There are a number of weird, though perfectly normal, side effects to pregnancy that no one tells you about. You might get all or none of these, and it could vary from one of your pregnancies to another.
1. Bloody Gums. Early in the second trimester I began noticing a bit more blood than normal when I flossed. I went to my routine dentist appointment, and the hygienist confirmed that yup, that’s just something that can happen when you’re pregnant. Chalk this one down to hormones; they’re making your gums (and other parts) more inflamed than usual. Pregnant women are more susceptible to gingivitis, so if brushing your teeth is really painful – especially if your toothbrush gets stained pink – then you might want to check in with a dentist. If you’re concerned, you can take preventative steps like using an antiseptic mouthwash.
2. Just blood, in general. In fact, your gums aren’t the only thing that might get bloodier when you’re pregnant. Especially once in the second trimester, you have increased blood volume. This winter I noticed sometimes it was a bit bloody when I blew my nose: I thought it was just a really dry winter, and I hadn’t been as faithful with the humidifier as normal. But no, that was also another pregnancy thing. And there’s a more unpleasant one: occasional minor rectal bleeding.
That’s right. Especially in later trimesters, constipation and hemorrhoids are common pregnancy symptoms. I’ve been lucky: I’ve just had a few incidents where there was a little blood on the tissue when I wiped, and I was sore for a few moments afterward. If this happens, make sure you pay close attention: make sure that the blood when you wipe is coming from the back, not the front; same goes with any you see in your panties. Although some light spotting can be normal with pregnancy, you want to report any of it to your healthcare provider. Also, if the rectal bleeding or pain becomes too regular, painful, or severe, check with your doctor. A little bit, though? Sadly normal.
3. Rhinitis. It’s caused by more hormones messing with and swelling your system. Rhinitis can be easy to confuse with a cold: symptoms include post-nasal drip, sinus pain, ear pain, and nasal dryness. Headaches, runny nose, and sneezing can even come with severe rhinitis. If it gets severe or lasts long enough it could be a cold, and you can check with your healthcare provider to see how to treat it. You can also use nasal washes like saline sprays and neti pots for treatment and prevention.
4. Leaking. Welcome to fun with your pelvic floor muscles. It’s madness down there right now, and that means sometimes you might wet yourself a little, especially if you’ve laughed, coughed, or sneezed really hard. This is one that can stick around for months to a year after giving birth, too. Try Kegel and other exercises to strengthen up those muscles and help prevent this unpleasant symptom.
5. Hair Loss. This one actually occurs after birth: while you’re pregnant, your hair might get thicker. All the estrogen that comes along with pregnancy prolongs your hair’s growing stage, but the decreased levels after birth make for a longer shedding stage. Don’t worry: you’re not going to go bald. You just might find more hair coming out when you brush or run your hands through your hair, and you might have some clogged drains to deal with. It’ll last for around six months, give or take; if it bothers you, try going for a shorter hairstyle. Who wants to deal with a bunch of styling when you have a newborn, anyway?
*(The above image by David Castillo Dominici is from freedigitalphotos.net).