In the media, pregnancy is depicted and celebrated as one of the most rewarding experiences a woman can have in her life. But it's actually one of the hardest things she will ever do. Pregnancy is associated with fluctuating hormones, constant fatigue and several other physical and emotional changes that interfere with a woman’s normal lifestyle.
Pregnancy changes how a woman feels and acts. In turn, this can affect her relationships with people and many basic aspects of her life. One of the major effects of pregnancy is how a woman feels about her body. Because pregnancy is often a glamorized phase of life that many people think of as amazing, many women are hesitant to speak the truth about how they feel. They believe that not being happy as a pregnant woman signifies that they're unnatural or that their love for their unborn child is undermined.
This concept is a common myth. The changes in a woman’s body during pregnancy are detrimental and can gave a great effect on how she feels about herself. Each of the physical effects of pregnancy takes its own toll on a woman’s feelings because they affect her sleep, career, relationship with her partner, and other hidden areas of her life that take her by surprise as she progresses in the pregnancy. Some of these reasons appear early on in the first few weeks, and others appear later. Also, some of them are more devastating than others. Every woman is different and responds differently to certain complaints.
Pregnancy affects a woman’s appetite, mostly negatively, and totally changes their food plan. Many women steer clear of foods they used to love and start craving others they would have never touched before. Also, many women are unable to stomach foods that used to be their favorites, especially if they are fatty, greasy foods such as pizza and burgers. Sometimes even healthy light foods, like a salad or a broth soup, in larger quantities can cause indigestion.
Even women who do not suffer morning sickness are sometimes affected by this problem. They may not vomit at all, but may not be able to digest properly. Moreover, some women are not comfortable digesting their cravings, which leads to a conflict between what they want to eat and what they can eat. Often, a woman feels that whatever choice she makes she will suffer the consequences and this can be extremely frustrating for her.
Vomiting is one of the well-known effects of pregnancy. This effect starts very early in pregnancy, as early as the first few weeks. It's extremely uncomfortable and embarrassing for pregnant women and, in severe cases, may be unresponsive to medication. Although it's known as “morning” sickness, some women continue to suffer day and night, regardless of what or when they ate. It becomes very difficult to keep down a single meal without throwing up.
Similarly, some women who are told by doctors that vomiting declines and often disappears by the third month, still continue to vomit well into their fourth month. Some cases may endure even after that. It seems endless and makes pregnant women feel tired and drained all the time. More importantly, it lessens the amounts of water nutrients reaching the body, affecting women’s moods and well-being. Women who experience morning sickness severely can lose weight, which makes a mother-to-be anxious about her baby’s growth.
Exercise is necessary for a healthy pregnancy and is recommended by doctors. However, given the constant fatigue, many women are not able to maintain their regular workout routine when they get pregnant. Exercise is a great way to help bring on a more positive outlook - an advantage that many women lose during their early pregnancy months. Instead, they feel like they're missing out and are unable to live their lives to the fullest. Also, many people use exercise as alone time or a chance to clear away negative feelings; when women are no longer capable of that, they detest their bodies even more.
Professional athletes suffer the most. Although doctors recommend that professionals who excel at a certain sport continue to exercise, it becomes increasingly hard for them. The same is true for women who run, or play a certain sport proficiently three to four times a week. Although it's not their career, they still feel incredibly helpless when their favorite physical activity is taken away from them.
During pregnancy, there is an increase in blood volume, which makes swelling happen in various areas of the body. Additionally, circulation in the veins is weakened, so more swelling happens in the lower body, primarily in the feet and ankles. Women find it very uncomfortable to wear their normal shoes and require new ones that are larger in size. Having to give up high heels is also very saddening for some women who are used to wearing them everyday.
Swelling also comes with pain. It may be painful to walk long distances, or to even shop in a mall without regular breaks. It also takes a toll on sleeping and makes mothers-to-be very uncomfortable in the mornings. It's required that pregnant women sleep on their sides to prevent an increasing in swelling, but some women are not used to this position. Some women have bad cases of swelling that require compression stockings, which are neither much fun nor stylish.
Back pain is a common cause for discomfort in pregnancy. It starts between 5-6 months depending on the weight gain and the nature of the mother. Mothers-to-be, especially those who already suffered back pain before pregnancy, find it severely debilitating. It affects a woman’s ability to live her daily life. Sitting down for an hour or two to complete a task, or waiting in the line at the grocery store become dreaded affairs.
The pressure on the spine increases with weight gain and accordingly, instead of getting better with time and medication, it actually gets worse. It's one of the main reasons women hate their pregnant bodies because it makes a woman feel useless and helpless, especially if she starts depending on someone else to do things she would usually do before. It makes her feel dependent - that she's not even able to walk on her own, and needs physical support for the most mundane things.
Due to the hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy, vaginal discharge increases considerably. This may cause pregnant women to change their underwear several times a day. A good way to deal with this is to wear pantyliners, but it's still very inconvenient for many women, especially those who spend lots of time outside the house. While this is normal, it still make some women feel “unclean” no matter what they do, which is yet another reason many women become bummed about pregnancy body changes.
What's scarier is that some women find blood-stained discharges. Doctors say that it's normal for about 30% of women to experience this during their first trimester, although it is still alarming for many women. What might happen is that a pregnant woman is unable to distinguish between normal vaginal discharges and those that signify a problem, such as yeast infections. As with back pain, discharges persist throughout pregnancy and could increase over time.
The pressure exerted by the baby on the mother’s body affects her bladder and makes it smaller in size. This is why a common complaint from pregnant women is that they have to visit the bathroom several times in a few hours. This is especially annoying during the night when mothers need rest the most but have to get up many times. A woman may also feel pressure in her lower body as a result, which just adds to other annoyances and can be painful in some instances.
