Being pregnant is a beautiful thing, but for many women, especially first-time moms, it can be terrifying too. After all, it’s completely normal to fear the unknown. We’ve all heard about morning sickness and weird food cravings, but there are so many things about being pregnant that no one tells you about. This is the lowdown on the pregnancy facts that you don’t learn in the movies.
1. You will get a superhuman sense of smell
Pregnancy gives you the ability to smell everything so clearly. You can catch the scent of what your next-door neighbor is grilling for dinner, notes of cinnamon in your coworker’s coffee across the hall, and everyone’s perfume and cologne is much more pungent than ever before. Try to surround yourself with smells you find pleasant and don’t be afraid to ask your partner to ditch their cologne during your pregnancy.
2. You’re not actually “eating for two”
The saying that you’re “eating for two” when you’re pregnant is a lie. Many of us have dreamed of the day when we would get to eat anything and everything. Visions of ice cream and french fries may dance through your head when you first learn the exciting news. This falsehood will most likely be revealed during your first trimester when your doctor tells you the “fun” pregnancy fact that you should only consume an additional 300 calories a day. What can you even eat with an extra 300 calories, one Snickers Ice Cream Bar? The best thing to do is to embrace the mantra, “everything in moderation,” so you can have your ice cream but eat your salad too.
3. Two words: linea nigra
During your second trimester, you may notice a long, dark, vertical line going from your belly button down to your pubic bone area. This line is known as the linea nigra, and it’s completely normal, occurring in roughly 75% of all pregnant women. The cause of the linea nigra is unknown, but the expected culprit is changing hormones, as is the case for many pregnancy symptoms. If it happens to you, don’t fret, it will slowly fade postpartum.
4. You get to try sleeping on one side for your entire pregnancy
Most doctors will tell you to sleep exclusively on your left side throughout your pregnancy. The science behind sleeping on your left side is, it’s supposed to increase the blood and nutrients that will reach your placenta and baby. This is easier said than done, especially for the back and stomach sleepers out there. If you struggle to sleep during your pregnancy, there are a ton of pillows designed for pregnant women that can help make you more comfortable.
5. Doctors will ask you to drink a bottle of glucose (aka sugar) drink
At the end of your second trimester, you will be screened for something called gestational diabetes, which is high blood sugar (diabetes) that is discovered during pregnancy. The glucose screening is necessary, but that doesn’t make it pleasant, especially if you’re someone who doesn’t typically consume a lot of sugar. The glucose test involves drinking a disgustingly sweet and syrupy “orange-flavored” liquid. You have a maximum of five minutes to guzzle the entire drink. However, if you’re a hardcore sugar lover, this test should be a walk in the park for you.
6. You may feel like you can’t breathe
When the third trimester hits, many pregnant women experience the frightening phenomenon of feeling like they can’t breathe. As your uterus gets bigger, it pushes up against your rib cage and diaphragm, making it difficult to breathe. If it happens to you, don’t be alarmed. If you stand up straight, you’ll often get the breathing room needed to feel more comfortable. Once your baby drops, the shortness of breath should improve.
7. Fear and anxiety can be normal
Many women are informed of the pregnancy facts in relation to the physical body, but the emotional changes are something that you don’t hear about as often. Pregnant women may fear a miscarriage or dread the pain of delivery. Postpartum moms may be concerned that baby’s getting enough to eat or meeting all their milestones. It’s important to know that those feelings are normal, and you are not alone. It’s when worrying takes over and becomes constant that you should talk to your doctor about your symptoms. If you need treatment for postpartum anxiety, your doctor can get you the help you need.
8. Load up on those calories postpartum
Remember how we talked about not “eating for two” when you’re pregnant? The good news is breastfeeding moms can eat more postpartum than during pregnancy. On average, breastfeeding moms require about 500 more calories a day. It’s a great idea to stock up on snacks for those middle of the night nursing sessions.
9. No period for how long?
Who wants to deal with getting your period while you have a crying, hungry baby attached to your boob? No one. So, it’s a good thing you probably won’t have to. A postpartum perk that more women should brag about is you probably won’t get your period for a while if you decide to breastfeed. If you decide not to breastfeed, you can expect your period to return between six weeks to three months after you have your baby.
10. Get ready for the royal treatment
While not a scientific pregnancy fact, but more of a social norm in many societies is the special treatment often given to pregnant women. One of the best things about being pregnant is getting treated like royalty by complete strangers. Once your adorable baby bump becomes visible, your days of waiting in line for the bathroom are over. People will insist that you cut in line, carry things to your car, open doors for you- you name it, they’ll do it. Let them. Don’t worry, your celebrity status will continue when you have a newborn.
Pregnancy affects all women in different ways, and these things may or may not happen to you. The best thing you can do is educate yourself with the facts and embrace the good parts of this weirdly wonderful time of life. The most important thing to remember is you are strong enough to conquer whatever comes your way and more.