Pregnancy is full of fun and exciting changes. No two are exactly alike, even for the same mother. We’re filled with joy and fear, excitement but worry too. We’re so focused on the baby, we sometimes forget about ourselves. We go through a lot, so many changes it’s hard to keep up with. When we look at photos of ourselves before pregnancy and compare them to ones of us pregnant, it can be hard to tell we’re the same person! Everything has changed, not just our bellies growing bigger. We expect our tummies to grow, we’re housing a new little life that needs room to develop, but we don’t expect some of the surprises pregnancy holds for us.
Many of us know some of the usual changes that are coming our way when we get pregnant. We know our tummies will grow, we know our hormones will go crazy. But there’s plenty of things we never thought would happen to us, things no one warned us about. We get told what to expect medically from a doctor, and many family members and friends tell us what is to come when we have our baby, what things will be like with a new baby. Many things are left for us to discover on our own, as wild and unexpected as they are.
We’re constantly surprised with the challenges of motherhood, many unexpected or unknown to us until we go through it. In this article, we’ll explore some of those challenges and changes, many we never saw coming.
21 Your body temperature will go nuts
Hormones. They change anything and everything about us. Especially when we’re pregnant! We know some things to expect, and we’ve learned about some things that can happen already. But body temperature is one that many people don’t expect to change, at least not so drastically. My youngest has always been a little heater, even in the womb. It was 20° fahrenheit outside, and I was standing in our doorway to the front of the house, fanning myself with the door and still overheating! Most of us have had hot flashes before, but this was incredibly intense and different. Nothing helped, I was too hot no matter what I did, no matter where I was.
You have a new life inside of you. And that new life has a new body growing, which doesn’t know how to regulate itself. So, as it’s incubator and sole provider of care, the baby pushes its body temperature issues off on you, while they get a nice relief from the effects inside your tummy. It can really wreak havoc on us, make us uncomfortable and awkward at all hours of the day or night, but we need to remember, it’s for our new baby. We have to start mothering before they’re even born, taking on hardships that we never thought of so they can be happy and healthy in our safe little wombs.
20 Your nose will get a little bigger
We all know our tummies will grow bigger with each passing week of our growing child, it’s an obvious sign of pregnancy and we’re excited to show off our growing bump. However, more than just our stomachs will balloon up, a neat little symptom of pregnancy no one tells us about. Our noses will take a big hit. Between water retention and our increased blood pressure, our little noses will grow and grow too. They might have started small, little button noses, or already lovely bigger noses, they all grow alike. Some people hardly notice the growth of their noses, but some people will have nearly double the size by the type they’re in the delivery room. It can make it difficult to enjoy photos of us taken that show our faces, since we look so different. It’s still important to take these photos, keep these memories, though! Even if we have bulbous clown noses in the last week before delivery.
Our noses grow because of all the effects of pregnancy. We retain a lot of water, our bodies wanting to swell all over. Drinking plenty of extra water will help with this, but it won’t completely go away no matter how hard we try. Our blood pressure increases with the added placenta and our uterus wanting more blood in it, making our hearts pump harder. This also attributes to the swelling of body parts, like our noses. Make sure you talk with your doctor and go to all appointments so they can spot if your blood pressure gets too high, a risk to both mother and baby.
19 Hair grows thicker
Hormones can be a real pain in the butt. They make our emotions run wild, we feel crazy with mood swings. But we expect that to some extent, hormones have been a bane of our existence since we were teens! We know what terrors they can bring. What we might not have known, though, was the physical way they can affect us. Besides pimples and the normal teenage troubles that come back up, we also will notice a difference in our hair. It grows thicker, stronger with hormones and vitamins. Whether your hair was already thick or if it’s thin, it’ll grow thick and so much stronger. We have hormones to help our baby grow, it’s important for our kiddos to develop. The hormones don’t stick to one spot though, they spread wherever they please, moving far past just the growing baby and targeting our hair growth too.
Enjoy it! Once you have your baby, you won’t have the same thick hair as when you were pregnant. In fact, after the birth of your baby, your hair might even be thinner than it was before you were pregnant. Hormones are fun that way, in the most sarcastic sense possible of the word fun. But while you have the thick hair, enjoy it, flaunt it, have fun!
18 Hair grows faster, too
Not only do hormones make your hair grow thick and strong, it makes hair growth in general faster. You’ll need more haircuts to keep the same, though now thicker, style. But it’s not just your head that will see hair growth. You can bet your eyebrows will get thicker and bushier, requiring more plucking or waxing. Your upper lip will also see an increase in hair growth and thickness, no doubt to drive you crazy while you’re already fretting about your changing looks. Bikini areas and legs will also grow like an out of control wildfire, and under your arms will turn into a forest overnight no matter how well you shave. It’s just part of the whole package, really.
