Image: via All Day
Image: via All Day
It’s a beautiful thing, pregnancy. But not everything about being pregnant is all that pretty – like what happens to your feet, for example, or the fact that you may end up with a bit of a beard. In the interests of preparation, then, it’s probably best that you read on to discover these 20 lesser-known and rather shocking facts about what really goes on with your bod when you’re preparing for a new arrival.
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20. Your blood volume increases by half
The uterus needs a lot of help during pregnancy; it’s supporting a mini, ever-growing human being, after all. Assistance, then, comes in the form of increased blood volume, with pregnant women producing an incredible 50 percent more of the stuff than those who aren’t expecting.
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19. Your unborn baby will cry
By monitoring unborn babies’ respiratory patterns, scientists have discovered that they occasionally cry in the womb. Apparently, though, it’s not because they’re unhappy with their confined surroundings or could do with some food; it’s down to the fact that they’re effectively rehearsing for life on the outside. And as any new mom will tell you, crying is likely set to be a big part of that life from the start.
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18. Your joints will get a whole lot softer
Pregnancy hormones – including the appropriately termed relaxin – will make the ligaments that link your body’s bones more pliable. This helps the pelvic bones in particular to gradually change position, all in order to aid the delivery of your little one.
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17. Your hair will stop falling out
Owing to greater amounts of estrogen in your body, you’ll stop shedding hair at the rate that you’re used to. The hormone increases how long your hair is able to grow for, meaning that less of it at any one time will be at the pre-falling-out “resting” phase.
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16. You might grow a beard
The downside to less hair falling out is that more may grow in places it perhaps shouldn’t – like the nipples, the stomach and the face. And while it’s an unfortunate truth that you might, then, become a bearded lady, there are at least treatments for getting rid of the facial fuzz safely.
15. Your gums can become swollen or even bleed
With all that extra blood flowing around, your gums can look pretty red and swollen – so it’s perhaps little surprise that nine in ten women experience gum-related issues during pregnancy, with bleeding not an uncommon symptom.
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14. “Practice” contractions can be brought on by having a full bladder
Watch out if you’ve got a really full bladder, for it might just bring on Braxton Hicks contractions – so-called “practice” labor pains that you may occasionally feel after four and a half months. Oh, and orgasming can bring them on, too, so don’t worry unduly about that post-coital twinge.
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13. Babies urinate in the womb and then drink it
After the first trimester, your unborn baby is developed enough to take a pee in your uterus. He or she will then drink the stuff and, a few hours later, pee it out again. Totally natural if a little bit gross, for sure.
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12. You might be pregnant for a lot longer than nine months
While nine months is seen as the typical gestation period, just 4 percent of babies come into the world on the date they’re supposed to. One baby was even recorded as having been 95 days late – a stretch that means the mom would have been pregnant for over a year. Yikes.
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11. Your unborn baby will keep hold of its first poop for around 19 weeks
After approximately 21 weeks, that little bundle of joy in your womb will be producing its very first poop. Because there’s nowhere for the waste stuff to go, though, the child-to-be will generously keep hold of it – ready for you to deal with – until it’s born. Thanks, little one!
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10. The uterus becomes over 500 times bigger than normal
As your baby grows, so too does your uterus; in fact, the organ will swell to over 500 times bigger and a fair bit heavier than it was before pregnancy. Fortunately, however, it returns to its regular size after your little – or not-so-little – one is born.
9. The heart may get larger as well
The uterus isn’t the only organ to get bigger; the heart can do so, too, which actually perhaps isn’t surprising given how much extra blood it has to pump around. The enlargement is thankfully only temporary, though.
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8. And so do the feet
A study published in 2013 revealed that expecting women’s feet can get a whole shoe size bigger over the course of their pregnancy and that, once they’re enlarged, those “plates of meat” may stay that way. Why? Primarily because the arches will have flattened under the bump’s substantial weight.
7. You’ll produce a scary amount of estrogen
By the time a pregnant woman has come up to the 39-week point, she’s producing a serious amount of estrogen – more in 24 hours than a non-pregnant woman can make in three years, in fact. Seriously.
6. Your nails will grow at an alarming rate – or just split and break
Your nails are likely to be very different while you’re pregnant. Either the hormones will see them strengthen and grow more quickly or they’ll seemingly weaken and be more prone to fracturing and splitting. Let’s hope it’s the former, eh?
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5. You’ll get more than a glimpse of what it’s like to be old
Relaxin doesn’t just soften your ligaments; it loosens them, too. That means you won’t be as steady while you’re out and about and are more likely to sustain an injury. A brief window, then, into the realities of old age.
4. You’ll become familiar with hemorrhoids, varicose veins and constipation
The similarities with old age don’t end there, either, for pregnant women are more likely to suffer from the likes of hemorrhoids, varicose veins and constipation. The latter is the unfortunate result of pregnancy hormones’ effects on the rate at which sustenance travels through the gastrointestinal tract.
3. Your face might start looking like a greasy teenager’s
Over half of women suffer from acne while they’re pregnant, and in some cases it can be pretty bad indeed. The condition is attributed to greater levels of androgen hormones, which stimulate the production of sebum – greasy stuff designed to lubricate the skin and protect it from water.
Image: James Heilman, MD
2. A dark vertical line will appear on your belly
You’ve always had a linea nigra, but the vertical line between your nether regions and your belly button may seem darker – and so a whole lot more visible – when you’re around 23 weeks’ pregnant.
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1. Your hands might go numb
Numb hands are a symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome – a painful nerve condition that, while usually associated with workers repeatedly moving their hands the same way, is pretty common among pregnant women as well. Watch out for it from the latter half of the second trimester.