Understanding 34 of the Strangest Pregnancy Symptoms
As any pregnant woman can tell you, pregnancy is basically a journey into the unknown where your body does some of the strangest things that you may never completely understand. It doesn't matter if it's your first pregnancy or your tenth. Every pregnancy and every woman is different.
There are a host of beliefs regarding some of these symptoms and what the gender of your baby might be, how much hair your baby might have, or even if he or she will have freckles or be ticklish. Honestly, none of them have any scientific basis whatsoever, but do seem to help pregnant mothers weather the months of pregnancy a little easier.
I wanted to address some of the strangest pregnancy symptoms here to not only possibly give you some answers to why you are feeling or experiencing what you are, but to let you know that you are not alone. Some of these may even possibly help you avoid some unnecessary medications or medical procedures as doctors try to figure out what's going on in your body. Let's take a look at 34 of the strangest pregnancy symptoms.
Nosebleeds in pregnancy are fairly common. Nearly 20% of pregnant women get them. They are nothing to worry about. Pregnancy can make the blood vessels in your nose expand, and your increased blood supply puts more pressure on those delicate vessels, causing them to rupture more easily.
You can also get a nosebleed if the membranes inside your nose dry out, like in cold weather, air conditioned rooms, and dry climates. If you get a nosebleed, simply tilt your head forward, open your mouth to breathe, and pinch your nose closed gently to allow it to clot. Don't lean backwards. You don't want to swallow any blood.
2. Metal Taste in Your Mouth
It's called dysgeusia, or a change in your sense of taste, during pregnancy likely is caused by pregnancy hormones. Sometimes it can cause a sour or metallic taste in your mouth, even if you're not eating anything.
You can get rid of the bad taste with citrus foods like tomatoes and lemons. Try lemonade or tomato-based products. Fermented foods may also help. You can also brush your tongue when you brush your teeth or rinse with a salt water solution.
Unfortunately, constipation affects approximately half of all women at some point during their pregnancy. It is caused by pregnancy hormones that relax your intestinal muscle and by the pressure of your expanding uterus on your intestines.
Having experienced this personally in every pregnancy, I can tell you to get a squatty potty for every toilet in your home, make sure to eat plenty of foods that you know make you go to the bathroom, and try to go every single time you pee. Do not, however, take laxatives or push really hard. I'll discuss this more under hemorrhoids.
The main cause of dizziness in pregnancy is due to the rising hormones that cause your blood vessels to relax and widen. This helps increase the blood flow to your baby, but it slows the return of the blood in the veins to you. This causes your blood pressure to be lower than usual, which can reduce the blood flow to your brain, temporarily causing dizziness.
It can also happen as your baby and your growing uterus slowly puts more pressure on your blood vessels. Thankfully there are many things you can do to help, including not standing for long periods of time, standing or getting up slowly, and eating healthy snacks regularly throughout the day.
During the first trimester of pregnancy, spotting is a very common occurrence happening to the majority of pregnant women. In the first couple of weeks it's likely implantation bleeding, which happens when the fertilized egg attaches to your uterine lining. As your blood vessels are swollen during pregnancy, and the are an increased number of them around your cervix, anything from heavy lifting, intercourse, or even a gynecological exam could cause some spotting.
Note that spotting is a few drops of blood, or a little blood on your toilet paper, not enough to fill a pad or panty liner. Some precautions against this include increased rest, keeping your feet elevated as much as possible, drinking lots of water, and not lifting anything over 10 pounds of you can help it. It's always best to inform your doctor or midwife though, just in case.
Cramping, or the familiar feeling which is really just a soreness, typically occurs when your uterus expands, causing the ligaments and muscles that support it to stretch. It may be more noticeable when you sneeze, cough, or change positions. Gas, bloating, constipation, and intercourse can also cause cramping simply due to the overuse of certain muscles inside of your various reproductive areas.
