Poppy lives in Tokyo with her husband. She is currently pregnant with her first child and likes to write about her experiences.
So you think you might be pregnant—congratulations! In most circumstances, discovering that you are expecting a little one is a very happy occasion. Now is the time for baby name browsing, telling your relatives, and making preparations for the arrival in eight or so months.
If this is your first child, you may have already heard of some typical early pregnancy symptoms: craving unusual foods such as ice cream and pickles, slight bleeding (called 'spotting') that is uncomfortable but normal, and of course, the dreaded morning sickness.
However, what people usually don't tell you is that these symptoms might not happen to you at all, and there are actually many more symptoms of early pregnancy that might be less broadcasted or well known. Speaking a little from personal experience, here are some things that might happen to you during early pregnancy that you may not expect.
1. You Might Not Throw Up
Morning sickness is one of the most famous early pregnancy symptoms used in books, movies, and dramas, and is often talked about by real women as well. One thing you might not realise is that you won't necessarily get sick every morning.
I'm currently pregnant with my first child, and have reached almost the end of the first trimester without any puking at all! Unfortunately, you may get various kinds of sickness, including:
- Constant nausea, and not just in the morning. You might feel sick all day, every day.
- Night sickness. Some women say they get sick at night time, which is actually preferable as it means they can go to bed and then wake up feeling fine the next day.
- Sudden nausea at certain smells or mentions of aversion foods. My husband said that he was going to make some fried noodles and I dry heaved at him.
Though arguably better than chucking your guts up every morning, nausea is, unfortunately, part and parcel of building an embryo inside your body. Unfortunately, it might be the other way round. The Mayo Clinic offers more in-depth information on the types of morning sickness and what to do if it's really bad.
The video below also explains more about the types of pregnancy sickness.
2. It's Not All Pickles and Ice Cream
Food cravings are another popular sign of pregnancy that is often seen in fictional works. A pregnant woman might just want to eat sweets all day; another expecting mother might crave really random things like watermelon and chop suey (like in Disney's Lady and the Tramp).
Every woman is different, but you might find that there are more foods you don't want to eat than ones you do want to eat. You might also annoyingly find that you crave foods you can't get. In the early stages of my pregnancy, I had just arrived back in Japan from a trip to the UK, and was craving British food like chips and gravy, pork pies, and Cornish pasties!
One thing that I've noticed in some women is that they start to crave healthy foods such as fruit and light vegetables. This might be because the smells of greasy and salty foods become unbearable. If you're craving healthy stuff, eat as much as you can! It's always good to get good nutrients for the baby.
3. The Crippling Exhaustion
According to WebMD, exhaustion is a common struggle pregnant women face in the first trimester. However, no online resource could prepare me for how overwhelming it was. At around four or five weeks pregnant, I was sleeping twelve hours a night and then napping for three or four hours in the afternoon, too. You might find this happens to you, which makes getting work done really difficult. When you find out you're pregnant, try to get work done when you're feeling well and energetic, because the feeling might not last long!
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4. It Takes Forever to Get a Bump
If you decide to tell people early on that you're pregnant, you might have to put up with people putting their hands on your stomach. . . way before you show. This happened a few times at only a couple of weeks in and I had to stand there awkwardly smiling while their palms sat on my still-flat belly.
Getting a bump takes forever! Unless you're expecting multiple children, it can take up to twelve weeks—three months!—before you start developing; it might take longer if it's your first child. WebMD explains the baby and mother's development in more detail. Unfortunately, you'll have to wait a bit before you have an endearing pregnant belly.
5. You Have to Take Folic Acid
I had no idea what folic acid was until I actually had to start taking it. Immediately, all the mothers in my life asked if I was taking it daily. Even the CDC urges women who are trying to conceive to take a daily dose of 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid.
Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps protect your baby from developing neural tube defects and also helps reduce the likelihood of limb or heart problems. If you're trying for a baby, start taking it every day, and certainly take it if you're already pregnant.
You only need to take folic acid for the first twelve weeks of pregnancy while the embryo is developing.
6. Caffeine Might Be as Risky as Alcohol
Nearly everyone knows that alcohol is a big no-no during pregnancy as it can lower your child's IQ and affect its brain development. Many women choose to abstain from alcohol altogether while they're pregnant to minimise any risk.
What I didn't know until I was pregnant is that caffeine is another risk in pregnancy—one that rivals alcohol. While alcohol can affect fetal development, according to the British National Health Service, caffeine can be linked to birth defects or can straight up cause a miscarriage in the early stages.
It's all right to have a little caffeine a day; most doctors and online resources such as the Mayo Clinic agree that less than 200mg per day is safe. That 200mg can add up, however; you won't only find caffeine in coffee, but also in most teas, sodas, and even chocolate. Be very careful to check the caffeine content of everything you eat and drink, try to only have one cup of coffee or tea a day, and go with the decaf option wherever possible.
7. You'll Hear the Same Weird Questions Over and Over
Excited people will often ask you the same questions, and often unintentionally creepy or weird ones. Be prepared to answer them! Here are some questions I often hear.
- Were you trying for a baby? Some people think of this as quite a personal or even rude question. It's up to you how to answer, of course.
- Are you going to breastfeed? Again, a little personal.
- Haven't you had that baby yet? You might hear this in late pregnancy. When my mother was asked this for the fiftieth time in her third trimester, she eventually snapped, "Do you SEE a baby?"
- Are you scared about the delivery? I don't like this question! Pregnant women have enough to worry about for you to be reminding them about labour.
People often don't mean any harm by these questions and don't realise how personal or downright creepy they can sound. Try not to let it bother you, but feel free to say "that's a bit personal" if you don't feel comfortable answering.
Having a baby is a wonderful gift, but pregnancy isn't all sunshine and rainbows! What matters is getting through the tough times and getting excited to welcome a new life into the world. Every pregnancy is different, so be sure to be prepared for whatever unexpected symptoms may occur. Good luck, and congratulations!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2018 Poppy
Poppy (author) from Enoshima, Japan on September 26, 2018:
Behaviour stuff is okay; people can have experience from working in a school or by having lots of younger siblings. Pregnancy, though? Nah - you can't know until you've done it.
Liz Westwood from UK on September 26, 2018:
That's a very good point, Poppy. Suddenly the most unlikely people with the least experience of the subject become 'experts'. It doesn't stop there. I have noticed those without children sometimes dispensing advise to parents of young children.
Poppy (author) from Enoshima, Japan on September 26, 2018:
I think it's a bit strange that people who have never been pregnant think they know more than you do! Thanks for your comment, Liz :)
Liz Westwood from UK on September 25, 2018:
Having had 4 children myself and been around other friends with families, no two pregnancies were ever the same. I suffered badly with the nausea/tiredness in the early months. One friend implied that it was all in the mind until she had a similar experience herself. I can relate to a lot of what you say in your article.