To top it all off, regardless of where you have or haven’t had hair growth before pregnancy, you’ll notice more strands pop up everywhere. Especially on your cute baby bump. It might not be as thick, or it could even go as thicker as the other hair, but it’ll be there trying to mess with your maternity photos. It’s safe to shave, safe to wax. Some women just leave it and embrace it as part of the pregnancy phase. It’s your call, but know you’re growing a special little life, and that’s always a joyful occasion, even if nature tries to make you into a Wookiee.
17 Then your feet start to swell
One thing people may have told you was that your feet will swell. This isn’t an Old Wives tale, it’s true. With the water retention, hormones, and added weight of pregnancy, our bodies do wonderful and crazy things. Our feet balloon up more than anything, except maybe our belly. You may experience a tingling with it as well, like your toes want to fall asleep. You’ll probably change shoe sizes a lot during this time, as frustrating as it can be to need new shoes on top of new pants and shirts already. But it’s just part of the deal, our feet want to be included with our bellies and growing. We’re on our feet a lot all day long, it’s inevitable that they would take the brunt of the swelling.
With any swelling, even in the feet, it’s good to talk to your doctor. It could be and most likely is nothing, but there is a chance it could be a serious medical condition during pregnancy that needs immediate attention. If you have swollen feet, whether a small amount or double the normal size, try not to panic. Simply make an appointment to see your doctor and let them know. They’ll take care of you and your baby, though they may not be able to reduce your foot swelling. Even in clown shoes, you’re a beautiful pregnant person, don’t forget that!
16 In fact, your entire leg will swell
Still on the topic of swelling, you might think the puffiness will stay focused at your feet, maybe taper off as it gets to your ankle. Your feet will be bigger, but the rest stays normal, right? Nope. You can expect swelling to reach all the way up your thigh in some cases, such as mine. Even after I had my daughter, the swelling in my legs lasted a few weeks longer. Your body is going through a world of changes, trying to grow and nurture this new little life inside of it. It’s a beautiful thing, but it can have some less glamorous side effects. Like so much swelling you feel like you’re the Jiffy Puff man. It’s not enough your hormones are making you feel different with your moods, now they have to make you fluff up everywhere, not just your stomach! It’s just part of creating life, and something we have to deal with.
However, if you have any numbness or loss of mobility, even just a little, you need to seek emergency medical attention. While it could be nothing, our bodies are tired after a day of growing a baby and still having to live our own lives, it may be something serious that needs to be checked out before your next doctor appointment. Get in to an ER and make sure you and your baby are healthy and safe!
15 Your taste will be different
As we’ve already gone through our teen years, we know that hormones can and will screw with every aspect of our lives. Breakouts and mood swings are the norm, but so are cravings. When pregnant, our cravings grow faster than our new baby! We want everything except some things because those things will make us sick, but we want all of the things too. I was a vegetarian for twelve years by the time I was pregnant with my first. Hadn’t touched meat in all twelve years, though I still had dairy and eggs. I had no want for meat, no taste for it. Until I was pregnant. Then, I couldn’t get enough meat! It craved it so much I was in tears at meals I didn’t have meat. It was a mess.
Our hormones dictate a lot of things, including taste. While pregnant, something we may have loved or hated before is something we now hate or need the most. It can be disappointing to look forward to a meal only to find out it’s on the hit list of our hormones and eating it will make us sick as a dog. But we can try new things, different things, see what works for us and stick to it so we don’t get sick. As long as you’re taking your vitamins and avoiding drugs or alcohol, cut loose and eat whatever your body wants you to eat. Your growing baby needs the nutrients of food, don’t starve yourself or skip meals, eat up!
14 Nails like to grow more, too
Everything is growing, all of it is changing faster than we can keep track. We wake up one morning and suddening, there’s changes. One change that can really sneak up on you, are your nails. With the vitamins we’re taking to insure our babies are nice and healthy as they grow, our bodies take the chance to snag some for ourselves too. Our nails really love these vitamins, they soak them up and grow as fast as they can. You might go to sleep with your nails at a practical length, only to wake up to them longer than you’d expect overnight. You paint your nails, and within a day or two, there’s a gap of unpolished nail at the base of the bed, where it’s grown out already.
