Pregnancy is a truly incredible process. That a human baby can be formed by having sex literally boggles my mind. I thought I knew what pregnancy would be like. I was so wrong. From speaking to lots of women since starting my blog, I have compiled a list of their most embarrassing or annoying pregnancy symptom.
Please don’t panic if you are reading this whilst newly pregnant. The joy of feeling that baby move for the first time or hearing that heartbeat overshadows all of the horrors below. I just did not expect pregnancy to be so undignified.
I was not one of those ladies who “bloom” in pregnancy. Unless by bloom of course you mean water retention with a side order of a sweaty sheen. In which case, I smashed it.
NB. A massive thank you to the gorgeous ladies who have sent me their bumpies to add to this post. They obviously bloomed during pregnancy. And breezed through on a cloud of fairy dust. The photos are not linked to the stories. All done at random and shared with their permission. Thanks! Can I just say how beautiful and unique all these bumps are? 😍
Here it is in all its glory and horror…
A is for…. acne
I am talking full on pubescent pustules. Whilst I got oilier skin and blacker blackheads, I know women who had spots all over their face, chest, neck and backs. I suppose it makes sense with the out of control hormones raging through you. But when emotional the last thing you need to wake up to is a face full of pimples.
B is for…. backache
Carrying around a watermelon strapped to your front is bound to alter your centre of gravity. Which in turn leads to backache. If your baby turns back to back there will be no let up in this backache. Even the deepest back rub doesn’t quite ‘scratch the itch’ as it were. Sciatica is common in pregnancy
C is for…. cramp
Full football player rolling on the floor levels of cramp. Maybe you are 30 odd weeks pregnant. Uncomfortable in any position. Your bed may as well be a pile of rubble. You’ve been for a wee a few times. Your partner is snoring. You quietly plot ways to silence that snore. And finally, finally you drift off…. only to be woken by a bout of fire springing from your calves. It’s hard to move a woman in her third trimester. Rolling over in bed is at least a 20 point turn. Complete with huffs, puffs and groans. Cramp however? That turns you into Usain Bolt.
D is for…. diabetes
Because the one time no one can say anything if you have that second slice of cake would be ruined by diabetes. Several ladies I know had gestational diabetes. A form of diabetes that goes away once the baby is born. Meaning they had to really watch what they were eating. And pray they didn’t have a craving for cookie dough. Click here for high risk groupings for GDM and also more information on treatment for it.
E is for…. emotion
Every single damn one. Sometimes all at once. Fits of unconsolable sobs because I dropped a fork on the floor. That will be its new home. I cannot retrieve the fork. It will stay there. With the Domino’s takeaway menu that got posted last week. I can’t see the floor over my ginormous planet sized middle anyway. I remember watching birth videos on YouTube (the one in the river?) Horrified. Begging Karl to watch with me. Crying because I didn’t think I could physically give birth. Then the next minute crying because I was just ‘so DONE’ with being pregnant and wanted to go into labour now!!!!
F is for…. flatulence (uncontrollable)
Not one often portrayed in the media or even in your day to day dealings with pregnancy. But I promise you, you will trump uncontrollably. Every time you bend down. Or stand up. Or breathe. These may or may not be smelly enough to effectively be considered biological warfare.
G is for…. Group B Strep
Group B strep is a common and harmless bacteria in over a quarter of the population. It colonised the vagina of just over 1 in 5 women. In pregnancy and labour it can cause complications including in utero infections or stillbirth. It is treated with a course of antibiotics during labour (source)
The test for this is relatively straightforward but unavailable on the NHS. So I ordered the test online here. I opted to test at home. My test came and out came two gigantic q-tips. The oral one was easy enough. But not sure if you can mentally picture a 36 week pregnant woman swabbing her own rectum? One leg up on a stool. Whilst watching Loose Women. It’s every bit as gruesome as you imagine but so worth it. Knowledge is power girls!
H is for…. hair
Pregnancy does wonderful things for your hair. It’s thick and luscious. However, it’s also… rampant. From hairy bellies (I have heard it termed affectionately the ‘hairy crab ladder’.) Tip – do not shave this. It will regrow. Stubbly. My stomach was hairy all over. I whipped it out to show everyone. I was fascinated by it. In fact a friend of mine recently announced their pregnancy to me by telling me they had hairy nipples. I knew straight away what they were telling me. Yes guys, hairy nips.
