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. That constantly runny nose? Lowered libido? Could be hidden pregnancy symptoms.
Here are 10 sneaky pregnancy symptoms you may have never heard of:
1. A constant stuffy nose
What it is: Otherwise known 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.
2. Craving nonedible substances
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, freezer frost, dirt, clay, raw flour or cornstarch.
Why it happens: We don’t know for certain, but many experts suspect that pica develops when a pregnant 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, who may prescribe you an iron supplement.
What is is: Ptyalism, or hypersalivation, is an increase in saliva production.
Why it happens: Hypersalivation in pregnancy can sometimes 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 you have consistent nausea, try eating frequent, small meals. Make sure you’re getting regular dental care, too. Beyond that, you can try chewing gum or sucking on candy (ginger candy is great for morning sickness). Take heart; this often resolves by the end of your first trimester.
4. Leaking breasts
What it is: Breast milk that leaks from your nipples while you are pregnant.
Why is happens: As your breasts prepare to make colostrum, or first milk, for your new baby, you may find that they start to leak while you are still pregnant. It typically happens at night, meaning you might wake up to find leak spots on your pajamas or sheets. 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). You can always tuck reusable breast pads into a sleep bra or tank at night to stop the leaks.
5. Changed sex drive
What it is: Suddenly wanting to have sex way more than usual—or way less than usual.
Why it happens: Fluctuating hormones can lower your libido, as can your level of exhaustion, nausea and back pain—all this can of course put a damper on feeling romantic.
But hormones can also increase your sexual desire. 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: Pregnancy gingivitis 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 see a dentist for your twice-yearly cleanings. Dental hygiene is always important—and in pregnancy it’s even more so. Routine dental care is safe during pregnancy, 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.
Psst: You may also get bloody noses. When you do, apply firm pressure to the outside of the bridge of your nose, and lean forward so you don’t swallow too much blood. If it’s bleeding heavily or does not stop, seek emergency medical care.
7. Morning sickness that’s 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 changing 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 by your bedside and have a few every time you get up in the middle of the night to pee. Make sure to sip on water as well. (Psst: check out this list of snack ideas too.)
If you spend 24 or more hours without eating or drinking, or if you’re throwing up and can’t keep anything down, 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).
What it is: Difficulty having a bowel movement, 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 your digestive tract. Sometimes 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.
9. “Lightning crotch”
What it is: Sharp pains in your vagina or lower abdomen, 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 ways to do this.
*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.
10. 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 consistently sad or anxious, let your doctor or midwife know, and 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.
A version of this story was originally published on Dec. 15, 2017. It has been updated.