What is Pregnancy Doing to My Body?
You’re pregnant! Yay! There are so many things to be excited about after finding out that you are pregnant. The thought of creating a tiny person with your body can be overwhelming, but exciting. Your body goes through many different changes throughout your pregnancy. Some of the changes (i.e morning sickness) are commonly known by women. You may be experiencing strange changes now and wondering what in the world is happening to you! There are many pregnancy side effects that are not commonly known to women until it starts to happen to them. Welcome to pregnancy!
Others frequently comment about the “pregnancy glow,” that expecting mothers have. Many times it is difficult for a pregnant person to see this glow because of the pregnancy side effects they may be experiencing. Many times, women are confused or unaware of the symptoms that they may be experiencing.
Common, but often unexpected, pregnancy side effects:
1. Changes in Your Skin
After you become pregnant, your blood volume doubles to accommodate your growing baby. This can result in many unexpected pregnancy side effects, including changes to your skin. Some women notice darker patches of skin on different areas of your body or a dark line going the length of their belly called, linea nigra. This is often referred to as the pregnancy line.
Increased blood volume can also contribute to women having itchy skin. Women also sometimes experience itchiness as the skin around their bellies stretches. Mild itching is considered normal. If you experience more severe itching, consult with your doctor to rule out other, more serious, medical concerns.
Many women also develop acne after becoming pregnant. This is related to increased oil that your skin produces as a result of changes in your hormones. If you do developed acne, be careful with using medication to treat the acne. Some acne medication can cause negative side effects with your baby.
Skin tags are also a frequent side effect in pregnant women. They can appear on various parts of your body throughout your pregnancy. They are harmless and usually go away after you give birth. Wait until after you give birth to try to remove skin tags.
2. Changes in Vaginal Discharge
One of the less talked about pregnancy side effect is changes in vaginal discharge. This change can occur very early in pregnancy and is usually the first sign that a woman may be pregnant. Pregnant women experience thin, clear, milky white, and mild smelling discharge throughout their pregnancy.
Vaginal discharge can increase towards the end of pregnancy. Sometimes, you will see traces of blood, which can be an early sign of labor. If you experience vaginal discharge that has a strong odor, weird colors, or if you are uncomfortable, contact your doctor.
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3. Peeing ALL the Time
As a result of hormonal changes, increased blood volume, and a growing fetus pressing against the bladder, pregnant women experience the need to urinate frequently. It is an unavoidable side effect that pregnant women have to adjust to.
Your body circulating 25% more fluid and it is necessary to pee a lot!
Leaking urine is another unexpected pregnancy side effect. The expecting mother’s pelvic floor weakens. This is what makes it easier for her body to leak urine. She may even find that she leaks urine when she laughs, coughs, or sneezes. This is another unfortunate side effect that most pregnancy women cannot avoid.
4. Congestion and Allergies
When pregnant, sometimes it can feel like someone is standing on your chest and it is difficult for you to breathe. Many women also deal with increased symptoms of seasonal allergies. This can be true even if you did not suffer from seasonal allergies prior to becoming pregnant.
Increased blood flow through your nose, also causes your mucus membranes to swell and soften. This causes you to feel congested, post nasal drips, and sore throats. Nose bleeds can also be an unexpected side effect of the blood flow to your nose.
Talk to your doctor about medications that are safe to treat allergy and/or cold like symptoms.
5. Changes in Breast and Nipples
Women’s breasts go through several changes throughout their pregnancy. During the first trimester, women experience breast sensitivity, swelling, and their breasts may start to feel heavy. Women’s breasts also grow throughout the pregnancy. Some women may even notice more visible veins on their breasts.
Another unexpected side effect with the breasts are changes in the nipples. An expectant mother’s nipples may appear larger in size and they may have a darker areola. Some women report nipple sensitivity. You may also notice small bumps around your areola which are called Montgomery tubercles. These bump help to support breastfeeding.
During the second trimester, your breasts will continue to grow. It is not unusual to have to purchase new bras during this time. Your body starts to produce colostrum at the start of the second trimester. Some women may experience leakage of colostrum from their breasts. It is important to remember not to over stimulate your nipples because it can cause preterm labor.
During the third trimester, your breasts will continue to grow and feel heavier and denser. Your nipples and areola will also darken and may change shape.
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6. Gorgeous hair
One of the more attractive unexpected pregnancy side effects is fuller, healthier looking hair. During pregnancy, the increased hormones cause your hair to grow more and shed less. This leads to beautiful looking hair and boost in your self-esteem!
Don’t get used to the new look. After your hormones level out when you give birth, your hair growth cycle will return to normal. Some women experienced increased shedding and temporary hair loss during this time.