Not quite pregnancy related but whilst on the subject of hair – I had an emergency section so got free trim down there. Because it was very much a case of “out of sight, out of mind” for me in the latter weeks of pregnancy. I had an infection in my scar which led to me having gauze on it. Now when it came to removing the gauze and covering plaster I was devastated to learn that pubes and plaster really don’t go well together. To cut a long story short, Karl had to cut me free with a pair of scissors. That’s love.
I is for…. itching
Insatiable itching. Sometimes due to obstetric cholestasis which should never be ignored. Mild itching as the skin stretches is fairly normal but please get a midwife to check any incessant itching. Signs and symptoms of obstetric cholestasis cam be found here
J is for…. jugs
Yes. It’s true your boobs are likely to get bigger. Your boobs are one of the most obvious signs of pregnancy (bar the whole belly thing). I had boobs which were too sensitive to even have a towel touch them at the beginning. And by the end cold air would cause a sharp pain in them cause by pregnancy Raynauds.
I was also shocked when my nipples changed size and colour. As big as bloody dinner plates. They were surrounded in pigmentation too. I never expected that. Especially so early on in the pregnancy. I kept telling (and showing) my friends. Look the nipple colour is leaking into my boobs!
Nor did I even consider that my breasts would leak during pregnancy (started around 20 weeks). It scared me. It sounds stupid. That’s what breasts are for. It just made the whole pregnancy tangible at that point.
For some engorgement starts in pregnancy ( the ‘porn star boobs’). Never happened to me. Mine remained firmly in my armpits when laid on my back.
K is for…. kegels
Somewhere around halfway through your pregnancy the midwives start to ask you about your pelvic floor. I was probably as honest with my answers as I am when I tell myself “just one square of dairy milk”. Have you been practising your kegels? Truth is, I maybe tried once to stop my wee. I had all the time in the world to practice and never did. I’ve been pretty lucky pelvic floor wise but know some ladies that have to be more than a little careful when laughing. Or coughing. God forbid they sneeze.
L is for…. lightning crotch
This is a difficult one to describe but here goes..it’s a sudden sharp pain in the foof. Like someone has just kicked you in the vagina. Yeah. Not a nice one that.
M is for…. mask of pregnancy
Essentially this is blotchy areas of pigmentation. It’s the same process as your nipples getting darker (easier for a baby to root around and find) but just in overdrive. Folic acid has been linked to reducing chances of this but I’m not sold on that haha.
N is for …. nausea
Morning sickness. I feel like every bloody way I turned, I was faced with lies about pregnancy nausea. For one, it began in the morning but was by no means exclusive to it. I was sick daily around 10x a day until 26 weeks. Would wake up and dry retch some bile. Dry cracker and ginger biscuit for breakfast. Which would come back up. I wasn’t able to keep my pregnancy secret for 12 weeks as I would have liked as I ran around vomiting into zip lock bags (easy disposal). I couldn’t open the fridge or go into the kitchen for weeks. I could smell…. something. Karl disagreed but was very patient with me. Most nausea and vomiting disappears between 12-16 weeks but I do know many people that it didn’t disappear until after giving birth. Vomiting regularly can lead to dehydration and hospital stays.
O is for…. oral health
I cracked my front tooth whilst pregnant. I looked like Jim Carrey in ‘dumb and dumber’.
Thank you pregnancy for that one. Another common problem is bleeding gums. That’s if you can even get to brush your teeth without gagging of course. Again. All caused by hormones. They really have a lot to answer for!
P is for…. poo & piles
Well. I don’t even know where to begin. Pregnancy hormones play havoc with your digestive system. Some people had diarrhoea. Others constipation. Probably my favourite pregnancy poo story is this…
A friend of mine was constipated. Frustrated. Hormonal. So very, very pregnant. Remedies failing, she resorted to what I like to refer to as a manual evacuation. Donning some rubber gloves and generously lubing, she manually mined that tunnel. It’s just a fabulous example of how undignified pregnancy is. Also, kudos to her for the ingenuity. I’m genuinely impressed.
The other major butt issue from pregnancy is piles. Godawful bum grapes. Whether from pregnancy (the weight of the baby bearing down) or from pushing during vaginal births these little spicy balls of hell are so very common. And post baby pooping is made a whole lot worse when you have piles. It’s all about gently easing – like coaxing a skittish horse out of the stables.
