By: Gloria Miles
Whether you planned this pregnancy or it was a surprise...you're going to be surprised by something. Every pregnancy is different, so your experience will be different than mine. Heck, my experiences were different each and every single time! Still, there are certain truths that happen to a majority of women. For example: stretch marks! Yes, there are some lucky women who get away unscathed, but for the most part you should expect them.
During your pregnancy, you will be seen by your healthcare provider, an obstetrician or midwife. Their concern is a healthy mama, a healthy baby. And yet, there are definitely some normal, yet somewhat weird, things that can happen throughout your pregnancy.
Keep in mind that not all women experience the following examples. However, many do and if you are experiencing any of what is listed, remember that you are in good company!
Beautiful, thick hair.
Everywhere...and I mean everywhere. See those few extra strands on your chin? Or maybe you found that your belly has a little bit of a fuzzy layer on it now that you're pregnant. In a nutshell, changing hormonal levels lengthens the resting phase of the hair follicles (meaning they don't fall out) and increase how quickly hair grows.
Sometimes hair changes texture or even color! Craziness, I know.
What not to do: Don't use bleach or harsh waxes to get rid of unwanted hair. These can deposit some unwanted things into the bloodstream which can affect baby.
The Good News: All the excess hair will eventually go away in the postpartum period.
Constipation is an issue.
This is something that you should report to your healthcare provider. However, rest assured that it's a fairly normal annoyance. It first occurs in the first trimester because of fluctuating hormones (yay).
What to do: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. It helps in any situation. Eat things high in fiber and stay away from foods that cause more constipation (sodas, pasta, etc). Don't strain if you can help it when having a bowel movement.
What not to do: Don't take any OTC (over the counter) stool softeners without the approval of your healthcare provider.
Hemorrhoids. *Cue horrified expressions*
I know that hemorrhoids are more common in women who are in subsequent pregnancies, but first-time moms can definitely have these little nuisances flare up. Most of the time, even if you get hemorrhoids, they're not too bothersome. However, some women can get them so bad that they are painful and/or need surgery. (Don't freak out. That's an extreme case.)
Hemorrhoids can also cause bleeding after bowel movements, so if you wipe and see pink or red tinged toilet paper, don't immediately freak out, either.
***Any blood should be reported to your healthcare provider with amount and where it is coming from (vaginal or anal).
What to do: Basically, you should do what is recommended for constipation issues. Additionally, try not to strain when using the bathroom. Also, if they are external, you can apply pressure or push them back up. (I know that sounds horrifying, but it's not as bad as you think.) Don't be too shy during your prenatal visits, either. Your healthcare provider may suggest better remedies.
Pregnancy Brain is real!!
Okay, don't laugh too hard, but I have searched for my glasses while wearing them. I have looked for my keys while holding them in my hand. I have told someone I have to find my phone before leaving my house while talking to them on the phone.
But don't worry. It goes away after pregnancy. Then comes mom brain...which is worse...
You break out like a teenager.
Some women have glowing faces, less break outs, and beautiful skin during pregnancy. I was like that my first two pregnancies. Then, my third came around and I felt like I was going through my awkward teenage phase again.
Also, I think that hormones are permission to smack anyone who tells you this lovely tidbit of info: "You can tell you're having a girl, because girls rob you of your beauty." What a lovely way of telling me I look like sh**. A-hole.
Charlie horse cramps.
There is nothing worse than those calf muscle charlie horse cramps that make you want to stab your peacefully snoozing hubby for daring to sleep so comfortably while you're in agony. Seriously, those things are brutal.
What to do: I wish someone had told me this my first two pregnancies!!! Typically, cramps are from a magnesium deficiency. Pick up some cal-mag supplements from Vitamin-Shoppe or Amazon. Those things made the biggest differences between my first pregnancies and my third.
***Discuss any supplementation with your healthcare provider prior to taking them.
Sometimes your brain is on overload and you can't sleep. The worst is looking over at your partner and wanting to smother him or her for being so blissful. Why the anger? Probably hormones. Doesn't matter. It just matters that even the most serene woman can contemplate murder at 3 a.m. when their significant other is fast asleep.
What to do: Cut caffeine in the afternoon. Exercise! Hydrate. Eat well. And try to form a bedtime routine that you do in order to "prep" for going to sleep. Cut out screen time (including your phone!) for a few hours prior to bedtime, if possible.
Sometimes you get stabbing or shooting pains that seem to shoot down your vagina or even anus. It's always abrupt and can make you jump. I don't even know how to explain it better than that. It's common, but also hard to explain to the people you just scared by being pregnant and startling.
A Colorful Vulva.
Yes, you read that right. Everything on your body is changing in color and looks. Increased blood volume and swelling of certain regions means that your vulva may end up with a redder, bluer, or purple tinge to it. It may also look and feel more swollen.
Every woman has to deal with discharge. The vagina is self-cleansing and you have things like cervical mucus, etc, that leads to discharge. This discharge can range from watery, to creamy, to sticky. Cervical mucus changes based on your hormones, too, so you don't have to be pregnant in order to see these changes. If you pay attention, you'll notice thicker or thinner (or barely any) discharge throughout your cycle month.
During pregnancy, discharge usually only increases in amount and viscosity. (Woo.) Some women wear panty liners, because they dislike the feeling. However, be careful with wearing liners for too long. What I did was change my underwear throughout the day.
Note: Make sure to report any changes in discharge to healthcare provider, especially if it is accompanied by a foul odor, itchiness, burning, has a different consistency (like cottage cheese), or is a different color. These can be signs of an infection.
Have anything that you wish you knew before becoming pregnant that you'd like to add to the list? Please share!
Gloria Miles is a Navy veteran and mother of 4. She wears many hats as a doula, Certified Aromatherapist, and student. She is currently working towards obtaining a Bachelor's in Healthcare Management, with an end goal of becoming a Certified Nurse-Midwife. When she is not blogging or hanging out with her family, she enjoys reading, knitting, hiking, and mud runs.