They grow thicker, too, regardless of the condition of our nails before pregnancy. For people who had brittle or thin nails before pregnancy, this can be a really fun and exciting time. If you had thick nails already, you may only notice the increased nail growth rather than the thickness of the nails too. Either way, your nails will change.
However, if you notice pits or small dents in your nails, even if you’re not pregnant, please see a doctor. It can be a sign of a deficiency, something that’s really concerning if you are pregnant.
13 Your belly button will never be the same
As our babies grow, our bellies get bigger too. That’s no secret. However, we might not consider what this will do to our belly buttons! Whether you’re an innie or an outie, your button will change with your growing belly. Some people have innies that turn to outies, like little turkey timers letting you know Thanksgiving dinner is done. Some innies disapear, like the example show above. Outies will sometimes flatten and disappear as well, leaving you with a weird feeling of loss over something you hardly paid attention to before. Whatever your button and whatever it’s usual state, it’ll be changed.
That change doesn’t go away after pregnancy, either. Did you know belly buttons can get stretch marks? I didn’t, until mine did. They also don’t go back to their normal shape very often, they stay stretched out or droopy a lot of times, leaving you having to get used to your new ‘mom button’ that pregnancy gave you. But that’s okay! We’re supposed to change with our growing babies! And a belly button is hardly something to be upset about, even if it means our belly button rings might not look the same way they did before pregnancy.
12 You’ll have joint pains you never imagined
Our bodies start preparing for birth from the moment we first get pregnant, everything stretching and growing to accommodate for our new baby. We expect some discomfort in our joints from the growing baby and added weight of being pregnant, sure. What we don’t expect is how much it can hurt to have these pains. Every joint, even one’s we didn’t know exist, hurt and ache. We get pains everywhere and nothing really helps it. Many joint pain medicines, like Bengay or IcyHot, can actually contain ingredients we should avoid while pregnant, such as aspirin. Which leaves us to warm wraps, not hot, and someone to massage us.
The most surprising joint pain is probably the hip pain. We can expect our knees to hurt from lugging around the new weight of a growing baby, our center of gravity is changed too. But our hips hurting really comes out of left field and leaves us in pain and confusion. We can’t do much for the pain, either. It’s an awkward place to try and get a heating pad or for someone to rub, it’s difficult to reach. We try to stretch it out, try to find some relief, but it’s usually useless. It’s just something we have to muscle through, as soon as we have our babies, our joints return to normal. The hormones make our ligaments loosen up, as soon as those hormones are gone, we’re free.
11 Nosebleeds will become common
We have a hugely increased blood flow when we get pregnant. Our placenta demands more blood to provide oxygen to our growing babies, and our bodies have no problem delivering that. All our membranes become more sensitive, everything is more prone to going off at any given moment. We may get runny noses more often, but those come on without warning all the time. Nose bleeds, however, increase to an almost alarming frequency. Maybe we always had issues with our noses bleeding, or maybe we have only had them a few times in our lives until now. Regardless of how often your nose decides to bleed or not, it increases a lot when we’re pregnant.
When pregnant, our blood vessels expand, especially in our noses. With the increased supply of blood our bodies are making, those delicate vessels can rupture more easily, leaving us with a full on nose bleed. There’s not much we can do about it though, other than keep tissues on hand to deal with the outcome. It’s part of the hormones situation again, our bodies focused on the baby with some hardships for us to have to handle. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s worth it to know we’re growing our baby and our bodies are doing what they should do.
10 Mom brain is a real thing
With everything on our minds, all the stress and joy of our new baby, it’s no wonder we forget things. Under non-pregnant situations if we had as many things on our minds, we’d forget half of what we’re told anyways. Add in being pregnant and we’re lucky to remember our own heads on our shoulders most days. It’s not just you, it’s a phenomenon called ‘mom brain’. Hormones and chemical changes really wreck our minds, plus we have all our thoughts for the upcoming months. We’re thinking of what we need to get for the baby, the baby shower, the hospital trip, everything and anything from that moment until you bring the baby home. You also have all the physical changes on your mind, and messing with your mind.
It’s entirely normal to have so much happening and forget things. Some women leave the house with different shoes, even before they get to the point of not being able to see their feet past their growing stomachs. We just have so much going on that we forget, our brains can only hold so much, and the chemical imbalance and hormonal changes really shrink how much we can hold in our heads. Just take a deep breath and invest in some post-it notes! It won’t last forever!
9 You will probably get backed up
Our poor bodies are going through a lot, we’re making new life and our bodies, while equipt for it, have a lot of changes they undergo. During all of these changes, constipation is a big problem that crops up. Between our bodies physically rewiring and changing inside, and us having to take vitamins to make sure we have everything we need for the baby, our bowels take a hard hit. Our hormones like to play a part in this side effect too. We release a hormone while pregnant that makes our muscles relax, including our intestines. Because it's slowed, we digest food slower, we move things through our insides slower.
