Don’t get me wrong, there was never a fiber in my being that thought that pregnancy would be easy. Or fun. I figured I’d get sick and gain a bunch of weight and have to quit guzzling wine every night. Many of my friends have kids and they’ve talked generally about pregnancy but in a positive light that has always made it sound like pregnancy wasn’t actually as bad as I thought it was.
So you can imagine my surprise when I began talking to those same friends about my unpleasant pregnancy symptoms and they nodded their heads knowingly and smiled. It was a sly smile, a “welcome to our mom cult you sucker” smile, and an “I didn’t warn you because I’m a gigantic asshole and I wanted you to be as miserable as me” smile.
It turns out there are lots of lies that moms tell future moms about pregnancy, birth, and taking care of babies once they are born. I am still not sure if it is by accident or malicious – probably a bit of both.
So I decided it was high time to provide one place to go for the bad and the ugly. You already know that you’ll probably get morning sickness, you’ll be really tired all the time, and you have to avoid certain foods and alcohol. Here are 13 more sucky pregnancy symptoms to be aware of that no one bothers to mention before you’re knocked up!
Don’t forget to check out our web story: Things that Suck About Pregnancy
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13 Things That Suck About Pregnancy That No One Tells You
1. You Get Fat
Okay, you might be thinking “obviously! But it’s not really fat because it’s with a baby!” But keep in mind that you’ll be gaining 25+ pounds and your baby is only about 7 of those. Plus everyone and their mom will want to look at and talk about that burgeoning belly that is lovingly referred to as a “baby bump”.
Women generally spend a good portion of their lives thinking about their weight – dieting, comparing their bodies to famously skinny people, and body shaming themselves. We are taught from a young age that we need to be slim and fit and that we should be eating salads and exercising daily. But during those 40 weeks of pregnancy, we actually get a hall pass to be chubby and eat whatever the hell we want.
But does anyone just leave us alone about our increasing flub? No.
They want photos of the belly, they want to discuss it, and touch it. You’ll hear things like “when I was pregnant I was so much bigger/smaller than you” or “you look like you’re going to pop” or they tell you that you’re carrying high or low or whatever nonsense they come up with. Good god, we only get these few precious months to gain weight without fear of judgment and they won’t even let us have that!
If you’re anything like me, the more the scale is increasing, the further your self-esteem is plummeting. And literally, the last thing in the world you are interested in doing is documenting your weekly weight gain and posting updates on social media. Set your baby belly boundaries and stick to them. Your big, fat, beautiful belly, YOUR CHOICE!
2. You Shouldn’t Actually “Eat for Two”
This. Is. Bullshit.
Literally, the ONE thing that I was looking forward to about being pregnant was getting to stuff my face with waffles covered in peanut butter and syrup while evil laughing at all the hungry, skinny, non-pregnant people around me. I pictured myself yelling “I’m pregnant and I’ll eat what I want!” at anyone who dared to give me a judgy side-eye.
But as it turns out, this is a total myth. You’re really only supposed to gain nominal weight in your first trimester (0-5 lbs) and then about 1 lb per week for the remainder of your pregnancy. It’s only in the third trimester that you should be consuming an additional 200 calories per day (which is equivalent to 2 pieces of wholegrain toast with a light spread of butter on top).
So. Not. Worth. It. (Just kidding)
3. That Brown Line From Your Belly Button to Your Vagina
Prior to getting pregnant, I’d seen countless photos of pregnant photos with that dark brown line running from their belly button onto the deep south. I always figured it was some sort of hairy treasure trail and something that would never happen to me, especially since I have fair skin and blonde hair.
This line is actually called the “linea nigra” and it’s a very common symptom of pregnancy. It’s not totally known why women get this, but it’s believed to stem from your changing hormones. A popular theory is that the melanocyte-stimulating hormone created by the placenta causes the linea nigra as well as the darkened color of your nipples.
As my belly is growing larger and larger, I am beginning to see this line. It started faintly but continues to darken over time. Combine that dark line with a brand-spankin’ new outtie belly button and coordinating stretch marks and you’re left with a stomach that only a mother could love. And while you can lube up in an effort to ward off stretch marks, there’s nothing you can do to keep the linea nigra from developing.
Luckily, it should go away soon after you pop that baby out!
