Everything They Don’t Tell You About Pregnancy

Put down the pregnancy books for a second. Here’s what the moms have to say.

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If you’ve ever walked down the aisle of a bookstore and tried to choose a pregnancy preparedness book out of the shelf after shelf of options, you may find it hard to believe there’s anything that can crop up during pregnancy that isn’t already out there for the masses to know. There are books on every part of the pregnancy journey from every perspective. Single motherhood? Check. Conceived by IVF? Check. High-risk pregnancy? Check and check. And yet, you can read a half dozen pregnancy books cover to cover, only to hit a stage of your pregnancy that catches you totally off guard. These are the moments the books can’t prepare you for, the moments of pregnancy that you hear about only from other folks who have been there, done that, have the stretch marks to prove it. Wondering what could possibly be ahead that wasn’t already covered in all those books you read? We asked moms to share the one thing that they wished someone had filled them in on before they got pregnant. They were caught off guard, but they’re sharing their stories so you won’t be!

Your nose gets stuffy.

Mom of two Naomi expected her belly to swell, but she didn’t know that other tissues in the body swell too, including the membranes in your nose. “It made me feel like I had a cold for six months, even though I wasn’t sick!” she says. The reason? The changing hormones in your body can affect the mucus membranes, including those in your nose. The good news is you’ll get your inflammation-free honker back after baby shows up.

Your favorite shoes won’t fit.

Just like your nose, pregnancy hormones can cause your feet to grow, according to the scientists. Mom of one Jeana says she went up a full size, spending the latter months of her pregnancy “waddling around in cheap flip flops.” Don’t throw out your favorites just yet, though! Jeana’s feet went back down a half size after the baby arrived, and yours may too.

Sex is…different.

No matter what the books say, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to sex during pregnancy. Some moms-to-be can’t get enough and some have no interest in ever having sex again (well, so they think at the time). But what mom of two Lisa says no one told her was that when she did want to have sex, her enjoyment level would be off. “Orgasms [felt] different for me—weird—like there was a plug down there,” she says.

It’s okay to say “I don’t love this.”

Some women love pregnancy. But for mom Brook, the months she spent expecting her daughter were pure misery. Looking back, she tells HealthyWay she wishes someone had told her it was okay to hate her pregnancy. It didn’t mean she wouldn’t love her child. Mom of three Brett adds, “There’s a dark side to pregnancy. There are so many not-glowy-wonderful emotions as well as fears and anxiety and they seem to be glossed over.”

Your appetite changes.

You’ve probably heard about [linkbuilder id=”2759″ text=”pregnancy cravings”] and maybe even aversions to foods while you’re expecting. But did you know you’ll likely hit a time when you just can’t seem to fit anything else in your body? Nyssa tells us that as she entered the later months of pregnancy with her son, she felt like there was no room left in her body to fit food!

Pee happens.

You go to the bathroom during pregnancy. A lot. Sometimes it feels like baby is purposely bouncing on your bladder, and you’ll find yourself running to the bathroom. And as mom of two Terri tells HealthyWay, sometimes you just don’t make it. “You pee your pants when you cough, laugh, sneeze, and sometimes just as you walk,” she says with a laugh.

You might leak.

Urine’s not the only fluid you might find leaking out of you. Mom of three Amanda remembers being shocked to find her breasts were leaking colostrum (the precursor to breast milk) when she was just five months along. Of course it happened while she was at work—wearing a white shirt!

Not every pregnancy is the same.

Jill, a mom of one with a second on the way, thought she knew what she was up for when she decided to try for baby number two. She’d been pregnant, given birth, and had a happy, healthy son. How could things possibly be different? Well, about that! “[I wish someone had told me] that just because a first pregnancy may have been a cakewalk, that a second pregnancy could be a hellacious, miserable nine months,” Jill says.

Ultrasounds go inside.

Sure, ultrasounds are part and parcel of a modern day pregnancy. Some moms will just have one or two during pregnancy, while others may have these special tests as often as monthly or even weekly in the later trimesters. Megan, a mom of twins, tells HealthyWay she expected the process to go the way it goes on TV: A woman lies down on a table and pulls up her shirt. A sonogram tech squeezes some goo all over her belly and starts moving a little gadget (officially called a transducer, by the way) around on her belly. It wasn’t until the tech pulled out a pointy tube and announced she’d be inserting it into Megan’s vagina that she learned things could go very, very, differently. As she jokes, “No one warned me about the stick of doom that comes with those early ultrasounds!” Not every mom gets a transvaginal ultrasound, so you may get off scot-free during your pregnancy. On the other hand, don’t be alarmed if your doctor says they’re going inside for this ultrasound!

Jeanne Sager
Jeanne Sager is a writer and photographer from upstate New York. She has strung words together for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and more.

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