Our bodies want to hold onto whatever we eat for as long as possible, move it slower and and extract as much nutrients from the food as it can. It’s to help our babies grow, keep them safe and healthy. It is really hard to deal with the displeasure of constipation and the already increased risk of hemorrhoids, but it’s nothing compared to knowing we’re doing the best for our babies. We try to get more water in, but it doesn’t seem to make any difference. The best thing to do is drink water, though. Medicine that can help with constipation may not be safe for babies. Water and increased fiber are the safest and best ways to help relieve constipation.
8 Your bladder will also get weaker
As if constipation wasn’t enough, our bladders also face a challenge when we’re pregnant. The muscles are relaxed and make the risk of wetting our pants a real worry again for the first time since we were kids. Plus our uterus, holding the new and growing baby, likes to rest right on our bladder, constantly squeezing and pushing it. Then there’s the new baby as well, moving and squirming, kicking our bladder like a soccer ball. We also have an increase in water, our bladders filling more than ever. It’s all a big combination that leads to disaster, like wetting ourselves in public or at a family event or with friends.
There is no fix for this. Our bodies will do what they want, and sometimes that doesn't stop when we have our babies. Many people have bladder control issues long after birth, a cough or sneeze might be a risk we don’t want to take. Pads, panty liners, or even dependency diapers might be in our near future, sooner than we would like to think. Hopefully it doesn’t last after we have our babies, but if it does, rest assured that many other people deal with the same thing. You’re not alone in this, and as uncomfortable and unpleasant as it may be, it’ll get better. Just having the baby not kicking our bladder like some sort of jujitsu master will help, a lot.
7 Your 'girls' will change, a lot
We know our boobs will get bigger, they fill with milk for our new baby so we can breastfeed them. But our boobs go through a lot of changes, many no one has ever warned us will happen. They swell to painful proportions, getting heavy and aching all over. They get blemishes and bruises, because they’re so much heavier and bigger than usual, and our delicate vessels can’t fight against the strain. Our nipples will also take change and hurt, leak milk and change color or shape. It’s all normal, it’s just part of being pregnant, a less glamorous part but it’s all routine. It can be scary how much our bodies change, and many of the changes don’t go away even after we’ve given birth, but it’s part of growing up and becoming a parent.
When your breasts hurt, the best thing to do is lie down and put a warm towel or blanket over them, let the swelling be soothed by the warmth. You can also take a warm shower, letting the water soak your chest to alleviate some of the pain. Some parents even start to pump before birth, which helps with a lot of the pressure and discomfort. Even if you don’t keep the milk, though it can be stored in a freezer for up to a year, if done properly, it’s a good idea to express some milk to help with the uncomfortable heaviness of your breasts.
6 You’ll get way more emotional, too
Ah, hormones. They really like to rear up and be involved during your entire pregnancy. They change our bodies in so many crazy ways, but they also change our emotional state, too. We know already that hormones will change our emotions, we’ve gone through the horrors of hormones for years. We’re warned that, while pregnant, we’re emotional. It’s a true warning, no Old Wives tales with it. What we can’t prepare for is how intense the emotions are, how much they’ll affect us and to what extent. We might think we know what to expect, but until you’re in the middle of a full out emotional storm, you have no idea.
We get sad over everything, every little thing can make us weepy. Sometimes we get sad without reasons, even if we were just happy seconds before. We get angry, too. Nothing and everything suddenly makes us angry and frustrated. We also get happy, though. A small thing can make our hearts soar, makes us smile and laugh without warning. It’s all enough to make us feel like crazy people, every emotion attacking without warning at every second of the day and night. But it’s normal, it’s hormones, and it’s the excitement and stress of having a new baby.
5 You may get a line across your belly bump
Our poor bellies go through a lot of changes inside and out. We get stretch marks, our belly buttons take irreparable change, we can't seem to escape all of these changes and what they might do after pregnancy. Other than the expected marks on our bellies, like stretch marks, many women get a line across their belly, moving vertically from your pelvis to your chest bone. The line is always there, even before pregnancy. We just don't notice it because it's usually flesh colored, light and invisible to the naked eye. However, with hormones, the line gets darker and more pronounced. Medically, the line is called a linea nigra, or black line. Some women have a literal black line across their bellies, some are lucky enough to get a very little bit of darkening to the line, just enough to be noticable. The line does get darker as your pregnancy continues, usually starting to be most noticeable around five months of pregnancy.