Oh and don’t sweat it if you poop in labour. Seems to preoccupy a lot of worry time for pregnant women. You literally will not care if it happens. I can promise you that.
Q is for…. quickening
Those first little flutters of movements are known as quickening. To begin with they are very subtle. Often mistook for gas it is a truly magical experience. However it’s also one that increases any pregnancy anxiety. My placenta was anterior (in front) and subsequently meant I would feel far less movement. I felt this enormous sense of responsibility to monitor her movements. I had 3 episodes of reduced movements leading to visits to triage. No explanation as to the cause. Please visit HERE to see why it is so important to monitor foetal movements.
R is for…. reflux
The Gaviscon Guzzlers. There is nothing like the fire of heartburn. Downing bottles of Gaviscon like they were Cherry Lambrinis. For what it’s worth – Matilda was not hairy. I was expecting a werewolf with the amount of acid reflux I had.
S is for…. swelling
Sure. You’ve heard of this one you say. Cute little cankles folded into a pair of sandals, spilling out the sides. Yeah that’s horrific. But no one prepares you for the possibility of a swollen vagina. A vagina that looks and feels like the eye socket of a boxer who lost his fight. And the inevitable thought. Nope. It’s swollen closed forever. I will never be able to give birth.
T is for…. touching (unsolicited)
Strangers particularly. I know that unsolicited touching of bump and the inevitable advice that comes with it doesn’t bother some people. I found it grating. People seem to think pregnant women are fair game “are you sure it’s not twins?” No. No Sandra. But I’m sure you’re a div. “It’s definitely a girl/boy.” YEAH? Thanks for your 50/50 guesswork. “You really ought to…..” oh really? Thanks Sally. I’ll bear that in mind. Of course you just smile sweetly and agree. But for me, this was rage inducing.
U is for…. urinating
This is another one which attempts to prepare you for parenthood. Frequently waking in the night to pee. But that’s not the only way it prepares you. At every midwife or doctor’s appointment your sample is requested. Now for a lady to pee in those little pots is tricky to say the least. Now do that with a bowling ball on your lap and I can promise you, you will pee on your hands. It’s a given. If like me, you would lose the tiny tube to pee in, you would resort to bringing your pee into the midwife in a variety of receptacles. Mainly small tupperware boxes. Sorry Karl – they are the ones you use for lunch!
V is for…. varicose veins
This one shocked me. Did you know you can get varicose veins on your vagina!? A friend told me this happened to her during pregnancy.
W is for…. wide nose
I have never had a small petite nose. This is true. But my word it doubled in size during pregnancy and has yet to return to its original size (much like me in general to be fair…)
X is for…. x rated
There are many pregnant women who find their changing bodies sexy. Many partners who reap the benefits of that. However, equally as normal is for either (or both) parties to just really not want it. Tiredness, aches, whatever the reason. For the partner perhaps the incessant flatulence? The awkwardness and lack of easy positioning? For some women the thought of getting intimate when pregnant is horrendous. It leads to much anxiety about the state of your relationship post-baby if you can’t be intimate now. But rest assured all is perfectly normal, although feelings can be hurt so discuss libido sensitively! Ps guys…. it’s laughable that you would think you are somehow poking the baby. Just saying.
Y is for…. yoga
I bought a pregnancy yoga DVD. Why didn’t you go to a class you ask? Please reference F in this post for all the reason you could need. I had a zen week in my second trimester where I did the DVD. But by the 3rd trimester, I would put it on and sit on the floor eating. So yeah. Do it if you can. It’s meant to make labour easier. At the very least the music is calming to eat to.
Z is for…. zzzz
One thing is for sure. Pregnancy affects your sleep. Whether it’s first trimester fatigue akin to narcolepsy (seriously never known tiredness like that) or third trimester insomnia. It’s your body’s way of readying you for life with a newborn. Yeah thanks for that.
Some other lovely pregnancy issues include but are not limited to:-
- Cold/flu like symptoms
- Getting marooned in the bath tub (SOS)
- Linea negra
- Carpal tunnel
I know the post has been light hearted but I feel it’s only fair to discuss loss.
1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss. It’s hard not to obsess over this statistic. Instead try to think of the fact that 3 in 4 pregnancies do not.
Those that have lost, regardless of gestation. Your pregnancies matter. Your babies matter. Though perhaps that is a topic for another day.
So…. would I do it again?