4. You Have to Pee ALL The Time
I’m not joking. Even when I pee and then stand up to leave, I can usually sit right back again for a second pee. It’s difficult to sleep at night, and not just because I can only sleep on my left side (more on that below) but because of frequent trips to the loo. It also makes it extra inconvenient to be traveling while pregnant – no long bus rides or flights for me, thanks!
And not only do you have to go to the bathroom all the time, but many women also experience incontinence both during pregnancy and after birth. So you’ll be going about your day, minding your own business, and peeing a tiny bit unknowingly all the while.
When it first happened to me, I asked a good friend who has kids about it and she said “get used to it.” When I gently asked why the f&$% she’d never mentioned it before, her response was “well, if we told you guys all the bad stuff about having kids, no one would do it!” Awesome.
Invest in adult diapers and work out those kegel muscles every chance you get!
5. Only One Sleeping Position is Ideal
Nearly every article that you’ll be fed by your pregnancy apps says the same thing – “you’ll be tired all the time so you should get all the sleep you can now! Once that little bundle of joy comes you’ll never sleep again!”
But they don’t usually mention that you better get used to sleeping in just one position – on your left side. Technically you CAN sleep on your stomach for as long as it’s comfortable, which isn’t really beyond your first trimester. But you can’t sleep on your back because your baby will essentially crush your intestines and your vena cava which is the main vein that carries blood from your lower body to your heart.
And since the vena cava runs up your back on the right side of your spine, your baby can compress it if you sleep on your right side as well. I should mention here that this is debatable and I often lay on my right side anyway because it is literally impossible to always feel comfortable laying on the left side.
During those times that you DO lay on your back, you’ll probably end up feeling lightheaded, nauseous, and like you’re about to pass out. And sleeping isn’t the only time you’ll be impacted by this little nuisance. Laying on a beach lounger, getting an ultrasound, or getting waxed or massaged all involve laying on your back which will inevitably lead to you feeling like you’re going to puke.
So load up on comfy pregnancy pillows and don’t say I didn’t warn you!
6. You Can Feel the Baby Moving
You’re probably thinking “awwww how in the world does that suck?” It’s actually really fun and exciting, especially at first. But the funny thing about babies is that they are lulled to sleep by the movement. So during the day when you are busy doing things, your baby is probably sound asleep. But during the night time when you are trying to go to sleep, that’s when the baby is ready to PAR-TAY!
While you’re laying on your left side, trying hard to not think about your next trip to the toilet, your baby will be busy karate chopping your insides. Or what’s even worse (if that’s possible) is if you can’t feel your baby at all and you’ll spend all night worrying that something terrible has happened.
7. Pepperoni Nipples are Real
Let me paint you a picture of my pre-pregnancy breasts. They were a good size – a C cup – not too big and not too small. If they were different sizes, they couldn’t be detected by the naked eye. I could go for a run and only wear one sports bra. My nipples were pink, perky, and a regular size. I could also go braless if I wanted without worrying about frightening small children.
Now, let me paint a bleaker picture. Those pink, perky nipples have turned into a dark shade of brown and quadrupled in size. They now have strange little bumps all over that apparently will soon express milk anytime I’m near a whiny baby. The right one is noticeably larger and lower than the left. And those C cups have managed to both grow and sag all at once. Two sports bras are required for any physical activity and going braless is unfathomable.
And, from what I’ve read, they probably aren’t going to go back to the way they were pre-pregnancy. If anything, they might end up smaller than they started and considerably saggier. The brown, lopsided nipples may be here to stay and all of this will only get worse with baby #2. Hooray!
8. Hemorrhoids are Common
Not only is your little bundle of joy and expanding uterus putting pressure on your bladder, but it’s also putting pressure on your bowel which makes it more difficult for stool to move through your intestines. So, to be frank, you’ll be peeing every few minutes and pooping never.
Constipation mixed with pressure on veins near your anus, mixed with a dash of changing hormones often leads to hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the anus and rectum and can be either internal or external. They are painful, very common during pregnancy, and pretty gross to be honest.
But luckily the symptoms that accompany hemorrhoids aren’t that bad! Just bleeding out of your butt, painful bowel movements, itching, burning, swelling, and/or hard, inflamed blood clots!
To avoid getting this unsavory condition, eat foods that are high in fiber, drink plenty of water, exercise daily, and invest in a squatty potty to create the ideal pooping posture.