Interestingly, some babies settle in the womb with their heads down. This extra pressure may cause the mother to start feeling this issue as early as 6 months. Naturally, as the pregnancy advances, the issue worsens and is not relieved until after delivery. Not only is it annoying for a mother at her home but also very disturbing during work or social occasions.
Troubles in the bathroom come in several ways for pregnant women. The most common ailment is constipation. With all the water the body uses all day every day, the lack of adequate water intake due to stomach troubles, and the constant vomiting, women can easily become dehydrated. When this happens, constipation becomes an unwanted companion throughout pregnancy. It makes something as simple as going to the bathroom a chore that takes a lot of time and pain.
As a result, many women suffer hemorrhoids, which are cracking blood vessels in the rectal area, due to strain during bowel movements. Conversely, the pressure exerted by the growing baby on the body may actually cause hemorrhoids that disrupt normal excretion, instead of the other way round. Women can go through these uncomfortable symptoms at any point during pregnancy, but naturally, the more advanced the pregnancy, the worse the symptoms can become.
Many pregnant women report excessive sweating during pregnancy. This happens because the body temperature increases due to hormonal disturbances. While this is a very convenient symptom for a cold winter, it can be an irritation the rest of the year. Not to mention, it's embarrassing to be constantly perspiring and having to constantly reapply deodorant. It's a frustrating cycle, and a mother-to-be doesn't usually know what to do - as unfortunately, there isn't much one can do.
Think of pregnancy as a constant workout. Pregnant women burn more calories at rest than their non-pregnant counterparts, leading to the release of a vast amount of energy in the form of heat. Although this is part of making a little miracle and is not cause for concern, it doesn’t make it any less troublesome. It also makes settings like the beach and the sunny outdoors an impossible place to adapt to.
With all the aches and pains that happen during pregnancy, it's no wonder that peaceful, uninterrupted sleep is also hard to come by. Sleep is essential for good health, and when in lack, it affects productivity, mood, and social interactions. Some women are unable to sleep from a single disturbing pain; others experience multiple pains combined that can make pregnant women dread nighttime. To top it all off, many women who are used to sleeping on their stomachs can no longer do so even in early pregnancy.
In the mornings, after a tedious night, women experience headaches and possibly dizziness. The inability to function normally and be independent is disheartening. This is why many pregnant women have gloomy mornings and don't have the mental energy to get through their days normally. The fact that they can't have caffeine, or are very cautious about it, can often add to the misery.
With all the bodily changes happening during pregnancy, most of which are not positive, it's expected that a woman's sex drive will be lessen. Some women claim to have a higher sex drive and enjoy sex more, but when confidence drops, it can beat all the odds. Moreover, it's not just about the woman’s view. Some men are not comfortable with the pregnant body, even though they wouldn't admit that to their partners.
Even if a woman has enough confidence in her body, the different pains do not allow her to be comfortable during sex, especially those that have to do with movement. This is one of the factors that contribute to her bad mood during pregnancy. She feels unattractive and hates her body for it. She can feel like she and her partner will ever have a good sex life again.
Pregnant women are told what to eat and what not to eat by doctors. Sometimes it's not that simple. There are debates about the link between some foods and an unborn baby’s safety. The same is true about links between what a mother eats and how it will make her feel. It differs because not all women are the same and it's possible that women are not interested in eating or drinking something they dislike, even for medical reasons.
This goes hand in hand with the discomfort women feel in their stomachs. Between morning sickness, altered appetites and what's good for a woman and what isn’t, some women no longer know what to eat and are unable to devise a diet plan that suits this part of their lives. Also, women are annoyed by giving up what they like (e.g.: spicy foods) because they know it will cause them discomfort (e.g.: heartburn).
Some women see changes in their skin secondary to hormonal changes. Mostly, women experience some darkening in areas such as the line in the bottom of the stomach, known as linea nigra. Others experience the same discoloration in their underarms or various parts of the body. Itching and skin sensitivity is also possible. Stretch marks, which may be light or dark depending on skin tone, also happen all over the body and are not very appealing.
Acne is also a common feature in pregnancy, predominantly in women who have had acne as teenagers. All these changes make some women feel horrible about their bodies and faces, and starts hacking away at their confidence. While not harmful to the baby or the mother, they definitely destroy a mother’s sense of autonomy and control. She feels like even the smallest things about her are different, and there's nothing she can do to improve it.
The undeniable excuse of pregnancy is well-known, yet many women continue to feel bad about being larger and compare themselves to others. They feel inferior because of how their bodies look. Some even compare themselves to what they were like before they got pregnant, and feel like they just took a huge step back in the looks department. It affects self-esteem and makes women feel like they are less than others, even when they know they're doing something more.
One of the reasons this happens is not only how women’s bodies feel on the inside, but how they look on the outside. Women give up uncomfortable skinny jeans and chose leggings and yoga pants, ditch heels for many months and may not tolerate the smell of their favorite perfume anymore. It does a number on their style and fashion sense and can make them feel bad about themselves. Sometimes the little things like a new nail polish or haircut are not enough to take away the negative emotions.
Pregnant women not only worry about their diet during pregnancy, but they also worry about what will happen after. They hope that they'll gain much more confidence and start loving their bodies again when the baby is delivered, and that they'll be able to reach their pre-pregnancy weights again. But, at a time when a woman is exhausted and overwhelmed, it's difficult even to think about strict diets or exercise routines that make this dream possible.
The media is full of success stories that are supposed to be inspiring but may end up being depressing for many women. Some women think they can’t handle the effort, others think their genes make them unresponsive to routines that work for other women, and some are even too tired and depressed to try and make a change. What saddens them even more is that they know how enormous the social pressure to lose baby fat and bounce back really is, and that makes them feel even more down in the dumps.