Pregnancy might be one of the most joyful times in a woman's life, but let's face it: it's also pretty damn gross. The miracle of life brings a lot of disgusting surprises along with it, as well as aches and pains and embarrassments. These indignities are still a small price to pay to meet the new little love of your life, but that doesn't mean they're enjoyable.
Many of these pregnancy side effects are just too gag-worthy to talk about in polite company, so you might not realize how common they are. But take heart: no matter how much more another woman seems to be enjoying her pregnancy than you, you can rest assured that she's also grappling with me a good number of these icky issues. Pregnancy is a sweaty, smelly sisterhood in that way.
Your 9 months will hopefully be uncomplicated, but they definitely won't be free from weird aches and strange smells. Whether you're struggling with problems in the bathroom or in the bedroom, dealing with body issues or uncomfortable sensations in private places, know that the vast majority of them will pass once you've given birth.
Here are the answers to your 20 weirdest questions about pregnancy.
20 Why Do I Suddenly Have B.O.?
The worst thing about being pregnant just might be how constantly overheated you are. A pregnant woman can walk around in flip flops and a tank top in the dead of winter (and I'm speaking from personal experience here) and still manage to be sweating buckets, in places you didn't even realize you had sweat glands. It's really gross, and what's worse is that that icky sweatiness often brings an unwelcome side effect: smellier than normal body odor. I've heard so many women complain about this problem, and of course, crazy pregnancy hormones don't help the situation either. My advice is to make sure you never leave the house without your stick of deodorant and maybe even some cleansing wipes— you never know when you're going to need a touch up.
19 Why Am I So Hairy?
It's not your imagination if you think you're suddenly way hairier than you used to be during your pregnancy. Some women complain that hair starts growing on their bellies, which is the subject of an old wive's tale that says hair on your stomach means your having a boy. Other women develop a luxurious mane of hair on their heads because hormones cause your hair to stop falling out (but unfortunately, hair loss will typically come roaring back with a vengeance once you've given birth). Another reason you might be hairier than normal when you're expecting? You no longer have the time, energy, or flexibility to shave any part of your body thanks to the big belly getting in the way. Luckily it blocks you from actually having to look at your furry legs.
18 Why Can't I Go #2?
If you're feeling constipated and having trouble pooping during pregnancy, you can blame those good old pregnancy hormones. Progesterone slows down your digestion, which means it takes longer for you to produce a bowel movement. But hormones aren't the only culprit. If you're taking prenatal vitamins that have extra iron in them, the iron can also plug you up. And if you're in the middle to later stages of your pregnancy, your uterus is probably big enough to be putting pressure on your intestines and bowels, making it hard to go. Exercising, drinking lots of water, and eating high fiber foods like leafy greens and whole grains should get you some relief, or you could always take a stool softener— just make sure you stay near the bathroom when you do.
17 Why Does It Hurt To Go?
Constipation isn't the only bathroom trouble you might have during pregnancy. Those pesky pregnancy hormones can also cause you to develop hemorrhoids, when the veins around your anus and rectum become swollen. You can also get them from simply pushing too hard when you're trying to poop, because you're constipated (it's kind of a vicious circle). If you're feeling pain or itching in the area, or if you're seeing blood when you go or when you wipe, you'll know hemorrhoids are probably the culprit. Unfortunately, pregnancy isn't the only time you have to worry about developing them: many women also get them from pushing so hard during labor. Luckily, there are plenty of over the counter treatments to get some relief, as well as home remedies like soaking in epsom salts.
16 When Can I Start Wearing Maternity Pants?
If you're asking yourself this question, the answer is RIGHT NOW! Maternity pants are amazing, and I for one wish that all pants were maternity pants. I don't know why we bother stuffing ourselves into pants with tight, not-stretchy waists when we could be living it up in cute jeans that just happen to have a huge band of elastic on top. They are so much better that I actually managed to wear holes into not one but two pairs of maternity jeans when I was pregnant with my daughter (and I still miss both pairs). If you're anything like me, you'll be very reluctant to return to the world of normal pants after birth, so get into those maternity pants as early as you can to maximize the comfiness for as long as you possibly can.
15 What Happens If I Go During Delivery?
If you're pregnant, you should just come to terms with this now: if you push, you're probably going to poop. It's pretty unavoidable, unless you're willing to do something fairly insane like give yourself an enema before going to the hospital. The thought of pooping in a hospital bed in front of your partner and god knows how many nurses and doctors might seem mortifying now, but when your body is being rocked by contractions, you probably won't care all that much. And even better news? Neither will anyone else— you won't catch a labor and delivery nurse shouting, "My God, what's that horrible smell? What have you been eating?!" Instead, they'll just quietly clean it up and get back to focusing on the business at hand— delivering your baby.
