In another post, I detailed how I happily snarfed down a tomato, something I’d found vile pre-pregnancy in the early stages of pregnancy. It’s what made me think I’d better take a pregnancy test. While pregnancy cravings are another random side effect of having a baby, there are tons of weird pregnancy symptoms you’ll experience.
You may not even know about them because they’re a bit embarrassing. Sure, pregnancy is a normal, beautiful, and very natural thing. But you know what’s not beautiful? Peeing in your pants because you can’t help it, or worse, letting out a fart so loud that it seems to reverberate forever, like church bells, while hot shame stains your face as every pair of eyes turns to you.
But hey, we’re all in this together! The sisterhood of motherhood is a strong bond, and I’m here to share with you some strange pregnancy symptoms you may or may not get. You may get some of them, or you may get all of them. Rest assured, they’re all quite normal though if you ever have any concerns, make sure you check in with your OB/GYN.
Weird Early Pregnancy Symptoms
For those of you that are trying to have a baby but aren’t sure if you’ve hit the jackpot just yet, let me clue you into a few of the very early pregnancy symptoms. And no, they won’t be felt in the first 3 days of your pregnancy. You won’t know you’re pregnant 3 days in. For most women like me, you won’t put all the puzzle pieces together.
With my first pregnancy,
I felt extremely tired. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I didn’t realize I was pregnant until I was pretty far into my second month. But when I looked back while holding the positive pregnancy test in my hand, some unusual things started making a lot of sense.
For one, I felt tired. I feel tired now that I’m a mom of two! I remember one morning, in particular, I’d gone to class (I was learning Korean), returned to our apartment, and sat on the bed. I was so sleepy I thought I’d just shut my eyes for “only a minute.” I fell soundly asleep for hours, waking up just enough time to rush out the door and teach at my job.
Something else I thought was strange was that I had to pee more often than usual. I could usually get through my classes without trouble, even with copious amounts of coffee. I remember suddenly having to excuse myself from the room to pee because I couldn’t hold it for another 10 minutes. My classes were only 45 minutes long.
And yet another symptom I completely missed was when I was putting on my sports bra to go for a jog down the city streets, and it felt extremely snug, plus they felt a bit sensitive. I was never a girl with big breasts; suddenly, my cups seemed to be running over.
Shortly after that was the legendary tomato incident where I happily ate a raw tomato after despising them my entire life. The tomato prompted me to count the days since my last period and realize I wasn’t just a few days late. I was 2 weeks late!
Weird early pregnancy symptoms in your first trimester might include the ones I’ve just mentioned:
- Suddenly feeling so tired you could sleep like Rip Van Winkle
- Having to pee more often
- Bigger boobs that feel more sensitive or sore
- The liking of foods you once hated (or even the opposite – an aversion to something you’ve always loved)
You might want to look at your basal body temperature for those actively trying. It’s a great indicator that you might be pregnant, and if you keep an eye on it, you’ll likely know you’re pregnant early. It stays slightly elevated the morning after ovulation, and if it stays that way for more than two weeks, you might have gotten your wish to become a mom!
A false period may also occur, but it won’t be like your regular periods. The bleeding happens when implantation occurs, usually about two weeks after conception. It could also signify cervical irritation, ectopic pregnancy, or other complications. If these symptoms include stabbing backache, excessive cramping, or heavier bleeding, seek immediate medical attention.
In addition to the weird early pregnancy symptoms, I mentioned earlier, a missing period, dizziness, nausea and/or vomiting (dubbed “morning sickness” despite that it may happen at any time of day) round out this not-so-fun list.
More Strange Pregnancy Symptoms
Now, let’s move on to some more unusual territory. This is the stuff I was talking about before, with embarrassing bodily functions that tend to occur after the first trimester. I will run down the list of these weird pregnancy symptoms and add my little anecdotes where applicable
Please note that any of the early pregnancy symptoms discussed above may also come into play, so get ready!
Stuffy nose and/or nose bleeds
For some women, this will happen in the very first weeks of pregnancy. But for others like me, this didn’t happen until I was in the thick of it. I’d blow my nose to no end and it still felt like I couldn’t breathe. I also randomly got nosebleeds. One occurred while I was shopping with my mother-in-law, who didn’t speak English and started freaking out, causing more people to stare at the foreigner (me!).
It’s called pregnancy rhinitis, and doctors say it’s likely from a lack of moisture in your body. You can drink more fluids, use a humidifier in your bedroom when you sleep, let the steam from your shower help you, or use saline nose drops to get some relief.
Gas and bloating are very common during pregnancy. Avoiding foods that tend to cause gas is a good way to keep things under control, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be off the hook. You may still frequently and randomly burp. You may feel bloated like a big balloon. And you may fart so much you sound like you’ve swallowed a horn.
