My husband and I were reminising last night about all the pregnancy symptoms I suffered with while Dex was in-utero. It’s funny now when we look back on it, but there were times during my pregnancy that I’d really had enough. Pregnancy is certainly not all glowing skin, shiny hair and cute bump. Before I was pregnant, I didn’t even know half this stuff could even happen to you, all I was worried about was stretch marks! This goes into graphic detail bordering on TMI, so if that’s not your thing, navigate away now…..
Swollen Lady Bits
The first of all my pregnancy symptoms and the reason I suspected I was pregnant despite three negative tests. During pregnancy, blood flows to your lady bits and for me it was so very obvious and quite painful. It also felt a little itchy at times which was embarrassing. Luckily this only lasted for a week or so, right at the start. The swolleness came back though in the final weeks of pregnancy. The whole area was super engorged and I really did not understand how a baby’s head would be able to vacate the premises! I’m pleased to say things do (eventually) return to normal.
Extremely Tender Breasts
This was my second symptom which lasted the whole of my first trimester. The pain was so bad that I was unable to wear an underwired bra. I had to dash to John Lewis at 5 weeks pregnant to buy a couple of supportive non-wired bras and go up two cup sizes while I was at it. I couldn’t have any pressure on them which meant no lying on my front or side and no hugs. People who didn’t know I was pregnant would hug me and I’d wince in pain pretending everything was fine. Ouchie.
You’re only eight weeks pregnant and yet you have a belly the size of a woman in her second trimester. Lots of bloating happens early on which can look like a cute baby bump but really peanut is only the size of, erm, a peanut. I felt huge! And paranoid, that everyone could tell I was pregnant. This doesn’t really go away, it is simply replaced by the actual baby bump, a few months down the line.
This started happening when I was 8 weeks pregnant and turned into a bleed. I went to the hospital to get checked out and we saw Dex on the screen for the very first time. It is quite normal to spot when you are in early pregnancy but I highly recommend going to get checked out if you’re worried. I also experienced implantation bleeding around the time my period was due, which I put down to, guess what, my period. It was much lighter than usual and only lasted two days which should have rung alarm bells, but didn’t.
During my first trimester, I’d wake up at 6am and leave the house for 7am. I’d be back home by 7pm and asleep by 8pm. This lasted for ten whole weeks. My boss suggested I work a six day week and try leaving work at 4pm. Um, no thanks. I need the whole of Saturday to sleep. It did ease as I went into my second trimester, but as I hit my third, most of my days were spent resting.
Food Aversions / Cravings
I suddenly didn’t want to eat hot wings anymore and this is completely unheard of. I love the Colonel and everything he stands for. By my third trimester I was cooking fresh meals everyday with actual vegetables and snacking on fruit. I had become the healthiest I had ever been and I hadn’t even needed to try. Good baby. My cravings were red grapes and chocolate muffins. But not any old muffins. They had to be a specific type of chocolate muffin from Sainsbury’s. One time, my husband brought me the muffins from Tesco. I tried to keep it together, I really did.
Which brings me on nicely to mood swings. One day Bolton Wanderers won a game and I remember I had never felt so elated in all my life. We were having a pretty tough season and were destined to be relegated but even so, this happiness was just ridiculous. I was practically bouncing around the flat. It cumulated in me, some hours later, throwing a frying pan across the room because my pancake went wrong. I cried and I cried and felt depression like never before. Hormones are just wow.
There’s so much of it, it never ends. I’m glad for it, it kept baby protected from all those horrible germs but god, did there really need to be so much? Even my midwife kept asking me if I had thrush (I didn’t). Invest in many, many pantyliners.
Braxton Hicks Contractions
These started for me at around 19 weeks. They would normally come on if I was worrying about something or felt anxious. It would start as a weird tightening sensation in my stomach and then my belly would go solid as a rock. Slowly, it would ease until my belly was soft again. They started as one or two a day, building over the weeks to up to six or seven per day by the end. They felt nothing like real contractions and were not painful in the slightest.
Pelvic Girdle Pain
This was definitely the worst of all my pregnancy symptoms. I started with it at 16 weeks pregnant and it got so bad by 21 weeks I was signed off sick from work. Imagine someone kicking you in your pubic bone. It felt like that constantly. Plus clicking and grinding every time I walked/stood/rolled. By 30 weeks pregnant I could barely turn in the night. My husband couldn’t sleep because I was groaning out in pain. I couldn’t drive. Walking hurt so bad. If I walked to Tesco five minutes away I’d need to rest in bed for the following two days. I couldn’t put my knickers or leggings on stood up. I couldn’t use the stairs or get in or out of the bath. The good news is that it disappeared as soon as Dexter was born. The bad news is that it ramped up a gear when I started pumping my breastmilk. I hope I avoid this one in my next pregnancy. You can learn more about PGP here.