14 Am I Really Going To Need Adult Diapers?
This one's kind of your call. There's no doubt that you'll be bleeding a ton after having your baby. Whether you've delivered vaginally or had a C-section, the result is the same: a couple of weeks of heavy bleeding. Since tampons are a major no no for a while after giving birth, you have two options: wear a giant maternity pad (which to my eye seemed about 3 times larger and thicker than a regular pad), or slap on a pair of Depends. Assuming you can get over the fact that you and your baby would be wearing matching diapers, it's really just about what's going to keep you clean and comfortable while you recover (and maybe which one you can snag more free samples of from the hospital).
13 Why Are My Girls So Big?
You knew your boobs were going to undergo some pretty big (pun intended) changes during pregnancy, but you may be a bit taken aback by what's going on with your nipples all of a sudden. It's not that they're getting any bigger per se, but they do often change color and get darker (which may make you think they look larger). Doctors aren't totally sure why it happens, but my money is on the pesky pregnancy hormones which seem to have approximately one million weird side effects. This one is pretty common, and it's not at all dangerous or cause for alarm (though it can certainly make you a bit self-conscious). The good news is, your nipples and areolas should return to their normal shade once you've given birth.
12 Will They Go Back To Normal?
Depending on what bra size you were rocking before you got pregnant, the crazy boob growth that most women experience when they're expecting can be either a blessing or a curse. If you always wanted a fuller chest, your giant preggo boobs will seem like a godsend. If you were already a little too well endowed, seeing your cup size increase yet again can be a nightmare. As far as how your boobs will end up after you've given birth, it's really anyone's guess. Some hang on to those extra cup sizes permanently, while others return to their pre-baby size pretty easily. And of course, whether or not you breastfeed can also play a role. Let's just hope that when all is said and done, they at least return to a relatively symmetrical, non-saggy state.
11 What's Up With The Discharge?
You might be psyched to get a nearly year long break from a monthly period, but unfortunately, crazy pregnancy discharge can still have you stocking up on plenty of panty liners. It's called leukorrhea— tons of milky, white, mild-smelling discharge. It's very common and normal, but it can also be super annoying. You might find yourself changing your underwear way more than normal thanks to this icky stuff. You might even be tempted to throw in a tampon, but that's a big no no for pregnant women. This kind of discharge isn't a problem, but you might want to let your doctor know if your discharge has a strong unpleasant smell, turns green, or you're itching down there— you might have an infection of some sort that you'll want to get checked out.
10 Is It Really Awful If I Eat Sushi Or Deli Meat?
Your doctor might tell you to avoid certain foods during your pregnancy, and your Facebook mom group will definitely lose its collective mind if you dare indulge in one or two of these forbidden goodies. You can only do what your comfortable with, but you shouldn't let paranoia rule your every culinary decision in my opinion. While pregnant women are often told to stop eating sushi and deli meats due to a risk of listeria contamination, it's worth noting that there have also been listeria outbreaks in everything from frozen vegetables to cheese to bagged salads to milk. If you cut out any food that ever carried any kind of risk, you'd be one hungry mama-to-be. I've given in to cravings for sushi and deli meat a time or two in my pregnancies, and my doctor and I are both fine with it.
9 Why Does My V Hurt?
One of the most unpleasant side effects of pregnancy is pain in your vagina and pelvis. The further along you are and the bigger you get, the more pressure the weight of your uterus is going to put on the area. For a lot of women, that means tons of pain that you can't really do anything about except get off your feet when you can. Sleeping with a pillow between your legs might help as well. If your pain is super intense or is accompanied by any other symptoms like swelling or bleeding, you should let your doctor know as soon as possible. It could mean you've developed a condition like preeclampsia or that there's a problem with your placenta— both things that can put you and your baby in danger.
8 Is 'It' Going To Hurt The Baby?
The thought of getting busy when you're pregnant is off-putting to some women, for a variety of reasons. They may be too tired, they may simply just not be in the mood, or they may worry about putting the baby in danger. That last reason shouldn't be a concern, however. There are plenty of barriers between your unborn child and your partner's penis, so don't worry about the poor little guy or gal getting a scare. Your cervix, sealed off with a mucus plus, keeps your baby safe— as do the amniotic sac and the protective environment of your uterus. If you're looking for an excuse to get out of getting it on for the next few months, however, feel free to tell your partner otherwise (just hope they don't Google it).