Some efficient ways to treat cramping, and help you feel better fast, are soaking in a hot bath (no more than 100 degrees F), drinking plenty of water, and placing a heating pad or hot water bottle over the sore area. Persistent and really painful cramps may mean something negative, so make sure to keep your doctor or midwife notified.
7. Crying All the Time
At a biological level, your hormones estrogen and progesterone are ramping up. Some women are more sensitive to changes in progesterone, and this may make them more irritable. But, pregnancy is a huge transition in a woman's life, and it involves a complex mix of emotions, both good and bad.
There are a lot of issues a mothers-to-be must work through both psychologically and socially. Pregnancy can be an exciting time but it's also very stressful, which can cause emotions to run high. The only I can advise is to be aware of your thoughts and feelings, and to find a place to talk about these feelings and work through them.
8. Ultra-Sensitive Sense of Smell
A heightened sense of smell is common during pregnancy, and is often one of the first telltale signs that you are expecting. You can probably already guess what's causing it if you have read this far...You guessed it! It's your hormones again, particularly estrogen. About two-thirds of pregnant women become more sensitive and reactive to the scents around them when they’re pregnant.
The only thing to do is to avoid any offending odors, air out your house often, shower and wash your clothes frequently, and try to surround yourself in pleasant smells. This may also be the right time to switch to cleaner natural or organic cleaners, and bathing and hygiene products.
Your core body temperature is higher than normal when you’re pregnant. As your baby grows, your body uses more energy to carry him or her around. Pregnancy hormones also make your skin more susceptible to sun exposure. However, this is one symptom that's really dangerous for you and your pregnancy because your body’s ability to tolerate heat will likely diminish when you’re pregnant.
Some things that you can do to protect yourself and your developing baby are to drink plenty of water, wear light and loose clothing, and to try and stay in the shade. If it's a hot day, it might just be best to stay inside. There are many complications that can happen if you get too hot, so take care yourself the best you can and relax.
10. Burning Feeling on the Skin Under Your Breasts
I learned this one the hard way in my first pregnancy. The feeling was that my skin was burned really bad, but there was nothing there. It is pretty common and most women feel it under their right breast. The doctor wanted to remove my gallbladder, but it was simply a condition called pregnancy pleurisy.
Now, know that this is different than pulmonary pleurisy. It's more about the position of your baby and where he or she is pushing inside your body. I've now had it with every pregnancy. The only way to make it go away is either to change positions to get the baby to move away from that area, or press an ice pack in the offending region to cool your skin and get the baby to move. Just know, it only lasts for a short while.
11. Sharp Pains in Stomach and Sides
This is called round ligament pain and is a familiar friend of mine. It is caused by the muscles across your stomach and sides, which are supporting your growing uterus, stretching to accommodate your growing baby. Even as early as the first trimester of pregnancy, you can identify it as sharp pains that make you catch your breath if you get up or stand up too quickly, laugh, cough, sneeze, roll over in bed, or any other sudden movements. Some women even report it extending into their groin area.
Some help for round ligament pain includes light exercise or prenatal yoga, drinking lots of water, moving slowly and avoiding sudden movements, and even applying a heating pad or hot water bottle to the sore spot. The best strategy for getting out of bed was 1) slow movements, and 2) gently rolling over to your hands and knees and backing off of the bed.
12. Bleeding Gums
This is another very common symptom. About half of pregnant women have swollen, red, tender gums that bleed when flossed or brushed. This gum inflammation is called pregnancy gingivitis, and is a mild form of gum disease. Pregnancy gingivitis is partly caused by hormonal changes that make your gums more sensitive to the bacteria in plaque.
It's also due to the swollen blood vessels in your body during pregnancy. This is the same reason you might have a bloody nose. The only way to prevent it is to be careful but vigilant when brushing your teeth, use a soft bristled brush, and use a non-fluoridated toothpaste for sensitive teeth.
