It’s difficult to imagine how it feels to be pregnant unless you’ve been through it. Change is expected but the physical and emotional transformation can be a big adjustment. The “child” part is great but getting there is an uphill battle.
It is a challenging feat to grow a baby in a uterus for (give or take) ten months. No break and no day off for the better part of a year. And even if the mom-to-be loves being pregnant, she's probably experiencing a few physical ailments. Pregnancy takes an emotional and physical toll on the body. Even low symptom pregnancies experience troubles of some kind.
Every woman has a different experience. There are the lucky few who experience 40 weeks of love, peace, and harmony. But for many women, it’s painful, torturous, and full of physical and mental suffering. The skin is stretched to near limits causing many discomforts.
There are epic horror stories of extreme morning sickness, exhaustion, and sleep deprivation, making the process hell. Carrying a child to term is necessary to produce a beautiful baby, but no matter the length of a pregnancy, it's a long wait. Surviving 280 days of pregnancy becomes increasingly difficult when the mom-to-be is having a hard time.
Those who complain through it all are probably having a helluva pregnancy.
Babies are great, but there are aspects of pregnancy that are just plain unpleasant. From moderate discomforts to major annoyances, these are 15 of the most common reasons why pregnancy really sucks.
15 The Weight Gain
A body during pregnancy is beautiful, and all the curves that add to it should be celebrated. But aside from the protruding belly, it’s the rounder face, the swollen ankles, the fuller bosom, and the wider bottom that some women find hard to accept. While some expectant moms love every inch of their evolving physiques, others struggle with the dramatic changes of weight gain.
Piling on the pounds can lead to physical pain. Back pain, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins are painful symptoms of too much weight. Also, the extra weight produces a bigger baby, so exciting the birth canal may increase the risk of complications. Plus, the more the expecting mother gains, the harder it is to shed after delivery.
The body goes through a slew of changes to make a healthy newborn. If mom-to-be is feeling good while eating healthy, and the baby is developing well, it's not necessary to be overly concerned about the few pounds gained that is required to start a family. But the soon-to-be mom will probably have to wait until her hormones settle and objectivity returns to remember why her body transformed so a baby could thrive.
14 Increased Stress
Pregnancy can be a wonderful time in a woman’s life but it can also create a heightened level of anxiety. With no day off for almost a year, it’s no wonder why stress is a common symptom of pregnancy.
Expecting mothers, particularly first-time moms, worry because they don’t know what’s in store. Major life changes, concerns about labor, and financial burdens are all common anxieties. At times, the stress can overwhelming, causing an expecting mom to lose it over an issue that is seemingly small.
The state of mind impacts the body; hence, the pulse of the mother and her hormones also influence the baby. Starting in week 20 of the pregnancy, the hormones are absorbed by the placenta. Studies show that high levels of the stress hormone cortisol discharged over a long time can cause the baby to have a low birth weight or a premature birth.
With a baby in your womb, it’s important to take positive steps to keep stress under control. First, try to fix the source of the tension rather than masking the feelings by finding comfort in other ways. Second, try activities that shut down stress, such as getting more sleep, taking warm baths, and meditating. Stress is bad for the baby, but it’s a temporary situation that will be resolved all on its own.
13 Sleep Deprivation
Sleep as much as you can now is a common pregnancy tip. But as your belly grows, getting some shut-eye is easier said than done. Pregnancy interrupts sleep patterns for 78% of women, with the first- and third-trimesters being notorious for sleep loss. The causes include:
- Frequent urination – Increasing baby weight and the extra flow to the kidneys fills the bladder faster. When nature calls at night, sleep deprivation is an unfortunate side effect.
- Anxiety – It’s natural for a pregnant woman’s mind to be on overdrive because life-altering changes are occurring in her life. The anticipation can cause sleepless nights.
- Snoring – Pregnant snoring is caused by the extra weight of pregnancy, nasal congestion, and the uterus bearing down on the diaphragm.
Typically, the discomforts of pregnancy are the reason for sleepless nights. To help get a good night’s sleep:
- Sleep on your side with a pillow wedged between your bent knees. Pillows can help correct your sleep position.
- Limit your fluids hours before bedtime.
