Pregnancy changes a woman. Seriously. Okay, so it changes in the fact that a woman starts out as just herself – and she ends up as two! She goes from nights out with her girls anytime she wants, to scheduling a BFF brunch a month in advance. Sure, pregnancy means that just about everything in life will change, but it also does a number on mom's body.
The baby bump mom's growing isn’t exactly a “freaky” body change. Yes, it might feel like her body isn’t her own. And, it kind of seems like an alien being is inhabiting what was formerly mom's flat abs. But, she knew this part of pregnancy was coming.
Then there are the body changes that an expectant mama might not be so well-prepared for. There’s plenty that her best mommy-friends may skip over when they tell her what it’s like to be preggo (probably because no one would ever knowingly want to have children if they knew). Keep in mind, the majority of these changes are temporary.
Yay! Even though moms-to-be have to deal with the not-do-precious parts of pregnancy for a trimester, two or even three, in less than nine months she'll have her pre-baby body back. Or, at least she hopes so.
When mom-to-be starts wondering, “Um, is this normal?” or thinking, “This couldn’t possibly be happening to my body, could it?” she's probably experiencing some of the stranger parts of pregnancy. Don’t stress. Unless the doc says there’s something wrong (moms should always speak up and talk to the medical pro if they think something is super-strange or even slightly off), chances are she's seeing signs that her baby is growing and everything’s going along just as expected.
15 Change In Skin Color
Your nipples aren’t the only parts of your body that are changing color. Other spots of your skin may start darkening too. Known as chloasma or melisma gravidarum, splotchy or darkened areas of the skin on your face is a part of pregnancy for many women.
This is more likely to happen to women with darker complexions and those who have other women in their families with the same condition (in other words, it can be hereditary). Along with the skin on your face, you may also notice blotchy patches on your arms too.
Some women also develop a darkening in areas that are already pigmented. Those freckles on your face and moles on your body may start to look more pronounced or have a deeper color. Even though some darkening is normal, a total color change or a change in size or shape of a mole is a reason to see the dermatologist right away.
14 Mom Is Dripping Discharge
Eww! Yuck. Okay, so vaginal discharge isn’t ever pleasant. Seeing the word “discharge” makes your face purse into an, “I just ate a lemon” shape and you kind of want to close your eyes and forget that it even exists.
Your hormones are going nuts, and that means your body is doing all kinds of funky things. One of them happens to be making more mucous. Cervical mucous that is. Your body wants to keep your cervix moist. What’s the result? Clear or whitish discharge that comes leaking out of you. You may even have enough to require some sort of panty protection. A liner or mini pad should do to keep you feeling a bit cleaner – or more comfortable.
Keep in mind, not all vaginal discharge is normal. If it’s somewhat chunky, yellowish or has a noticeable odor, give your OBGYN a call. It may be something as simple as a yeast infection, but you need a doc to check it out sooner rather than later.
13 Big Feet
Your belly isn’t the only body part that’s swelling. During pregnancy your feet may also swell. You knew that you’d need to buy a new wardrobe of maternity clothes, but shoes? Yep. It’s entirely possible that your size 8’s will suddenly feel super-snug.
It’s completely common for women to retain extra water during pregnancy. This is where your swelling comes from. Along with the extra water, your growing baby is putting pressure on pelvic veins. This slows the blood that’s going from your lower extremities to your heart. The result? Even more swelling. So, those cankles you’re developing are pretty much expected.
That said, excessive swelling your feet, hands and face/neck isn’t normal. If your brand new pregnancy shoes (in other words, shoes that are a size bigger) aren’t fitting, the swelling is extremely noticeable, you have a headache or you feel like something is off, call your doc immediately.
Swelling is a possible symptom of preeclampsia – a pregnancy condition that’s characterized by excessive swelling, protein in the urine and high blood pressure. Preeclampsia is serious and needs to be addressed by a medical professional right away.
12 Mom Is Soaking In Sweat
Your pits are soaking, the back of your shirt is wet and your forehead is dripping down to your chin. It looks like you just ran a 5k, but you haven’t even gotten out of bed yet. What’s the deal with all the sweat?
Again, your pregnancy hormones are probably the culprit. This freaky body change is likely to be at it’s worst during the times when your hormones are most in flux, during the first and third trimesters. Along with your racing hormones, your body’s metabolism is kicking it up a notch – kind of literally. The increase in blood flow is warming you up. Unbearably so.