7 Is My Drive Gone Forever?
As mentioned previously, it's not uncommon for pregnant women to have very little interest in sex. The change in your libido can be due to your hormones, or it can also be affected by all the aches, pains, and stresses that you going through during pregnancy— it's hard to feel sexy when all you want to do is lay on the couch and indulge in all your crazy cravings. All of those issues can certainly fade away once you give birth, and your sex drive could very well return to normal. Or you might find that the stresses of being a new parent and having a baby to take care of push the thought of sex to the very back of your mind. As long as you and your partner are OK with the change in your sex life, you shouldn't worry about how often you're doing it.
6 Why Am I Peeing Myself?
Peeing yourself is something you probably haven't done since you were a toddler (or maybe that time you got super drunk in college, no judgment here), so it can be upsetting to find yourself doing it again in pregnancy. But as you probably figured out after the first couple of months, your poor bladder gets quite a workout when you're pregnant. Your growing uterus puts lots of pressure on it (which is probably why you run to the bathroom dozens of times a day), and unfortunately that sometimes means incontinence. You might experience urine leakage, or even things like peeing a little when you sneeze or maybe even laugh too hard. For an easy, discreet way to try and correct the issue, check out the last item on this list.
5 How Can I Tell If It's The Baby Kicking Or Just Gas?
Feeling your baby kick for the first time is one of the most exciting moments of pregnancy. Though your baby is moving around pretty frequently very early on, it takes a while for them to grow big enough for you to actually feel anything. That typically happens anywhere from 16 to 22 weeks. If you're still in your first trimester and you're feeling strange sensations that you can't quite identify, it's more than likely just gas bubbles— especially if it's it higher up near your intestines or stomach. Those first baby kicks are usually much lower down in the pelvic area. I felt mine around 18 weeks, and it felt exactly like someone was flicking me with their finger, only on the inside. If it's your second baby, you might feel them even sooner, especially since by then you know what to look for.
4 Why Are My Lady Parts Swollen?
You know your lady parts are probably in for a rough time once childbirth gets started, but the aches and pains your poor vagina goes through actually start much earlier in pregnancy. Thanks to all the hormones, you might start to feel as if your vagina is puffy and swollen. There's some good news, though— it shouldn't actually appear swollen, even if it feels that way. It's just that there's a lot more blood than normal in the area. And even better news? All that extra blood might actually increase sensation and make sex feel even more amazing than normal. Not a bad trade off, in my book. If something other than hormones is causing your swelling, however, you'll need to see a doctor as it can also be caused by an infection.
3 Is My Belly Button Going To Go Back To Normal?
I didn't truly feel pregnant with my daughter until that horrifying day when I happened to catch a glimpse of my belly button while stepping out of the shower. Your growing uterus is right behind your belly button, so the bigger it gets, the crazier your belly button is going to look. Your cute little innie might suddenly turn into an outtie, or it may just take on a strange new stretched-out shape (that's what happened to me, for the record). Of all the things I miss about my pre-baby body, my formerly normal-sized belly button just might be the saddest. It doesn't always change back to normal after birth— in fact, you can even have plastic surgery to tighten it back up (I'm passing on that option, though).
2 Do I Need To Shave Before Birth?
Whether or not you shave (and perhaps more important, where you shave) before birth is up to you. When you're working through ever more intense contractions and trying to have a baby, the absolute dead last thing on your mind will be the fine coating of fur covering your legs and lady parts. Plus, bending over with your big belly pregnant belly to try and shave is ridiculously uncomfortable, so why bother stressing about it? In fact, some doctors say that shaving in your last few weeks of pregnancy can actually increase your risk of getting an infection if you end up needing a C-section. I wouldn't recommend waxing either, since your skin is more sensitive during pregnancy and it'll feel even more like some horrible form of torture.
1 Should I Do Kegels?
Kegels are pelvic floor exercises that are said to help you get through labor (the way you'd clench to stop peeing is the way you'd do a Kegel). Some experts suggest doing 20 reps of 10 seconds each as many as 5 times a day. You can do them literally anywhere and no one will have a clue. But is it worth it? Some believe strengthening your pelvic floor muscles with Kegels can make it easier to push during labor, and even make your labor shorter. That's a pretty great trade off in my book for something that only takes a couple minutes a day. And the benefits can continue after you give birth as well— if pregnancy and labor leave you with a weak, leaky bladder, Kegels can help you overcome incontinence.
Sources: The Bump, Today's Parent, Belly Belly, Fit Pregnancy, Baby Center, Healthline, Parents, New Kids Center