Some women expect pregnancy to be nine blissful months where they get to enjoy their growing baby bump, a glowing complexion, and the joys of impending motherhood. Pregnancy is beautiful, right?
Pregnancy is beautiful, but it’s not all maternity photo shoots with soft lighting and flattering clothes that somehow make women simultaneously look like they’re rocking bodacious curves and appearing feminine and nurturing.
Pregnancy can also be awkward, uncomfortable, and sometimes, even embarrassing. That’s right, we said it. While women in movies may look glamorous and experience smooth sailing throughout their fictitious pregnancies, in real life, we end up burping, farting, leaking, dripping, snoring, and running to the bathroom constantly.
The foods we once loved now gross us out. Instead, we’d rather lick the yogurt right out of the cup, pour cereal on our ice cream, or dunk pretzels in ketchup. We used to sleep like a rock and now we wake up multiple times a night, thanks to heartburn, having to get up and pee numerous times, or because our own snoring woke us up. Some women deal with boobs that somehow manage to hurt, itch, leak, and seem three cup sizes bigger (ALREADY?!) all at the same time. Some women have fresh, glowing complexions while others feel like their face is going through puberty all over again. Some women enjoy their new, thick, luxurious heads of hair, only to learn that it’ll eventually fall out after they give birth. Some women are owning their newfound curves while others feel very much like a beached whale.
Look on the bright side, it’s only nine months! Here are some tips for how to handle your most embarrassing pregnancy problems.
15 It's Not Just Morning Sickness
Unfortunately, as some pregnant women will come to find out, morning sickness doesn’t necessarily come just in the morning. The nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy can strike at any time during the day. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, as many as 85% of expecting women experience some degree of morning sickness during pregnancy. Some unlucky moms-to-be experience it around the clock!
There’s no real guaranteed cure for morning sickness that works for everyone, so you may have to try different strategies to see what works best for you. If you find that you get really nauseous first thing in the morning, it might not be a bad idea to keep crackers on your nightstand. Some women swear by eating a little something before they even get out of bed in the morning. Other women rely on ginger candies and they even make special candies and pregnancy pops to help soothe queasy bellies. You can even try wearing special seasickness wrist bands that use acupressure to relieve nausea.
However, sometimes nausea can strike when you least expect it, so it’s not a bad idea to be prepared. Stash some plastic bags and breath mints in your purse, your car, and your desk at work, just in case!
14 Springing A Leak
All those pregnancy hormones can do a number on your body. One of the hormones, relaxin, helps loosen up your muscles, ligaments, and joints to help them move and shift to accommodate your growing baby and changing shape. Relaxin works everywhere. Not only can relaxin help muscles to stretch and joints to spread when it comes time for delivery, but it can also cause wobbly knees and ankles. It can also cause your pelvic muscles to relax, which can leave you vulnerable to leaks or urinary incontinence. In addition, as your baby gets bigger and puts more pressure on your bladder, you might also leak a little when you sneeze or laugh.
A lot of women can experience leaking during pregnancy; it’s not uncommon. If you notice it’s happening to you, try to take bathroom breaks every hour or two so your bladder doesn’t get too full, and wear pads or pantiliners to catch any accidents. And don’t forget those Kegel exercises!
13 Leaking Up Top, Too
You think the only time your boobs will leak is after the baby gets here? Think again! Your body will start producing colostrum, the first milk your baby will get a taste of, as early as 16 weeks. You may be able to squeeze a tiny drop out here and there, or, it might come out and leak down your shirt. This usually doesn’t happen until closer to your due date, but some women may experience leaking as early as 4 months along.
After the baby is born, your breasts may leak milk when you hear your baby cry, when you hear someone else’s baby cry, when you think about your baby, and even if warm water hits them in the shower!
It’s not a bad idea to wear nursing pads in your bra. You can buy disposable ones that stick right in, or you can get cloth ones that are machine washable. Either way, these will protect your bras and clothes from embarrassing leaks and stains.
12 Sore, Itchy, Don't-Touch-Them
As your breasts grow during your pregnancy, they are likely to be super-sensitive and tender. Breast tenderness is actually one of the most common early symptoms of pregnancy, starting as early as 4 to 7 weeks and lasting through the first trimester. In addition, as your breasts grow, your skin will stretch and might cause itchiness.
You may notice some other changes in the girls, as well. Your nipples may seem like they stick out more than usual and may feel tingly and tender. Your areolas may darken and get bigger. You may also notice lots of blue veins darkening just underneath the skin, making your chest look like a road map.
Breast soreness should ease up at the end of the first trimester, but in the meantime, invest in a good bra to prevent lots of stretching and sagging. Wear a sports bra to bed if your breasts are uncomfortable while you sleep. If your boobs feel taut and itchy, moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! It should help alleviate the urge to scratch! And finally, tell your partner to keep his hands off!
