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Pregnancy. A time of witnessing the true power and magnificence of your body—and just how weird it can be.


The truth is that while your body is doing the hard work of growing a baby, it’s also doing some pretty strange things in the process. While it can feel odd to be in a body that’s changing so much, trust that much of it is normal, and you are not alone in what you’re feeling.

Here are 10 pregnancy symptoms you may have never heard of:

1. “Lightning vagina”

What it is: Sharp pains in your vagina, especially toward the end of pregnancy.

Why it happens: As baby’s head is getting lower and bigger, it’s putting more pressure on your pelvis and all the nerves in it.

What can help: Staying active (especially doing activities where your hips move around) can help because it opens up your pelvis giving the baby a little more room. Yoga, dancing and swimming are great!

*If you get this pain over five times in an hour and you are earlier than 37 weeks pregnant, call your doctor or midwife to make sure it’s not preterm labor.

2. Unusual cravings

What it is: This is called pica—craving things with little or no nutritional value. Specific cravings can include (but are not limited to) ice, dirt, mothballs, toothpaste, cigarette ashes, wall plaster, paper towels and charcoal.

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Why it happens: We don’t know for certain, but many experts suspect that pica develops when a woman is lacking certain minerals or vitamins in her diet.

What can help: Eating the above mentioned substances can be harmful to you and your baby, so it’s important to seek help if you find yourself craving or eating them. Speak to your provider right away. They may prescribe you extra iron supplement. In the meantime, when a craving strikes, try chewing a piece of gum instead.

3. Stuffy nose

What it is: Otherwise know as pregnancy rhinitis, it’s basically feeling like you have allergies or a cold—all the time. You may have a stuffy/runny nose and sneezing.

Why it happens: During pregnancy, more blood flows to your mucus membranes (areas like your vagina, mouth and nose). This can trigger your nose to run.

What can help: Talk to your provider to make sure it’s not something more serious first. If you’re having difficulty breathing because of it, get medical treatment right away. Otherwise, nose strips can help open up the nasal passageways, while saline nose sprays and cool mist humidifiers can help moisturize things so it feel less irritating.

4. Leaking breasts

What it is: Breastmilk that leaks from your nipples while you are pregnant.

Why is happens: As your breasts prepare to make milk for your new baby, you may find that they start to leak, while you are still pregnant. This doesn’t happen to everyone, and it doesn’t seem to have much significance in terms of breastfeeding ability—if you are not leaking now, it does not mean that you won’t have enough milk when your baby is born.

What can help: As long as it’s not bloody, there’s usually nothing to worry about it (and no way to prevent it). Just make sure to carry breast pads with you, in case it starts to happen in the middle of a meeting.

5. Changed sex drive

What it is: Suddenly wanting to have sex way more than usual, or much less than usual.

Why it happens: Fluctuating hormones can have a real impact on your libido, as can your level of exhaustions, nausea and back pain—all this can of course put a damper on feeling romantic.

The good news is that hormones can also increase your sexual desires. And, all that increased blood flow to your pelvis can make you feel extra in-the-mood, can increase vaginal lubrication and can make sex feel better.

What can help: Listen to your body. If it’s telling you it needs a break, sleep. If it’s telling you it needs sex... well... have fun! As long as you’ve gotten the green light from your medical provider to have sex, enjoy this time of feeling extra connected to your partner—you just may need to get a little creative as your belly grows.

6. Bleeding gums

What it is: Called pregnancy gingivitis, it’s when your gums bleed easily, especially when brushing your teeth.

Why it happens: Can be caused by increased blood flow to your gums, or changes in your body that make your gums more sensitive to bacteria.

What can help: Take great care of your teeth and gums, and get to a dentist. Dental hygiene is always important. and in pregnancy it’s even more so. Routine dental care is safe, and can contribute to many health benefits for you and your baby (including improving those pesky bleeding gums). Just make sure to tell your dentist if you are (or could be) pregnant.

7. Morning sickness is really all-day sickness

What it is: Many women, especially before week 14, feel nauseous all day long, not just in the morning.

Why it happens: Pregnancy-induced nausea is caused by the high levels of a hormone called HCG in your body (the same hormone that pregnancy tests detect). In addition, when you’re pregnant, your body is more sensitive to the changes levels of glucose (sugar) in your body—women often find that when they are hungry, they get nauseous (a totally unfair combo, we know).