My belly button has always been a cute little innie but at 14 weeks pregnant that was all about to change. 14 weeks! Who knew that this pregnancy symptom would appear so early on? I thought most women’s belly buttons popped out when they were ready to pop at 38 weeks or something. From 14 weeks onwards it started growing and growing. Until eventually, it was no longer an innie. That was until I had Braxton Hicks contractions. Then it would revert to an innie for a few minutes before slowly popping back out again. Weird.
Apparently it’s hormonal. I am quite sweaty at the best of times but this was just ridiculous. It would be pouring from my face, hands, armpits, urgh. This was one that continued after birth as well. I’d be flapping my arms under my armpits, opening windows when it was chilly and having to change the bedsheets more regularly than usual.
I cried over pancakes (see above), One Born Every Minute, every song that was ever on the radio ever, my husband got me grapes, my husband forgot my grapes, I couldn’t bend over to do my shoes, the postman knocked on the door and woke me up, feeling guilty about being off work, not being allowed to drink Red Bull…..the list is endless (and ridiculous).
This started at around 30 weeks. You know things have got pretty bad when you are on your hands and knees bleaching the skirting boards when you are suffering with PGP and don’t know exactly how you are going to get back up. I washed and ironed all of Dexter’s baby clothes and there was a lot. I rearranged the furniture in my flat multiple times (or directed my husband to). By 36 weeks I was done in. I don’t think I left my bed much after this point.
Sometimes it would be five days without going for a number two. That’s just not normal. It wasn’t even as if I were going to the toilet and straining, I just never really felt the urge to go. I found eating a daily bowl of porridge sprinkled with a range of seeds and fresh fruit helped me to be more regular. But, it was too late I was already suffering with…
I think these are pretty much unavoidable during pregnancy. If it’s not because you are constipated, they come simply due to the amount of pressure your lady bits are under from the weight of the baby (and probably all that other weight you put on as well). I tried drinking plenty of water and eating fibrous foods but they stuck around until well after I had given birth. Ew.
By 35 weeks I was drinking Gaviscon out of the bottle. I kid you not. The heartburn was horrnedous. I couldn’t even have a sip of water without feeling like my oesophagus was about to burn itself to death. They say heartburn is a sign of having a hairy baby, not particularly true in my case. I can no longer look at a bottle of Gaviscon without shuddering.
I would wake up in a pool of my own drool after every night’s sleep. It was disgusting. I later read online that it’s a side effect of the heartburn. Your saliva glands are producing more saliva to neutralise the acid bubbling up from your stomach into your oesophagus.
Swollen Nose and Hands
My hands began to swell at around 35 weeks and I had to give in and take off my engagement and wedding rings by 36 weeks. I feared I would never have slender hands again. My nose and face also swelled. I didn’t actually realise this until after I gave birth and looked back on photos. My nose was so chunky it is actually funny. At about six weeks after birth I caught sight of myself in a mirror and was like ‘Hey who’s that thin lady?’ I’d got used to my new pudgy nose.
I remember it like it was yesterday, I was sat in bed (what’s new) and I sneezed. I couldn’t help but shout out to my husband, “Oh my god I just weed myself!” It wasn’t like I emptied my bladder or anything, it was literally the tiniest amount, but I thought to myself, this is the beginning of the end. It didn’t get much worse, but it did happen frequently, every cough, sneeze, jump (not that I was jumping much). I started taking my pelvic floor exercises a bit more seriously but in all honesty, it’s just something that’s comes with the territory. The weight of your baby puts so much pressure on your bladder. It does go away eventually, lots of kegels are key!
I thought I’d largely avoided these but they turned up at around 35 weeks. I was much luckier than others, they were only apparent on muffin top, which had been created by all those lovely Sainsbury’s muffins. My tummy, thighs, boobs had been lucky enough to escape them. Stretch marks are every woman’s worst fear and I used to roll my eyes when people would say ‘I’m proud of my tiger stripes’. However, I have to say, they don’t bother me in the slightest. They have now minimised from angry red lightening bolts to wiry white lines and I hardly ever see them, mainly because I’m not one for parading half naked in front of the mirror.
Silly me thought that I would just put on weight equal to the weight of the baby and anything above this would be because I overate. Ha ha ha. In my first trimester, I actually lost 12lbs but then I put on over THREE STONE during my second and third trimesters. There’s the baby, then all the extra blood in your body, the placenta, extra weight in your humongous boobs, fat stores that accumulate in your thighs in preparation for breast feeding and water retention. Luckily, it’s now, six months later, all but disappeared. Between the day I went into hospital for birth (19th) and the day I came out (22nd) I lost over two stone. Baby only weighed 8lbs. Crazy. Oh by the way, you can read my birth story here.
What pregnancy symptoms did you suffer with? Any that I didn’t mention? I’d love to hear from you.