In case you didn’t get our pregnancy announcement, here’s a news flash for you: I am pregnant! Thirty three weeks pregnant, to be exact, and getting rounder every day. My normal sassy walk has morphed into a sultry waddle, and that’s not the only change taking place in my body and mind. Let me be candid: pregnancy is super duper weird.
You would think, having conceived at age thirty, that I would have heard about many of these bodily changes from well-meaning friends over the past ten years or so, but the truth is, we often don’t talk about the stranger things of pregnancy until (and unless) we are knocked up. As I sat commiserating with two other pregnant gals the other night at my husband’s softball game, I wondered: why don’t we give a heads up with some real talk to our younger friends and sisters?
So here’s my PSA: Pregnancy is not a cake walk. Well, sometimes it is a walk to get cake. But it’s not a walk in the park! It’s more like a really slow waddle. And if you’re thinking that now is a great time to pop a bun in the oven, let me break it down for you so you know what you’re getting into.
10 Weird Pregnancy Symptoms No One Ever Told You About
…and what you can do about them
Yes, you heard there were mood swings. And you’re like, “Cool, whatever, I get PMS sometimes so it’s no big deal,” right?! Wrong. Pregnancy mood swings come in a different form than your garden variety PMS – they’re bigger, badder, and more unpredictable. Like lightning striking from a clear blue sky, these bouts of emotional wildness seem to come out of nowhere, and though there is great variety in the way they manifest, one thing is for sure: there’s no reasoning with them.
Personally, I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing more hysteria than anything – wild sobbing fits combined with maniacal laughter, which is both entertaining for my husband, and quite frightening. Not knowing whether to laugh with me or cry, he tends to just sit back and observe quietly, occasionally shooting video so I can later enjoy the madness that is my own emotional state. Observe:
What You Can Do
Maintain a sense of humor and mindfulness. As it’s happening, if you can maintain enough self awareness, you will find these episodes interesting and hilarious. Also, develop a safe word that you can use with your partner when you feel the crazy coming on. Ours is “wave of emotion.” When I utter these three little words, my husband sits back, straps on his seat belt, and gets ready for a wild ride.
Maybe you’ve heard about this one, maybe not. Let me tell you, it’s a real pain the butt. (Ha.) First of all, being preggo comes along with a lot of digestive changes, as your organs get smushed and rearranged into a Picasso painting inside you. Gas and constipation are common, and no joke. If you’ve been graciously hiding your farts from your partner over the years, good for you, but the jig is up. You’re going to let ones rip in your sleep that would make your raunchiest uncle blush.
Perhaps the most sinister butt-related pregnancy symptom, and the least talked about (because we pretend ladies don’t have butt holes) is hemorrhoids, nasty little cases of heinous veinous inflammation in your nether regions. Constipation doesn’t help the situation, as pushing too hard during bowel movements can exacerbate the problem, which is caused by more blood flow and pelvic pressure down near your lady bits.
What You Can Do
Apply coconut oil or witch hazel to the affected area. Use baby wipes instead of toilet paper after going #2. Take fiber supplements, drink lots of water, and avoid extended sitting. Be patient and gentle with your tush during the push.
3. Cervical or Vaginal Pain
Let me make this one clear: random shooting nerve pain in your vagina. Towards the later part of pregnancy, as the cervix begins to soften and ripen for birth, all kinds of heretofore unseen phenomena takes place in your pelvic floor. Fascinating, but can be kind of scary when it happens without warning. Round ligament pain, which occurs more in the low belly or pubic bone region, is also common, especially with walking or moderately strenuous exercise – you know, like moving from the couch to the bed (I kid, I kid. Kind of).
You may wonder what your little monster is doing inside you to trigger random instances of jagged pain shooting from your abdomen to your hoo-ha, but don’t sweat it. He’s just warming up for the big event. And I’m pretty sure once we push these suckers out, we’ll laugh like madwomen at the wimpy little nerve pains we felt while preggo.
What You Can Do
Kegel. When you feel these nerve pains, or pain in the vagina area, try squeezing and contracting your pelvic floor muscles to the count of five, and then relaxing slowly. Repeat for 20 rounds or so. Kegels are super beneficial for preparing your body for birth, and speeding up the recovery process postpartum – oh, and making sure you don’t pee your pants when you sneeze FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. So, maybe do them.
4. Giant Areolae
I used to have the cutest nipples in the world. Now I have giant saucer like dinner plates resting on my breasts, which have evolved from enviable pin-up style curves into National Geographic style milk monsters. (And that’s okay). I’m not body shaming or blaming my boobs, they’re just doing their job. But if you think your nips are going to be the same cute little suckers they’re always been, think again, sister. The cool part about this? As your areolae largen and darken, they are actually becoming a visual target for your babe to start breastfeeding right after birth. Babies can’t see color very well, but they can perceive light and dark, and the dramatic bullseye of your breast, combined with the scent of colostrum, sings a siren song to your newborn, seducing them to scoot on up to your life-giving mammary organs and nurse.
What You Can Do
GTFOI. Get the f**k over it. Seriously. Who cares? There are more important things in life than the vanity of our nipples. Breastfeeding is cool, and if you’re lucky, your baby will suck all the fat out of your body, allowing you to shrink as they grow, which is a win-win in my book.
5. Mucus Plug. What?!
Ready to be kind of grossed out? What, you’re already there? Oh, well, sorry about that. Better sit down for this one, then, because it’s a doozy. Cervical mucus is the egg white discharge that is part of our normal menstrual cycle, acting as a mobilizing medium for sperm, and also a barrier to abnormal sperm. It’s useful stuff! Once conception occurs, the cervical mucus begins to harden into a plug, which remains throughout pregnancy to keep your baby from falling out (um, okay, I just made that part up, but it’s there, plugging away.)
