10 Things They Don't Tell You About Pregnancy

Talking to people about pregnancy can be pretty confusing at times. Some people will say you’ll love it, you’ll never feel better. Others will tell you horror stories of all the ailments they experienced. The truth is, every pregnancy is different, and ever woman will have her own experiences. What I believe is important is to be informed, so you know what you might experience. So here are a few of the lesser-known, and entirely normal, symptoms – both good and bad – you might experience during your pregnancy, why they happen, and what you might be able to do to lessen their impact.

  1. Hair – If you’re normally frustrated by thin or wispy hair, pregnancy could be the answer to your woes. The increase in estrogen prolongs the hair growth phase and means lots of women suddenly find their hair thick and luxurious during pregnancy. Some even notice a change in colour. Sadly, the downside is that it’s sometimes not only the hair on your head that becomes thicker and glossier. Your bikini line, your nipples, and even your tummy might start to sport a bit of extra fuzz. Plucking, waxing or shaving based on your preference will take care of this.
  2. Skin – Some women find they break out during pregnancy. Others find their occasional breakouts clear completely and their complexion is the best it’s ever been. It’s the luck of the draw. Some women also find their skin itches. On your belly it can be related to all the stretching that skin is doing. Anywhere else, and it is probably caused by the increase in estrogen. If you experience itching, aim for cool showers, move to low-allergenic, low-perfume products and moisturise, moisturise, moisturise. If the itching is intense tell your doctor as it could indicate cholestasis, which relates to bile production, and will require treatment.
  3. Smell – the increase in estrogen can also affect your sense of smell. Scents you previously enjoyed – like fresh brewed coffee – can suddenly make you nauseous. Some women find chewing gum or sucking on eucalyptus drops helps with this. And of course avoiding the local fish shop. That can be a big one.
  4. Sex – Lots of women report an increased sex drive during pregnancy. This is due to the increase in estrogen and progesterone in your body, along with increased blood flow to the genitals, making you more sensitive. Conversely, some women report a complete lack of interest. So you just have to cross your fingers and hope for the best! And you should probably warn your partner that it might wax a wane. The second trimester will usually be the sweet spot, so to speak.
  5. All-Day Sickness – For many women, morning sickness is a misnomer. It can last all day, or only come on in the evening, or you might never experience a moment of illness at all. And it doesn’t always clear up in the first trimester. You may find yourself nauseous through the entire pregnancy. If you do suffer any sort of nausea during pregnancy, carry dry crackers or breadsticks with you at all times. These will soak up any acids in your stomach and should help. Some women find ginger helps, in the form of ginger ale or biscuits, in your meals, or even crystalised. Try different forms and see what, if anything, works best for you. If you can’t find any relief you may have Hyperemesis Gravidarum, and your midwife will be able to give you advice on the best form of treatment to ensure you don’t become dehydrated.
  6. Bigfoot – Yes, you read that right. The size of your feet will increase. This is not only due to the swelling caused by increased weight and extra blood, but by the hormone Relaxin, which loosens your ligaments to allow your pelvis to open up for birthing. And you may find your feet never quite go back to their original size. All that said, if your feet are very puffy, talk to your midwife or healthcare provider as this can be an early sign of pre-eclampsia. And do yourself a favour. Pick up some slightly larger slip-on shoes early on. By the time you hit six months you might find you struggle to do up buckles or laces.
  7. Nipples – Much like your feet, your nipples will grow during pregnancy. Not only in diameter, but they will darken and swell, so they stand out more. This is caused by an increase in Progesterone. As you hit the third trimester they may also start to leak colostrum in preparation for feeding your baby. Usually this will only happen after a hot shower, or when they are stimulated, but it can happen any time. If you experience this, pick up some nursing pads. You can get disposable or reusable pads, it all depends on which you prefer.
  8. Gas – During pregnancy your body produces Progesterone, which acts as a relaxant on your muscles. But it doesn’t discriminate and only relax those muscles needed for birth. It relaxes them all. This has the effect of slowing down your digestion. And when food sits in your stomach longer gas is created. Whether it comes out upstairs, downstairs, or both, take note of what you eat that seems to make it worse, drink plenty of water and get plenty of fibre to help keep you regular.
  9. Baby Brain – It’s a real thing. As your pregnancy progresses you may find you are struggling to concentrate on anything else. This is nature’s way of focussing your attention and energy on the most important thing you will ever do – bringing new life into the world, and is caused by changes in your hormones. There’s not a lot you can do about it other than try to get plenty of sleep, reduce stress and wait it out.
  10. Belly – Finally, here’s one for the end of the pregnancy. Many women are surprised by the size of their tummy immediately after birth. As a rule of thumb, you can expect your belly to reduce to about the size it was at around 7 months. But it won’t be hard. It will be squishy. Bear in mind, your muscles have been put under an enormous strain, so cut them, and yourself, some slack, and give them time to heal before you start stressing about your baby belly. A doula can give you some tips on exercises that will help your tummy shrink back to pretty much as it was pre-pregnancy.

If you are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, and would like a doula as part of your pregnancy, birth and postpartum team, I would love to have a chat. Give me a call on 0422 258 771 or contact me here.