This didn’t happen to me until my 2nd trimester. I remember sitting with my husband, quietly reading, when suddenly, out of nowhere, I passed the loudest eruption of gas. It felt like it shook the room.
My husband and I hadn’t been married very long, and we got married shortly after we met, so I don’t think he’d heard me fart before. It gave us something to laugh about as we desperately tried to flee the smell. Fair warning that with pregnancy, passing gas may come on suddenly, to the point it surprises you even when it’s coming out of you!
Not to worry, though.
You can battle gas problems with dietary changes and by doing light exercise. The increase in milk consumption might be to blame for some of you, so if you’re drinking milk to get your calcium or because you’re craving it, choose lactose-free varieties or get your calcium from other foods. For exercise, try walking after meals and see how you feel!
Increase in vaginal discharge
Vaginal discharge is very normal, pregnant or not. An increase in it and a lack of period is definitely a pregnancy symptom. For most of us, the discharge is sticky and white or even a pale yellow mucus that starts in the first trimester. Your increased hormones and blood flow to your nether regions are to blame.
You should only be concerned if the discharge smells, burns, itches, turns greenish-yellow or becomes very thick or very watery. If you notice anything like this, get to the doctor, as it could be an infection, and you’ll want that taken care of quickly.
Strange changes in bowel movements
Again, those pregnancy hormones are at it, making your internal organs act wacky. Among them, your intestines will likely provide some entertainment. You might experience constipation or, the opposite, diarrhea. For me, I would have normal consistency. However, my bowel movements would come out in one gigantic, long, snake-like piece.
In fact, this was another thing I noticed when I was just 4 weeks along with my second one. I thought, “That looks like my movements when I was pregnant with the other one,” and it turns out I was right. A good way to deal with changes in your bowels during pregnancy is to add more fiber to your diet and ensure you’re drinking enough water to keep things moving.
I’d never heard of this until recently, but apparently, some women get the taste of metal in their mouths. It’s called dysgeusia and is likely caused by the rise of estrogen and progesterone in your body. Having something cold to drink or chewing sugarless gum can help.
Before I ever got pregnant, I’d had heartburn exactly once in my life. Once I was well into my second trimester (with both pregnancies), I was constantly suffering from it. The usual suspects, like tomato sauce, known for causing heartburn in even non-pregnant people (like men, for instance), would always get me.
Anything heavy, spicy, or fatty may increase your chances of heartburn. Caffeine and sodas can also antagonize your digestive system. Cut back, and if you can’t help but eat those things that set off heartburn, try elevating your pregnancy pillows at night, so they don’t keep you from getting sleep.
Interesting changes in libido
With all those hormones rushing about, it stands to reason your sex drive may be impacted. For some of you, this will mean you’ll want to go wild with your partner all the time like I did (which is completely safe and won’t harm the baby, incidentally). For others of you, it will be the opposite. Whichever end of the spectrum you’re on, it’s all completely normal.
While you’ll surely have to run to the bathroom to pee more often from your first trimester onward, you likely won’t experience peeing in your pants until the second or third trimester.
And if you do, it will be just a few drops, but it will truly feel like a million of them, especially if you’re out and about. You’ll feel like everyone knows, but it’s more likely that you’re the only one who will notice.
Incontinence could happen when you sneeze, cough, or laugh. It gets harder to control the further along you get as your baby presses down on the bladder with more intensity. You can combat this by using the bathroom every two hours, even if you don’t feel like you need to go, and by wearing panty liners that will catch anything that trickles out while giving you the security you crave.
Unwanted facial hair
If only your pregnancy hormones would send signals for your eyebrows to grow back after over-tweezing them in college. But alas, they don’t. Instead, you get facial hair in unwanted places. You can safely wax or tweeze these facial intruders, though.
And on the plus side, your hair will be thicker, shinier, and more glorious on top of your head. Enjoy it while it lasts, though. You’ll start shedding about 4 months post-partum.
A heightened sense of smell
In your first trimester, this newfound sensitivity to smells may have you running to the bathroom, gagging from something you’ve gotten a whiff of. For me, it was the overflowing garbage cans by the subway. I felt like I was going to throw up all over myself. Fortunately, I was wearing perfume and sniffed my wrist, which helped quell the upset.
Another fun bit on this is that you may pick up your own scents.
During my second pregnancy in the third trimester, I felt like I could smell my vagina from all over. The scent seemed so strong, but my doctor assured me nothing was wrong and that this was normal. It’s usually the cause of more mucus, and as much as you can smell it, no one else can. Tell your doctor if you’re worried about the odor from down there.
In some cases, it may be a yeast infection, which can be common during pregnancy and safely treated. A simple test will determine if it is or if everything is normal and your heightened sense of smell is just picking it up.
