When that stick turns pink, a woman's system is about to go through some huge changes. They're not good or bad, just... different.
As her system gets ready to become a new mama, it needs to adjust and prepare for not only birth but growth. Her job for the next nine months is to take it as easy as possible, eat healthily, and get excited for the little one that she's bringing into the world. Hormones are the number one cause of all these changes, and she'll notice them soon enough. While they're unusual, they're also totally normal. Knowing what to expect can help a mom deal with them a bit better, which is why we've created this list of things every woman should know when she's expecting.
In addition to Aunt Flo, the mom-to-be will notice changes in her skin, hair, and even shoe size (don't worry, we're going to explain why). It only lasts nine months. and most of these things will disappear within a month or two after mom has given birth. Chances are, she'll be so excited and happy to be able to hold her baby in her arms that she won't even notice. Without further ado, here are 20 things that mom can look forward to throughout her pregnancy.
20 Gum Health Becomes Very Important
What's the most common cause of declining gum health during pregnancy? Hormones, of course! This is easily combatted, however, with proper and regular hygiene. You'll notice that brushing your teeth twice a day is a must and this should be combined with regular flossing as well. Your gums may become inflamed or irritated, so it's important to remember not to brush too hard and to use a toothbrush that will get into all of those hard-to-reach crevices. Dental visits should be kept up regularly as your pregnancy likely won't interfere with a check-up. Your dentist will be able to give you helpful tips and make sure your smile is looking its best when your beautiful baby arrives.
19 Get Ready For Gorgeous Hair
Moms-to-be can thank estrogen for this delightful change in appearance. As estrogen levels increase, you might notice that your hair is looking even more voluminous and shiny, which is a good thing! The increase of this hormone helps to promote hair growth, meaning that you might end up needing a trim more often than not. Take advantage of these great hair days while you can, because babies love to pull on it, which might lead to some serious "ouch!" moments for mama. While hair dye, bleaching, and other chemical processes aren't recommended, you won't likely need to do anything on these good hair days.
18 Speaking Of Hair, It'll Appear In Other Places, Too
That's right -- estrogen doesn't just increase the hair on your head. You might notice a more prevalent "happy trail", hair appearing on your chin or neck, and even in other places you've never had it before. This should clear up after you give birth but the good news is that tweezing and/or shaving is totally okay while you're pregnant. Contrary to popular belief, these hairs won't grow back longer, darker, or thicker -- that's a myth. So feel free to get your eyebrows done, tweeze those unwanted witch hairs, and shave your legs as often as you need to. We won't tell anyone!
17 Manicures And Pedicures Will Only Help
While estrogen helps your hair growth, it can do a number on your nails. Some women notice that where they had strong and hard nails before, they now have more breakage. Nails can become brittle during this time and are best kept short if you don't have them manicured already. Due to their brittle nature, you can take your girlfriends up on their offer to take you out for a mani-pedi. Not only is it relaxing for you, but many people ignore how important nail health can be. Just like your skin or hair, your nails need a little TLC, too.
16 Pregnancy Will Be Reflected In Your Skin, Too
This is often referred to as the "pregnancy glow," and it happens sometime around the second trimester. There's a perfectly logical explanation to this common term, though; due to increased blood flow in your body, your heart rate is working hard to keep everything strong. This also affects your skin, which may look naturally rosy or "glowing" because it seems much healthier. Contrary to popular belief, however, not every woman will experience this rare glow. While your skin might look healthier, it will also undergo some lesser wanted changes that we'll get into in the next point. This doesn't mean it won't happen to you, but skincare should be high on the list of things to take care of during your nine months.
15 Freckles, Acne, Radiant Glows, Oh My!
In addition to skin looking radiant, it can also go through some less glamorous changes. Issues such as acne may arise and this is due to the number of hormones that are coursing through your body at once. These increased hormones could be leading to extra oil secretion, which makes the skin break out more easily than it did before. A simple change in skincare and how often you wash your face can solve this problem. But, if you notice significant breakouts, see your dermatologist to get the scoop on the safest acne products for use during pregnancy. You might also notice that dark spots have appeared on your skin, and these should naturally fade on their own or with the help of lightening cream.
