Updated: Dec 30, 2020
When you get that first positive pregnancy test, you are so overjoyed. You go through the fun of telling your spouse and then planning on how you will tell family and friends. And once the secret is out, the moms begin to share their experience, but not all are so open and candid about the true joys of pregnancy: linea nigra, constantly needing to pee, sleep is impossible, baby kicks, hemorrhoids, bloody nose, true pregnancy timeline, heartburn, and rude people.
When you start to share some of these lovely joys of pregnancy with other moms their response is sometimes: "welcome to the club", "it's only the beginning", or "just you wait, there is more." Well if there is more I should know, why not share? Get raw with it, I mean I would rather a heads up then be shocked in the moment when things happen!
So I decided to share some of my honest experiences of (pardon my french) shit no one tells you about pregnancy. It's a semi-long post, so here is an index if you want to jump to a certain section:
Crazy pregnancy dreams
That Brown Line From Your Belly Button to Your Lady Parts
Prior to getting pregnant, I've seen those beautiful baby belly's with a dark line that goes from the top of their belly into the unknown area. I never really thought much as to why it is. I just assumed the mom had that before baby. I never thought it would happen to me since my belly doesn't seen the sun much, and I am fair skin.
This line is actually called the “linea nigra” (I had to have my doctor repeat it and then I had to Google it) 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. That's the info that I gathered from Google, but summarized. Not everyone has this happen to them. Or sometimes you'll have one and not the other happen.
As my belly grew larger and larger, I started to see line. It started light but continued to darken over time. Combine that dark line with a brand-spankin’ new stretch marks and you’re left with a sexy body that only a mother could love. And while you can rub all of that lotion ward off stretch marks, there’s nothing you can do to keep the linea nigra from developing... I was freaked out about this one, because I didn't want this line forever. But rest assured, this line disappears at some point of your postpartum period, but you won't notice because you will be distracted with a bay.
You Have to Pee ALL The Time
I’m not joking. The day I knew I was pregnant with my second child, it was because I was constantly peeing, and I was only 4 weeks! How is this possible, the baby is the size of a sesame seed, but hormones and things shifting in you can make you gotta' go! As my belly grew, there were times I would stand up after going and have to sit back down because I had to go again. And then I would have shift how I sat to make sure it all came out. Weird I know, but this was a trick from my OBGYN.
Oh and then the night time pee walk! At the same time every night, I had to go - it was around 2:30AM. By the 3rd trimester I mastered walking to the bathroom in the dark, sitting on the toilet, and going back to bed without turning on a single light. I was so afraid of waking my brain up to much that would make it hard to go back to sleep.
If you work in an office the need to pee is so annoying. There were times I had to run out of a meeting with 7 men because I couldn't hold it any longer. I would return to the meeting and one of the guys would say "Are you ok?" "Yep, I just had to pee for the 100th time, continue with the meeting."
Oh and the pee doesn't just stop once the baby arrives, nope. It still happens because your muscles need to regain their strength. Wearing a panty liner until you regain control of your bladder via kegels will be your go to. Sometimes a sneeze, a cough or just a walk will make you go a little tinkle. I asked a friend who already had a few kids why she didn't mention this fun fact to pre-warn me. And she just said "Get use to it. For some it ends, for others it continues. Do you kegels."
Only One Sleeping Position is Ideal
Before that positive test, I loved sleeping on my belly, back, and both sides. I was indifferent to just 1 position. So insert pregnancy and the rule of "no back sleeping" and "belly sleeping is impossible" I sometimes dreaded sleep. But I knew I needed to sleep because literally every mother you meet will tell you “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!” The advice of never sleeping again is so true, because it truly starts during pregnancy.
Now if only those moms would have given me the heads up that there is only 1 good sleeping position - on your left side. Well, I guess technically you CAN sleep on your stomach for as long as it’s comfortable, which it isn’t really beyond your first trimester. But you can’t sleep on your back because your baby will essentially sit on your vena cava (had to Google that one) which is the main vein that carries blood from your lower body to your heart.