Part of the early labor process, when baby is getting ready to arrive in the world, the mucus plug that’s been kicking it for about nine months decides to vacate the premises, and here’s where it gets gross: Imagine the world’s largest bloody booger arriving, without warning, in your underpants. Um, ew.
What You Can Do
Nothing. This is normal. You can take a picture of it and gross out all your friends (thanks, Dana!)
6. Postpartum Bloodbath
Your body is preparing for a baby, and the 25-35 (or in my case, 45) pounds you have gained is not all baby (praise the blessed lord Jesus). Some is weight gain in your own body, some is baby and placenta, and a LOT is fluids. All different kinds of fluids, but mostly, blood. You can research the scientific numbers about increased blood volume during pregnancy, but I’m going to put it in simple terms: there is a sh*t ton more blood inside you when you’re with child. When the baby comes out, the blood has to go with it. We’re talking blood clots up to the size of softballs. Welcome to the apocalypse.
Ok, so I haven’t experienced this part yet and I am operating on hearsay of friends who’ve been through it. This really isn’t designed to scare, but to prepare: you will experience significant discharge of blood and fluid after giving birth. It’s okay, it’s normal, just make sure you stock up with the largest pads or adult diapers that money can buy.
What You Can Do
Soak large pads in witch hazel to help with the swelling and pain. Prepare some condom popsicles to insert inside to soothe your ravaged birth canal. Look into holistic practices like vaginal steaming to help with expelling lochia (post-birth discharge) and shrinking the uterus and rectum back into shape. Most of all, don’t freak out. You’re going to be alright. (Yes I am talking to myself).
7. Chub Rub
Some people are lucky enough to just gain baby weight in their bellies. (I hate them). The rest of us mere mortals will gain weight EVERYWHERE. Sweating, chafing, and rubbing starts to happen in places that it never did before. For me, we’re talking inner thighs touching within the first three months of pregnancy. I made the mistake of going for a two mile walk, in Florida, in a sundress, which led me to the unpleasant realization that chubby rubbing thighs combined with sweat produces a fiery burning rash on the delicate skin of my inner thighs. In short, it sucks. And shorts suck. And short dresses suck. And it’s August and I’m melting and I have to wear leggings and that sucks. Chub rub, you are the worst.
What You Can Do
Lube up, baby. If you’re going to rock shorts or a dress, slip some lube, Gold Bond, or coconut oil between your legs and call it a day.
8. Sex Changes
Sex feels different during pregnancy. Some women love it, some hate it, some want it, some loathe it – but one thing is for sure. Changes take place in the structure and sensation of the sex organs, and what worked like a charm before the baby may not do the trick in getting you where you want to go in the bedroom.
The biggest advice I can offer here is stay open. Talk to your partner about the changes in your body, and don’t expect yourself to be a love machine while you’re growing a human (but be pleasantly surprised if you are!) Some of my trusted lady friends described their dramatically increased sex drive during the third trimester, and I kept my fingers crossed that magically, at week 28, I’d be ready to jump my hubby’s bones. Alas, no such luck. Every body is different, and fatigue, a giant belly, practice contractions, and changes to blood flow down there have me feeling less than sexy.
What You Can Do
Get creative! Figure out what makes you tick, what makes you feel good, and do it. Orgasms increase adrenaline, giving you energy and helping to release some of the built up stress of pregnancy. Plus, they help to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which will make birth and recovery a bit easier. Maybe add a vibe into the mix if your normal routine isn’t doing the trick. Increase your foreplay: check out perineal massage, partner assisted. Does double duty of preparing you for a healthy vaginal birth, and getting you revved up for some lovemaking.
9. Pillow Fort Required
Pregnancy should be called the land of a thousand pillows. As sleep becomes more elusive, the pillows on my bed multiply, breeding like rabbits and taking over everything. My husband is relegated to a tiny corner of the bed, and I sprawl, queen-like, over the vast expanse of our memory-foam mattress. My sleep routine: a wedge-shaped pillow for my upper back, a body pillow under the knees, one under each arm, and one under my head. As night wears on, I will throw them violently around the room as I toss and turn, trying to position myself in a way that lets me sleep without back and rib pain.
What You Can Do
Buy some pillows. Do some calming yoga. Stretch before bed. Take magnesium. Have an orgasm. Throw the pillows. Do your best.
10. Pregnancy Is Awesome
Wait, what?! Did I just read the same article as you? It sounds terrible! Let me explain:
All this aside, there is so much amazing stuff that happens in the body and mind during pregnancy. Hormones that make ya kinda crazy also help grow long shiny hair, strong nails, and make beautiful skin. Feeling a little person moving around like a wiggle worm inside of you is nothing short of magical. Become more open to emotion and sensation is part of a cosmic expansion process, innate and divine for those blessed enough to be born as women. Despite all the weird stuff, pregnancy is actually really cool, and though it’s not for everyone, it’s also not the stuff of nightmares! It’s just… different.
Being open and communicating with each other about the diversity of experience within pregnancy can only help all of us. Vulnerability and daring to share some of the weird, wacky, and wild symptoms in our baby making processes takes away stigma and shame from this beautiful and powerful time in life.
So now you know WAY more about my pregnancy than you ever wanted to. If you’re willing to share, I would LOVE to hear any of the stranger things that happened to you during pregnancy – leave me a comment here or connect on social media and let’s start a conversation!
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