14 The Belly Button Pop
It's inevitable, your belly button can't remain an innie forever! As your body expands, your stomach, in particular, will go through some significant changes. Along with your growing belly, your belly button will also be affected by the size. There will need to be enough room to accommodate your growing baby, therefore anything is fair game. Including your previously innie belly button. Those who already have outies will notice that they protrude even more. Any woman with an innie will definitely notice that her belly button is now beginning to stick out in a way that it hadn't prior. It's all part of pregnancy!
13 Joints And Ligaments Can Take A Hit, But For Good Reason
You may have noticed during your first prenatal exam that your doctor checked to make sure that your cervix could handle stretching enough to accommodate a baby. This is only one of the things that will stretch and grow in order to allow you to give birth, though. Your joints and ligaments will begin to separate just slightly in order to provide the girth you'll need to give birth. This all has to do with a hormone called relaxin, which allows the joints to literally "relax". This might make you a bit unsteady on your feet but serves a very significant purpose. While it can cause some back pain, your joints will feel much looser so that you'll have an easier time pushing your baby out when the time comes.
12 Feet Might Seem A Tad Bigger, But It's Temporary
Some experts attribute this growth in shoe size to an increase in the growth hormone, which is secreted throughout pregnancy. However, this is only one of three causes for why so many women notice that their feet have grown an extra size while they're pregnant. Another explanation could be due to the fact that a woman's arches will flatten a bit while she's pregnant. This could be due to the size of her baby and how much she's carrying around on her frame. The third explanation has to do with something much more simpler: Swelling. During pregnancy, your ankles, as well as your feet, can swell due to excess fluid and how much you're carrying while you walk.
11 Digestion Just Doesn't Work The Same
Progesterone is slowly making its way around your system, which means that everything is much looser-feeling. Except for your bowels, that is. A relaxed muscle seems like it would have the opposite effect on a pregnant woman but alas, that is not the case. When your system relaxes, it doesn't make much of an effort to do anything, let alone allow you to use the bathroom quickly and easily. Constipation is a normal pregnancy symptom and can be alleviated with an extra intake of fibre. Staying hydrated is also key to just about everything when it comes to pregnancy (and a healthy life in general), so make sure to do that too.
10 It's Not A Cold, Congestion Is Normal
This pregnancy side effect isn't the most common, but it does happen to some women. With all the fluids flowing around your system, you might notice that you feel a bit more stuffy than you usually do. This is normal and doesn't necessarily mean that you have cold or awful allergies. The vessel in your nose can easily constrict, which means a tightening of airways. This is what leads to congestion and makes you feel as though you're much more stuffy than usual. Estrogen is also partially responsible for this, as it can lead to swelling of the nasal membranes. Yet another side effect of this side effect can be snoring... Lovely.
9 Periods Stop But Pick Up Right Where They Left Off (And Then Some)
Your period has stopped, hooray! Don't get too excited, though. It'll come right back as soon as you give birth. Once your baby is born, Aunt Flo rears her inconvenient head almost immediately as if to say, "did you miss me?" Which, of course, you did not. In order to make up for nine months of being M.I.A., Aunt Flo sets about providing you with six to eight weeks of consistent pad-changing. There are rules against using tampons immediately after you give birth so listening to your doctor is crucial before you head home. Don't worry, though -- after the initial month and a half, your period should be back to how it was before.
8 Cramps Will Be In Your Legs Rather Than Your Uterus
A specific cause has not been narrowed down as to why so many women get leg cramps while they're pregnant. It's one of those things that many women experience, but no one really knows why they happen. These cramps seem to come with a vengeance at night, and the quickest way to alleviate them is to stretch out. This will stretch the muscle and force it to move, and also encourage proper circulation to a muscle that might be a tad sleepy still. It's a good idea to make sure that you're walking around a bit every day, as sitting in one position for a long time can do more harm than good.