And since the that super important vein 'vena cava' runs up your back on the right side of your spine, there is a chance your baby can compress it if you sleep on your right side as well. I should mention here that some doctors say its safe others recommend sleeping on only the left side. So because of this toss of advice, I opted to sleep on my left side or sleep sitting up.
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 to get an ultrasound, or getting waxed involve laying on your back which will inevitably lead to you feeling like blaaa. So opt to have a pillow to prop you up or sit up when you go for your next brow wax.
You Can Feel the Baby Moving
I know, everyone knows this one. And it is so sweet and precious in the beginning. Really and truly it is fun and exciting, especially in the day. But the funny thing about babies is that they are lulled to sleep by movement (aka day-time walking). So during the day when you are busy doing things, your baby is probably sound asleep being rocked by your walk. But during the night time when you are trying to go to sleep and get that much needed rest everyone tells you that you need, that’s when baby is ready to PAR-TAY! One of my babies loved having a dance party and practice gymnastic tumbles, while my other baby was more into sports and throwing kicks + punches.
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 getting his extracurricular activity time in. Sometimes your baby will magically take a night off from all of the fun and the worse night starts for your mommy brain - it's when you can’t feel your baby at all and you’ll spend all night worrying that something terrible has happened. Try to relax. Drink some ice cold water and see if baby moves. Or take a walk around the house. Once you feel that little kick, let your mind simmer down and go back to sleep before the party starts up!
Hemorrhoids are Common
Ok, I feel like this should be it's own blog post because NONE of my mom friends told me about this one and how horrible it can be. Not only is your little bundle of joy and expanding uterus putting pressure on your bladder making you need to pee, but it’s also putting pressure on your intestines which makes it more difficult for stool to move through your body. So, to be completely open and honest, you’ll be peeing every few minutes and pooping what seems like never (note, this doesn't happen to everyone.)
Constipation mixed with pressure on veins near your booty, mixed with a dash of changing hormones often leads to the dreaded hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are basically swollen veins in the anus and rectum (I can't believe I just typed that, but the anatomy of the body needs to be shared for this one) and can be either internal or external. They are painful, very common during pregnancy, and pretty gross to be honest. This is an embarrassing topic, but it shouldn't be, because it's normal and freaking painful - like I would rather give birth then have these blasted suckers.
But luckily the symptoms that accompany hemorrhoids aren’t always that bad! Most commonly just some bleeding after you go poop, or after a painful bowel movement. It will sometimes include itching, burning, swelling, and/or hard, inflamed blood clots! YIKES! I know, that was all a lot to read... But this is a topic that is NEVER talked about, so I feel like I need to share.
To avoid getting this unsavory condition, eat foods that are high in fiber (lots of greens), drink plenty of water, exercise daily, and invest in a squatty potty to create the ideal pooping posture or just use a foot stool. If it does get bad, sit on a soft pillow, take epson salt baths and call your doctor for recommended ointments to use.
Bloody nose and gums happens
This was a wild one to learn about - why on earth does my nose and gums have symptoms of pregnancy? I get the heightened sense of smell, but nose and gums bleeds?
According to doctors, nosebleeds and gums are quite common in pregnancy because of hormonal changes (go figure another thing due to hormones) and increased blood flow. They can be frightening, but there's nothing to worry about as long as you don't lose a lot of blood, and they can often be treated at home.
Now let me first say that your gums won't just bleed whenever, it will most commonly happen when brushing your teeth. So switch to a softer tooth brush during pregnancy to help you out. And as for the nose bleed - not much advice there... Just have a tissue near.
Pregnancy Lasts For 10 Months, Not 9
So I am by no means a math person, but after talking to many people about this, there are really 10 months in pregnancy! When I first learned this, I thought they were talking about the month after your baby is born being included in pregnancy, but no thats not it. Your due date is calculated by adding 280 days to the first day of your last menstrual period. And your complete pregnancy lasts for 40 weeks. So do the math with me – 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! It's so confusing. I am still confused and I have had 2 kids already.
Why everyone refers to pregnancy in a 9 month time frame 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 year, why add this complicated timeline?!
