Everyone knows you can expect morning sickness and strange cravings when you're pregnant. But what about some lesser-known symptoms that might take you by surprise? Every person's body and pregnancy is different, so you may or may not experience any of these symptoms and still be having a normal healthy pregnancy, but here are some things I experienced that surprised me!
Having to pee all the time
Even as early as the third week of pregnancy, I found myself running to the bathroom all of the time. I knew pregnant women had to pee a lot, but I thought this didn't start until closer to the end when the baby was pressing on your bladder! Turns out pregnancy causes your body to produce more blood to help take care of baby, which leads to more blood needing to be cleaned by your kidneys, which leads to more urine being produced… a lot more urine. That, plus I felt so thirsty! My body needed a lot of water to be able to grow and take care of my little babe, and the result was a lot of urine.
Being hungry… but also getting full really fast
I would be so ravenous (when I wasn't feeling nauseated!) but as soon as I'd eat one slice of pizza, I'd be full! Baby takes up a lot of room in your abdomen which means all of the other organs have to squish a bit to make room. I was usually hungry a couple of hours later, so small frequent meals ended up being the best for my hunger and my nausea! A growing baby squishing and pushing on your stomach can also lead to heartburn, so be on the lookout for that!
There are a lot of reasons it might be hard to fall asleep during pregnancy. Pregnancy can be really uncomfortable, which can make it hard to get in a good position for sleep. You might also have a lot on your mind and racing thoughts that keep you awake. There's also just our good friends hormones doing their thing, and all of the resultant changes our bodies are going through can lead to some unexpected wakefulness at night.
This is another one of those symptoms I thought would kick in later on as the baby got bigger and put more pressure on my back. Nope, fairly early on in my pregnancy I noticed that my lower back was feeling really sore. Turns out pregnancy causes the body to release hormones that relax the ligaments around your pelvis, which can lead to those bones & joints wiggling around more than they used to, which can cause irritation and pain.
Yep! I had a cold in July. Pregnancy does all sorts of things to our bodies to help us keep baby alive. We hold onto water, produce more blood in the mucusey parts of our bodies (like our nasal passages), and can even have a slightly compromised immune system so that our body doesn't reject the baby as a foreign object. The combination gave me cold symptoms even in the middle of summer!
I won't go into too much detail here, but one of the hormones that keeps baby safely inside your uterus also causes your digestive system to slow waayyyy down. This can cause things to get a little… backed up. Also, a growing baby causes things to move around in there, and using the muscles you might be used to using for a bowel movement can cause you to feel like your baby is being squished! Lots of water, lots of fruits and leafy green vegetables, and trying to go for at least a short walk every day can help with this.
I knew that pregnant women were often tired, but I feel like I wasn't quite prepared for how bone-deep that fatigue can be sometimes. During my first trimester especially I was sleeping a lot. And even when I was awake I just felt not only physically exhausted but mentally and emotionally drained from thinking about this baby all day long and trying to exist while pregnant and deal with my growing changing body. It is completely normal to feel exhausted and overwhelmed while pregnant. Make sure you're taking time to rest and asking for help when you need it.
This one really surprised me. I would be sitting in bed doing nothing and suddenly feel like I had just climbed a flight of stairs! Turns out the hormones involved in growing and keeping a baby inside you can also lead to feelings of breathlessness. Your baby is getting all of their oxygen through you, and using you to get rid their carbon dioxide. You're not only eating for two, you're breathing for two! I also noticed I sometimes felt lightheaded and had occasional weird heart feelings, like my heart was pounding too hard. I talked to my midwife about it and was told that this can happen because my body is producing so much extra blood (causing my heart to work harder,) and as my blood vessels widen my blood pressure can dip a little lower than I'm used to, causing the lightheadedness when I stood up.
Round Ligament Pain
I knew my uterus and abdomen would have to grow and expand to accommodate my growing baby, but I never really thought about how that would feel. Turns out it feels like there are rubber bands inside your belly being stretched out and it can sometimes really hurt! The ligaments that hold your uterus in place have to expand as your baby grows, and it can sometimes feel like you're stretching your hamstrings… but in your belly!
Mood Swings & Anxiety
Anxiety and depression are super common to experience before, during, and after your pregnancy, and so are mood swings. I would hear myself saying things to my loved ones that I knew didn't make sense or that I knew weren't kind, but I felt like I couldn't stop myself! Even normal things made me feel super annoyed or hurt or overwhelmed. This is normal, and better yet this will pass. It is also absolutely normal to worry about your baby or to feel sensitive during your pregnancy, but if you find that symptoms like intrusive thoughts, a lack of interest in activities you used to enjoy, or overall moodiness are keeping you from living your day to day life, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about options. About 2 weeks of baby blues is normal, but if feelings last longer than that be sure to talk to your doctor. A happy and healthy mom means a happy and healthy baby, and the way you feel matters. Help Me Grow has resources on maternal mental health you can also take advantage of.
If you have any questions or concerns about your pregnancy, what you're experiencing, or anything else regarding your health or the health of your baby, be sure to contact your healthcare professional! There are plenty of pregnancy-safe medication options and exercises available to you to help you manage any of these symptoms :)
Comment below -- what symptoms took you by surprise during pregnancy?