There's unfortunately nothing you can do to stop this line from forming and darkening, like with many of the effects of pregnancy. But that’s alright, the good news is the line usually fades back to normal after you give birth, though there is the chance it will stick around forever. It’s nothing to be worried about, just more hormones playing with our bodies, it’s entirely natural and normal.
4 You’ll get lightheaded easier
With all of the blood our bodies create, you would think we wouldn’t have so many problems with getting light headed. Normally, we stand too fast and our heads get all crazy, we get dizzy and feel funny. It’s because our blood pressure in our brains dip from standing too fast, leaving our brains worried the blood might not come back. This same thing happens while pregnant, however, it’s much worse. We don’t even have to stand up for it to happen, either! We can be just sitting and our blood pressure fluxuates and leaves us feeling woozy and dizzy. It can be concerning to suddenly feel the dizziness, having the room spin without reason. But it’s normal.
Even with the increased blood, our bodies are doing all kinds of things, mostly involving the placenta and uterus. All of that extra blood is around the baby, feeding them nutrients and providing them with oxygen too. Hormones return to cause some trouble with this, too. They rise higher while pregnant, making the blood vessels relax and widen again. Your growing baby and uterus also puts pressure on blood vessels, causing them to either get squished under the pressure, or pinch and provide less blood upward. It can be worrisome, but it’s totally natural, try not to worry over it!
3 You’ll become more flexible
Hormones will constantly be part of your entire pregnancy, raging wildly through our bodies. They strike again, here, making us more flexible. The hormone relaxin helps our joints loosen up so we can bring a tiny human into the world, which is pretty neat. But it also relaxes our muscles and joints everywhere, our ligaments even relax and stretch from this hormone. It makes us more flexible, we can stretch in ways that we couldn't before, though we do need to be mindful of our new little baby in our tummies while we do it, too. One side effect that isn't as neat as birthing a baby or being more flexible, is our knees also relax. We get a little wobbly when we walk, the duck waddle coming in full swing the further along we go with our pregnancy. The hormone increases and our size does too, making us walk funny thanks to the combo.
This increased elasticity is normal, and only lasts until after we give birth. If you experience pain or discomfort from the newly relaxed joints, you can try seeing a chiropractor or masseuse that specializes in pregnancies. Don’t go to a regular one, though! You need to see someone who knows a pregnant body and how to help it feel better. You might keep some of the flexibility for a while, but it all leaves with time, the pain as well as the ability to do the splits.
2 While your hair is getting thicker and longer by strand, you’ll lose a lot of it, too
As our hormones make our hair thicker and longer, it also makes more fall out. While you won’t have bald patches or lose your eyelashes, you will notice your locks getting thinner. Your brush has more stray strands in it after brushing, your shower might get clogged more often, your pillow has more strands on it in the mornings than usual. We run our hand through our hair and, guess what, more hair falls out! It happens, hormones are back hard at work again, messing with our hair some more. It won't last forever, a few months after we give birth, our hair returns to normal again. Try not to worry or fret over it, it's only really noticeable to you.
Until birth, your hair will do these crazy things, but once you have a baby, things level back out. In fact, you may even notice an alarming amount of hair loss after the hormones start to even out. Try not to let it bother you, it’s all normal and part of pregnancy. There’s nothing you can do to make your now thick hair more thin, make your wildly growing hair slow down, or make the hair stop falling out. It’s all normal, natural, as weird as it feels.
1 Your skin sees a lot of change as well
With so many changes, we feel like enough is enough, that’s all the changes we need! Our bodies and hormones, however, have different plans. Our skin is also on the hit list, it doesn’t escape from the sometimes terrible effects of pregnancy. In movies and on TV, we’re shown pregnant people have a ‘glow’ about them. In reality, our skin is worse than it was during puberty! We have outbreaks and blemishes, patches of dry or oily skin, or sometimes both! We can’t catch a break from it, no matter how many products we use to help alleviate some of the problems. We can put on all the lotion and cleansing products we have and still see little if any effect. It’s just part of the whole package.
Hormones are the main reason for these issues to crop up. We had them do this when we were teens, and now, regardless of age, we have it happening again. Our bodies are trying to adjust to these changes, and it can really push it into some weird places. Acne returns, sometimes way more abundant than when we were younger, too. It’s just something we have to try and deal with, remember the outcome is a healthy, beautiful baby. Try to let it happen without worrying, you’re still a gorgeous mama and we’re all so proud of the hard work and hardships you’re going through.