What can help: Eat. One of the best ways to curtail nausea in pregnancy is constantly eating small amounts of food. Keep crackers with you at all times and pop a few every hour. Keep crackers in the bathroom and have a few every time you get up in the middle of the night to pee. Make sure to sip on water or juice as well.

(Psst: check out this list of snack ideas too.)

If you spend 24 or more hours without eating or drinking, or throwing up, head to an emergency room—it’s easy to get dehydrated so they’ll likely give you IV fluid (and some medicine to make you feel better).

8. Extreme emotions

What it is: Waves of emotions that are stronger than you’re used to—happy, sad, crying, happy...

Why it happens: Hormones again, for the win. Also, your body is working extra hard growing your baby, and you are anticipating a huge change in your life, all things that can contribute to your emotional state.

What can help: Be gentle on yourself, and allow yourself to feel the emotions you have. Explain to your partner, friends and co-workers what’s going on and let them know how to best support you.

Also, it’s important to know that prenatal (not just postpartum) depression and anxiety exist—if you’re feeling very sad or worries, let your doctor or midwife know, or consult a therapist. And if you feel like hurting yourself or others, get to an emergency room right away. Remember, it’s not your fault and you are not alone.

9. Constipation

What it is: Difficulty having a bowel movement (pooping), hard bowel movements, or infrequent bowel movements.

Why it happens: Hormones that relax the muscles and tissues in your body during pregnancy can also s-l-o-w everything down in you digestive tract. Sometime this can also be caused by the iron in your prenatal vitamins, or by not eating enough fiber.

What can help: Water, water, water. Make sure you’re staying very well hydrated—about 10-12 cups of fluid per day. And eat lots of fruits and vegetables, as well as prunes, bran. and high fiber cereals.

Exercise can also help you get things moving again.

10. Drooling

What is is: Ptyalism, or hypersalivation is an increase in saliva production.

Why it happens: Sometimes it can be in response to all the nausea and vomiting. The hormones of pregnancy can also increase the amount your saliva glands produce.

What can help: If it’s caused by nausea, see # 7 above. Make sure you’re getting regular dental care too. Beyond that, you can try chewing sugarless gum or sucking on candy. Take heart, this often resolves by the end of your first trimester.

Hang in there, mama. We know it’s hard, but you are already rocking it. You’ve got this.

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If there's one thing you learn as a new mama, it's that routine is your friend. Routine keeps your world spinning, even when you're trucking along on less than four hours of sleep. Routine fends off tantrums by making sure bellies are always full and errands aren't run when everyone's patience is wearing thin. And routine means naps are taken when they're supposed to, helping everyone get through the day with needed breaks.

The only problem? Life doesn't always go perfectly with the routine. When my daughter was born, I realized quickly that, while her naps were the key to a successful (and nearly tear-free!) day, living my life according to her nap schedule wasn't always possible. There were groceries to fetch, dry cleaning to pick up, and―if I wanted to maintain any kind of social life―lunch dates with friends to enjoy.

Which is why the Ergobaby Metro Compact City Stroller was such a life-saver. While I loved that it was just 14 pounds (perfect for hoisting up the stairs to the subway or in the park) and folds down small enough to fit in an airplane overhead compartment (you know, when I'm brave enough to travel again!), the real genius of this pint-sized powerhouse is that it doesn't skimp on comfort.

Nearly every surface your baby touches is padded with plush cushions to provide side and lumbar support to everything from their sweet head to their tiny tush―it has 40% more padding than other compact strollers. When nap time rolls around, I could simply switch the seat to its reclined position with an adjustable leg rest to create an instant cozy nest for my little one.

There's even a large UV 50 sun canopy to throw a little shade on those sleepy eyes. And my baby wasn't the only one benefiting from the comfortable design― the Metro is the only stroller certified "back healthy" by the AGR of Germany, meaning mamas get a much-needed break too.

I also appreciate how the Metro fits comfortably into my life. The sleek profile fits through narrow store aisles as easily as it slides up to a table when I'm able to meet a pal for brunch. Plus, the spring suspension means the tires absorb any bumps along our way―helping baby stay asleep no matter where life takes us. When it's time to take my daughter out, it folds easily with one hand and has an ergonomic carry handle to travel anywhere we want to go.