Can we all please just cut the fluff and agree that 40 weeks equals 10 months which equals the length of a normal pregnancy? Thank you!
Crazy pregnancy dreams
Get ready for some wild and vivid dreams! I remember one dream that has stuck with me that made no sense after. My baby girl was born and we were in an elevator. Some kind of way she slipped out of my hands and fell down the crack. - let me pause right there - there is no way my daughter could slip through a crack the way it happened in my dream. So why was this even on my mind to land in my dreams? Weird right? To this day I can't even connect the dots to why I dreamt that. But strange dreams happen and sometimes it'll freak you out and you can't go back to sleep - great another reason not to get good sleep, right?...
I looked into ideas on how to prevent crazy dreams during pregnancy and this is what helped me in the second pregnancy: night time yoga, diffuse lavender, play calm music when going to sleep and NO PHONE BEFORE BED! I know with my first pregnancy I would find myself going down the rabbit hole of reading about worse case scenario things to happen during pregnancy or labor - why was I doing this? Only to prepare myself to be ready and strong for anything.
My final advice on this topic is to remember its just a dream and try not to dwell on it for to long.
You May Have Heartburn
Gosh this one can be so miserable as it affects all parts of your day (breakfast, lunch, dinner and sleep). So remember that lovely hormone thing I keep mentioning with pregnancy, yea the progesterone hormone relaxes your uterus so you body can carry your baby to full-term. Well, it’s also relaxing a muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (thank you Google for this info). This loosening can cause stomach acid to back up into your esophagus... I know, just another bodily function you need to deal with when your body is already doing so much.
Some call it acid indigestion, acid reflex and/or heartburn, it can feel like you’re gargling battery acid and it’s the worse - especially when you want to just eat something or just go to sleep.
Cut back on the acidic foods like red sauce and citrus and add some milk/ dairy products to your diet to help out. If you feel like the burning sensation will never end, I promise you it will. After baby is born, your body goes back to normal and the valve that keeps releasing goes back to keeping the firey throat calm.
Braxton Hicks vs. Contraction, they are different
Oh them good ol' braxton hicks, I so don't miss them because they sparked at random parts of my 3rd trimester starting around 32 weeks with my second baby. They are so mysterious, kinda-scary sometimes, kinda exciting sensation you’re waiting for at the end of your pregnancy—the sensations that could mean you’re in labor and will be meeting your baby soon.
But how the heck do you know the difference when it's your first. If you ask another mom she will most likely say "Oh, you will know the difference." I don't about you, but I hated that response! So let me tell you my true experience as Braxton Hicks contractions were pretty common for both of my pregnancy's and here is what I can tell you about them:
It felt like a tightening rock like lump on one side of my belly.
If I timed them they were never close and sometimes they were so separated in time that I forgot about them.
I could easily walk and do things while having a braxton hicks contraction.
I could talk through them with ease (even though at first it may take my breathe away.)
Now the real contractions (note your water doesn't always break to go into labor):
Early contractions felt like seriously tough period cramps, a dull aching pain in the middle lower back/sacrum region that I have to lean over to work through the cramp. Leaning over and rocking helped pass the time of the contraction. They started like gentle compressions on my lower abdomen and back.
Active labor contraction were hard-hitting, intense tightening that I didn’t just feel in my abdomen. During active labor my whole body felt like it was working through the contraction. I couldn’t focus on anything around me other then 1 song that helped me breathe through it. Sitting in the car was so hard. The world left me as I worked through the intensity of the contraction with breathing and focusing on a song.
For some moms, it’s thrilling to experience all of these moments of labor, as it's a sign baby is coming soon. For other women, the very concept of contractions and telling the difference between Braxton Hicks and labor contractions can bring on a sense of horror and panic. If you’ve never given birth before I totally get the unease of whats to come as it is all just an unknown, it’s easy to feel intimidated or even anxious about the thought of going into labor and experiencing all the sensations that come with labor contractions. But I and the billions of other women in history who have given birth, its totally possible to make it through and know what is about to come.
