Morning sickness. Growing belly. Rampant mood swings. Weird cravings. There are some changes that are just expected during pregnancy. These are things that even first time expectant moms know are coming. Virtually all of the changes associated with pregnancy can somehow be traced back to hormones.
Hormones take the heat for a lot of bad stuff, but they are actually pretty cool. Think of hormones as "chemical messengers" that send notes to and from different parts of the body. Hormones help different body parts communicate with other parts. Hormones can help with body processes such as regulating body temperature, regulating moods, and managing stress. Fun fact: hormones are responsible for the sex drive too!
Hormones also orchestrate the whole pregnancy process from releasing the egg from the follicle all the way to stimulating milk production once baby is born. It's like a fine tuned machine. Baby making machine, that is. It's amazing, quite honestly.
But all that amazingness comes with a few unsavory side effects. Pregnancy is a whole body event. It's not just the uterus expanding and the girls making milk; every part of the body is affected. Literally, every part of the body. Remember that hormones send messages throughout the whole body. Some of the changes may be a little bit on the odd side. Here are 15 strange changes during pregnancy no one sees coming.
15 The Barrymore Goatee
When InTouch magazine interviewed Drew Barrymore about her last pregnancy, you'd probably expect a celebrity pregnancy interview to make you feel inferior. I mean, so many celebs make pregnancy and recovery look like a piece cake. However, Barrymore's interview did the opposite. She was raw, real, and told the world what pregnancy is really like.
And what was her strange pregnancy confession? That she grew a goatee during her pregnancy! Not just any goatee, but a red one. Drew is not alone; many women experience increased facial hair growth during pregnancy thanks to their hormonal fluctuations. How lovely. Thankfully, the hairs on your chinny chin chin should cease sprouting after delivery.
Many women welcome the onset of lush locks during pregnancy, but tend to be blindsided by the red goatee. Cross your fingers and hope this fun surprise skips you!
14 Masquerade Party, Anyone?
When I was newly pregnant with my first, I kept waiting for my pregnancy glow to kick in. I felt sick all the time and was pretty sure I looked as gross as I felt. There was no glowing for me, but many women do glow and expect to glow.
So when not-so-flattering skin changes take place, it seems to be out of the blue. The mask of pregnancy is one surprise no one wants, but up to three-quarters of expectant moms experience it to some degree. Also called melasma or chloasma, the mask of pregnancy creates a discoloration that looks like a masquerade mask - darkened patches of skin on the forehead, cheeks, and around the eyes. The dramatic rise of estrogen is responsible for this discoloration, and it can also cause freckles, moles, and your areolas to darken as well. Luckily, any pregnancy-associated discoloration fades after delivery.
13 The Magical Expanding Nose
Everyone knows your belly blossoms during pregnancy. And by "blossoms" I really mean "slowly grows until the belly is roughly the size of the state of Texas." And I suppose most women expect the girls to expand a cup size or two as they prep for milk production. And I also suppose that women are somewhat ready for their hips to expand and their booties to take on a little extra weight.
But the nose? No one expects their nose to grow! Yet, the expanding nose is a strange - yet still normal - side effect of pregnancy. What causes it to widen? Once again you can blame hormones. Estrogen levels increase throughout pregnancy to help boost blood flow, but all that extra blood flow also plumps up that cute little schnozz.
If you are one of the unlucky mamas with a changing nose, take heart: your nose will most likely resume its pre-pregnancy size and shape about a month or two after delivery.
12 The Treasure Map
The pregnant belly is one of the most beautiful things on the planet. It's a little bit mysterious and a little bit miraculous. At times, if you think about it too much, it's almost impossible to comprehend: a human inside another human. Pregnancy has been depicted in art for centuries, often with the artist highlighting the pregnancy through special symbols (such as a colored sash) to indicate a pregnancy.
We have perfected the image of the pregnancy belly in our heads and in art, so it sometimes surprises mama-to-be when she finds a treasure map appearing on her swollen tummy. This line, officially called linea nigra, is a dark brown line that runs down the center of the belly all the way to the - you guessed it - pubic area. Once again, hormones are to blame. You might not be a fan of the treasure map tattoo you're sporting, but it does fade after birth.