Life will probably never be as predictable as I'd like, but at least with our Metro stroller, I know my child will be cradled with care no matter what crosses our path.

This article is sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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The phrase "women can have it all" has always left a sour taste in my mouth. Sure, our options for fulfillment extend beyond the home. But between wage gaps, the astronomical cost of childcare, student loans and ever-rising living costs coupled with shrinking wages, can we have it all?

Some women know their calling is at home with their babies and they make it work. They budget like it's an Olympic sport and find resourceful ways to save money. Many women are single mothers and are the sole earners in their homes. Every household has different needs and we absolutely deserve to choose whatever best fits our lifestyle.

Whatever that fit may be, it never encompasses "all."

I knew from a young age that I loved babies and wanted a family of my own, but that vision always included me working. Maybe it was the 90's TV boom of Ally McBeal and Detective Olivia Benson but I knew I wanted a career. I wanted a purpose that contributed to the world outside of my home. I knew I wanted a degree or two, maybe three. The fact that I made up my mind so early and never wavered, made me sure that "mom guilt" was something that other women felt; women who maybe felt the pull to be home but other circumstances were in their way.

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Mom guilt wouldn't hit me, I'd be immune, I thought.

Fast forward to the first month I went back to work from maternity leave. I ugly cried on my way into the office so frequently that I kept makeup in my car so I could fix it before going inside.

I'd dive headfirst into work until I had to pause to pump. Work, pump, work, pump, shove in some lunch at my desk at some point and sprint out the door to get my baby. I was productive but distracted. When I was at work, I wanted to be home. When I was home, I thought about the possible mistakes I had made at work.

I was in a job that was full of stress, last minute late nights, terrible pay and no appreciation. But from the standpoint of working and having a family, I had both. I had it "all."

Some days, I felt as though I was maybe just ungrateful for all the responsibilities I had to juggle. I blamed my attitude.

Facing my unhappiness at work and the baggage I brought home to my daughter and husband weighed on me. Then, six months postpartum, I lost my dad. I packed up that baby and flew home to say goodbye.

At the visitation, his colleagues shared many memorable stories, but the ones that kept coming up were his dedication to his wife and six children. They were memories of my sisters and I hanging out in his office, coloring while our mom worked. In fact, one of my masterpieces, a mosaic Great Dane, still hangs in my dad's old office window on Court Street because the owner of the building watched us grow up and didn't have the heart to take it down when he retired.

Dad was an attorney who nearly always made it home by 5:30, something unheard of in the world of owning your own practice. He didn't live to work; he worked to live.

I realized that when I leave this world, I don't want anyone to tell my children stories about how hard I worked. I wanted them to tell my children stories about how much I loved them and that they always came first. I had to make a change.

The right doors opened in the next month and I eagerly took on an entire career change (not something I necessarily recommend with a 7-month-old, but we made it work). I closed the doors of childhood ambitions that didn't match with the type of mother I wanted to be. It wasn't sad, it was liberating.

My new job included work from home days and a team of women, mostly moms, who value hard work and success but prioritize family and their roles as mothers. That attitude starts at the top of the company and trickles down. It was a breath of fresh air after seven months of feeling like I was suffocating.

Despite these life changes, I still don't have it "all." What I do have is realistic expectations for what I can accomplish in a day.

I have a house that looks like it's been ransacked Monday through Friday. I have a sink full of dishes.

I have a car littered with smashed cheddar frogs and peanut butter smears. I have a bedroom containing endless laundry baskets of clean clothes that get folded and put away maybe once a month.

I have a supportive partner whom I madly love and helps me rage clean all of the above when we can't take it anymore. I have a happy, healthy daughter who couldn't care less about dishes, laundry and dog hairballs.

I have a job that contributes to the betterment of humanity and a team who makes office days a joy.

I have women in my ear sharing their disdain for me working out of the home, but I also have women in my ear championing me as a mother, wife, homemaker, and career woman.

Maybe the answer to finding that peace was leaving a toxic job. Or maybe it was found in losing my dad and having my daughter in the same six months. Perhaps it was the priority shift that followed those changes. It could have been extending the same grace to myself that I so willingly give to those I love. Whatever it was, I'm grateful to have found it so I can enjoy living in our good old days, today. I don't have it all, but I really love everything I have.