11 Can't Sleep
In addition to having a belly the size of a basketball, there are a whole variety of things that might be keeping you up at night during your pregnancy. (Which really stinks, because it’s exhausting growing a human!) You may experience nausea, heartburn, or a constant need to pee which will keep you up at night and have you shuffling off to the bathroom. Try to limit your liquids and any reflux-inducing foods right before bed. Some women find that they’re more comfortable if they sleep slightly propped up, and many women rely on cuddling with a body pillow or wedging a pillow between their knees to give their hips some relief when they lie on their sides at night.
Many women report having wild, vivid dreams during pregnancy. This is thought to be caused by all those crazy hormonal fluctuations that you’re experiencing. The hormones can make your emotions go nuts, even when you’re sleeping. The dreams could also be caused by how well or how deep you’re sleeping. If you don’t get into a very deep sleep at night (because the baby’s moving or because you have to pee… AGAIN!) your REM sleep is interrupted. REM sleep is when your dreams occur, so if you wake up in the middle of this phase of sleep, you’re more likely to remember how crazy your dreams were.
10 Gotta Go...
When you gotta go, you gotta go. And when you’re pregnant, it can feel like you gotta go all the freaking time. Frequent urination is a pregnancy symptom that nobody enjoys, especially when it wakes you up at night, when you’re desperate for as many ZZZs as possible.
Frequent urination can start off early in the first trimester, but it can get really bad later on in pregnancy, especially during the third trimester. You can blame the pregnancy hormone hCG, which increases the blood flow to your pelvic area. In addition, your growing uterus will also put pressure on your bladder, giving it less room to store urine. As your uterus lifts up into the abdominal cavity during the second trimester, a lot of women feel better, but don’t get too comfortable. As your baby eventually turns head-down, that head will end up pressing right on your bladder.
Make sure that when you do go to the bathroom, you empty your bladder completely. Leaning forward when you’re on the toilet can help. And don’t skip the liquids just because the constant trips to the bathroom are annoying. You and the baby need to stay hydrated.
9 Can't Go!
Most women will get constipated at some point during their pregnancy. This is because all those crazy pregnancy hormones slow your digestive system down to allow more nutrients to be absorbed and passed on to your baby. Digestion can start slowing down as early as eight weeks. Not helping the situation is the fact that your growing baby will start crowding all of your organs, making it hard to process even little meals.
To keep things moving along, make sure you eat lots of fresh fruit, veggies, and whole grains. Switch to high fiber cereal and make sure you drink a lot of water. Constipation can be uncomfortable and may even lead to hemorrhoids, but the situation isn’t dangerous or harmful to your baby. If you’re having trouble going #2 and are worried about being backed up, talk to your doctor about what else you can take. (Some supplements and laxatives may contain stimulants that can jumpstart labor.)
8 Weird Cravings And Taste Aversions
Everybody makes jokes about wanting weird combinations like pickles and ice cream when they’re pregnant, but the cravings aren’t always that extreme. Some women may find themselves dying to have something super sweet. Others may be craving hot and spicy, or crunch and salty. Foods that tasted just okay before might be mouthwatering now that you’re pregnant.
On the other hand, some women may find themselves repulsed by foods that they once enjoyed, or at least, would have been able to stomach. It’s thought that maybe this is a biological response that kicks in during pregnancy to get you to avoid foods that might be harmful – like caffeine or alcohol.) Many women also experience a heightened sense of smell during pregnancy, which can make a slightly stinky aroma seem absolutely revolting.
When it comes to cravings, pay attention, and go with the flow. If you find yourself constantly craving sweet treats, find a healthier alternative. Be sure to eat breakfast every day and don’t skip meals; you’re more likely to want to fill up on little snacks instead of a well-balanced meal.
7 Heartburn And Gas
The same pregnancy hormones that slow your digestive system down and can cause constipation can also cause gas, bloating, heartburn, and other digestive issues. Passing gas and burping is normal for everybody; it just seems like pregnant women do it more often.
As your digestive system slows, your bowels become crowded, which leaves you feeling bloated and gassy. You may also be attempting to eat a healthier diet now that you’re pregnant, and some of the foods that are good for you (like apples, pears, cauliflower, beans, brussels sprouts, and broccoli.) And those foods that you’re craving, like ice cream and greasy potato chips may also make you gassy, too!
The hormones that relax your muscles during pregnancy also relax the stomach valve that’s supposed to keep acid out of your esophagus, causing heartburn. Heartburn can also occur as your uterus grows up and out of your abdomen and crowds your stomach.
If you have these issues, try eating smaller, more frequent meals and avoid fatty foods or carbonated drinks, especially ones with artificial sweeteners. It’s thought that a brisk walk after meals can stimulate digestion and help relieve gas. If indigestion keeps you up at night, try sleeping with your head propped up. And if these things don’t work, talk to your doctor about over-the-counter meds that can relieve your discomfort safely.
6 Constantly In The Mood
If you find that you’re feeling frisky during your pregnancy, it’s likely because of the extra blood flow to the pelvic area. This increased blood volume can heighten your arousal and may even lead to more intense (or just plain MORE) orgasms. You may also be feeling especially close to your partner during this time, or you may finally be able to relax and enjoy sex for the first time – without having to worry about whether or not you’ll get pregnant.
