Sharing what week of pregnancy you're in is likely met with teeth-sucking and the dreaded opening line of what is going to happen to your body in the next few days, weeks or trimesters to come. It usually starts off agreeable; “Oh I remember that time," but it quickly delves into the moment when stretch marks became visible, nausea reared its ugly (and sickly green) head, or when someone said sex would become a distant memory.
As your best friend, mother and everyone else likes to remind you: the TMI-givers mean well. However, sometimes the advice isn’t as trustworthy as hoped; many truisms associated with the body during pregnancy are often old wives’ tales or not completely accurate… at least not for everybody. And the best defense is a good offense; knowing what is or is not likely to happen can help ease you off the ledge your confidants—or yourself—unknowingly pushed you upon.
We’re here to help you on your journey to truth. Though every woman’s body is different and may respond differently to certain pregnancy elements, we’ve come up with nine things that likely aren’t going to happen to your body during your pregnancy. Some are good. Some are bad. Some are ugly. But all are valuable to know.
10 Your Sex Drive Doesn’t Always Diminish
One of those truisms that slip off the tongue is just how much you’ll not want sex—before the baby is even born. While this is true for some women, it is certainly not true for all. In fact, for some women, the urge to have sex increases, as the increased estrogen ups the libido.
But take note: Even if it has diminished, you can get it back depending on why it’s lost in the first place. For instance, a common element that may affect sex drive is the belief that sex may harm the baby. However, you can rest assured that this is not the case (though the position of your placenta may make it hurt for you.
You might find that your sex drive actually increases
Ask your doctor if you feel pain during sexual activities), as the baby is engulfed in the safety of its amniotic fluid and protected by strong surrounding muscles. Even an orgasm won’t harm the baby for those with low-risk pregnancies (consult your doctor to ensure you are, indeed, low-risk), notes WebMD, though it’s commonly worried that one will induce miscarriage.
However, these contractions are different than those that occur during labor, and are nothing to be concerned about. In fact, think about sex in a baby-positive way: Sometimes the motion involved in sex can rock the baby to sleep. Such mind-shifting may encourage more sexy time simply due to eased worries (in one or both partners).
9 Your Self-Confidence Doesn’t Always Diminish Either
Sometimes pregnancy’s side effects, or its one main large one, can cause a dip in self-confidence. This may come from others’ countless statements—“Wow you’re due when? You look big for (insert number of months along you are)” or “You sure it isn’t twins?”—or from yourself, as you watch your body shift physically to accommodate your baby and all it needs.
This is especially true for those who had body issues prior to being pregnant, as they may find those issues rearing their ugly heads as the waist line increases. This can be made worse by women who were exposed to or taught negative self-image through parents or community when younger. Take heart, mama. While these influencers can create or worsen lack of self-esteem, you may not experience this. In fact, you may find yourself experiencing just the opposite.
As PBS discusses, women can run the gamut of self-esteem spectrum during pregnancy, with some women landing along the side of feeling empowered about what they can do with their bodies, or feeling more like a woman than ever before. This may be due in part by your levels of estrogen, which can make women feel sexy.
Some women feel more confident while pregnant than when they're not
However, consider the fact that, even if you do feel self-confident, you don’t have to stick with that feeling. Build on your self-worth through practicing mindfulness exercises, identifying your strengths, assessing underlying issues that may be contributing to any current self-esteem issues.
Also remember that you will be the example for healthy body-positivity and self-confidence for your baby, and the only way to be that source for him or her is to practice healthy self-worth yourself.
8 You Might Not Get that Glow
One thing that may prove difficult in your endeavors to keep your body-positivity may be that you, like many women, aren’t going to get the signature “glow” of skin. As the Parenting website suggests, while your hormones can provide a certain glow of the face due to increased blood flow, they can also encourage acne, spider veins, broken vessels, skin tags, moles or even cholasma, which is often referred to as the pregnancy mask.
