12 Weird Things That Only Happen To Your Body When You Get Pregnant
Whether you adore babies or think they're screaming, pooping demons whose singular purpose is to disrupt your sleep schedule, we can all can agree on one thing: Pregnancy does weird things to your body. While you're incubating a tiny human inside your uterus, a phenomenon which is mind-blowing enough in and of itself, your body has to make all sorts of accommodations for the new guest. Needless to say, these can brings about some serious changes in your body, mood, and even the way you think.
Early in the first trimester, your body starts making rapid hormonal adjustments. Estrogen and progesterone dramatically increase, while testosterone is produced in low levels. At the same time, other hormones, like oxytocin and relaxin, are produced in different amounts as well. Taken together, these changes may cause the "glow" so many people associate with pregnancy. (It doesn't hurt that everyone is telling you how great you look.) On top of the psychological effects of the new hormonal cocktail swirling around your system — mood swings are all too real — there are all kinds of physical effects. Some are great, others are not-so-great, and a few are downright weird.
If you're pregnant or expect to be in the future, prepare yourself for the following things to happen to your body. While you might not experience all of them, they're fairly common, so at least you know you're in good company.
1. Your Belly Button Pops Out...
Were you an innie before you got pregnant? If so, you might be an outie before the nine months are up. Many pregnant women's belly buttons "pop" in their second or third trimester. As Parents magazine explains, "It happens because your expanding uterus puts pressure on the rest of your abdomen, pushing your belly button outward." After you give birth, though, your belly button should return to its normal state.
2. ...And Starts To Hurt
Now that you've been ushered into the outie club, prepare for the possibility of pain, or at least discomfort. Some women experience bellybutton sensitivity during pregnancy, especially during the later trimesters. According to Healthline, it could be the result of a few different factors: Soreness from all the stretching as you grow; a new, irritated bellybutton piercing; or the pressure from your uterus on your abdomen.
3. You Constantly Need To Pee
To be fair, frequent urination isn't only a symptom of pregnancy; it's also associated with diabetes and prostate problems, among other conditions. The weird part, though, is the reason pregnant women have to pee all the time: According to What to Expect, the pregnancy hormone hCG increases blood flow to your pelvic area, which gets your kidneys all excited. Meanwhile, your uterus is putting pressure directly on your bladder, so you constantly feel the need to visit the whiz palace.
4. Cravings Take Over
Pregnancy cravings are an easy target for sitcoms, but they're no joke. According to Psychology Today, these unpredictable hankerings usually begin early on and peak in the second trimester. Oddly enough, they vary depending on the culture. While a study of Tanzanian women found that the most common cravings were meat and mangoes, research has shown American women prefer dairy and sweets.
The causes aren't well-understood, but some doctors believe certain cravings might arise when a woman is deficient in nutrients found in the food.
5. You Develop Sensitivity To Smells
On the flip side, many pregnant women experience the opposite of cravings: sudden aversion to taste and smells. As Mother & Baby explains, pregnancy tends to alter your sense of smell, usually by making it more sensitive. In fact, this sensitivity can be an early sign you're expecting.
According to Pregnancy magazine, you can blame hormones, particularly estrogen, for your supercharged nose. It's also likely that increased blood volume plays a role; when you have all that extra blood flowing around your body to your nose and brain, it's logical that your would smell things more strongly.
6. You Have Great Hair
On average, non-pregnant women lose about 100 hairs a day. Pregnant women, however, start sprouting new hair all over the place, from their head to their nipples. According to What to Expect, hormones like estrogen are the reason your mane suddenly looks like an advertisement for hair conditioner; on top of making your hair grow faster, they make it less likely to fall out. (Until you give birth, that is.) It might even change in texture.
The same goes for your nails, by the way. Although they might feel a little more brittle, they grow faster when you're pregnant.
7. Everything Swells
Swollen ankles are a common problem in pregnancy, and you have water retention to blame. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), your body produces 50 percent more blood and fluid during pregnancy, which provides for the growing baby and softens your body in preparation for all the expansion to come. This extra fluid can lead to swelling in the feet, face, face, and ankles, which is usually noticeable by the fifth month.
Luckily, there are ways to combat fluid retention: avoiding caffeine and increasing your potassium intake.
8. You Leak Everywhere
Given all the new stuff going on downstairs, it's probably no surprise that pregnancy usually comes with vaginal discharge. As the APA explains, this "leukorrhea" is white, thin, and might come with a slight milky smell. It might be annoying, but it's totally normal. By the way, you can also expect leakage in your breasts. Fun times?
9. Muscle Cramps
As if you weren't uncomfortable enough already, about half of pregnant women experience muscle cramps. Usually, they occur in your legs, but muscle spasms are also known to happen in the back and abdomen.
10. Your Voice Changes
11. You Grow A New Organ
Here's your unsettling fact for the day: The placenta, which delivers nutrients and oxygen to the baby, is considered an organ. This means that during pregnancy, your body grows an entirely new organ. According to the National Institutes of Health, it starts to develop soon after fertilization, after which it attaches to the uterine wall and grows from there.
12. You're Carrying A Baby. In Your Uterus.
Last, but certainly not least, pregnancy means you're growing a tiny human inside your uterus. How weird (and cool and miraculous) is that?