12 Weird Side Effects of Pregnancy
“You’re glowing!” is something most pregnant women hear from time to time. And sure, pregnancy can bring out some lovely traits… along with some, uh, less flattering ones. Say hello to side effects of pregnancy.
We’ve all heard about morning sickness. But how about snoring? I always felt humbled when my husband gently prodded me to use a neti pot and, later, nose strips at night to turn down the decibels. And I’m still wondering how I ever fit into the clown shoes I bought during my last pregnancy.
Although it may seem like some very abnormal things are going on with your body, it’s all perfectly normal. Most of us experience some strange pregnancy side effects.
1. You leak when you laugh (or sneeze): Might as well get this one out of the way. Fact is, many moms-to-be can leak a little throughout the day.
What’s up: Well, most of us are hydrated to the max. Many doctors recommend that pregnant women drink up to 80 ounces of water each day. Combine that with a baby and placenta resting against your bladder and, well, something’s gotta give.
What you can do: Go when you gotta go. Don’t feel bad about having to pee way more than usual. Also, get going on your Kegel exercises.
How to do Kegel exercises during pregnancy
- Empty your bladder
- While sitting or lying down, contract the muscles you’d use to stop peeing. It’s a “squeeze and lift” feeling.
- Only your pelvic floor muscles should be working. Don’t pull in your tummy, squeeze your legs together, tense your buttocks, or hold your breath.
- Squeeze for 3 seconds, then relax for 3 seconds.
- Aim for three sets of 10 Kegels, three times a day.
2. You sound like the Snuffleuphagus: You’re not sick, but you sure sound like it. And blowing your nose doesn’t help.
What’s up: Your blood supply increases by about 50% during pregnancy. That, along with ramped up hormones in your body can cause your mucus membranes to swell up, dry out, and even bleed.
What you can do: Drink plenty of liquids, run a humidifier, and use a neti pot.
3. You saw logs all night long: Talk about a role reversal! Your partner, aka Sir Snorealot, now complains about your nighttime noisemaking (when you can sleep).
What’s up: See point #2 above. Those swollen mucus membranes can force you to breathe through your mouth, which often leads to snoring.
What you can do: Using a neti pot at bedtime can help. Sleep on your side, and consider picking up a body pillow as well. Also, try running a humidifier.
4. Your nipples swell to the size of saucers: The areolas! They’re taking over! Don’t be surprised when your nipples expand in size and grow darker in color. You may also see little bumps appear around the nipple that excrete fluid.
What’s up: Blame it on the hormones. They’re responsible for the “hyperpigmentation” of your nipples. Many people believe that this darker color is nature’s way of helping newborns find the breast (bullseye!). And those bumps are in fact glands that help keep your nipple lubricated.
What you can do: Just sit tight – your areolas will shrink once you finish with breastfeeding. The color will lighten up too – although they may always be a little darker than they once were.
5. You develop Covergirl hair: Nice mane, mama! But what’s up with the hair on your face, chest, and back?
What’s up: Thanks again to hormones, your hair falls out much more slowly than normal. But those same hormones are to blame for the hair in less desirable places.
What you can do: Enjoy your locks up top, and if you want, wax or tweeze unwanted hairs elsewhere – except your nipples, which can lead to irritation and infection.
6. You drool like Pavlov’s dog: Strange but true: Some pregnant women create up to four quarts of extra saliva each day.
What’s up: Excess salivation during pregnancy is still something of a mystery. Hormones are at least partly to blame. Hypersalivation is also more common in women who suffer from extreme morning sickness, and therefore swallowing less often.
What you can do: Got a spittoon handy? It ain’t ladylike, but it could help during extreme bouts of hyper salivation. Also, drinking lemon water or lemonade may help you pucker and dry up.
7. Second trimester randiness: A month ago, you were too exhausted to wash the dishes. Now you’re itching to get down and dirty.
What’s up: For once you can thank those surging hormones. And all that blood in our bodies definitely reaches us “down there.”
What you can do: Make hay while the sun is shining! And encourage your partner to enjoy it too because, just between you and me, there may be a drought toward the very end of pregnancy and early newborn stages.
8. You’re suddenly wearing clown shoes: Your beautiful shoe collection, knocked outta commission.
What’s up: Remember all that extra blood in your body that we’ve been talking about? Fluid retention is a fact of pregnancy, and it can make us bigger everywhere.
What you can do: Don’t be afraid to buy a larger size shoe during your pregnancy. You may just need it afterward, too, as some women’s feet don’t return to their pre-pregnancy size (sorry). Mine did. My mom’s didn’t.
9. Hot, hot, hot!: You’re sweating. Roasting. We’re talking Death Valley hot here. Prepare for the battle of the thermostat with your partner.
What’s up: Your metabolism is cranked up to 11. And there’s all that extra blood again; as it pumps through your body, it warms your skin.
What you can do: Dress cool. Use a natural deodorant. And let your partner know that the pregnant women gets to control the thermostat. That’s just a given.
10. Bleeding gums!?!: You’ve been a meticulous brusher and flosser all your adult life, and now this?!?
What’s up: Its that extra blood again. It can make your gums swell and feel more sensitive.
What you can do: Keep up with your oral hygiene, just be extra gentle. And be sure to make your regular dental appointments, as many women experience more plaque buildup during pregnancy.
11. Blotches and other skin weirdness: Skin tags, dark spots, stretch marks, PUPPS rash, and spider veins: They happen.
What’s up: The dark spots on your face and skin are sometimes called the “mask of pregnancy.” Cute, huh? This is due to a temporary increase in your body’s production of melanin, the natural pigment that gives color to hair, skin, and eyes.
As for the spider veins, you can thank that extra blood again. And the skin tags are likely due to friction and hormonal surges. The stretch marks are self-explanatory. Rosehip seed oil and Lavender oil can help reduce or eliminate them all together. And pregnancy acne? Not fun, but there are some natural remedies to get rid of it.
What you can do: Sit tight, most of this goes away (or at least fades considerably) after pregnancy. Oregano oil can remove the skin tags if need be.
12. Your heart races like a cheetah: Sure, you’re excited about this pregnancy, but this racing heart is ridiculous!
What’s up: Your heart needs to work harder to pump all that extra blood. The average heart rate can increase by 15 beats per minute!
What you can do: Accept an elevated heart rate as normal. BUT, if you experience chest pains or lightheadedness, check in with your doctor or midwife.