This is most commonly called the Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP). Beautiful name huh? All this really means is small red bumps and hives, and when severe, large patches of bumps. This rash usually starts on the abdomen and spreads to the thighs, buttocks, breasts, and arms.
This is nothing to be concerned by, other than the fact that it will likely itch badly. The only thing to do is to pamper yourself with healing, moisturizing baths, and use a really good organic, or natural lotion. A nice thick body butter may also be appropriate here. It should all disappear after delivery.
Acne at any age is typically caused by hormones, so it only makes sense that this would be a problem when your hormones are raging and are out of control during pregnancy. There's nothing you can do to stop it right now, and there are no acne creams that are safe to use while pregnant.
Just know that it will likely change, hopefully by going away with each trimester of pregnancy, and will definitely go away after delivery when your hormones start calming back down.
15. Sharp Pains From Butt Down Your Legs
This is called sciatic nerve pain, or sciatica, and it can take you down to your knees when it really hits. If you have ever experienced this feeling before, you know exactly what I am talking about. No, this is not to be confused by traditional sciatica in those not pregnant that is caused by a herniated disk in the back. Just like every other pregnancy symptom, many of these aren't linked to anything but a temporary pregnancy situation.
Up to 80% of women experience these pains, and it is due to an increase in pregnancy hormones like relaxin, which can cause your ligaments, the structures that attach bones to joints, to loosen and stretch, especially in your pelvic area. Occasionally, even the position of your baby can add pressure to your sciatic nerve. One of the only ways to relieve the pain is to stretch it out. Check out these various stretches that might help. (https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/sciatica-pain-stretches#treatments)
16. Legs That Go Numb or Fall Asleep Every Night
Traditionally this is called restless leg syndrome, an it's very annoying. Like pregnancy isn't already hard enough, and now your legs won't even let you sleep! Approximately a third of all pregnant women experience this at some point in their pregnancies. And it's likely related to the pressure your uterus puts on the nerves and blood vessels that go to your legs during pregnancy.
It's much more prevalent in the third trimester of pregnancy as your baby gets bigger and everything from your blood vessels swelling, and you uterus pressing on them is causing issues. Please stay far, far away from medications to fix this as they are extremely dangerous to your developing baby. The only thing you can really do to help is to try to find a different sleeping position that doesn't put pressure on your legs, like in a recliner, or on your side with a pillow between your legs, or to stand up and walk it off. I know it's annoying, but it will be over soon.
Snoring is fairly common during pregnancy, even if you've never snored before, affecting about a third of pregnant women. The most likely culprits of snoring are surging pregnancy hormones, which cause the mucous membranes in your nose to swell, leading to nasal congestion that increases when you lie down.
A few great things you can do if your snoring is keeping you awake at night are to sleep in your left side, which is recommended for pregnancy anyway as this is best for your circulation, sleep with a humidifier, sleep with your head slightly elevated, and possibly even wear a nasal strip to help keep your airways open.
18. Dark Patches on Your Skin
This is called the "mask of pregnancy" or melasma, and up to 70% of women will experience this according to the National Institutes of Health. It also seems more likely to reoccur, if you've experienced it before, with your subsequent pregnancies. These spots most commonly appear on your forehead and cheeks and are a result of increased pigmentation. When you become pregnant your body produces more hormones, which causes an increase in pigmentation.
Your skin is extra sensitive right now, and exposure to the sun increases your chances of these dark spots showing up on your face. To prevent this from happening to you, you should wear a good organic sunscreen that is at least SPF 15 whenever you plan on being outside, and make sure to do everything you can to shield your body from the sun, especially if other members of your family have had it before.
19. Peeing on Yourself
Urinary incontinence occurs in most pregnancies. Pregnancy can interfere with the normal way your urethra relaxes and contracts causing you to have leakage at the most inconvenient of times. Hormone changes during pregnancy and added pressure on the bladder from your uterus also cause something called stress incontinence. This is when you leak whenever you sneeze, cough, or laugh, walk, run, or exercise.