- Consider using nasal strips that help airflow in your nose.
- In the daytime, talk to your partner, a friend, or a parent about any concerns you are having about pregnancy.
12 Mood Swings
As the pregnancy hormones rage, so do the mood swings. One minute you are thrilled and excited to be carrying a child, the next minute you’re achy, stressed, panicked, and crying. Your mental state turns on a dime because it’s dependent on pregnancy hormones.
It’s common to experience a mixture of emotions while pregnant because expectant mothers have a cocktail of pregnancy chemicals surging through their bodies:
- Human chorionic gonadotrophin is a hormone that helps to form the placenta.
- The hormone progesterone assists in maintaining pregnancy.
- Estrogens are a cluster of hormones that help the uterus grow, prompting fetal development.
- Oxytocin readies the cervix for delivery and stimulates milk production.
For 40 weeks, these and other hormones play a huge role, completely affecting your mind and body. So, when you’re losing your composure, make an effort to relax. You may think you need to paint the nursery or clean the house right now but you don’t. Instead, take a bath or have a nap. It’s important to take an emotional break, especially when you are carrying a child.
11 Charley Horses
In the U.S. and Canada, they call it a charley horse. In Australia, it’s a corked thigh. It’s a paralyzing spasm that flares up in the calf or thigh muscle. Without warning, the calf is momentarily locked in a position that feels like your leg is on fire. The pain is crippling, leaving the muscle feeling tender and strained. Charley horses usually occur at night when you’re lying down, and they’re painful enough to wake you out of a sleep.
Many women never experience a charley horse until pregnancy. Medical experts are still not certain why expecting mothers experience leg cramps but theories include vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the diet and fatigue from carrying extra weight.
How You Can Avoid Charley Horses
To avoid leg cramps:
- Stretch your calf muscles before bed
- Ensure you drink plenty of water throughout the day
- Elevate your feet whenever possible
- Always wear comfortable shoes
10 Lower Back Pain
Ten months of chronic back pain can plague a pregnancy. In fact, 75% of soon-to-be mothers experience this condition.
Pregnancy back pain is partly the result of hormonal changes that soften and thin out ligaments, joints, and muscles to prepare for dilation during labor. Plus, weight gain causes an expecting mother’s center of gravity to shift. To compensate for the baby’s growing weight in the uterus, a pregnant woman has a tendency to push her weight forward, creating an arch at the base of the spine. Other factors are poor sleeping positions, carrying multiple children, and being overweight.
To ease your achy, breaky back:
- Wear comfortable shoes
- Use a back support on a chair
- Avoid prolonged standing
- Sleep with a body pillow
- Take a warm bath to relax tired muscles and ease stiff joints
Also, while sitting in a chair or on a couch, you can place a pillow or a rolled up towel in the small of your back. It will support your back and help you maintain proper posture.
9 Touchy-Feely People
There’s something about a bump that makes people compelled to lay their hands on you. It’s their way of experiencing the pregnancy, even if it’s just for a moment. For those who have never felt a baby wiggling in the womb, it’s a thrilling experience. But just because you’re expecting, it doesn’t give everyone free rights to your body.
When it comes to the unwelcome hands of a total stranger, rubbing a belly without invitation is not acceptable. A pregnant woman is not public property. Even if the mother-to-be reluctantly gives you permission, it’s doesn’t mean touching her is appropriate. Pregnant or not, touching someone’s stomach is an invasion of personal space. And yet, touchy-feely folks can’t wait to dive in palm first.
One way to discourage impulsive belly-rubbing is to cross your hands over your stomach. Your body language can create a barrier that curbs the temptation to touch. But if offending hands continue to swarm your stomach, establish boundaries. Tell them straight out that you prefer not to be touched. And if that doesn't work, touch them back and stare blankly. They will soon realize why groping is inappropriate.
8 Those Annoying Headaches
If you’re prone to headaches, pregnancy can aggravate the issue. Likely explanations are hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, fatigue, anxiety, hunger, dehydration, eye strain, and an increase of blood flowing through the veins.
