Pregnancy Truths Everyone's Too Scared to Discuss
Pregnancy is a time of wonder and beauty, that’s for sure. Growing a human being is an incredible feat, but that’s not to say it isn’t hard work. While many mothers love being pregnant from start to finish, such is not the case for every mama-to-be.
Pregnancy, for some, can come with a whole lot of discomforts. Many of those can come as a major shock because we simply don’t talk about them. While it’s definitely important to sit back and soak in the amazingness of what our bodies can accomplish, it’s also okay to acknowledge the not-so-fun parts of being pregnant. In fact, being honest about pregnancy challenges is refreshing and makes it so that other women won’t be as shocked when it happens to them.
Here are 14 pregnancy truths that are rarely discussed, but let’s give it a try, shall we?
Morning Sickness (or Hyperemesis Gravidarum)
We all know that morning sickness happens. In fact, it happens to most moms-to-be. Most commonly, moms will get queasy at the start of their day due to shifting hormones and low-blood sugar during the first trimester. But hyperemesis gravidarum, a form of severe morning sickness, is a whole different story.
It is not just a bit of queasiness — it’s constant vomiting and nausea, which can make it challenging for pregnant women to eat or even drink a glass of water. The condition can last throughout an entire pregnancy and sometimes even requires hospital stays.
Lower Back Pain
During the course of pregnancy, back aches can be a common frustration. Even in early pregnancy, shifting hormones — like relaxin, which causes the ligaments to relax in preparation for delivery — can cause body aches.
But especially during the final months, when the belly is growing rapidly and there is more downward pressure on the uterus, the lower back can easily become strained and extra sore.
Sciatic Nerve Pain
The sciatic nerve, which runs from your glute muscle (your bum) down the side of your leg, can often become tight and even pinched during delivery. A growing baby often puts pressure on this nerve causing sharp pain in the back or leg.
Watching, sitting or trying to get comfortable by sleeping can be made extra challenging when this dilemma arises. But gentle stretching, such as doing the figure-four stretch, can help alleviate some of the pain associated with this discomfort.
While it may seem like a minor problem, pregnant women often experience painful gas that is more intrusive than regular gas pains. Some have even confused it with going into labor!
Intense gas pains felt during pregnancy are typically caused by the slowing down of digestion. So, eating healthy foods, drinking tons of water and getting enough magnesium (or taking a supplement) can help keep things moving.
Both heartburn and indigestion are common during pregnancy, especially during the last trimester. The growing uterus puts pressure on the stomach, while at the same time, hormones cause the valve that keeps stomach acids in place to relax.
It’s a combination that means, even those who have never experienced heartburn in their lives, might get an icky taste of it. Sitting upright can be a helpful remedy and over-the-counter medicine can be used at the recommendation of a doctor.
Another icky side effect of gestation can be swollen feet and ankles. While it’s uncomfortable and will likely require you to buy larger shoes, swelling due to extra fluid in the body that often settles at your feet and ankles is usually not dangerous.
Excessive or sudden swelling, however, can be a side of preeclampsia, so always alert your care provider of any changes.
Water weight gain along with that increase in the hormone relaxin (again) can also make your joints feel extra achy. Wrists are a common place you might get sore and, at worst, you can even develop carpal tunnel syndrome.
You might notice the pain continues into postpartum, too, which is often due to the effects of pregnancy on your body, coupled with overuse from all your new-mom tasks.
Headaches or Migraines
Headaches are an extremely unfortunate and very common early symptom of pregnancy. In the first trimester, a huge increase in blood volume (about 50 percent) and a surge in hormones sends the body into overdrive. The result? A pounding head that feels like it might explode.
Typically, headaches ease up by the second trimester, but for some women, they continue throughout their pregnancy. Staying hydrated and taking a magnesium supplement or epsom salt baths can be helpful. While some practitioners recommend taking Tylenol, others cite research that links taking Tylenol during pregnancy to ADHD in children.
Drops in blood sugar, changes in blood flow and an increase in hormones can all lead pregnant women to feel a little wobbly or lightheaded. Commonly, it can be solved by having something to eat (iron-rich foods are most beneficial) or a bit of rest.
But for many, feeling a little woozy comes with the territory of being pregnant. While it’s usually normal, beware of dizziness that is accompanied by blurry vision or severe headaches, as this can mean a more serious issue, like anemia, might be present.
Struggling to feel energetic can be normal during just about any stage of pregnancy. Most women feel tired (or downright exhausted) during the first trimester, notice an increase of energy during the second, and begin to feel tired and drained again by the third.
But being tired and wondering how your energy got zapped just a few hours into your day isn’t uncommon. After all, your body is doing tons of work behind the scenes each and every day.
Changes in Libido
Due to an influx of hormones, many women feel their libido go into overdrive during pregnancy (usually around the second trimester). For some, it can be a fun and welcomed part of gestation.
But changes in libido can also mean sudden drops, too, which can continue into postpartum when hormones continue to shift.
While moms often make jokes about their bladders being ruined by pushing out a baby, more frequent urination usually begins in pregnancy. Extra pressure on the bladder from the growing baby can make moms-to-be feel like they have to use the bathroom almost constantly.
It can be annoying and, for many, having a decrease in bladder control can continue well into postpartum or even forever. Doing Kegel exercises throughout pregnancy can help strengthen the muscles that control urination. But it’s true that for most, pregnancy and birth have some impact on a woman’s bladder control.
Especially during the final months of pregnancy, many women will experience an increase in vaginal discharge. While it’s totally normal, and one of your body’s many ways of preparing for labor, it’s not all that pleasant to feel constantly damp for months on end.
Wearing a panty-liner, however, can help, especially if you change it often.
Not Being Able to Move Freely
One of the biggest complaints moms-to-be have, especially during the latter months of pregnancy, is that simple movements they never had to think about become challenging. Getting up from a chair, leaning over to tie your shoes or shaving your legs feel downright impossible.
Not being able to move about freely like your body is used to is frustrating. But hang in there because it’s also likely a sign that the end is near.