10 Very Normal Pregnancy Symptoms
You can read and read all you want about different pregnancy symptoms, but what you really want to know is if what you’re experiencing is normal or if you should risk “annoying” your OB with another phone call. Let me be clear, though. Just because I experienced these symptoms does not mean you will. You may have them but you barely even notice. You may have an easy pregnancy! And if you have an easy pregnancy, it doesn’t mean something is wrong with the baby! I remember fearing when I felt good that something must be wrong because if the hormones were doing what they were supposed to be doing, I’d be feeling bad. This is simply not true. Are we clear? So, below are a few things I experienced with every pregnancy that were perfectly normal:
1. Exhaustion. I was so tired I wanted to cry. I was so tired I felt like I was going to die. It doesn’t make sense—the baby is the size of a grain of rice! But that grain of rice took everything out of me. So if you’re exhausted, go ahead and cry. It’s okay. You are legitimately tired and have my permission to go take a good nap.
2. Aches and (sometimes excruciating) Pains. In my pregnancies, I had pretty awful low back pain. The pregnancy hormones relax your tendons so that your body can stretch and adjust to your growing uterus. Standing for long periods of time can put a lot of strain on your back, so be sure to sit down whenever you need. My husband is a physical therapist and told me I had what is called SI joint pain. The SI joint is a joint that shouldn’t move much but increases its mobility during pregnancy, and that’s what causes the pain. He would massage and try to adjust it, but it just hurt like a mother much of the time.
The round ligament is a ligament that supports your uterus. As your uterus grows, the ligament stretches. Your uterus is growing even if you’re not showing, so it’s normal to feel knife-like pains just inside your hip bones, especially when you cough or sneeze or are lying on your back. Sometimes I would cough-scream and scare the pants off of my husband. The worst round ligament pain I experienced was lying on my back and trying to get up. I’d start to use my stomach muscles and…look out! I would have to pull my knees to my chest, and offer the pain up for the poor souls in purgatory. And to prevent this round ligament pain from occurring every time I got out of bed in the morning, I’d try rolling onto my side to get out of bed. It was easier on the abs which made it easier on the round ligament. Sometimes, I’d wake up in the middle of the night on my back (a no-no, I know) with the round ligament pain. On occasion, it lasted for minutes. Minutes! I’d just cry and try not to wake up my husband.
Believe it or not, it’s also normal to have some uterine cramping. I remember calling my OB in a panic thinking I was having a miscarriage. I wasn’t having more-than-usual discharge or any bleeding (which can indicate miscarriage), just cramping like on the 1st or 2nd day of my period. Turns out, this is normal too. Once I understood what was going on, whenever I would feel the cramps, I’d imagine Fraggle Rock’s little Doozers building a tiny little person in my uterus. It was reassuring to blame it on the Doozers.
3. Shortness of Breath. Sometimes I felt so short of breath I thought there was no way I was getting enough oxygen. And if I wasn’t getting enough oxygen…what about the baby?! But it’s actually because your lungs are expanding, taking in more oxygen to give the baby what he or she needs that pregnant women feel short of breath. Try to remain calm, take slow deep breaths, lie down if you can, and know that your baby is better because of it. This too shall pass.
Another thing I noticed that hampered my breathing was a stuffy nose. I remember saying to my also-pregnant sister that I wasn’t congested, I just felt like the membranes in my nasal passages were swollen. I got a very sympathetic, “MEEEE TOOOO!” It’s part of the pregnancy package for some of us. I swear by Breathe Right Nasal Strips. I would hoard coupons and buy them when they went on sale. They even come in Extra Strength, to really flare those nostrils! A word of caution: they are not attractive. Make sure your husband isn’t feeling amorous before you put on your nasal strip. It’d be a shame to have to take one off and waste it!
4. Bleeding Easily. Many women notice that their gums and their noses bleed more easily when they’re pregnant. I had frequent bloody noses with my 1st two pregnancies. It has something to do with the increased blood volume in your body. It’s gross and can be unnerving, but nothing to be concerned about.
Speaking of your mouth, babies aren’t the only ones who drool. You may start drooling like never before–woo hoo! I’ve never experienced this, but my dear friend has with all 4 of her pregnancies. She would keep a “spit cup” on hand because swallowing all the saliva she was producing made her more nauseated than she already was. She has a great story about repeatedly spitting in the cup in a packed elevator.
5. Changing Interest in Sex. Some women desire sex more when they’re pregnant. I’ve never met any of these women. The rest of us are too tired, nauseated, and feeling fat to be interested. That being said, it makes a difference if you make an effort to be affectionate toward your husband. He needs to know that he’s still desirable. Love takes effort, so make the effort for your husband even if it’s the last thing you want to do; it’s a worthy sacrifice. Sex may be uncomfortable in certain positions so find one that is the most comfortable and least awkward position for you. He’ll just have to temporarily adjust if he wants physical intimacy with his wife, right?
6. Emotions. Pregnancy can be a time of increased worry. When I was pregnant I had anxiety about the physical symptoms I was experiencing, fear of the pain of childbirth, fear of something going wrong, having a sick baby, what my life was going to be like after baby, etc. These fears and worries are normal as long as they don’t dominate your life. If you become preoccupied with worries about “what ifs,” it’s time to discuss this with your OB.