7 Heartburn Is Normal
It's rumoured that if you experience significant heartburn while you're pregnant, then your baby will be born with a head full of hair. Science shows that this isn't too far from the truth. Heartburn is probably one of the most common side effects of pregnancy and aside from monitoring your spicy food intake, there's not much else you can do. Heartburn will come and go as it pleases, and you might find that something you've eaten hundreds of times is now causing some serious after-effects. This is all due to progesterone, once again, loosening all of the muscles in your body.
6 Learn To Live With The Excess Sweat
This isn't the same kind of sweats you'll experience during a hot flash when you eventually hit menopause. This is a whole new type of sweating altogether: the kind that happens after you run a marathon. All of that increased circulation, which causes the good side effects of pregnancy like glowing skin, can also make you sweat... A lot. Your body is constantly functioning at maximum levels and your heart is working hard to increase circulation to two people at this point. Therefore, it makes perfect sense why you'd be walking around like a sweaty mess when all you did was walk down two stairs. Water is key to carry on-hand when this happens!
5 Restless Everything Syndrome Might Develop
You might experience a bit more restlessness than just in your legs while you're pregnant. This is normal, but it can definitely be a drag. If you feel antsy, listen to your body, but don't be afraid to get up and move. Sometimes you just need to. This is yet another pregnancy side effect that really has no definitive source, other than perhaps your body is restless from being so overcome with hormones. This tends to happen at night, so it could also be your body's way of not maintaining a balance between working and sleeping. If your doctor has ruled out an iron deficiency (which can also cause this), then trying various techniques such as moving around, relaxing with a hot bath, or acupuncture may prove worthy.
4 Don't Be Surprised If You're More Itchy Than Normal
Estrogen might be the number one cause of this itchy feeling, but it's just something that happens when you're pregnant. Hormones can do a lot of things so it comes as no surprise that feeling the need to scratch random places is one of them. Just prepare for anything weird as this point. This can be easily remedied with your favorite gentle lotion, but it's still annoying nonetheless. You might also notice that not taking excruciatingly hot showers -- we all know you're guilty of it -- as well as avoiding itch-inducing fabrics or soaps can help tremendously with this obnoxious sensation.
3 Your Bladder Becomes A Faucet
Well, duh! Of course, you knew this one. However, this can cause some issues if you're not near a bathroom 24/7. As silly as it sounds, a pair of Depends or other disposable underwear can really help in these situations, especially when you're in your last trimester. Not making it to the bathroom in time is a common occurrence when it comes to pregnancy and it's nothing to be ashamed of. After all, you are sporting enough liquid volume for two people, so it's understandable that it would need to come out at some point. Don't stress it!
2 The Nose Just Knows: A Heightened Sense Of Smell
This is a fun one. Estrogen, yet again, is the culprit for why you can suddenly smell what your neighbours are cooking three houses down. Okay, okay, while your sense of smell might not be quite that keen, you will be able to smell things like you never have before. Consider it a superpower unless, of course, you have significant other who enjoys wearing the same shirt for three lazy days in a row. Your sense of smell is definitely heightened while you're pregnant which means that food will taste much more... well, food-y. Everything is heightened at this point and it's just something to be aware of.
1 ...Which Is A Bad Combination With Increased Gas
Regarding the previous point, this is pretty bad. Your stomach is going through some weird things and in addition to constipation, you'll likely notice a change in, um, scent, too. Excess gas comes as a result of progesterone which manages to loosen your downstairs muscles enough to let gas escape, but not enough to let much else pass very easily. This is a mildly hilarious yet awkward side effect of pregnancy, and something that moms-to-be should definitely be prepared for. If you're not planning on clearing out a room quickly, then doctor-approved gas relief is something that will be well-appreciated by your partner during the next nine months.