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I spent a lot of time growing up wondering what it would be like being a Mum. But there are so many things that I hadn’t even considered as part of the equation. Here are the things I was never told about pregnancy until I was actually pregnant. And maybe I should’ve found out!
Things I Was Never Told About Pregnancy
Now, I do not want this to be a post meant to frighten any potential mums out there. Pregnancy can be a really vulnerable time in your life, I totally get that.
And neither do I want to put anyone off getting pregnant. The number of women who jokingly say ‘Rather you than me’ when you are pregnant (have you not had one of these yet?) will do that job, believe me. I got a ridiculous number of remarks like that when I was pregnant at age 43.
But I do want to prepare you for what lies ahead. And maybe head you off at the pass making the same mistakes I did. Forewarned is forearmed kinda thing.
I just wish I’d listened more and paid more attention to all the little warnings I got from friends when I first announced I was pregnant. And from other pregnant ladies that I met whilst I was younger. Although I knew about morning sickness, preventing stretch marks and that I would get Braxton Hicks contractions, there were lots of things that I didn’t expect. Because people don’t really talk about them.
So, what would I tell myself if I could go back and give my younger self advice? What side effects of pregnancy aren’t ever really spoken about?
Your Sense Of Smell Becomes Enhanced
I don’t have much of a sense of smell. It’s always been a bit of a bonus, considering I’m a dentist by profession and spent a lot of time rummaging around in people’s mouths. Dealing with a lot of smelly breath. But after becoming pregnant, one of the first signs for me was a massive increase in the things I could smell, and how much certain smells affected me.
Some women report that they cannot abide certain smells, and are put off for life. And maybe this is linked in with the ‘cravings’ side of pregnancy. But I never realised that my sense of smell could be so good.
NB. After pregnancy, my sense of smell went right back to pre pregnancy levels. So much for that. It was good (and also not good) while it lasted.
Your Feet Get Bigger
My feet went up a size when pregnant, and some women find it goes up more. And they may not ever go back to their old size.
I weep at some of the shoes that I can no longer wear.
Your Nose Gets Bigger
Now, mine didn’t do this, but some women swear that their proboscis expands during pregnancy. A receptionist at the dental practice I worked out swore she could tell whether girls were pregnant by nose size alone, so maybe there is something in it!
There’s A LOT Of Wetness Down Below
Now, this is an area that nobody ever warned me about. I had a lovely pregnancy up until about 30 weeks, and then I was anxious thereon in. And one of the reasons for my anxiety was the amount of liquid that I was producing down below.
I loved in constant fear that my cervical plug was leaking, and wore pads to soak up the moisture. But when I spoke to friends about this, they confirmed that the same happened to them. And they’d pretty much forgotten about this little spoken about side affect of pregnancy.
What has happened is your body starts to produce a different type of mucus down there. And coupled with the fact that a baby pressing on your bladder makes you want to pee more, you get a double whammy of wetness.
Needless to say, I felt smelly and a bit yuck. But every ob/gyn person I spoke to assured me that this was pretty normal.
Definitely stock up on reusable sanitary pads.
You May Get Sinus And Congestion Issues
Strangely, being pregnant can give you a touch of congestion. It is thought that the hormones dry up your sinus secretions, leaving it more susceptible to infection and being sore.
I ended up with some headaches and tooth ache in the first trimester. And because all you can take is paracetamol, it may not improve much. I would maybe try a netti pot or saline rinse as well as staying hydrated.
You May Get Varicose Veins
As an overweight and older mum, I was pretty prepared for varicose veins. So I wasn’t totally surprised to see a web of spider veins appear on both ankles. However, what I wasn’t prepared for was the blue veins that appeared on my breasts. They were a bit freaky.
Luckily, the breast veins disappeared after baby was born. But the ankle veins have remained.
You May Get Carpel Tunnel Issues
Carpel tunnel happens when the nerves to your hands are compressed in this tunnelling your wrist bones. Symptoms include hand pain and numbness, particularly on waking up.
As a dentist, I was particularly affected by this. I bought wrist braces and tried to sleep in favourable positions, but in the end nothing much helped and luckily it did improve after I had my baby. Though I do still get issues now…
Gut Changes Are Common
I have never suffered with any kind of constipation issue. Until I got pregnant. Even though I upped my water levels to ensure baby was getting hydrated (I am so bad at being hydrated for myself usually), I really suffered.
And it is not unusual. Digestion can totally change when you are pregnant, leading to all sorts of issues. The midwife prescribed me lactulose, but definitely worth talking to your ob/gyn person if you are suffering.
Heartburn Becomes A Daily Affair
Hand in hand with the digestive issues comes heartburn. Again, possibly because all your internal organs are being pushed up and about, you are likely to end up with excess stomach acid.
The good thing is that gaviscon and rennie tablets are fine to take whilst pregnant. Though they can mess with your iron levels, so do discuss it with your midwife.
Piles or Haemorrhoids May Occur
Another wonderful new discovery for me was getting piles whilst pregnant. So not only am I rotund, I have a painful rectum too!
Getting piles is a common thing once you start being constipated. So keep up with the water and fibre intake to help relieve all this.
