There are some pregnancy symptoms that everyone seems to know about, like nausea, weird cravings, frequent urination. But there are other pregnancy signs that you might never have expected. Understand what they are, when to expect them, and what to do about them.
1. Leaky Boobs
Everyone know that breasts and nipples get sore during pregnancy. But some women notice fluid leaking from their nipples during pregnancy. The liquid is called colostrum, which is a highly nutritious early form of milk. Colostrum leakage during pregnancy is normal and nothing to be concerned about.
When it happens: As early as 14 weeks.
What to do about it: if it bothers you, you can try putting a tissue or a nursing pad in your bra to absorb it.
One of the first signs that many pregnant women notice is extreme exhaustion. You might struggle to stay awake during the day and fall asleep much earlier than your normal bedtime. No one knows exactly what causes pregnancy fatigue, but it’s likely related to rapidly increasing levels of the hormone progesterone.
When it happens: Exhaustion is often one of the earliest signs of pregnancy that many women notice, sometimes even before they get a positive pregnancy test. It often continues throughout the first trimester, subsides during the second trimester, and returns during the third trimester, when your growing bump and aches and pains make it harder to get a good night’s sleep.
What to do about it: the best way to treat first trimester exhaustion is to get plenty of rest! You’re growing a baby after all, and it takes a lot of work.
3. Metallic Taste
For something that no one seems to talk about, having a metallic taste in your mouth is a surprisingly common early pregnancy symptom. Called dysgeusia, some women experience it as like sucking on pennies or aluminum foil. It is thought to be caused by increased levels of the hormone estrogen, which plays a role in moderating sense of taste and smell.
When it happens: dysgeusia usually occurs in the first trimester and clears up by the second trimester.
What to do about it: acidic foods can help balance the bitter, metallic taste. Try sour candies, citrus juices, and foods marinated in vinegar (pickles, anyone?).
4. Painful Orgasms
It’s normal for your uterus to contract during orgasm—this happened before you were pregnant. But uterine changes during pregnancy can cause these normal contractions to feel prolonged and uncomfortable. Don’t worry—it doesn’t mean you’re going into labor, and it’s not dangerous for you or the baby (and some women actually find that increased blood flow to the uterus makes orgasms feel better!). Another really weird fact about orgasms during pregnancy: the uterine contractions can cause your belly to briefly form a pointed shape!
When it happens: Second trimester and beyond.
What to do about it: If orgasms feel uncomfortable, unfortunately there isn’t much to be done about it besides not have them. And that’s no fun!
5. Gas Pain
Starting from when you first learn that you are pregnant, you may experience digestive distress. It feels like you have gas, only way, way worse than you’ve ever had before. Usually, that’s exactly what it is. The high progesterone levels during the first trimester slow down the digestive process and relax the intestinal muscles. As a result, food remains in your colon longer, which allows more gas to develop and sometimes leading to excruciating gas pain. The pain may stay in one area or travel throughout your belly, back, and chest. As your pregnancy progresses, your growing uterus puts pressure on your internal organs, slowing digestion further and allowing gas to build up.
When it happens: All throughout pregnancy
What to do about it: Eat small, frequent meals rather than three large meals. Drink plenty of water. Avoid carbonated beverages and high fiber foods that are more difficult to digest such as beans and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage). Exercise can also help alleviate gas pain.
6. Thicker, Shinier Hair
Unlike most other pregnancy symptoms, you probably won’t mind this one: many women notice that their nails grow faster, and their hair looks thicker and shinier.
You’re not actually growing more hair, you’re just shedding less than you usually do. When you’re not pregnant, about 85 percent of your hair is in a “growing stage” and the other 15 percent is in a “resting stage.” The resting hair eventually falls out on its own and is replaced by new growth. A woman who isn’t pregnant sheds an average of 100 hairs per day.
During pregnancy, higher levels of estrogen prolong the growing phase, resulting in less hair falling out. The hormonal changes may also cause your hair to appear shinier. Enjoy it while it lasts, because everything goes back to normal after you give birth.
When it happens: You may start to notice it during the second trimester.
What to do about it: Fancy hair-do! Also, if you notice that hair is growing faster in places where you don’t want it to—like your upper lip, nipples, and stomach—you may want to get out the tweezers or visit your local waxer (but avoid hair bleaching and depilatories).
7. Stretch Marks Everywhere
More than half of all pregnant women get the dreaded pink, red, or purple streaks referred to as stretch marks. And they don’t just appear on your bump; they can also turn up on your butt, thighs, hips, and breasts. They are actually tiny tears in the supporting layers of tissue that appear under your skin as it’s stretched during pregnancy. Genetics determine whether you’re prone to developing them.
When it happens: Between 12 – 21 weeks of pregnancy
What to do about it: There are all manner of creams, gels, and herbal remedies said to reduce or prevent stretch marks, but no method has been proven effective at removing them. Moisturizing can make you more comfortable, but it won’t do anything to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Rapid weight gain can intensify stretch marks, so gaining at a moderate pace can help a bit. But again, there is no surefire way to prevent stretch marks, so the best solution is to wear them with pride!
8. Vaginal Vericose Veins
During pregnancy, increase in blood volume and decrease in blood flow to the lower body can put pressure on your veins. You may have heard about how this can contribute to varicose veins in your legs, but did you know it can also cause varicose veins in your vulva?
Symptoms of vulvar varicosities include a feeling of fullness or swelling in the vaginal area. In severe cases, the dilated vessels can look like worms. Long periods of standing, exercise, and sex can aggravate the condition.
When it happens: The risk is greatest during the third trimester.
What to do about it: Pressure can help minimize the discomfort. You can look for support garments specially designed for this condition. And if your exercise routine seems to be making things worse, consider switching to swimming. The water helps lift the baby and improve blood flow from your pelvis. Other things that promote circulation can also help, like elevating your hips on a pillow when lying down. And if none of these remedies work, don’t fear—vulvar varicosities usually go away on their own a month or two after delivery.
9. Darker Skin
Dark patches on the face—called melasma—are common during pregnancy. Sometimes called the mask of pregnancy, these areas of increased pigmentation typically appear around your upper lip, nose, cheekbones, and forehead.
Melasma is thought to be caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy, which can temporarily increase the amount of melanin your body produces. Melanin is the natural substance that creates pigmentation in your skin.