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It's been more than a year since Khloé Kardashian welcomed her daughter True Thompson into the world, and like a lot of new moms, Khloé didn't just learn how to to be a mom this year, she also learned how to co-parent with someone who is no longer her partner. According to the Pew Research Center, co-parenting and the likelihood that a child will spend part of their childhood living with just one parent is on the rise.

There was a ton of media attention on Khloé's relationship with True's father Tristan Thompson in her early days of motherhood, and in a new interview on the podcast "Divorce Sucks!," Khloé explained that co-parenting with someone you have a complicated relationship with isn't always easy, but when she looks at True she knows it's worth it.

"For me, Tristan and I broke up not too long ago so it's really raw," Khloé tells divorce attorney Laura Wasser on the podcast. She explains that even though it does "suck" at times, she's committed to having a good relationship with her ex because she doesn't want True to pick up on any negative energy, even at her young age.

That's why she invited Tristan to True's recent first birthday bash, even though she knew True wouldn't remember that party. "I know she's going to want to look back at all of her childhood memories like we all do," Khloé explained. "I know her dad is a great person, and I know how much he loves her and cares about her, so I want him to be there."

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We totally get why being around Tristan is hard for Khloé, but it sounds like she's approaching co-parenting with a positive attitude that will benefit True in the long run. Studies have found that shared parenting is good for kids and that former couples who have "ongoing personal and emotional involvement with their former spouse" are more likely to rate their co-parenting relationship positively.

Khloé says her relationship with Tristan right now is "civilized," and hopefully it can get even better with time. As Suzanne Hayes noted in her six guiding principles for a co-parenting relationship, there's no magic bullet for moving past the painful feelings that come when a relationship ends and into a healthy co-parenting relationship, but treating your ex with respect and (non-romantic) love is a good place to start. Hayes describes it as "human-to-human, parent-to-parent, we-share-amazing-children-and-always-will love."

It's a great place to start, and it sounds like Khloé has already figured that out.

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Kim Kardashian West welcomed her fourth child into the world. The expectancy and arrival of this boy (her second child from surrogacy) has garnered much attention.

In a surrogacy pregnancy, a woman carries a pregnancy for another family and then after giving birth she relinquishes her rights of the child.

On her website, Kim wrote that she had medical complications with her previous pregnancy leading her to this decision. “I have always been really honest about my struggles with pregnancy. Preeclampsia and placenta accreta are high-risk conditions, so when I wanted to have a third baby, doctors said that it wasn't safe for my—or the baby's—health to carry on my own."

While the experience was challenging for her, “The connection with our baby came instantly and it's as if she was with us the whole time. Having a gestational carrier was so special for us and she made our dreams of expanding our family come true. We are so excited to finally welcome home our baby girl."

A Snapchat video hinted that Kim may have planned to breastfeed her third child. What she chooses to do is of course none of our business. But is has raised the very interesting question, “Wait, can you breastfeed when you use a surrogate?"

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The answer is yes, you sure can! (And you can when you adopt a baby, too!)

When a women is pregnant, she begins a process called lactogenesis in which her body prepares itself to start making milk. This usually starts around the twenty week mark of pregnancy (half way through). Then, when the baby is born, the second phase of lactogenesis occurs, and milk actually starts to fill the breasts.

All of this occurs in response to hormones. When women do not carry a pregnancy, but wish to breastfeed, they can induce lactation, where they replicate the same hormonal process that happens during pregnancy.

A woman who wants to induce lactation can work with a doctor or midwife, and start taking the hormones estrogen and progesterone (which grow breast tissue)—often in the form of birth control pills—along with a medication called domperidone (which increases milk production).

Several weeks before the baby will be born, the woman stops taking the birth control pill but continues to take the domperidone to simulate the hormonal changes that would happen in a pregnancy. She'll also start pumping multiple times per day, and will likely add herbal supplements, like fenugreek and blessed thistle.

Women can also try to induce lactation without the hormones, by using pumping and herbs, it may be harder but some women feel more comfortable with that route.

Inducing lactation takes a lot of dedication—but then again, so does everything related to be a mama. It's a super personal decision, and not right for everyone.

The important thing to remember is that we need to support women and mothers through their entire journey, no matter what decisions they make about themselves and their families—whether Kardashian or the rest of us.

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