Stretch marks, morning sickness and a distinctive waddle might be well-known symptoms of pregnancy, but there are some other stranger things that happen during pregnancy that you might not have been aware of. Here’s the low-down on what your pregnant friends and even your midwife might have forgotten to tell you.
Your Pregnant Sense of Smell Will Rival a Werewolf’s
Thanks to the oestrogen coursing through you, your sense of smell becomes heightened during pregnancy. You’ll be able to smell things that you never could before and can become very sensitive to certain smells. This can be a very bad thing, especially if you are suffering from morning sickness. Just opening the fridge can send you running to the bathroom. In fact, it may be these new superpower senses that actually cause the morning sickness, so try to avoid strongly scented foodstuffs.
“Morning Sickness” is a Myth
For many women, there’s no such thing as morning sickness. No, I’m not talking about those lucky few who don’t suffer from that tell-tale first trimester nausea. I’m talking about those for whom it’s not morning sickness; it’s morning, noon, afternoon, evening and middle-of-the-night sickness. It’s “I’ve not eaten yet so feel a bit queasy” sickness. It’s “I’ve just opened the fridge to try to make myself a sandwich but the smell of cheese is overpowering” sickness. It’s “I’ve just eaten and now I’m going to be sick” sickness. Some women may not actually be sick that often when they suffer from morning sickness, but that doesn’t stop them feeling nauseous and completely exhausted for much of the first trimester.
Pregnancy Lasts More Than Nine Months
Pregnancy is counted by medics as being 40 weeks long. If you do the math, this might seem odd as we’re always told that pregnancy lasts for 9 months, and 40 weeks is longer than 9 months. However, the 40 weeks start on the first day of your last period, which means that your pregnancy is measured from around 2 whole weeks before you, ahem, got pregnant in the first place.
It’s Not Just Your Ankles That Get Swollen During Pregnancy
Swollen ankles seem to be synonymous with pregnancy. However, it might not be just your ankles that get swollen. It is also common for women’s hands and wrists to become swollen during pregnancy. So as well as feeling like you have swapped ankles with an elephant you may feel like you have sausages for fingers. If you usually wear rings and they start becoming very tight, it might be wise to take them off while you still can – you can always wear them around your neck until after you give birth. If you notice a sudden swelling you should talk to your doctor, though – this could be a sign of pre-eclampsia.
You Won’t Be Able to Sleep
When you are pregnant people, especially those with young children, will delight in constantly telling you to get lots of rest to prepare yourself for what’s in store. Sleeping through the night may, however, seem like a distant memory. It’s not just in the third trimester, when your baby will kindly start head-butting your bladder, that you’ll need to get up in the night. During the first trimester hormone changes may mean that you often wake during the night for a trip to the loo.
Nobody Will Offer You a Seat
Unless you look like your waters might actually be about to burst, you may find that people will ignore your burgeoning belly, hide their heads in their newspapers and refuse to make eye contact with you as you struggle onto a crowded train or bus. If you need a seat then you may have to ask for one. And if anyone refuses, then you might want to consider sitting on them.
You’ll Think You’re Going Bald
When you’re pregnant people may tell you that you look radiant and that your hair looks fantastic. It might feel thicker and glossier than ever before. Then, a few weeks after you give birth you’ll notice masses of hairs on your hairbrush and panic that you are going bald. This is down to those hormones again – you may lose less hair than usual during pregnancy, and then when it all starts to fall out at once, you may feel like you are going bald. Other women notice more hair loss than usual during pregnancy. If you are concerned then talk to your doctor.
Your Belly Button Will Explode
You might start out on your pregnancy with a nice neat belly button. As the weeks roll by, however, it will gradually stretch out of all recognition. And then, probably sometime towards the end of the second trimester, probably after a rather large lunch, it will pop out like a jack-in-the-box, and it will be some time after you give birth before it looks anything like it used to again.
You’ll Get a Stripy Belly
You waddle to the bathroom mirror each morning worrying that today will be the day when you see that first purple stretch mark starting to snake its way across your belly. Then one morning you notice not a stretch mark, but a dark line running down from your belly button. This is the linea negra, or black line, that many women develop during pregnancy, often in the second trimester. In fact you may have had a line there before – the linea alba, or white line – but may not have noticed that it was there until pigmentation changes during pregnancy.
You Won’t Give Birth on Your Due Date
It’s your due date and you’ve just been asked for the seventeenth time whether you can feel any contractions yet. Even though it’s your best friend asking, you just want to sit on her until she’s nice and tender. Then you will eat her. The problem? You had your scans and they gave you a due date which you have happily been telling everyone and preparing for. But baby is failing to put in an appearance. In fact, only 5% of mothers actually give birth on their due dates.