17 Unexpected Pregnancy Symptoms

Weird things happen to pregnant women’s bodies.

Some symptoms get a lot of attention in media and movies, like intense food cravings and mood swings. Other symptoms you might not learn about for the first time until after a really strange Googling session spent trying to figure out what the heck your body is doing.

No matter how many Pinterest articles you binge after finding out you’re pregnant, I guarantee you will still be in for a few surprise symptoms.

Here are seventeen of the symptoms I did not expect to experience (even if I knew about them!). Have you heard of them all?

Pregnancy Symptoms I Didn’t Anticipate

1. Baby Fever

Baby fever was one of my first pregnancy symptoms. All of a sudden, I wanted a baby so badly, and I didn’t care how impractical it was in that season of our lives. I don’t just mean I thought babies were cute and I would like on. I mean I was overtaken by an intense obsession.

My husband wouldn’t come near me, but the joke was on him because I was already pregnant and didn’t know it yet.

2. Sciatica

Young, healthy, newly married, and fresh out of college, I didn’t even know what sciatica was. If you don’t either, let me tell you.

It feels like painful electric shocks spiking through your hip and tailbone down your leg and into your foot. There were times I couldn’t walk. Sometimes I wasn’t able to roll out of bed. Other occasions, I got trapped on the toilet because leaning forward to stand triggered the pain.

It happens because your pelvis is basically a bowl full of nerves, and suddenly you’ve got a wiggling melon-sized lump crammed into that bowl.

3. Lightning Crotch

Lightning crotch literally feels like the name. If you bend, move, or exist too quickly, a sharp tingly pain shoots through your crotch.

I was not prepared for this phenomenon, and was initially freaked out that something was wrong, or I had torn a special, sensitive muscle. Dr. Google put my mind at ease when I learned that the symptom actually has a name and lots of women experience it.

4. Depression

Here’s one no one talks about. All of the “awareness” is directed at post-partum depression, but prenatal depression is just as real and serious.

The misconception is somehow that pregnancy should be all tea, lace, and roses, when it reality, it can easily be one of the most terrifying times of your life! Your hormones are going haywire, your body is changing dramatically in very short amounts of time, and if that’s not enough, you have only a few months to prepare your life for a baby, who will be 100% dependent on you for its preservation. That’s stressful!!

But prenatal depression isn’t just being stressed about parenthood. It’s very deeply rooted in the loss (or perceived loss) of one’s identity as well. No matter how much a mother wants her baby, she can feel trapped and out of control, and those alone can produce some very scary thoughts.

For anyone who hasn’t experienced depression, it’s not just an emotion. It’s periods of overwhelming hopelessness that the mind is convinced it is helpless to change. Depression is extremely serious, but with a preborn baby involved, you now have two lives on the line. 

5. Weight Gain

Yeah, I knew I’d gain some weight–there was a baby in there after all–but I was young and fit and healthy.

I knew other people who seemed like they totally let themselves go, using the baby as an excuse to eat whatever they wanted, and I was determined to have a “belly only” pregnancy. That might have worked if I hadn’t shoved my face full of cake and doughnut holes.

By 20-25 weeks, I had already gained the recommended maximum amount of weight for a full term pregnancy, and was even at risk for gestational diabetes. 

Careful with those quick carbs, Mama.

Learn more about my weight gain, and how I’ve lost over 50 pounds postpartum.

6. Bleeding Gums

When you’re pregnant, your gums can swell and become a little extra sensitive. A little bleeding when you brush your teeth is normal.

7. Leg Swelling

I ended up on three mammoth road trips during my pregnancy, and on these long drives, my legs swelled massively. I have pretty small ankles, and I’ve always secretly taken pride in the shape of my lower legs, but like, you guys…I had ankle rolls. My legs swelled to 2-3 times their normal size, so much so that I couldn’t fit my feet in my tennis shoes.

And it was painful! They even bruised. I could feel the heavy fluid sitting in my legs, and taking breaks to walk around only helped so much.

8. Shortness of Breath

Having been fairly fit before pregnancy, I was actually embarrassed to find myself short of breath just from simple acts like light housework and walking short distances.

But hello, have you seen the diagrams illustrating how a woman’s organs get shifted by the human being taking up residence in her womb? The lungs get a little crowded by all of the other organs being displaced, besides the fact that your diaphragm can’t move normally.

Shortness of breath does not mean you’re out of shape. It means you have a baby butt shoved in your lung.

9. Low Blood Pressure (causing lightheadedness, hot flashes, and fainting)

Speaking of embarrassment. I fainted on my hospital tour.

