10 Weird Symptoms That Surprised Me About Pregnancy

When I found out I was pregnant last autumn, I couldn’t wait to fully experience all the storybook, Technicolor parts of motherhood that I’d heard about for so long. But to be fully transparent, I simply haven’t had the sunshine and rainbows experience that some women have.

By Gwen Farrell4 min read
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Pregnancy is a wonderful, beautiful thing and so powerful in the sense that only women can experience and accomplish it. But it can also be exhausting and frustrating, especially if you, like me, are having all the weird symptoms no one seems to talk about. While I’m gratified to know there are many out there who’ve had the same experiences, I was pretty surprised by the 10 biggest symptoms I’ve had as a result of getting pregnant. 

1. Congestion

In the era of Covid, no one likes to be the stuffy, sneezing, sniffling, congested mess walking through Target and getting the side-eye. For me, though, congestion was just another pregnancy symptom. Sometimes referred to as pregnancy rhinitis, congestion attributed to pregnancy is actually more common than we might think, experienced by approximately 30% of moms-to-be. Though we’re not exactly sure why this occurs, many medical professionals attribute pregnancy rhinitis to a swelling or inflammation of mucous membranes in the nasal passage. If you’re stuffy and pregnant, don’t rush out to get a Covid test right away – just stock up on tissues and baby-safe treatments (like I did).

2. (All Day) Nausea and Vomiting

Here’s a genuine question: why do they call it “morning sickness” when it happens all day every day? My extreme morning sickness, also known as hyperemesis gravidarum, hit around week six and even now, sitting here at week 23, hasn’t abated much (fortunately, now, I’m able to keep it at bay with a compound made up of Unisom and vitamin B6 taken at night which keeps me from waking up nauseous). I tried all the teas, lollipops, and holistic suggestions, but the nausea and vomiting still kept coming, and I know by now it will probably last until the end of my pregnancy. Eventually, I was able to chalk it up to an old wives’ tale that my extreme morning sickness meant I’d be having a girl – and I was right!

I tried all the teas, lollipops, and holistic suggestions, but the nausea and vomiting still kept coming.

3. Superhuman Sense of Smell

Even before I knew I was pregnant, I had a pretty big clue that something was up when I noticed a superhuman sense of smell I seem to have developed almost overnight. Days before I knew I was pregnant, my husband and I were walking through Walmart when I stopped suddenly and grabbed his arm. “Do you smell that?” I asked, alarmed. “Someone definitely peed in this aisle.” Of course, he looked at me like I was crazy, but when I had confirmation that I was pregnant, I knew my sense of smell had changed. 

Interestingly enough, the theory behind this is evolutionary, which suggests that we’re enabled with a better ability to smell to sniff out what could potentially be harmful (or beneficial) to baby. Pretty cool, to say the least.

4. Constant Spotting

It should be noted that some light bleeding or spotting during the early days of pregnancy is perfectly common – especially after sex or around the time of implantation. For me, though, the consistent spotting I experienced nearly every day for several weeks pointed to a larger issue: insufficient progesterone. The hormone progesterone is absolutely vital to maintaining a healthy pregnancy because it thickens the endometrium lining within the uterus, creating a better environment for baby to grow. This symptom was indicative in letting me know to get checked out by my doctor sooner rather than later, which meant I was able to catch the insufficiency and treat it with medication to support my baby’s growth.

Constant spotting could be a sign of insufficient progesterone, a vital hormone for a healthy pregnancy.

5. Extreme Breast Sensitivity

A lot of women have sore or tender breasts during their period – due to fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone – but the sensitivity I had during the early weeks of my pregnancy was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I didn’t want anything (or my husband, for that matter) anywhere near them, and even putting on clothing or showering was a struggle. 

In truth, this was the number one symptom that pointed to me being pregnant, even when I took several tests early on which came back negative. A few weeks later I still hadn’t gotten my period, and the tests were negative, but day after day, my breasts were still sore and sensitive. I remember constantly texting my sister (a mom and a nurse) that something just wasn’t right because my boobs hurt so much, and given time, a positive test confirmed my suspicions. 

6. Bleeding Gums

Like any routine-oriented person, I take my oral hygiene seriously, which is why I knew my bleeding gums couldn’t be the fault of a gap in my regimen. As with any pregnancy symptom, chalk it up to a fluctuation or change in hormones. Pregnancy gingivitis is actually pretty common in pregnant women, and I’m glad to know I’m not alone. 

7. Fluctuating Libido

It should come as no surprise that with a development as big as pregnancy, intimacy with your spouse and baby daddy is inevitably going to change. This doesn’t mean that it’s better or worse, just different. From romcoms and from hearing friends talk about their own experiences, I was frankly expecting to be turned on – all the time. In actuality, I experienced what was more akin to peaks and valleys, especially when you factor in things like an increase in blood flow (a peak) or exhaustion, nausea, moodiness, and vomiting (a valley). 

All this means is that when it comes to intimacy, you have to get creative, especially as your mood fluctuates and baby gets bigger. Intimacy has never been more important though, and knowing you’re carrying something the two of you have made only makes it sweeter.

8. Food Aversion

Before I got pregnant, I’d hardly ever thought of food aversion as a pregnancy symptom. To me, being pregnant was all about what I’d be craving, not what I’d be avoiding. But factor in my extreme morning sickness and nausea, and for my entire first trimester I really wasn’t interested in eating…anything. (Handling raw meat made me especially queasy and still does.) The first time I finished a full meal was during my second trimester, and though half the time I was starving, nothing seemed appealing to me, not even junk or comfort food. As a result of this and the vomiting, I lost over twelve pounds during my first trimester – which I’m still gaining back.

Even though half the time I was starving, nothing seemed appealing to me.

9. Constipation

Since we’ve already become pretty personal, let’s go just a bit further. I’ve never had any problems when it comes to being regular, until I got pregnant. Then, things took a drastic change. On top of being gassy and bloated, not being able to go when you want to, or even worse, going infrequently and at inconvenient times, is one of the most frustrating parts about being pregnant. As it happens, it’s all because your changing hormones have relaxed your intestines, meaning that waste and food move more slowly through your digestive system. Fortunately, this can be ameliorated by a few natural and easy solutions: eating high fiber foods, exercising, and drinking tons of water.

10. Eczema

People love to talk about healthy, glowing skin during pregnancy. Me? I just got eczema. Pregnancy does cause our skin to change, for better or worse, and some women (like myself) who never experienced certain changes before might experience them all at once as a result of their fluctuating hormones. For me, that meant my normal skin type suddenly became itchy, dry, cracked, splotchy, and devoid of moisture, which only worsened as the winter months set in. I even had to change some of my skincare products like my cleanser, moisturizer, and foundation as my skin became more and more sensitive. This also means that I now moisturize constantly and thoroughly and wear the bare minimum when it comes to makeup. 

Closing Thoughts

If you’ve never been pregnant or if you’re just beginning to think about having kids, you’re probably wondering if it’s still worth it when you pile all the physical, mental, and emotional changes on top of one another. It’s absolutely worth it, 100%. For all the sleepless nights, tears that came from the middle of nowhere, sluggishness and aching back, feeling your daughter kick after dinner or seeing her touch her toes on an ultrasound lets you know that not only is it worth it, but you’d do it all again.

While every woman and every pregnancy are different, each baby is the perfect conclusion to months of your body acting exactly as it’s meant to. Not only that, but your body is providing everything needed for your baby without you even knowing it. Even if your symptoms are erratic, weird, and totally unexpected, it’s all a reminder that everything as you know it will never be the same – in the best way possible.

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