Whether you are pregnant for the first time or your second or third, pregnancy brings along with it lots of changes in your life.
However well you prepare mentally and physically for your pregnancy, many times you’ll feel as if you’re on a roller coaster ride.
Carrying a baby for nine months is a tough job, and the journey becomes harder when you have to deal with morning sickness, constipation, fatigue, body aches, swollen ankles and sore breasts.
Along with those common pregnancy-related problems, there are several unpleasantries that come with pregnancy that many women are not even aware of and can take a toll on you. Being aware of these problems will help you prepare yourself beforehand.
Here are some of the unpleasant things about pregnancy that you need to know.
1. Heightened Sense of Smell
Many women have a heightened sense of smell during pregnancy. Unfortunately, most say smells that didn’t bother them or were even pleasant before the pregnancy became unpleasant during pregnancy. This can make your life hell.
A 2007 study published in Chemical Senses reports that olfaction is affected more in early pregnancy (1).
As with other pregnancy-related problems, you can blame those pregnancy hormones again. The increase in estrogen can make every little scent that comes your way feel like an assault on your nostrils.
To deal with a heightened sense of smell, put a few drops of a pregnancy-safe essential oil on a tissue or handkerchief. Sniff the tissue when needed to mask strong smells around you.
2. Excess Gas
Gas is a common and potentially embarrassing symptom of pregnancy for many women. It can be a problem at any time during the nine months.
The hormone progesterone is one of the main causes of excess gas during pregnancy. As your body produces more progesterone to support your pregnancy, the hormone relaxes muscles in your body, including the intestinal muscles.
This can slow down your digestive process and allow gas to build up. This gas can also lead to a feeling of bloating, especially after a large meal.
While you can’t change the way your digestive system works during pregnancy, you can help control the problem to some extent by avoiding trigger foods that lead to gas.
This includes carbonated beverages, dairy products, cruciferous vegetables, garlic, spinach, potatoes, beans and other high-fiber foods.
Also, do light exercises and do not eat too much at once. Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
3. Frequent Bathroom Visits
Needing to urinate often is an unavoidable fact of life for most pregnant women. It can be really embarrassing at times, especially if you are still working or out and about in public places.
You need to use the bathroom more often during pregnancy due to pregnancy hormones, an increase in the amount and speed of blood circulating through your body, and your growing uterus.
The tendency to urinate more starts early in the pregnancy and continues until you give birth to your bundle of joy.
No matter what, do not hold your urine. Go to the bathroom as soon as you feel the need. Waiting can actually weaken your pelvic floor muscles in the long run.
At the same time, avoid drinking coffee, tea and certain carbonated drinks because they are all diuretics, meaning they increase urine production and make you need to pee more often.
4. Extra Hair Growth
Good hair growth on the head during pregnancy looks good, but it’s embarrassing when hair starts growing on other parts of the body.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy may cause thick, long and dark hairs to grow in areas where it normally does not, such as the face, chest, abdomen and arms.
A 2016 study published in Fertility and Sterility has shown that the areas most affected by hirsutism include the upper lip, lower abdomen, lower back and thighs (2).
To get rid of stray hairs on your body, you can safely tweeze, wax or shave. However, avoid chemicals like bleaches or depilatories, which could be absorbed into the bloodstream.
5. Skin Spots and Patches
During pregnancy, many women get dark spots or patches on their face or other areas of the body. This happens because the increase in estrogen and progesterone throw your melanin receptors into overdrive, causing hyperpigmentation.
A 2007 study published in American Family Physician reports that normal hormone changes during pregnancy may cause benign skin conditions including hyperpigmentation (3).
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care reports that the most common pregnancy-associated skin changes observed in India are pigmentary changes and pruritus (4).
There is nothing you can do to stop hyperpigmented skin during pregnancy, but slathering on sunscreen whenever you go out can help prevent it from getting worse. Pregnant moms should stay out of the sun as much as possible.
6. Brain Fog
Many pregnant women can have memory impairment, which some call “baby brain”. It is described as a sort-of escalation of everyday absentmindedness and makes you often forget small things like where you put something or losing track of what you’re doing mid-task.
A 2018 published in the Medical Journal of Australia reports that general cognitive functioning, memory and executive functioning were significantly poorer in pregnant women, particularly during the third trimester.
The study also says that the differences primarily develop during the first trimester, and are consistent with recent findings of long-term reductions in brain gray matter volume during pregnancy (5).
Experts do not know what causes it. However, it’s possible that pregnancy hormonal changes as well as sleep deprivation or feeling stressed out can impair a woman’s memory.
Although brain fog is frustrating, the good news is that this is all situational, and it will pass eventually.
7. Bad Breath
Few things seem more embarrassing than bad breath.
The hormonal roller coaster that comes with pregnancy can turn your mouth into the perfect breeding ground for plaque, a thin film of bacteria that produce volatile sulfur compounds, which in turn cause bad breath.
Moreover, dehydration during pregnancy can affect your saliva levels and cause dry mouth. This in turn makes it easier for bacteria to grow and cause bad breath. Also, the smell of stomach acids and partially digested food tends to linger in your mouth.
It is important to get rid of odor-causing bacteria or it can lead to pregnancy gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums.
Good oral hygiene and regular dental checkups during this time can help get rid of bacteria and bad breath.
- Measures of Human Olfactory Perception During Pregnancy | Chemical Senses | Oxford Academic. OUP Academic. https://academic.oup.com/chemse/article/32/8/775/583392. Published July 18, 2007.
- Assessing new terminal body and facial hair growth during pregnancy: toward developing a simplified visual scoring system for hirsutism. Fertility and sterility. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26616440. Published February 2016.
- Common Skin Conditions During Pregnancy. American Family Physician. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2007/0115/p211.html. Published January 15, 2007.
- Pregnancy and Skin. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4311336/. Published 2014.
- Cognitive impairment during pregnancy: a meta-analysis. The Medical Journal of Australia. https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2018/208/1/cognitive-impairment-during-pregnancy-meta-analysis. Published January 15, 2018.