Before pregnancy, over-the-counter drugs would be the go-to solution. However, most of these painkillers are strictly limited while pregnant. Here are some ways to treat headaches naturally:
- Rest in a tranquil room. Turn off the lights, close your eyes, elevate your feet, and practice deep breathing. A sensitivity to light and noise can trigger pounding in your head.
- To prevent dehydration, drink 10 cups (or 2.3 liters) of water every day.
- An absence of nourishment can cause blood sugar to dip, and low blood sugar is a common symptom of headaches. Instead of three big meals, eat smaller meals throughout the day.
- A good night’s sleep will nip headaches in the bud. But don’t sleep too long. Oversleeping can also cause your head to hurt. Strive for 8-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.
If your headaches persist longer than four hours, contact your health care provider. Never hesitate to call your obstetrician or midwife if a health concern has you worried.
7 Redundant Questions
Pregnant women are magnets for comments and questions. From tips to horror stories, pregnant women hear it all on a daily basis. It becomes unnerving to constantly hear the same banter while dealing with your own concerns. People may think they are having a harmless conversation, but a pregnant woman can be bombarded.
If you’ve been pregnant for a few months, you’re probably used to the familiar comments pregnant women seems to extract. If it hasn't happened yet, prepare for an onslaught of common pregnancy questions, including these ones:
Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl? It’s odd when a stranger asks this question. Since you’ll probably never see each other again, why does this matter? Of course, among friends and family, this is somewhat of a reasonable question. Some people are curious and want to know the gender. Others would rather wait until the delivery room to meet their son or daughter. Either way, a specific set of genitals on your baby is not really important.
Have you decided on names? This seems like an innocent thing to ask, but it’s not a question that a soon-to-be mom wants to answer. First, she probably doesn’t want to talk about it, especially with someone she doesn’t know very well. Second, names are often kept secret until birth. Third, choosing names is difficult enough without everyone’s opinions in the mix.
Are you scared? If you’re a first time mom, this is a silly question that gets redundant real fast. Well, let’s see…I’m about to deliver a 7 lb human being. I’ve never taken care of a baby before, and apparently, I am never going to sleep again. This will happen sometime in the near future, but I’m not sure when. Of course, I am nervous. Either you can slap the person across the face, or prepare a mature answer. The latter response is probably more appropriate.
It’s understandable that people are curious about your future plans with your baby. But do you really want to discuss these topics with casual acquaintances, neighbors, or random strangers? You don’t owe anyone an explanation, especially people you barely know. These questions can get really old, really fast. Hopefully, short and sweet responses won’t open the door for a further line of questioning. If it does, swiftly change the subject.
6 Bladder Leakage
Leaking a few droplets because of a sneeze or a cough is called stress incontinence. Only a small amount of urine escapes but if it happens often, it’s enough to make you feel uncomfortable, and a little embarrassed.
Experts suggest routinely visiting the washroom, even before you have the urge to urinate. By the time you feel the need to pee, your bladder is almost full. This is when the slightest pressure can force an involuntary flow of urine. So, just in case, make a trip to the bathroom at set times. Also, sit forward while voiding your bladder to empty it completely.
These tips can actually train your bladder. Scheduling your bathroom breaks may seem like an inconvenience but it’s better to release your urine in the toilet than walk around with wet underwear.
5 Swollen Legs And Feet
Puffy feet and swollen legs are common side effects in the third-trimester of pregnancy. Hormonal changes, water retention, and weight gain burden the veins, reducing blood flow back to the heart. As a result, the legs and feet can balloon.
The swelling can be uncomfortable but it often disappears after childbirth. For the time being, there are steps you can take to cope with swollen legs and feet:
Elevate your legs. Rest your feet on a surface that is higher than your heart. This will channel the excess liquid from your feet into your body. The extra fluid will pass through the urine
Sleep on your left side. The inferior vena cava is a large vein that transports blood from the lower part of your body back towards your heart. This vein is located along the right column of the spine. Sleeping on your left side will alleviate the pressure on this blood vessel.
If only one leg appears bloated, this could be a sign of deep vein thrombosis. If the legs and feet suddenly swell, this could be a symptom of high blood pressure. Both cases require immediate medical care.