This “mask” is actually a darkening of the face due to hyperpigmentation of the skin brought on by hormonal changes in the body.
This isn't permanent, it'll go away when your pregnancy is over
However, there are things you can do to minimize some of these not-so-glamorous aspects of pregnancy. See a dermatologist for pregnancy-safe acne treatments, stay out of the sun to reduce additional hyperpigmentation and wear SPF with a minimum of 15, notes the site. And, if all else fails, remember that all of these symptoms, save for moles, will go away after baby is here.
7 Your Belly Button Ring is not Your Tummy’s Enemy
While it’s not encouraged for you to get a belly button ring or any piercing during pregnancy—there’s an increased risk of infection and a direct line to your blood—an existing ring, that ode to your younger or more spirited years, doesn’t have to be sacrificed to the pregnancy gods. In fact, it can hang round as long as you want it to.
Notes the What to Expect website, the holes present from an existing belly button piercing don’t provide a pathway for bacteria to get to your baby, and if you do experience some manifestations of infection, like redness or swelling, simply take it out and ask your doctor about the simple methods of healing the area.
However, one thing to remember is that you might want to take it out. As the skin around your belly gets pulled tighter, you may find that you’re itching it more. Or, as your belly gets larger and the ring protrudes with it, it may cause serious snags in your Liz Lange Maternity collection.
You can wear that ring for as long as you like, it's not going to hurt Jr
And, while some doctors state they can work around the piercing, others state that unplanned (and planned) cesarean sections require the metal to be taken out of your body prior to procedure so that it doesn’t interfere with the surgical process, so you may want to be one step ahead of the curve.
If you’re wanting to be safe rather than sorry, take out the jewelry but make sure to give it a good run through the hole every few days to make sure the opening is still ready and rearing to go for when you are.
6 Dying Your Hair Won’t Hurt You
Many consider dying your hair while pregnant to be harmful, as the chemicals found in dyes can seep through the scalp and into your system, causing harm to you and your baby while pregnant or while nursing.
However, according to WebMD, while some absorption through the skin will occur—nothing new for veteran hair-altering aficionados—and while studies are out on how much, if any, chemicals are absorbed into your body through the scalp, it’s not generally enough to be unhealthy for you or baby, even if you go “permanent.” Thus, it’s a cautious green light on this one.
Want to use relaxer? The light’s cautiously green on those too, for the same reason. However, be mindful of the smells radiating from common product chemicals, like ammonia, that can induce anything from nausea to dizziness if you’re not in a well-ventilated area.
You're going to be wearing the hair dye, not ingesting it so you'll be fine
Still want to be cautious? Use safer alternatives, like natural brown henna or like vegetable dyes, or any hair-dying or –altering alternative that houses fewer chemicals or chemical amounts. You can also opt for highlights, the process for which doesn’t include chemicals touching the scalp.
One thing worth noting, however, is that the hair you have and will have through these nine months is not the same hair you had when you signed up for this baby gig; it may look like it, but it’s texture and volume, among other elements get altered through the pregnancy process due to hormones and prenatal vitamins. Thus, if you opt for hair alterations, remember that the end result might not be what you’re used to.
5 (Brown) Henna Tattoos Won’t Harm You
One commonality in pregnancy is the “babymoon”—that pre-baby period where you and your partner skip off on vacation. During your (extended?) stay, you might feel compelled enough to mark the occasion…literally. And while actual tattoos are not advised— at most, they run the risk of getting you infected. At least, they run the risk of stretching as your belly and other areas of the body do—henna tattoos are OK, that is as long as it’s made with brown ink.
Safe henna is chemical-free and directly plant-based, and you can identify this kind of henna because of its brown tone, which is distinct from black-colored henna, the kind often used at parlors or tourist attractions because it works quickly. That henna, “contains a dye called para-phenylenediamine (PPD), and this is not safe, because it can cause dermatitis and severe allergic reactions,” says BabyCenter.com.