The most common sense way to stop this from happening, or prevent it in the future is to do Kegel exercises where you flex the muscles in your private area to strengthen your pelvic floor. You can also schedule bathroom breaks frequently to make sure your bladder stays as empty as possible. Unfortunately, pregnancy and having a vaginal delivery can stretch the muscles that support the pelvis, making them weaker. As a result, you may forever have this issue, even after delivery, especially if you go on to have more pregnancies in the future.
20. Lots of Extra Hair... Everywhere
Excessive hair growth, or Hirutism, is a common condition among women during pregnancy. This is where the hair on your head typically grows much more than usual, but unfortunately it grows everywhere else too. Sometimes this means on your face, on your belly, and even around your nipples.
During pregnancy the body produces an excess level of a hormone called androgen that causes excessive hair growth not just in the common areas but also in unwanted areas. You may have to do a lot of plucking during this time, unless you are very patient , But, no worries, it should all go away shortly after your hormones return to normal after delivery. (https://parenting.firstcry.com/articles/hair-on-stomach-during-pregnancy-is-it-a-concern/)
21. Hip Pain
During pregnancy your hips, in fact your whole pelvic area, are widening to allow for the passage of your baby at delivery. Just like the muscles around your belly are hurting as they stretch, you are feeling the pain from your skeleton stretching out to accommodate a baby. Consider these growing pains.
You can't exactly lie on your back or stomach to reduce the pain while sleeping, but you can prop yourself up with pillows in the front and the back while laying on your side at night to take the pressure off of your hips. You can even try sleeping upright in a recliner to keep the pressure off of your hips altogether at night. For pain during the day, stretching, a prenatal massage, a warm bath, and even a heating pad or hot water bottle on the sore area should help relieve some of the pain.
22. Extreme Fatigue
This one is easy. My absolute favorite saying, something I heard early during my first pregnancy, was that a pregnant woman at rest was working harder and burning more calories than a non-pregnant woman climbing a mountain or running a marathon. Your body is working overtime to grow another human being, and sapping your personal resources to get what it needs for the baby. so of course you're tired.
That's why you should make sure to get plenty of rest while pregnant, get plenty of water and choose plenty of healthy foods to eat throughout the day everyday during your pregnancy, along with putting your feet up. This isn't the right time to run a marathon or push yourself too hard.
23. Non-Stop Hiccups
Generally during pregnancy, your capacity to inhale air increases by around 30% to 40%. This is a natural mechanism of the body to provide plenty of oxygen to the baby. However, this sudden increase in oxygen intake causes a sense of breathlessness in the mother. This shortness of breath usually triggers spasms in the diaphragm, which is known as hiccups.
There are many remedies for hiccups, but not all of them work for everybody, as I'm sure you already know. However, you can try drinking plenty of water, breathe deeply anytime you think about it, or try sucking on something strongly flavored like lime or ginger. If anything, know that this too shall pass.
Many women sneeze more than normal when they’re pregnant. Doctors call this pregnancy rhinitis. Pregnancy rhinitis is nasal congestion that begins at any point during pregnancy and resolves within two weeks of your baby’s birth.
Unfortunately, all you can do is to try and manage your congestion until it's time for delivery. Try using a neti pot, an air purifier, or even a humidifier. I don't suggest using any medications, as that could put your baby in danger.
25. Weird Food Cravings or Aversions
Dysgeusia, or a change in your sense of taste, likely caused by pregnancy hormones, can also cause you to hate a food that you normally love, or enjoy foods you normally dislike. Normally it only lasts during your first trimester, and definitely won't last forever.
During pregnancy you just need to eat and drink whatever you can. All bets are off when you have strong food cravings or aversions. Don't feel bad if you have to avoid certain foods.