All that increased blood flow combined with your increased estrogen production may increase the amount of vaginal discharge you usually experience. When you’re pregnant, you secrete more mucus than usual, especially in the third trimester as your body starts preparing for labor. It’s completely normal, and if you’re feeling in the mood, the extra lubrication doesn’t hurt!
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, there’s no reason why you can’t get it on!
5 So Not In The Mood
Of course, now that you’re expecting, it’s quite possible that sex has dropped a few spots on your to-do list. If it’s early in your pregnancy and you’re constantly battling nausea and feeling fatigued, it’s no wonder why getting busy is no longer a priority. And later on in your pregnancy, when your back hurts and you’ve got a big baby bump that can make things awkward (and challenging) it can put a damper on things. Some women (or their partners) also worry about whether or not sex will hurt the baby and may make it hard to think of sex as… sexy.
The good news is, having a low libido during pregnancy is completely normal, and most likely, just a temporary phase. Everybody feels uncomfortable, awkward, and not-in-the-mood at some point during their pregnancy. It’s possible that the next month, a switch could flip and you could be raring to go! The best thing to do is talk to your partner about any of your insecurities and fears. Just talking about things may make you feel more comfortable – and closer – and may help things out in the bedroom.
4 Lightning Crotch
Some pregnancy books will call them “round ligament pains." Moms who have experienced these jolts will probably refer to them as “lightning crotch.” As the ligaments in your pelvis stretch to accommodate the growing bun in your oven, you may feel these zinging pains in your groin every once in awhile. They may hit when you stand up suddenly or if you’ve spent a lot of time on your feet. Later on in your pregnancy, when the baby moves into his head-down position, the weight of your baby’s head pressing down on your pubic bone can also cause aches in the area.
If you experience these pains, it’s time to rest. Prop up your feet and legs to relieve some of the pressure on your pelvis. You may want to consider wearing a belly band under your clothes for some extra support.
If you experience pain that is severe or accompanied by a cramping sensation, cramps, lower back pain, pressure, bleeding, or increased vaginal discharge, call your doctor. That pain might actually be a sign of premature labor.
3 Skin Problems
Supposedly, when you’re pregnant, you get this thick head of hair and gorgeous, glowing complexion. Right? Not always! Thanks to all of the pregnancy hormones coursing through the body, some women end up struggling with pimples and breakouts, especially during the first trimester. Women who have acne may find that it gets worse with pregnancy. Certain acne medications (like Retin-A) are a no-no during pregnancy, but a lot of acne washes are considered safe because they don’t sit on your skin for a long period of time. It’s thought that topical acne treatments containing salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are safe in small amounts, but check with your doctor to be sure.
It is true that some women may experience clearer skin during pregnancy. There’s no telling how or why, but it’s believed that as your blood flow increases and you retain water, your skin may result in that healthy, flushed glow that everybody talks about.
2 Stretch Marks
Stretch marks happen when your body grows faster than your skin can keep pace. The elastic fibers just under the skin break down, resulting in stretch marks. During the 9 months of pregnancy, you probably put on between 25-30 pounds. But it’s not just how much you gain, it’s how quickly you gain it. Putting on weight quickly or in spurts may leave stretch marks on your belly and breasts – the two places that grow the most. Some women may also experience stretch marks on their hips, thighs, and buttocks. While new stretch marks may look reddish or purple in the beginning, they will eventually fade to a fleshy white or silvery color. If you have light complexion, your stretch marks may appear pinkish. If you have darker skin, your stretch marks may appear lighter than your skin tone.
There’s not a lot you can do to prevent stretch marks. If your mother had them, chances are, you will too. Some women swear by keeping skin moisturized with cocoa butter or lotions containing vitamin E. It’s believed that keeping the skin hydrated makes it more supple and flexible, which in turn makes it stretch a little easier. It doesn’t hurt to lotion up, right?
1 Swollen Hands And Feet
During pregnancy, a woman’s body produces about 50% more fluids. All those extra fluids are necessary to help soften the body and allow it to expand as the baby grows and develops. The extra fluid helps prepare the pelvic joints to loosen up and open for delivery. The extra fluids make up about 25% of the weight women gain during pregnancy, and can often cause swelling. Normal swelling, called edema, is experienced in the face, hands, legs, ankles, and feet. Slight swelling is to be expected during pregnancy. However, if you experience sudden swelling in your face or hands, it could be a sign of preeclampsia. Contact your doctor right away if you experience any sudden, unusual swelling.
Swelling may be reduced if you avoid eating foods that are high in potassium (stay away from bananas!) and if you avoid caffeine. In addition, you can reduce swelling by wearing comfortable shoes, loose clothing, and supportive tights or stockings. Keep your outdoor time to a minimum if it’s hot out, and be sure to rest frequently with your feet propped up. And of course, cut back on your salt intake and increase the amount of water you drink! You might think that drinking more water isn’t going to be helpful if you’re already swollen, but it will actually help flush the body out and reduce water retention.