Now you’re sweating in your sleep, at work and when you’re sitting on the couch trying to get in a nap. Aside from wearing loose clothing, try breathable fabrics and layers (you can take them off or put them on, depending on your body temp). And don’t forget to keep yourself hydrated. The more you sweat, the more water you lose. You need to replace what you’ve lost or you could feel faint.
11 Mega Chest
There once was a time when you has sweet little candy-shaped nips. Now that you’re a mama-to-be those perfectly tiny nipples look like slices of salami. Really. They are huge. You knew that your bra size would go up a cup (or a few). But, you weren’t prepared for the other breast changes.
Not only are those nipples of yours growing in size, but they are also getting darker too. Yikes! Don’t worry too much about the sudden size (and hue) change. You won’t get stuck with lunch meat-looking breasts forever. Your nipples may not go completely back to their pre-baby size and color, but they’ll shrink down after you’re done nursing.
So, why do your headlights go on high during pregnancy? Mother Nature has a fab way of helping you to get ready for baby. The size and color changes make the target more noticeable for a nursing newborn!
10 Becoming The Gassiest Girl
There’s a bit of an odor coming from you. And, that’s putting it mildly. You’re a gassy girl and the whole situation isn’t exactly making you feel lady-like. It’s okay. It’s really not you, it’s the pregnancy. Well, technically it’s you. But, it’s also the pregnancy.
Like plenty of the pregnancy changes that are going on right now, this one can also have to do with the hormones. Here you thought pregnancy hormones would make you moody or more likely to cry. Yep, they do that. They also relax your muscles – including those that are part of your digestive system. When your digestive tract slows down, food tends to sit.
This can result in some unwanted issues. One of the majorly noticeable issues is a greater amount of gas. If you’re having more she who smelt it dealt it problems than you can deal with, try cutting back on the usual suspects (such as broccoli, beans and carbonated beverages).
9 Stuffy, Runny Nose
You’ve got allergies. It must be that. Right? Well, you’ve never had allergies before. Your nose is stuffy, you’re totally congested and the box of tissues on your beside table is quickly disappearing. What gives?
To start with, you probably don’t have allergies. Okay, so if that’s your norm – you might have them. But, pregnancy also causes a similar condition. What’s the difference between an allergy, a cold and pregnancy-related congestion. A stuffy, runny preggo nose typically doesn’t come with any other sickness types of symptoms.
If you have a fever, sore throat, cough or other cold signs you may have a virus. But, if nothing else is going on it’s probably just pregnancy.
Right now your body is high on estrogen. This makes the mucus membranes swell, including those in your nose. The swelling and major mucus manufacturing end up in cold-like congestion. Just minus the actual sickness.
8 A Web Of Veins
What’s going on with your formerly smooth legs? It seems like they’re suddenly a patchwork of lines, curves and squiggles. Other than the random shaving nick (or waxing irritation), your legs were always one even tone. Now they look like a local street map or some sort of abstract piece of art.
Your blood volume is increasing during pregnancy. As it goes up, your veins also increase. In other words, they get bigger. Between this and the pressure your growing uterus is putting on the nearby blood vessels (this works to slow down the blood that’s returning to your heart), you may get spider or varicose veins.
Even though these don’t exactly look fab, they probably won’t stay forever. Your veiny legs might just return to normal after you’ve had your baby. If those veins don’t totally go away, they’re likely to fade enough so that you won’t notice them – at least, not as much.
7 Gum Issues
You’re brushing away. Suddenly you see it. Blood on your brush. Your perfectly cared for gums are bleeding and tender. Why? If you haven’t totally slacked on your healthy mouth care, it’s likely that pregnancy is the problem.
Bleeding gums are something that plenty of preggos experience. The hormonal changes in your body can cause your gums to swell. Swollen gums, or gingivitis, can easily bleed. There’s an increase of blood flow to your gums during pregnancy. This only adds to the ease of bleeding.
Even though you may see some blood when you brush, that doesn’t mean you need to stop. On the contrary. Your teeth need extra attention during these nine months. Keep on brushing and flossing – just use a soft-bristled brush instead of your pre-pregnancy heavy duty one. Continue seeing the dentist regularly for a professional cleaning too!
6 Itchy Skin
Your belly is more than bulging. It’s itching. Itching like crazy. You’re slathering yourself down with lotion and scratching away all day. It’s not likely that you have some sort of exotic illness or a sudden allergy to your detergent. What’s going on? You’re carrying a child!
Roughly 20 percent of women have itching during pregnancy, according to the U.S. Office on Women’s Health. Abdominal itching is a completely common pregnancy-related itching. Your skin is slowly stretching to fit that growing baby inside. As it stretches, you might start feeling the burn -- by way of an intense itch. Some women also experience itchy palms or an itch on the soles of their feet.