26. Skin Tags
Skin tags, or small pieces of skin sticking out around the neck, are hormonally related and tend to increase in number during pregnancy. These are caused because the increased blood flow to the skin encourages the tissue to proliferate, or create more skin.
Skin tags increase in numbers, moles can change color slightly and so can benign tumors, scars can become noticeable, all because the high levels of estrogen have some effect on these tissues. But don't worry. All of these tend to go away, or at least go back to normal, after delivery. And if not, they can easily be removed in a painless procedure.
27. Soreness in Wrists and Hands
If you have tingling, numb and painful hands during pregnancy, it's likely to be caused by carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). CTS is common in pregnancy. It happens when there is a build-up of fluid (oedema) in the tissues in your wrist. This swelling squeezes a nerve, called the median nerve, that runs down to your hand and fingers, causing tingling and numbness. You may also find your grip is weaker and it's harder to move your fingers.
In order to prevent CTS, make sure you are drinking plenty of water and eating a balanced diet devoid of refined white sugar and flour, and processed foods. To get relief from the pain, you can put an ice pack on your hands, massage them, wear hands splints to sleep, and even wrap them in cabbage leaves to draw out the fluid.
28. Serious Back Pain
Most pregnant women experience back pain, usually starting in the second half of pregnancy. The weight of your growing baby and uterus put a great deal of pressure on the blood vessels and nerves in your pelvis and back. During pregnancy, your body makes a hormone called relaxin that allows ligaments in the pelvic area to relax and the joints to become looser in preparation for the birth process. The same hormone can also cause ligaments that support the spine to loosen, leading to instability and pain.
The first step to finding relief is to improve your posture. When you sleep, place a pillow between your knees to support your back. When sitting, place a rolled up towel behind your back and elevate your feet. Next, try alternating cold and heat on your back. Try an ice pack on your back for 20 minutes at a time for several days and then switch to heat.
29. Desire to Eat Non-Foods
Pica is the practice of craving substances with little or no nutritional value. Most pregnancy and pica related cravings involving non-food substances are for dirt or chalk. But there are always unique situations. Some speculate that pica cravings are the body’s attempt to obtain vitamins or minerals that are missing through normal food consumption, like iron or magnesium. Some of the most interesting pica cravings have been for items like burnt matches, stones, charcoal, mothballs, ice, cornstarch, toothpaste, soap, sand, plaster, coffee grounds, baking soda, and cigarette ashes.
Well, it's most certainly not safe to entertain this craving. You should definitely let your doctor or midwife know about your cravings, and then consider an alternative that would work. Ice is obviously fine to eat, but maybe chewing gum, small hard candies, or something similar would distract you instead of some of the more dangerous ones. Don't let it worry you too much, just be safe.
30. Lots of Extra Discharge
When you become pregnant, your body undergoes a variety of changes. One of the first changes you may experience is in your vaginal discharge. Normal vaginal discharge during pregnancy is called leukorrhea and is thin, white, milky, and mild smelling. Leukorrhea is normal and nothing for you to worry about. In fact, it's a sign that your body is working correctly. If it turns green or yellow, or starts to smell really bad however, you could have an infection.
There's nothing for you to do, except maybe where a panty liner, if it's comfortable, to keep you from feeling wet all day. But never put in a tampon, douche, or treat yourself for an infection without your doctor or midwife's approval. You could put your pregnancy, and yourself, in serious jeopardy.
31. Blurry or Spotty Vision
There are actually a lot of reasons you might not be seeing clearly. Pregnancy hormones can decrease your tear production, which can lead to eye dryness, irritation and discomfort. Hormones also cause fluid build-up in your eyes, the same way they make your ankles and feet swell up. This can lead to changes in the curvature of your eye, which can affect your vision while you're pregnant. You might also experience a change in the thickness of your cornea, making your eyes feel more sensitive, and your contact lenses harder to tolerate.