11 Enjoy Texting? Maybe Not Anymore
I'll be honest: when texting first became a thing, I thought it was stupid. I know, I know. I can hear the whole world gasping at me right now. I would think, "This is dumb. Just call the person." I eventually wizened up and I am now as big a texting fan as anyone.
Sadly, some expectant mamas who text may not be texting throughout their pregnancy. The culprit: pregnancy induced carpel tunnel. Unfortunately this is one of those odd symptoms that can creep up during pregnancy. Carpel tunnel syndrome is marked by tingling or pain in your hands, and it is caused by edema (fluid) building up inside the wrist. Actions like typing, cutting hair, and texting can be particularly painful once carpel tunnel sets in.
Pain, which can be worse at night, can also radiate up into the forearm. Ouch! Not gd 4 txting!
10 The V Can Change Colors
Seriously, is the V not the most stunning of all body parts? What can't this body part do? Apparently, changing colors is on the list of "amazing things a V can do."
Many expectant moms know all too well that the risk of varicose veins increase during pregnancy because of the increased blood volume. What most pregnant mamas don't know is that those varicose veins can end up in your who-ha. That's right: vulvar varicosities. Say what? Yep, extra varicose veins in the vulva can give the appearance of a blue vagina. In addition to the color change, you might feel discomfort due to swelling and pressure. Like many pregnancy surprises, this too will fade after birth - about three to four months after.
Although, the reason it can change colors isn't so wonderful, it sure does sound BA to say your who-ha can change from red to blue.
9 Ditch Your Shoes
There's no getting around shopping during pregnancy. Obviously, as your belly grows, you're going to need some bigger tops and pants with stretchy panels. And bigger bras. And granny panties.
You might be surprised, however, to learn that you might also need to buy some new shoes - not because you suddenly hate your old ones, but because they no longer fit! What? Motherhood Maternity doesn't have a shoe section so why are so many pregnant women ditching their old shoes? I'll give you one guess: hormones! Particularly, the hormone called relaxin causes ligaments throughout your whole body to relax (hence "relaxin"). Unfortunately, this also causes those ligaments in your feet to relax, which makes them expand.
Okay so technically your feet don't "grow" but they relax which makes them expand a bit. If you're curious about post-baby, some women's feet resort back and others don't.
8 Dragon Breath
For some reason, some women are leery of heading to the dentist during pregnancy, but dentists and OG/GYNs are quick to remind expectant mamas that routine dental care is even more important during pregnancy. Thanks to hormones, pregnancy induced gingivitis is common. Making sure you keep your dental appointments will help maintain good oral health while monitoring any potential problems.
But unfortunately, gum problems are not the only dental problem that can arise. Surprisingly, bad breath can rear its ugly head during pregnancy. Likely culprits are hormones (which can cause lowered saliva which affects breath odor), dehydration (which makes it easier for odor causing bacteria to grow), and morning sickness. To help combat this, maintain water intake and always brush your teeth and rinse if you've been sick to your stomach. All that brushing and rinsing is good for you anyway.
7 A New State Of Mind
Have you noticed how many of these pregnancy fun facts are related to hormones? Pregnancy is serious all about the hormones; after all, it's a delicate balance of hormones that make the whole process work. No one is surprised when mood swings strike or a pregnant woman is emotional. Especially during the first few weeks of pregnancy, emotions run high.
What's not so expected are the mental changes that occur in pregnancy. Pregnancy brain or brain fog is caused by two things: hormones (duh) and lack of sleep. Common sleep disturbances during pregnancy include anxiety, insomnia, Charley horses, and hunger.
Combat brain fog by trying to get as much rest as possible, making lists, and setting reminders on your phone. Most importantly, if you are affected by this, cut yourself some slack. Growing a person is hard work!
6 A New Bathroom Routine
Based on the number of memes about peeing during pregnancy, no one should be surprised that pregnant women need to pee. All the time. Especially as baby grows bigger and puts pressure on the bladder, it's no wonder mom-to-be knows where the nearest restroom is at all times.
What may come as a shock to expectant moms though is how much her #2 routine may change during pregnancy. Oddly enough, both diarrhea and constipation can be early pregnancy symptoms. The increased progesterone can slow digestion way, way down which can first result in constipation and then later diarrhea. Both of these issues can come back to haunt you during the third trimester. Some moms even claim that having a case of the runs was what clued them in that labor was near.