Just remember that brown is the good type of Henna tattoo
While this chemical is used—and is safe—in hair dyes, it’s not safe for direct placement on the skin, and can cause itchiness, pain and a future allergic reaction to items containing PPD, like hair dyes.
The benefits of brown henna don’t end there; while it takes a long time to work, brown henna tattoos tend to last a few weeks longer than a black-toned one, which usually lasts a week, notes the site.
4 Your Face is Not Going to Reveal Your Baby’s Sex
..nor is the position of the bump, the linea nigra flowing vertically from your belly button or many others, unfortunately. These pieces of folklore run about as rampant as another main tale: a simple scan-over of your mug—whether your skin has now sported baby-induced acne, is glowing, is dry or simply doesn’t look sick—will expose the sex of the baby.
Sorry, mom. While it’s fun to play into these tales and make predictions, there is simply no way to tell by looking on the outside what the sex of your baby is. You can, however, tell what areas of the body may be hurting by a grimace or a limp, but that just means baby is getting bigger and thus harder to carry.
The gender of your baby can't be determined by an Old Wive's Tale
The only one who can tell you what gender your baby is, is the nurse who performs your ultrasound. So just hang tight, you'll find out soon enough whether your baby is a boy or a girl.
3 No Flu for You if You’re Vaccinated (through the shot)
There may be many concerns you’re weighing when deciding to get a flu shot or not, the most common of them being that the flu shot will give you the illness while pregnant, or the vaccine will harm the baby.
However, while shots are snippets of illnesses designed to get your body prepared to handle the condition if it comes full force, and while vaccines and their effects on babies are highly contentious and polarized, WebMD suggests illness to you and harm to your baby are not possibilities when getting the shot.
In fact, the flu shot can actually keep you and your baby more protected than if you stave off the preventative measure. This is because, being pregnant, you’re much more susceptible to illnesses, and susceptible to worse symptoms of those illnesses, because of the changes that are occurring in your vital organs, like the lungs, heart and immune system, notes the site.
The flu shot is 100% safe for you during pregnancy
In fact, getting the flu while pregnant puts you at risk for hospitalization and even death, in addition to pregnancy problems like premature delivery, notes the CDC. Getting a shot is like strengthening that weakened support so that it can tolerate the illness’ powerful visit.
What’s more, the vaccine passes down to your baby through your body in utero and while breastfeeding, making him or her protected from the flu for the six months that he or she cannot receive the flu vaccine, the site shares.
You can get the vaccine at any time during your pregnancy. Just ensure that you get the shot, which contains killed virus strands, rather than the nasal spray, which houses the live virus.
2 Flying Isn't Going to Increase Radiation Risk
Your babymoon, or just a simple cross-state trip for the holidays, may require a ride on the old sky bus, and this can be unnerving. Airports are riddled with machines that you have to deal with when en route to your terminal. These machines, like body scanners and x-ray machines at security stops, house radiation that some worry can harm the baby.
And if that doesn’t seal the anxiety deal, radiation from flying high can. However, WebmD suggests not to worry, noting that throughout your continuous journey on ground, you’re exposed to radiation anyway. Even though this amount may increase as you ride high in the atmosphere, it doesn’t have enough oomph to go deep into the body, meaning you and your baby are safe.
If you feel uncomfortable you can always ask for the traditional boy search instead
As for those scanners and x-rays? They may have some radiation, but it’s not harmful either. And if you’re still nervous, just ask for a pat-down. The only possibly thing radiating then is awkwardness.
However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t get a side-eye or two for flying while pregnant. But as Time indicates, this has more to do with worries that baby will arrive—or at least kick start the arrival—somewhere between take-off and landing, leading to an emergency landing and a strong hope that there’s a doctor on board.
1 Final Words
The list of dos and don’ts is long when it comes to pregnancy. However, one thing to remember is that your body knows what it is doing and tries its hardest so that you and baby stay safe. Your intuition of what is “normal” or not will also guide you, and, as always, seek medical help if you continually worry about an issue.