The itching won’t last forever. Like many of those pregnancy symptoms, it’s likely to leave after you deliver. That doesn’t mean your itchy abdomen will suddenly self-soothe the moment that baby is out. But, the less stretched your belly is, the less you’ll feel the itch.
5 Skin Tags Galore
Ah, the glow of pregnancy. That’s what you totally expected. Right? Everyone says it – expecting women have that special glow to them. So, you look in the mirror, hoping to see your skin magically transformed into having a supermodel-like sheen. Maybe you see it. Maybe your skin is beautifully glowing.
Or, maybe you’re seeing a bunch of kind of odd looking extra ‘pieces’ coming from skin. They look like teeny, tiny weird-shaped, colorless moles. What is going on here?
Most likely, you have a few skin tags. If you’ve never had a tag, it’s usually a harmless growth of hanging skin. Typically, these develop in folds or places where one piece of skin rubs against another. While plenty of non-preggos get them (they’re often hereditary), hormonal changes can also bring the tags on.
Even though they look kind of strange, they aren’t likely to cause any problems. Just don’t pick at them or try to remove them on your own. If you are troubled by your tags, a doctor can remove them in the office.
4 Ligaments Are Looser
Exercising just isn’t the same when you’re expecting. Hey, that’s not a pass to stop and sit for the rest of your nine months. Most women can continue on with a regular exercise routine, as long as the doc says it’s fine. But, you may notice that your joints seem looser. That’s an effect of relaxin. Relaxin is a hormone that helps your body prep for the physical needs of delivery.
Your pelvic region needs to loosen to let the baby through, and relaxin um, relaxes, it.
But, the hormone doesn’t just target your pelvis. It works all of your body. This may result in looser ligaments (and joints) everywhere. Some women feel extra clumsy as their ligaments loosen, while others barely notice it. Even though there’s no need to put yourself on couch-rest, take extra care when engaging in physical activity, as it may be easier to accidentally injure yourself.
3 Awful Hemorrhoids
Um, not one of the best parts of pregnancy. Not by far. Again, that pressure your baby is putting on those pelvic veins may just be to blame here. Between the slow return of blood back to your heart and the push that’s being put on your intestines, the veins in your rectum may enlarge (yeah, we know – yuck!).
If you’ve never had hemorrhoids before, prepare yourself for some unpleasantness. Not only do those rectal veins bulge, but you may also have pain, burning, itching or bleeding. And, that’s on top of the mega-discomfort that you’re already feeling with a nearly full-sized baby in your belly.
Hemorrhoids may making going to the bathroom a challenge. Between your bulging butt veins and a slowing digestive system, you may find that you’re constipated. Keep up on the fiber-rich foods and make sure to drink plenty of fluids to keep things down there moving.
2 Tingly Hands
That pesky pins and needles feeling that you get in your feet sometimes is suddenly in your hands. A slight numbness or tingling in your hands during your third trimester may be completely normal.
What’s going on with your decidedly strange digits? Most likely excess body fluid is causing swelling in and around your hands. The pressure it’s putting on the nerves that lead to your hands is causing carpal tunnel syndrome. Your thumb and first three fingers probably feel the pinch the greatest. You may also have some trouble closing your hands tightly or getting a form grasp on some objects.
If your job requires heavy amounts of typing (or you’re just addicted to texting) you may find that your tingling is almost always aggravated. Talk to your doctor to conform a diagnosis and ask them what you can do, it might include a special brace or physical therapy, to feel better.
1 Teenage Like Acne
Hmm, that pregnancy glow isn’t what’s all over your face. You expected to look like a goddess with sunshine spurting from your face. But, instead you look like you’re back in freshman year. You’ve got acne.
You thought that your pimply face was a long gone sight. Suddenly it’s back, and in a raging way. High levels of androgens, one of the pregnancy-related hormones that are now coursing through your body, are probably the cause. Androgens can cause the sebaceous glands in your skin to enlarge and make more oil.
If your skin is already acne-prone, or you get a few breakouts now and then, pregnancy may make it worse. Keep your skin clean with a gentle cleanser. Use an oil-free moisturizer and oil-free cosmetic products to help ease some of the acne. Before using any type of cream or considering a medical treatment, talk to your doctor. Some drugs are off-limits during pregnancy. Pregnancy-related acne is likely to go away when your hormones go back to normal (after you have the baby).
Sources: WomensHealth, FitPregnancy, BabyCenter