lots of water and increasing your fiber intake in consultation with your doctor's recommendations.
10. You'll Get More Comfortable Saying "No"
Part of being a parent is learning to say "no" confidently, and being pregnant will give you lots of practice. From those who think your belly is a magic genie lamp waiting to be rubbed to family members giving unsolicited advice, you'll have plenty of situations where you need to say "no" to prioritize your needs. Remember, it's okay to be firm and set boundaries. While most mean well and want to celebrate this moment with you, you deserve to feel comfortable and safe.
11. Your Cravings Can Get Specific & Strange
Pregnancy requires certain nutrients, so it's typical that your diet will change. What's more unexpected is how ravenous you will get and the strange, specific combinations you'll crave. Think veggies and Nutella, licorice jellybeans, or pizza and pickles. Whatever your cravings, it's common for your appetite to shift gears or completely disappear suddenly.
12. Don't Be Surprised by a Happy Trail
The linea nigra is a line that runs from your belly button to your pubic area. It's usually not noticeable when you aren't pregnant, but rising hormones cause it to become darker and more apparent in about 80% of women during pregnancy. The effect typically lasts only a few months after you give birth so it's nothing to worry about.
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13. It's Okay to Let Out the Tears
The ups and downs you feel throughout your pregnancy are completely normal. Blame your changing hormones for mood swings, anxiety, or overwhelming feelings. Set aside as much time as you can for self-care, and lean on the people closest to you when you struggle to navigate this new range of emotions.
14. Your Gums Will Feel More Sensitive
Hormonal changes can cause your gums to temporarily become more sensitive and prone to bleeding, a common condition known as pregnancy gingivitis. Being diligent with brushing and flossing can help. You'll also want to keep appointments for professional cleanings so a dentist can give you a proper evaluation to maintain a healthy smile while pregnant.
15. Napping Will Take on a New Meaning
You're going to be more tired than you may realize. You might lay down for a late afternoon or early evening nap, only to wake up mid-night or even the next day! Lean into this and get all the rest you can before your baby arrives. If you are already a parent, have backup care lined up so you can get the rest you need.
16. Your Sex Drive Might Go into Overdrive
There's a good chance your libido will ebb and flow dramatically throughout your pregnancy. Many moms agree that the second trimester can surprisingly be one of the sexiest times in their lives. Even if you aren't noticing a difference between the sheets, your thoughts or dreams may drift unexpectedly to something sultry.
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17. Feeling Itchy? You're Not Alone
Feeling itchy during pregnancy, particularly on the belly, is a common complaint caused by hormonal changes, dry skin, or a rare condition called cholestasis. Try using moisturizing lotions, avoiding hot baths and showers, and wearing loose clothing for relief. Resist the urge to scratch! Consult your doctor if the itching is severe or accompanied by other symptoms.
18. Don't be Frightened by Spider Veins
Spider and varicose veins can occur during pregnancy due to increased blood volume and pelvic pressure. While sometimes uncomfortable, they are common and usually go away after giving birth. Elevating your legs, exercising regularly, and avoiding standing or sitting for long periods can help prevent these veins from forming.
19. You'll Likely Become a Sideways Sleeper
Prefer sleeping on your belly? While okay during your first trimester, eventually, it will get uncomfortable, and you'll have to turn over. Sleeping on your back after the first few months can compress a major blood vessel, causing dizziness while reducing blood flow to your fetus. Instead, you'll find that sideway sleeping is best during the latter part of your pregnancy. So grab a pregnancy pillow and embrace your new favorite sleeping position.
20. You'll Be Reaching for the Eye Drops
If you've been reaching for the Visine more frequently, it's because pregnancy can also affect your eyes! Increased blood volume can cause blood vessels in the eyes to become more visible, and hormones can make them itchier than usual. Just know these symptoms are temporary and resolve themselves after giving birth.
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21. Your Skin Can Change Beyond a Pregnancy Glow
Increased blood flow gives that infamous pregnancy glow, but did you know many other changes are happening to your skin during this time? Hormonal fluctuations and increased elasticity can lead to hyperpigmentation, chloasma, or melasma patches known as the "mask of pregnancy." Others experience acne, increased oil secretion, or even heat rashes. Pay attention to any skincare changes, and address concerns with your doctor.
22. Hemorrhoids are Common in the Third Trimester
Due to increased pressure on your pelvis and hormonal changes that cause the veins to relax and expand, hemorrhoids can develop during pregnancy. While uncomfortable, they are especially common in the last trimester. Drink plenty of water, eat a high-fiber diet, exercise regularly, and avoid straining on the toilet to minimize your chances of getting hemorrhoids.
23. The Nesting Instinct is Powerful
Are you suddenly feeling the urge to decorate the nursery or paint your living room a different color? This strong desire to prepare your home for your baby's arrival is known as the nesting instinct. It's natural and a great way to lean into cleaning and decorating so you can check off some of your do-to lists before returning home from the hospital. Just be sure not to overdo it and lean on your partner, friends, and family for help.
24. Heartburn Can be a Daily Struggle
You might be grossed out if you notice yourself burping or farting more than usual, but this experience is all too common for pregnant women. Increased progesterone levels can relax muscles in the digestive tract, allowing stomach acid to flow upwards and causing heartburn and indigestion. Avoiding spicy, fatty, or acidic foods, eating more frequent, smaller meals, and avoiding lying down right after eating can help relieve the symptoms.
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25. You Might Not Recognize Your Own Breasts
Your breasts and nipples undergo hormone-induced physical changes to prepare them for breastfeeding. Nipples and areolas may become larger and darker. Your breasts will feel tender, and the skin may stretch and itch. As your lung capacity increases and ribcage expands during pregnancy, your chest size will also increase, and you'll likely have to shop for new bras.
26. You Might Have Contractions Before You Go into Labor
Did you know you could experience contractions in the months leading up to labor? These "false labor" feels called Braxton Hicks contractions are mild, sporadic abdominal contractions. This is your body's way of preparing your uterus for the work ahead when the real contractions and labor begins. Think of it as practice before the big day!
27. Get Ready to Kick it with Baby
Before you know it, your little one will make their presence felt. At first, the little kicks might catch you off guard, but soon, you'll get used to their thumps and bumps. This fetal movement can begin as early as 16 weeks but is more commonly felt by moms around the 18 to 20-week mark.
28. Enjoy Increased Flexibility
The hormone relaxin released during pregnancy gives your body the flexibility to prepare your pelvis for childbirth. It works by loosening ligaments to provide your joints with increased mobility. Enjoy the increased flexibility, but try not to make sudden, harsh movements that could cause injury. Careful motions with your wrists are especially important since pregnant women are at greater risk of carpel tunnel syndrome.
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29. Early Lactation Can Happen
Towards the end of your pregnancy, you might experience this common quirk. Milk production sometimes starts as early as the second trimester. There's nothing to worry about if you lactate early. Surprisingly, it is sometimes even caused by excessive heat, like from a hair dryer or showerhead.
30. Each Pregnancy is Unique
This list includes a lot, but remember that no two pregnancies are alike. Your first pregnancy might be a breeze, while your second could have you swearing it'll be your last. Whatever changes your body is or isn't going through, know that being pregnant is a memorable experience, even with some inconveniences along the way. As long you stay healthy and follow your body's cues (and your doctor's advice), it's all good. Enjoy every minute of this journey because your baby will be here before you know it!