4 Gut Wrenching Heartburn
Many women never experience heartburn until they’re expecting. Also known as acid indigestion, heartburn can strike more often as the baby grows. Once the abdominal cavity becomes crowded, the organs become squished. As a consequence, stomach acids climb the esophagus to the back of the throat.
The feeling is like a burning liquid, followed by acid-tasting burps. For the most part, heartburn is not dangerous but it can be painful. Heartburn’s scorching sensation and bitter taste can be too uncomfortable to sleep. This is why many pregnant women awake in the middle of the night.
There are various products on the market guaranteed to soothe the scorching fire of heartburn. Surprisingly, there is an inexpensive, effective, natural remedy for heartburn: green or leafy vegetables. Eating lettuce, cucumbers, or broccoli will dramatically neutralize stomach acid. They balance the pH levels of gastric fluids, offering fast, effective relief of acid indigestion.
Some expecting mothers turn to ice for relief but sucking on ice chips will only temporarily extinguish the fire, not cure the affliction. Your best bet is to avoid spicy or high-fat foods, dairy, and caffeine. And, to ensure a good night’s sleep, do not eat within three hours of bedtime.
3 Non Stop Fatigue
Carrying a child is hard work. It takes energy out of your body which is why tiredness is one of the first symptoms of pregnancy. Full-body fatigue can start as early as one week. By week 12, it is common for expecting moms to have full-on fatigue. This syndrome can deplete motivation, diminish enthusiasm, and curb sex drive.
The number one relief of tiredness is, of course, rest. Besides getting plenty of sleep, aromatherapy can elevate your mood and energy level without adverse side effects. Aromatherapy uses plants and plant oils to stimulate brain function. Some scents have a calming effect, while others liven your mood. Peppermint oil has invigorating properties that can boost vitality.
For quick results, apply several drops of oil to a washcloth, then inhale. You can also add peppermint oil to a bowl of hot water, and the refreshing scent will quickly permeate the room. Keep in mind, aromatherapy oils are extremely concentrated. Allergic reactions and rashes have been reported when applied directly to the skin.
Also, always use high-quality grade oils for the best results, and check with your doctor to know which application is best for you.
2 Frequent Urination
Peeing every 10 minutes is another challenge of childbearing. It’s one of the first signs of pregnancy, starting in the first trimester around week six. But, why does it feel like you have to go to the bathroom, even when your bladder is not that full?
When a woman is expecting, her expanding uterus and the baby’s weight add constant pressure to the bladder and the urethra, causing urinary stress. This is why pregnant women feel like they have to pee even after a recent trip to the bathroom. Also, expectant mothers retain liquid. This extra fluid is flushed through the kidneys, resulting in more trips to the toilet.
No pregnant woman escapes the clutches of frequent urination but there are steps you can take to make bathroom breaks less frequent:
- When you pee, lean forward so your upper body is at a 45-degree angle. This will completely empty your bladder.
- Do not stop drinking liquids during the day. You and your baby need to stay hydrated. Instead, reduce your water and juice intake in the early evening.
- Avoid coffee, tea, and other drinks containing caffeine. Caffeinated drinks will make you urinate more often.
1 Nausea All Day, Every Day
Although not every pregnant woman experiences severe nausea, 80% report moments of queasiness in the first trimester. Although it commonly occurs at the crack of dawn, it can repeat all day long. Some women see relief within the second trimester. Others don’t have it so lucky, feeling ill effects all throughout pregnancy.
Why pregnancy nausea occurs is not certain but raised hormone levels are a probable cause. Plus, pregnant women have sensitive noses. Queasiness can be triggered by unpleasant odors and the smell of certain foods.
One tried and true natural remedy that is almost guaranteed to cure nausea is ginger. It’s a traditional Chinese medicine; a yin and yang food that balances the body’s constitution. Whether in the form of tea, ginger ale, or the raw ginger root, ginger sedates the lining of the stomach. Loose leaf or bagged peppermint tea can also be used to treat morning sickness.
It’s tough to completely prevent nausea during pregnancy. For some women, it just comes with the territory. If you can’t keep anything in your stomach and you’re vomiting everything you eat or drink, visit your doctor immediately.
Try not to get too wound up about these pregnancy symptoms, After all, you're creating life, so give yourself a break.