People are rude with no filter
I didn't fully understand how people could be rude to a mother, until I became one. 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 RUDE.
Here are a few things I have heard during both of my pregnancy:
Commenter: You don't look pregnant, are you sure you're in your 3rd trimester?
Me: With 7 weeks left and between the back pain, intense Braxton Hicks contractions and other pregnancy symptoms I don't want to get into, yes I am 100% sure.
*** Commenter: You are so tiny, are you eating enough? You need to remember you are eating for 2.
Me: I am well aware of the fact that I am feeding myself and providing nourishment for my baby, but eating for 2 doesn't mean to eat 2 extra meals every day. I eat healthily and I follow the quantity amount my doctor has told me that is good for me and baby.
*** Commenter: 8 months? There is no way, are you sure you have the date right?
Me: Yes the date is right, do I need to provide the details of how pregnancy calculations are figured out?
*** Commenter: I put on 35lbs by 33 weeks, are you drinking enough water? You should ask your doctor if you and your baby are ok.
Me: First off, I drink plenty of water - I may even drink more than you. Second, every mother is different and everyone puts on weight differently (you don't have to be a trained doctor to know that). Lastly, I and my doctor are well aware of my weight and size. If my doctor was concerned about anything I would be the first to know, but everything as of now is perfect with me and baby.
*** Commenter: You have been hiding your pregnancy well, I just noticed you are pregnant. How did you keep it quite?
Me: I haven't been hiding anything. I am incredibly excited about my pregnancy and told everyone back in January.
*** Commenter: Have you felt your baby kick? Can I touch your belly?
Me: Yes I have felt my baby kick. And absolutely not. Why is it ok for you to touch my belly at any point of my life whether I am pregnant or not?
*** Commenter: You barely look pregnant, if you say that you only have 7 weeks left your baby may be very tiny and will need to stay in the NICU when it's born, but don't worry she will plump up in the first few weeks.
Me: (I was first shocked and taken back by this comment) I'm sure she will be fine, my doctor says she is right on track. (I couldn't say anything more to that comment because there are no words.)
Seriously, why do people have such odd/ off the wall comments? Because when you're pregnant people leave their filters at home. Prepare for a couple of clever responses when they talk about your size such as "Thanks, you do too!" or "But, I'm still smaller than you!".
I wish there was a way for people to turn on their filters when they see a pregnant women, because we are already emotional with the raging hormones running through us. A better response for a random commenter could be: "You look great!" or "Congratulations, you're going to be a great mom" or "Your baby bump is adorable." Its never been ok to talk about a women's size. And if someone wants to say something about my pregnancy, they should be kind and don't criticize my size.
Low sex drive is possible
I never thought in a million years think this would be a thing, and I never in a million years thought I would talk about sex in public space, but it needs to be said and it needs to be understood that it is not abnormal for this to happen on the women's side or the mens side.
Pregnancy is such a joyous time, who would think this issue would happen? But those dang hormones can strike again and BAM! you have no interest in hopping in the sack with your spouse. Sucks right? Why is this? There can be many reason, like hormones, or the huge belly and you don't feel sexy, or you are tired, or just not comfortable doing that right now, or you have other pregnancy symptoms that don't make sex fun (hemorrhoids), or the idea of you about to push out a kid from down there so why do you want to do the deed?
But know that you are not alone, so many women go through this or maybe the man, but for different reasons. Your sex drive will return, maybe not right away, but it will. In the meantime, find other ways to stay connected to each other to keep the love alive!
With all that motherhood brings, we forget some of these things as time rolls on and that's why can do it all over again, because of the AMAZING gift it brings.
Mommas, we are rockstars. Pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum (blog post to come on these topics) period are not easy by any means. It’s a blessing to be able to experience it. The female body is incredible, and when I look down at my kiddos I’m reminded of just that. They are worth every frustration, every pain, every sleepless night and every stretch mark because we brought life into the world! And THAT is an amazing thing!
Did I miss anything on the pregnancy topic that people don't talk much about??
Leave a comment below!