At the beginning of my second trimester, I had been experiencing terrible dizziness, hot flashes, and shortness of breath regularly on Sundays at church while standing during worship, but my pride never allowed me to sit (how stupid?). I had no idea what was wrong with me and didn’t even attribute it to pregnancy.

Then on my hospital tour, the entire group of pregnant women, their partners, and their parents were standing around a birthing suite and I was feeling very unwell. I tried stepping out to go to the restroom and splash water on my face, but once I was standing still again, the symptoms worsened. In my mind, apparently it was less embarrassing to faint than ask the man near me to give up his chair (of which there were only a couple).

I had no clue my discomfort was being caused by low blood pressure. That is, until I fell out in front of 20+ people and my mom said, “Ooooooh….I forgot about having low blood pressure during my pregnancies.” Thanks, Mommy Dear.

10. Heightened Sense of Smell

I guess having a superhuman sense of smell is supposed to keep me from eating spoiled or dangerous foods that could harm my unborn baby, but really all it did was drive me crazy when my husband didn’t take out the trash as often as I wanted. He thought I was nuts, but smells were SO STRONG.

11. Heartburn

Heartburn is another symptom I thought wouldn’t happen to me because it was something reserved for older folks who are out of shape. Once again, I was wrong, and I had the great distinction of getting to sit around and attempt to burp up the unpleasant pressure while nesting and packing my hospital bags.

12. Literally Having to Pee Every 5 Minutes

I knew I’d have to pee more often. It’s one of those stereotypical pregnant woman jokes, like craving pickles in ice cream, but oh. my. gosh. I would waddle the ten feet from my bed to the toilet and have to pee again before I could make it back to the bed. No joke!! 

I lived in a perpetual state of having to pee, and it starts way earlier in pregnancy than you might imagine. Like how does this french fry sized child have any bearing on my bladder whatsoever? I dunno, but you better stop underestimating your baby sooner rather than later.

13. Extra Allergies

I have terrible allergies, but they only hit a few random days out of the year. During my pregnancy, they were milder but more frequent. I still had debilitating episodes, which I called my regular allergies, and the annoying stuffy, runny nose, I called my preggo allergies. Now when my daughter is older, I can tell her I’m allergic to her.

14. Vivid Dreams

Pregnant dreams are so trippy. While my dreams were way out there, I actually found that they were more cohesive and made more sense while I was pregnant. And upon waking, I could remember them in detail. This was one weird pregnancy symptom that I quite enjoyed.

15. Extra body hair

I’m not a hairy person. Even my leg hair is super light and fine. But while I was pregnant, I grew extra hair in places I didn’t anticipate. I was so mortified to have my OB smearing jelly around my furry pregnant belly, but I didn’t really know what to do about it. I was afraid shaving it would only make it worse. 

The good news, Mama, is that you should go back to normal after the baby is born. I didn’t even have to pluck or wax it.

16. Hemorrhoids

I’m cringing even mentioning this one to you.

Late one evening before the first of the massive road trips I mentioned earlier, I sat down on the toilet and discovered some blood after wiping. I stood up to find the bottom of the toilet coated with a bright red streak. Surprisingly, I didn’t freak out. I didn’t feel like anything was wrong, but I did think I should get checked out immediately to be sure. 

I went to the ER, where a very nice doctor did some probing and suggested that the blood was likely from a burst hemorrhoid, not a problem with the baby. If you’re easily embarrassed by things, you’re in for a ride when you get pregnant. It’s an extremely humbling experience to say the least.

Don’t let that embarrassment keep you from doing the right thing from your baby.

17. Stretchmarks 

The stretchmarks I expected, I didn’t get, and the stretchmarks I didn’t expect, I did get. I anticipated stretchmarks on my stomach because that’s what makes sense. Thankfully, I carried small and hardly had any. On my stomach. 

However, because I lived on boxed cake mixes, I did not carry small in my legs and rump. In fact, I put more than five inches around my rear and 2-3 inches around each leg.

Those areas really stretched, and it shows. I am disappointed in myself for allowing that kind of weight gain because it was unhealthy, but I still have a very high regard for the incredible feats performed by my body before, during, and after pregnancy.

The Important Thing to Remember About Pregnancy Symptoms

No matter how weird your symptoms, you shouldn’t have to feel embarrassed about a single doggone thing during your pregnancy. You are growing another human being and that is flipping amazing. Of course your body will do weird things…it’s doing HUGE things!

However, that doesn’t mean everything you experience is normal or safe. As awkward as it might feel to you, especially if you are pregnant for the first time, talk about your pregnancy symptoms at the very least with your medical team, and sooner rather than later. Other moms are a great resource, too, and as you’ll quickly learn, nothing is too weird or gross for a mom.

Have you experienced any symptoms you weren’t expecting? Tell me about it in the comments!

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