I also struggled mightily with my body image during pregnancy. Having a history of disordered eating, I looked forward to pregnancy being a time that I had an excuse to put on weight. It was going to be awesome! Wrong. Pregnancy can wreak havoc on an already-delicate body image. If you’ve ever struggled with an eating disorder, please share this information with your OB. It can be really humbling to mention it, but there are certain things he or she will have to look out for in your case that they wouldn’t with their other patients. If you need professional help beyond your OB, consider seeking out a therapist that specializes in eating disorders to help keep you and your baby healthy during your pregnancy.
Having any pressure on my belly when I was pregnant made me nauseated in the beginning and just terribly angry toward the end. Finding clothes that were comfortable (to make me a nicer person) and cute (to make me feel less like a whale) improved my confidence and my body image. These comfy-cute clothes do exist, especially in maternity stores. I did most of my maternity shopping at Old Navy (they usually have much more online than in stores), JCPenny, Motherhood, and in local consignment stores. (One day I was so miserable and grumpy by the end of the day I didn’t think I was going to survive the night. Turns out, my pants were just too tight. I put on bigger pants that evening and felt like a newer, nicer woman.)
7. You relationship with the bathroom. You’re not only eating for two, you’re peeing for two! It’s very normal to have to urinate more frequently even as soon as the 1st few weeks of pregnancy. My appetite also increased pretty dramatically so I found myself having more bowel movements, too, when I wasn’t constipated, that is (thanks to the iron in the prenatal vitamins). The frequent urination tapers off in the 2nd trimester and comes back with a vengeance at the end of your pregnancy as the baby pushes on your bladder.
You may also find yourself spending more time in the bathroom throwing up. Ugh. My prayer for you is that you not have any nausea. If you do, I’m very sorry. It can range from annoying to horrible. If you have nausea, my prayer for you is that you have annoying nausea. To me, the term “morning sickness” really is misleading. It’s more like “all-day sickness” for many of us.
I would usually start feeling nauseated when I was 7 or 8 weeks pregnant. The only thing that would make the nausea better was eating. But eating would make me nauseated. And the only thing that would makes the nausea better was eating. And so it went. Find a few foods that make you least nauseated and keep them on hand (some women recommend keeping Saltines on the bedside table to get something in your stomach before getting out of bed). Also, find the foods that make you the most nauseated and try to eliminate the from your diet, at least temporarily, until the nausea improves. I was addicted to coffee but the acid in it made me so nauseated that I gladly gave it up for several weeks with #4 until I was over the hump.
For many women, the moment they enter the 2nd trimester the nausea is gone. For others like me, it lingers into the 2nd trimester but is mainly gone soon after. And then there are those poor women who experience nausea for all nine months. If you are continually vomiting for several days, please call your OB. You may risk dehydration and malnutrition, and that just complicates this already-complicated process of growing a baby. Lastly, If you have a relationship with the Blessed Mother, ask her to wrap you in her mantle as you run to the bathroom. Let her be your comfort. Again, know that many have gone before you.
8. Vaginal discharge. Expect lots of it, sometimes cloudy, sometimes clear. But also know when to suspect a yeast infection, a very common occurrence in pregnancy (something about a change in vaginal pH). I remember telling a girlfriend, “You’ll never believe the stuff that comes out of your body when you’re pregnant!” Turns out I just had a yeast infection. Once that was cleared up, I was still amazed at the discharge that sometimes had me wearing panty liners. Even when you don’t have a period, you may still need to wear panty liners. Who knew?
9. Breast tenderness. What’s the 1st thing someone wants to do when you tell them you’re expecting? Give you a great big hug! OUCH. The breast tenderness you may experience during your pregnancy is similar to the breast tenderness you may experience right before you get your period. In both cases, it’s caused by elevated levels of progesterone in your body. My husband and I call this the Yes-they’re-bigger-I’m-so-glad-you-think-they’re-beautiful-But-you-better-not-touch phase.
10. Swelling. Whenever I see maternity capri pants, it makes me laugh. Capri pants reveal one of the least attractive parts of my pregnant body–my ankles. Ooooh, the swelling! I had preeclampsia with my 1st (usually it won’t recur in subsequent pregnancies) and the swelling was outrageous. You can buy compression socks or panty hose to help move the swelling elsewhere. Staying off your feet really does make a difference with the ankle swelling. I remember that my ankles were swollen after getting home from work for months after #1 was born.
It’s easy to become fixated on your annoying (or way more than just annoying) symptoms. Hang in there and if there’s something you’re really concerned about, call your OB. They are used to it. It’s their job, and you shouldn’t apologize for making your pregnancy your priority. I hope this helped to reassure that what you’re experiencing is really inconvenient but completely normal! If you have any questions for the Mentor Moms about symptoms you’re experiencing, please fill out the form below, keeping in mind that we are Moms not medical professionals.
Much Mommy love, Mommy Mentor CurlyQ
What have been your most annoying pregnancy symptoms? Tell us on our facebook page.
(Since I’m not currently pregnant at the writing of this article, I referenced my beat-up copy of What To Expect When You’re Expecting to remind me of my miserable pregnancy symptoms.)
If you ever see any egregious typos in any of our articles, please let us know! We’re probably typing with our toes because we’re nursing babies, wrestling a wild toddler, and having a cup of coffee. Thanks for your understanding and help!
As always, here is my have-mercy-on-me disclaimer. Thank you!