So we’ve all heard about the morning sickness, the breakouts, the stretch marks and the big boobs. But there are seriously some things that are NOT common knowledge and don’t show up in the movies (cause you know, movie pregnancies are 100% accurate). These are the pregnancy secrets that no one told you about.
1) Pregnancy Rhinitis
This is a fancy name for “I Can’t Breathe Syndrome” or “No-I’m-Not Sick-I’m-Just Pregnant-olio.” I started getting it at about 28 weeks, although it is winter so who knows if I had it before that but was just also legitimately sick with a cold. For me, I wake up with a stuffy nose, unable to breathe, and when I finally muster up the strength to get up and blow my nose – Blood Everywhere. I don’t know how all this blood is finding passage through my sinuses. Sometimes it’s freaky the amount that comes out and I start to wonder if it’s possible for birth show to come out of your nose (haha, GROSS). It turns out that all those pregnant hormones of estrogen and progesterone causes swelling in our sinuses, blocking up the passage and making it harder for us to breathe. Fortunately, most of the day is spared as the worst of it seems come in the mornings and evenings.
2) Itchy Belly
A growing belly is itchy. The climate or time of the year doesn’t even matter. I got pregnant in July. Summer: itchy. Fall: itchy. Toronto: itchy. Los Angeles: itchy. Winter: ITCHY. I used bio-oil for a few weeks until I found out that one of its ingredients is Retinyl Palmitate which is vitamin A – something that shouldn’t be used in pregnancy. If I can’t use my retinol eye cream on the 2″x2″ area of skin it would be going on, I probably shouldn’t be slathering it all over my torso. Not that it helped with the itching anyways – it just gave me oily hands and a thinner wallet. So then I tried Coconut oil, which is supposedly the be-all and end-all for every ailment nowadays. I reeeeeally wanted to like this. I found a jar of it for $2.50 at the grocery store. I found that my skin just drank it up and within minutes, I was itchy again.
None of my other lotions were a match for my irritated skin. Vichy, Jergens, St. Ives? Get outta heeee.
Then one day I came across a sale on Palmers Cocoa products – 3/$10! I bought a Shea Butter Lotion, Concentrated Massage Cream for Stretch Marks, and Cocoa Butter.
The Shea Butter lotion was nice because it was a big bottle and fairly easy to slide on as it wasn’t too thick. It gave me better results than anything else I used previously, so I used that for a while. Palmer’s Stretch Mark Cream came in a tube, and I felt like I was using a LOT of it for a single application compared to what was in there. Nevertheless, it was slightly effective in providing relief.
The product that got rid of the itching completely was the tub of Cocoa Butter. I realized I needed something THICK, and this was it – like putting on peanut butter! At first it was a little annoying being so thick because then I’d get some stuck underneath my nails, but then I just… cut my nails. Easy enough. It also smells like chocolate, which is AWESOME when you have gestational diabetes and can’t have any (note sarcasm). I put this on as soon as I get out of the shower, and I haven’t had itchy skin since.
However: if you have excessive itching along with hives or rashes, it could be an indication of PUPPS (Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy) which is when you should go see the doctor for treatment (usually oral or topical steroids).
3) BOOB stretch marks
I knew about tummy stretch marks, but I didn’t know about boob stretch marks!!! Luckily or unluckily for me (I haven’t decided yet) – my stretch marks aren’t raised, shiny, translucent lightning bolts – they look more like long, thin bruises (most likely because my skin is darker and likes to hold on to scars like treasure). I have minimal ones on my belly, just around where my waistband would be, but my boobs seem to have taken a hit. The left one in particular. My cup size hasn’t grown that much, but I guess it has enough to cause some damage. Luckily it’s on the bottom and not the top, so bathing suits won’t be a total embarrassment this summer. Whatever the marketing tells you – “stretch mark creams” don’t work. Stretch marks are genetic, so if your mom had them, you’ll most likely get them. If not, consider yourself lucky, and maybe sign up to be one of those preggo models. If my belly looked like theirs, I’d be wearing crop tops for nine months. (No stretch marks, a sensible linea nigra, and a perfectly flat belly button?! All of a sudden there’s a new level of self-consciousness for women…)
Frequent Urination Constant Peeing
Yeah, I know everyone knows about the peeing. But I don’t think people realize exactly how much peeing is actually happening. I would say take whatever you thought it would be, and DOUBLE that. Maybe even triple it if it’s a hot day and you had like, you know, a glass of water. Sometimes I just sit on the toilet longer because I know that after I finish, I’ll have to go again 30 seconds later. And then I do. Then I stay a bit longer, and it will end up being a good call.
The worst has been at night, because I’ve been waking up at 12, 3, and 6 to go pee. I don’t even know what could possibly be coming out of me. I’ve got the GD so my carb intake is low low low, and I stop drinking anything about 3 hours before I go to sleep. Why?Why?Why? I have circles under my eyes and this kid isn’t even freaking born yet.
5) Groin Pain
One morning, you’ll wake up, and you’ll get out of bed right away because you need to go pee. Only this time you’re going to scream, because it’ll feel like someone took a sledgehammer to your groin in the middle of the night. Get used to this feeling, and maybe even embrace it – because it’s not going anywhere fast. This is your pelvic bones shifting and separating to make room for the baby to pass through during birth. Hooray! You’ve become a waddling, peeing, sniffling, tectonic plate! The good news is that it only hurts in the morning… at first. The bad news is that eventually it’ll hurt anytime you get up from a laying or sitting position, and even turning from your right to left side in bed will feel like you just got struck by lightning. How do you treat the pain? Not sure, but let me know when you find out. I might pay you.
I’ve been feeling these little joyous moments more frequently as of late. The best way I can describe it is to imagine that someone is ramming your vag with a fork, hence “Fork-Vag.” Another way of putting it would be to imagine you’re wearing a Taser Tampon (Ya. I know). They come in short, random bursts, and is painful enough to stop me in my tracks, mid-sentence, or arch my body from resting state like a scene from the Exorcist. I asked my midwife what these shooting pains were, and apparently it’s baby bouncing on top of the cervix. On the bright side, it means that she’s becoming more and more stationed in my pelvis which is good because she’s gotta come out some time, right? I’ve tried to use my hypno-birthing techniques of breathing through them, but sometimes I cave because clenching feels so much better than just giving in. I’ve notice these happen mostly in the evenings, when I’m sitting or laying down. They aren’t fun, and they freak out my husband.
7) Sand-Bag Belly
You know those pregnancy wedge pillows? GET ONE. Or at least find a firm cushion that you can use to prop up your belly when you sleep, because you’ll feel a hundred times better when you do. Pregnant women aren’t supposed to sleep on their backs because of the risk of putting too much pressure on your Vena Cava, possibly cutting off circulation in your sleep. So, we’re advised to sleep on our sides – preferably the left. But when your bump and baby get bigger, gravity takes over and when you turn to your side – whomp… your belly doesn’t stick straight out like a torpedo: oh no, it’s going to smoosh over like a heavy sand bag. And you’ll feel it (it’s very odd…). You’ll want to have something there to lift it back into place, as weird as that sounds.
Yes, it is what you think it is. Make sure you cross your legs when you feel a sneeze coming on, or stock up on panti-liners. Remember: no white pants after Labour Day.