9. All of the Normal Stress and Anxiety Reducing Methods you Utilize are Off-Limits
Pregnancy is stressful! You’re tired all the time, often nauseous, and you worry because everything you do and everything you eat affects your unborn fetus. Plus you have to fend off nosy people who want to give you unwanted advice and annoying strangers who give you a nasty side-eye when you order a coffee (or a tequila shot).
And the normal methods that you would utilize to cope with that stress are mostly off-limits during pregnancy. Want to relax your sore muscles in a jacuzzi or a hot bath? Sorry, you can’t raise your body temperature above 102.2°F or it could harm your baby. Want to enjoy a glass of wine after a long day of waddling around in the hot sun? No alcohol for you! Want to get a pick-me-up when you’re feeling exhausted mid-day? Only if it doesn’t exceed your 200 mg per day caffeine limit!
Just pop a stick of sugar-free gum in your mouth and chew all of your anxiety away!
10. Actually, Everything is Pretty Much Off-Limits
Okay, I’m exaggerating, a little. But really, things that you’d never dream of being off-limits to pregnant women are. Just a few weeks ago, I made an appointment to get my eyebrows microbladed, and the day before decided to mention that I was pregnant, just in case. Apparently, it’s off-limits because the ink could be bad for the baby. Same with hair dye in your first trimester. And something as basic as a foot massage could cause uterine contractions if certain pressure points aren’t avoided.
Of course, you probably already know the other items that are off-limits, including raw fish, high-mercury fish, deli meat, raw veggies (in European countries due to toxoplasmosis), soft cheeses, unpasteurized milk, undercooked meat, raw eggs, and processed junk foods. So basically everything that is delicious.
Expectant mothers need a note from their doctor to fly when they are further along in pregnancy, and they should avoid strenuous activity and amusement rides. Horseback riding, scuba diving, surfing, tennis, skiing, and cycling could all pose a risk to your baby. You can’t take certain medications so if you get sick you’ll need to consult your doctor first. The list goes on and on.
Just stay in your house, eat only cooked chicken and vegetables, and stick to water and you and your baby should be totally safe!
Actually, a lot of these foods are only slightly risky to consume during pregnancy – it’s best to read up on this so you can make an educated decision and discuss it with your partner before getting pregnant.
11. Smells are Heightened and Horrendous
If I had a dollar for every time I had to move to another table while eating to avoid smelling cigarette smoke, I’d have a nice little nest egg for our future son’s future college education. Not that cigarette smoke ever smells like roses but for some reason, pregnancy has made it absolutely repulsive.
And it’s not just smoke that is unbearable. During my pregnancy, I’ve encountered a plethora of scents that need to be avoided like the plague. It’s worse in the first trimester but urine, smoke, and fish are smells that I may never be able to fully enjoy again.
12. Pregnancy Lasts For 10 Months, Not 9
Your due date is calculated by adding 280 days to the first day of your last menstrual period. And your total pregnancy lasts for 40 weeks. Do the math – 40 weeks divided by 4 weeks per month equals – 10 months. So when you’re technically “6 months pregnant” (or 24 weeks), you still have 4 months to go. Which isn’t freaking 9 months!
Why everyone refers to pregnancy in a 9-month period of time is literally beyond me. It makes things ultra confusing and also makes you feel like your pregnancy is lasting even longer than it should be. And pregnancy already lasts almost an entire freaking year!
Can we all please just cut the crap and agree that 40 weeks equals 10 months which equals the length of a normal pregnancy? Thanks.
13. People are Assholes
There are many people that you’ll encounter during your pregnancy that go out of their way to be nice and accommodating. They may let you cut in line for the bathroom or give you their seat on the bus. But unfortunately, you’ll also encounter a lot of people who seem to lack any common sense or decency or are just plain assholes.
My recent encounter with this phenomenon was someone saying “you are HUGE! You’re going to have a BIG BOY!” Mind you, I know I’m not huge. I’m 6 months pregnant and my baby is the size of a grapefruit, but it’s hard to actually tell that I’m pregnant just by looking at me. In fact, I just flew and didn’t inform the airline that I was pregnant because I knew they’d never be able to tell.
So why did this person tell me that I look HUGE do you ask? Because people have no filter and you’re probably going to have to deal with a lot of them during these 10 months. Prepare a couple of clever responses such as “thanks! You do too!” or “but I’m still smaller than you!” to give them a little taste of their own medicine.
We hope this blog helps you to be more mentally prepared for the challenges that come with pregnancy!
Looking for useful books to help you prepare for pregnancy and childbirth? These are a few of our favorites!