Excess Wind Is Normal
And the last upshot of a disturbed digestion is that you may be suffering from excess gas too.
Personally, I always have excess gas so my other half saw no difference! Lol.
Your Internal Organs Are Majorly Shifted Around
One thing that is obvious now, but that I had never really thought about, is just how much your organs are shuffled about to make room. Crazily, even though I studied anatomy at University, it never ever occurred to me how much my insides had been squished up.
Now, this really should not worry you whilst you are pregnant. But it should be a consideration when you are recovering. No wonder it can take so much time to feel normal afterwards!
You May Get More Leg Cramps
I didn’t suffer much with cramps, but some ladies I have known have got ‘restless legs’ in pregnancy. And cramp in the middle of the night is definitely a thing.
To prevent cramps, do ensure that you are staying hydrated and avoid crossing your legs for too long.
Your Skin Is So Much More Sun Sensitive
Another really strange side effect of pregnancy for me was how quickly I would burn in the sun. When I was about 10 weeks pregnant, we went to Crete on holiday. Even though I used a really high factor suncream, my skin burnt quite quickly and badly.
I would definitely recommend covering up and being incredibly cautious in the sun whilst pregnant.
You Might Get Itchy Skin
Other ladies also report that they have more sensitive itchy skin during pregnancy. Again, this is common in pregnancy, around the belly and breasts particularly.
It may be worth wearing more breathable clothes and using a pregnancy safe body moisturiser.
And You May Get Skin Tags
Another wonderful thing that may suddenly start to appear are small skin tags on your body when you are pregnant.
I got several of these on my neck, and under my armpits, but they can appear anywhere on your body. They are wobbly bits of extra skin. Cute huh?
Your Skin May Darken
Some ladies have a general darkening of their skin, known as the ‘mask of pregnancy’. And some ladies get a dark vertical line running from their navel to their pubis. This linea negra is a normal and natural phenomenon.
Your areolas may darken, and become more pronounced.
Again hormonal changes are messing with the melanin in your skin, and this should go back to normal after baby is born.
You May Have Bleeding And/Or Swollen Gums
Although it is always important at any time in life to brush your teeth well, it becomes even more important to brush well during pregnancy. Your gums do become inflamed due to the hormonal changes, and you may even notice your gums becoming ‘lumpy’ and bleeding like mad.
This is normal, but it really is important to brush, floss and get in-between the teeth at least twice a day if they are bleeding. And it should reduce and go back to normal once baby is born.
You May Not Be Able To Feel Your Baby Move
One of the major anxiety factors for me was not being able to feel my baby move enough, because my placenta ended up being at the front. Placenta anterior is common and normal but it can make feeling baby move harder.
If you are ever in any doubt that you haven’t felt your baby move, you do need to see your midwife or maternity unit.
The Second Trimester Glow Is A Thing
I looked absolutely amazing in the second trimester. My skin was fabulous, my hair shone, and I had all the energy. The second trimester really was a glow time for me.
Leaky Nipples Can Come On Quite Early
I was always concerned that because I had breast augmentation surgery when I was younger that I would not get a proper milk flow. So I was quite happy when I did get some leakiness.
But it can come on really early in pregnancy, so some good nipple pads are definitely in order. Why not make your own – or get washable reusable ones?
Your Boobs May Get Really Sensitive And Sore
Again, when I had my breast surgery, I had gotten used to quite nonsensitive breast tissue. So nothing prepared me for the onslaught of tenderness that pregnancy brought.
Soft, non wired cotton bras are definitely a winner to combat this.
The Third Trimester Hits Hard
But the third trimester can be a hard time. I felt really achy and tired. Added to this, I suffered from anxiety and insomnia, which didn’t really help my energy levels.
I didn’t get acne, but lots of ladies report spots worsening in the third trimester.
And it hurt when I walked. I never had pain, so was never diagnosed with pelvic girdle pain or symphysis pubis dysfunction, but I definitely knew that my pelvic ligaments were becoming more stretchy to prepare for birth. It felt almost bouncy when I took a step.
So It’s Ok To Hate Being Pregnant
You have all these hormones heading around your body, and your body definitely doesn’t feel like your own. So it is perfectly fine to feel annoyed at being pregnant.
In fact, I was so happy that I had a winter baby, as I saw so many pregnant ladies be really tired and hot and bothered in the heat of the summer.
It doesn’t mean that you will hate being a mum. Far from it.
It’s Normal To Feel Anxious About Giving Birth
Not many women really talk about it, but it is perfectly normal to be apprehensive over giving birth. Especially if it is your first. Women are expected just to get on with it. But if you really sit and talk to other expectant mothers, you will probably find that you all feel the same way.
And it is also perfectly fine to make a birth plan. But please do also realise that it may all go out the window once the big day comes.
So, as you can see, there are loads of things that were never spoken about that I found out once I became pregnant.
As for things that I WAS told about pregnancy? I never listened to my friend whose first advice was to do my pelvic floor exercises. Her advice was sadly ignored, and so now I’ve ended up with a bit of an occasional incontinence issue!
Have you experienced anything strange that I haven’t covered? I love to hear your experiences and stories. Do comment below or find me on my social media channels.
And please do pin this post for later.