Yes, producing more saliva can be an unexpected pregnancy side effect. For the majority of women who experience this, it is usually associated with morning sickness and occurs during the first trimester. There are some women who have to deal with excess saliva throughout their pregnancy.
This side effect is bothersome, but usually can be handled by just swallowing the excess saliva. Some women do feel the need to spit more because of increased production. Whatever category you fall into, this is a normal (but not so fun) side effect.
Fatigue is an early pregnancy side effect that most women experience during their first trimester. The fatigue usually subsides during the second trimester, but returns during the third trimester. Making a baby is hard work and requires a lot of energy.
It is important that you rest and listen to your body, especially when the fatigue is present. Resting is easier said than done. Fatigue is a signal from your body that you need to take a break, sleep, and/or relax.
9. Hot Flashes and Increased Heart Rate
After becoming pregnant, your heart has to work double time to pump the increased blood in your body that is present to support your baby. In addition to the increased blood, changing hormone levels and an increased metabolism contributes to the unexpected side effect of hot flashes.
Many pregnant women complain of being warm or experiencing periodic hot flashes. This side effect increases later in pregnancy.
10. Big feet
No you are not crazy. Another unexpected pregnancy side effect is the increase in your shoe size. There are a couple different things that contribute to your feet growing during pregnancy. Swelling and increased blood flow to the feet is one reason.
Your body also releases are hormone called Relaxin to help prepare your pelvic muscles to give birth. Relaxin also causes the ligaments in your foot to relax. This causes the bones in your feet to spread, thus increasing your shoe size.
11. Bleeding gums
As you experience hormonal changes, your gums are more likely to become inflamed. This makes pregnant women more susceptible to bacteria and plaque. It also contributes to bleeding gums.
About half of pregnant women experience the side effect of bleeding gums. It is important to practice good oral hygiene and regularly visit your dentist.
12. Varicose veins
Varicose veins are swollen veins near the surface of the skin. They can appear blue or purple and frequently appear in the legs.
There are many causes of varicose veins in pregnant women. Your growing baby causes increased pressure in your legs. Also the circulation in your legs is weaker, further causing pressure on the veins in your legs.
Varicose veins cause little to no discomfort. They usually resolve after you give birth. They are more likely to occur in women with a family history or who had them prior to giving birth. However, varicose veins is a side effect that can occur with any pregnant woman.
Fun fact. Hemorrhoids are varicose veins that occur in the rectum.
13. Digestion Concerns
One of the more embarrassing pregnancy side effects is digestion concerns. Changes in hormone levels, causes the muscles of the bowels to relax. This contributes to constipation, increased gas, and burping.
Eating iron rich foods, drinking plenty of water, limiting sugary and processed foods, and getting plenty of exercise can all help ease some of the discomfort of digestive side effects.
14. Increased senses
All five of your senses can be affected by pregnancy. Of course this is a result of the increase in hormones your body experiences during pregnancy.
Some women describe having a metallic taste in their mouths known as dysgeusia. This can be counteracted by consuming citrus foods or foods made with vinegar. Also brushing your tongue or chewing gum can help to alleviate dysgeusia.
Having a keener sense of smell is also a common side effect. Smells that once were pleasing to you, can now make you sick. Things that you didn’t notice before now smell strong. It’s hard to avoid the unpleasant smells. Try to surround yourself with pleasing, more subtle scents.
It is normal to experience some changes in your vision. Many pregnant women report having a difficult time seeing things. This usually resolves itself after giving birth. Consult with your doctor about changes in your vision if you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes or high blood pressure.
Your body may become more sensitive to touch. This is especially true of your breasts. Your ears may also be more sensitive to noise. Pulsatile tinnitus is a common pregnancy side effect where your hearing falls in sync with your heartbeat. Both of these unexpected side effects are t temporary and usually resolve after your give birth.
15. Crazy dreams
Having vivid and frequent dreams while pregnant is a common pregnancy side effect. It is believed that the increase in hormones and other responsibilities that come with being pregnant, increase your anxiety and other emotions, causing you to dream frequently.
Nesting is a very helpful pregnancy side effect. It is the intense desire to clean and organize. Nesting usually occurs the last couple of weeks before giving birth. This behavior is thought to be instinctual.
A pregnant woman’s body goes through many changes to accommodate for the growing baby inside of her. The changes in hormone levels and increased blood flow contribute to many unexpected pregnancy side effects. Luckily many pregnancy side effects resolve after giving birth. Just remember, all of these unexpected side effects are necessary to create the loveable tiny person who appears at the end of nine months.
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What weird pregnancy symptoms are you experiencing? We want to know! Share with us below.
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