Regardless of what's going on with your pooper, drinking enough water is super important.
5 Eau De Toilette
If you've been throwing up or sweating excessively (thanks hormones!), it seems like a good idea to splash on a little bit of perfume to help get you through the day, right? Wrong! Your trusty old standby perfume may suddenly make you gag. Even your spouse's amazing cologne smells like real toilet water. What gives?
Your perfume preferences change during pregnancy because your nose becomes more sensitive to smells due to elevated estrogen levels. This is also the reason you suddenly start to gag more when you are cooking - all those heightened smells don't play so nicely with morning sickness.
So if you become super sensitive to smells, you may actually prefer to head to work sans perfume. Maybe you can get away with a lighter scented body splash or mist rather than a heavier perfume. The smell sensitivity is the worst during the first trimester and should lessen in intensity as you progress with your pregnancy.
4 The Big O
Between the puking, the extreme fatigue, and the constant nausea, having fun in bed with your partner may be the absolute last thing on your mind. And that's perfectly normal.
However, once you get your energy back in the second trimester, you may be surprised to find out that your sex life has changed - for the better. Remember all the extra blood during pregnancy? Well, it just so happens that the extra blood flow affects orgasms, making them way more intense. Many women confess that pregnant sex is the best of their lives for this very reason. Take advantage of the second trimester before the third trimester energy slump kicks in.
Word of warning: make sure you get the go ahead from your doctor before having sex during pregnancy. Some conditions, like placenta previa, mean sex is off limits until after delivery.
3 Chameleons Are Her Spirit Animals
When I think of spirit animals, I usually think of animals like eagles, tigers, horses, or bears. Other good candidates are dogs, dolphins, snakes, or even rabbits. Never once have I ever thought that a chameleon would be a good spirit animal choice, but you might find that in pregnancy you share a lot more with a chameleon than you thought possible.
Chameleons are known for changing their skin, and pregnancy can have your skin shifting in no time. Common skin changes during pregnancy include the onset of skin tags, moles, beauty marks, and other hyper pigmentation marks around your body. Acne can also pop up (puberty 2.0).
Another surprising skin change is a PUPPP rash - an itchy rash that usually occurs in/on abdominal stretch marks.
Alright, so pregnancy skin isn't as fun as turning into a chevron pattern to match the wall paper, but there are enough skin changes to keep you on your toes.
2 New Gross Factor
Pregnancy has a weird way of changing what you consider gross. In the first trimester, your favorite foods, perfumes, and drinks may suddenly become "gross" as they make you gag or even puke. You might trade your normal Greek yogurt parfait for a pulled pork taco (or three or four) for breakfast and think nothing of it. You may also want to eat a bag of Cheetos dipped in honey. There's no telling what gross food your pregnancy self finds delicious. No judgement - we've all been there!
Also, pre-pregnancy you may have never desired to stare at another women's lady parts, but come pregnancy and you are all about those birth videos. You may actually be able to watch them without being grossed out one tiny bit. I guess this is pregnancy's way of getting you prepared for motherhood with all that poop and spit up. Hmm, pretty smart, Mother Nature, pretty smart.
1 Victoria's Secret To Granny Vicky
Say goodbye to your cute stash of VS undies. It's okay if you shed a tear or two. But seriously, pack them up and put them in storage and don't even think about bringing them back until postpartum. Why? For starters, they won't fit for too much longer as your belly and booty grow.
Second, and more surprisingly, they are going to get ruined. Thanks to leukorrhea, you might experience increased vaginal discharge during pregnancy - from the earliest days all the way up to delivery. Usually, leukorrhea is thin, white and milky. It's completely normal, but you may go through multiple underwear changes per day. (Don't use a tampon or douche, though!) A panty-liner is probably a good choice. And granny panties. Just do it. You can use the granny panties during your postpartum recovery and then you can toss them (or burn them, whatever). You'll be glad your fancy panties weren't ruined!
Source: HuffingtonPost.com, whattoexpect.com, Glamour.com, Americanpregnancy.org, mayoclinic.org