If you experience constipation during your pregnancy, you’ll likely get hemorrhoids. It’s when the veins in your rectum bulge and become irritated. Pooping is horribly painful with them. You’ll want to avoid these at all costs or be truly miserable.
The best way is to avoid getting constipation.
You should make sure to drink lots of water and have plenty of fiber. Your doctor can also recommend OTC stool softeners that are safe for you.
My experience with hemorrhoids didn’t occur until after both of my pregnancies. It’s something I still, unfortunately, have battles with when I stubbornly don’t drink enough water. Lesson learned. To soothe them, two things can help you that are safe during pregnancy: witch hazel pads and anti-inflammatory creams. Again, your doctor can help make good recommendations here.
Acne and breakouts
When those pregnancy hormones start emerging in your first trimester, you may notice your face looks like that of your teen years. Whether it’s one random pimple or a massive breakout, it can be irritating, to say the least.
The good news is:
You can use just about any acne wash out there safely since it will only be on your skin for a short while. Still, to be safe, ask your doctor about which acne products you can use. Retin-A is one that you absolutely can’t use, but most products with benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid, or salicylic acid are safe when used sparingly.
With extra fluids in your body during pregnancy and all that pressure your baby puts on your uterus as it grows, it can cause swelling of your ankles and feet. Known as edema, this can be uncomfortable and will leave your legs looking like logs.
You’re more prone to it in hot weather too. Thankfully, if you prop your feet up when you sit and refrain from crossing your legs, you’ll find relief. Make sure you get up and stretch often, and when you sleep, try to lie on your left side to help it subside.
Abnormal is Normal Though
For these strange pregnancy symptoms, you should know that as weird as they are, most women experience them. From a medical standpoint, they’re all very normal. As you can see, much of it is caused by hormonal changes. Other of these unusual symptoms result from the growing baby inside of you.
Making adjustments to your lifestyle can help alleviate many of them.
As with gas, you can do a lot to alleviate it. Heartburn can be relieved too, but for some of you, be aware that you may do everything to the letter and still get it. If you make proper diet changes and still become horribly uncomfortable with them, talking to your doctor about solutions can help.
There might not even be anything he or she can do, but sometimes hearing from a medical professional that there’s nothing wrong with you and that what you’re going through is normal can be very reassuring.
Honestly, with all the changes your body is going through, all of it is abnormal. It’s a very exciting and crazy time in your life. My advice is to embrace it, but if something feels wrong, you should have it checked out.
When You Should Worry
There’s usually no cause for worry with the weird symptoms of pregnancy, but if you experience any of the following danger signs, you should get medical attention at once.
- Heavy bleeding
During your first trimester, heavy bleeding combined with severe abdominal pain and period-like cramps, or if you feel like you’re going to faint, could be a sign of ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage.
- Severe nausea and vomiting
This is totally normal until it reaches the point where you can’t eat or drink anything. This puts you at risk for dehydration and malnourishment.
- Early contractions in the third trimester
My best friend was rushed to the hospital because of false labor contractions, known as Braxton-Hicks contractions. These have no rhythm like a bad dancer, and they don’t get more intense. Give it an hour and drink plenty of water. If they subside, you’ll know it’s false labor. If they continue to grow 10 minutes apart or less and get more intense, head to your doctor.
- Intense pains and swelling
Aches and pains are par for the course of pregnancy. However, a severe and persistent headache, abdominal pain, swelling, or visual disturbances may indicate very serious preeclampsia.
It’s usually caused by high blood pressure and tends to happen after the 20th week. You can catch the symptoms early and avoid complications with early intervention and good prenatal care.
- The Flu
When you first get pregnant, do yourself a favor. Let your doctor give you the flu vaccine. You’re much more likely to get sick with the flu and suffer serious complications while pregnant. As with most things, prevention is the key to wellness here.
Why Can’t This Happen to Men?!?
If you think you’re suffering and wish your husband would join in the fun, you’re in luck! According to Scientific American, there’s a condition called couvade. It’s known as sympathetic pregnancy, where the symptoms of a man when a woman is pregnant are weight gain, bloating, nausea, and mood swings.
Because symptoms of this condition are not well-reported, it’s hard for experts to determine the frequency. I’ll go out on a limb and say this: no man has pregnancy symptoms as bad as any woman. Sorry, guys!
But Try Not to Worry Too Much
It comes down to this – there are weird changes your body goes through during pregnancy. There are weird changes that will happen long after you’ve had your kids too. Much of these are normal but if something seems particularly unsettling or any of the danger signs appear, make sure you get to the doctor quickly to have your mind put at ease.
Even if something major does occur, by keeping calm and acting quickly, you’ll more than likely have a positive outcome. Try to relax, keep those feet up, and fart freely, my friends!
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California, where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs.
She loves eating too much sushi, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.