In order to cope with the change in your eyesight, invest in some natural lubricating eye drops and give your eyes a rest. You should be reading more anyways once you're pregnant. Take this opportunity to be good to your eyes and rest then often by taking naps, using a humidifier at night, and reading/watching movies with plenty of light.
32. Crazy Dreams
Your body is going through many changes during pregnancy, and your emotional, physical, and mental states are all connected. The crazy dreams you may have during pregnancy are due to an the increase in hormone production. You’ll find during pregnancy that your hormones may impact your emotions and your anxiety. They will also impact the way your brain processes information and emotions, possibly resulting in more vivid and frequent dreams while you are pregnant.
Although there's nothing you can really do to make the dreams stop, you can try to get to bed a little earlier, make your bedroom as comfortable and conducive to sleep as possible, including sleeping in the dark, and you can even start keeping a sleep journal to keep you prices them if they are particularly strange, scary, or disturbing. I'd they really get bad, consider taking to someone else about them.
33. Swollen Feet or Ankles
Various factors contribute to foot and ankle swelling during pregnancy. For starters, your body retains more fluid during pregnancy which may make your whole body feel a little swollen. Your growing uterus is also putting more pressure on your veins, which in turn impairs the return of blood to your heart. And don't forget about those always present pregnancy hormones. Your feet and ankles swing is a fairly common pregnancy symptom, but it is always safer to report any symptoms to your doctor or midwife. In this case, it could mean pre-eclampsia.
In the meantime, try some of these tips for keeping the swelling down, or getting rid of it altogether. Try to stay off of your feet as much as possible, and keep your feet elevated whenever you think about it. This is not the time to overdo it. Drink plenty of water and make sure to get a healthy, well-balanced diet. And try sleeping on your left side. This takes pressure off the large vein that returns blood from the lower half of your body to your heart. It also might help if you elevate your legs slightly with pillows.
34. Increased Gas
Your body goes through many changes during pregnancy, and unfortunately gas is an uncomfortable result of some very normal body processes. The hormone progesterone is one of the main causes of excess gas during pregnancy. As your body produces more progesterone to support your pregnancy, progesterone relaxes muscles in your body. This includes the muscles of your intestine. Slower moving intestine muscles mean that your digestion slows down. This allows gas to build up, which in turn leads to bloating, burping, and flatulence.
One of the best things you can do to combat gas in your system is to full up on plenty of water. This will allow your body to run smoothly and keep everything moving efficiently. And consider deep breathing. Anxiety and stress can increase the amount of air you swallow, which may increase upper abdominal gas, bloating, and belching. Do whatever you need to in order to stay calm and relaxed.
Pregnancy is nothing short of a roller coaster ride, as it brings along with it a number of bodily changes. The hormonal changes during this period cause any number of strange and unusual symptoms. If it puts your mind at ease any, the majority of women experience a number of these during each of their pregnancies, along with other symptoms not mentioned. It doesn't make you strange or weird, and it surely does not make you gross.
If you think about how hard your body is working while you are pregnant, and all that it is accomplishing on the inside, while you are relaxing, drinking plenty of water, and putting your feet up, you will understand why you see and experience all kinds of interesting things. During each of my pregnancies, I know I had to keep reminding myself (and others) exactly what was happening. I was creating a human being inside of me.
It also made it much easier to make good choices about relaxing, the diet I was eating, the water I was drinking, and even my early bed time when I thought of the consequences. It simply wasn't worth that super later night, or that package of Oreos I wanted, or even the stress of visiting my family in another state, if it meant that I was putting the newest little one in my family in jeopardy. No matter what you are experiencing, it's only for a short while, and then you won't have to deal with the discomfort, the pain, or the embarrassment anymore. And believe me, if this is your first time, it will all be worth the effort in the end.
Try to be patient, understanding, and gentle with your body for this short while, and you will thank yourself immensely later. You are being used to do something no one else on Earth can do...bring that little human into the world. Good luck!
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.
© 2019 Victoria Van Ness