10 weird pregnancy symptoms that are totally normal
Nosebleeds and dark areas on your skin are just part of the baby-growing process.
Cynthia Paez BowmanContributor
Cynthia Paez Bowman is a finance, real estate and international business journalist. Besides Bankrate.com, her work has been featured in Business Jet Traveler, MSN, CheatSheet.com, Freshome.com and SimpleDollar.com. She owns and operates a small digital marketing and public relations firm that works with select startups and women-owned businesses to provide growth and visibility. Cynthia splits her time between Los Angeles, California, and San Sebastian, Spain. She travels to Africa and the Middle East regularly to consult with women's NGOs about small business development.
You've probably heard about unusual food cravings as one of the most common pregnancy symptoms, but there are a number of weirder symptoms than a hankering for pickles dipped in peanut butter.
Although weird pregnancy symptoms can be alarming, in most cases they are a normal part of expectancy and not cause for concern. Your body is changing dramatically as it prepares to support a whole other being, and sometimes it reacts in unfathomable ways. Here are 10 weird pregnancy symptoms, explained.
1. Superhuman sense of smell
It may sound exaggerated, but some women are shocked at how sensitive their sense of smell becomes. All of a sudden, the assault of odors you pick up from the most mundane items may cause you to feel alien in your own skin -- or worse, nauseated.
As many as two-thirds of pregnant women experience hyperosmia, which is caused by pregnancy hormones like estrogen. Keeping a small handkerchief handy with a drop of your favorite essential oil for sniffing is a good way to distract the nose with a more pleasant scent. It typically goes away after the first trimester.
2. Heartburn and gas
Some expecting parents aren't too pleased with feeling like a belching trucker after a round of spicy enchiladas. As uncomfortable as the symptoms may be, Stanford Children's Health says digestive issues are perfectly normal. Even the blandest of foods may cause the issue.
If it's any consolation, over half of all pregnant people experience heartburn. Pregnancy hormones can throw your digestion off-balance and cause the esophagus to relax, creating acid reflux. Talk to your health care provider about whether antacids are safe to take.
For most people with a uterus who want to avoid pregnancy, periods and spotting are typically signs that there's no baby on board. However, spotting can occur when you're pregnant, leaving you confused about whether you're actually expecting -- or if something is wrong.
False periods during pregnancy happen to 25% to 40% of women. The best way to determine if spotting is serious or ordinary is by monitoring your discharge. If bleeding becomes bright red or heavy or you experience cramping or stabbing pains, contact your healthcare provider right away.
4. Nosebleeds and bleeding gums
You may feel more fragile than normal during pregnancy, experiencing nosebleeds and bleeding, swollen gums. Believe it or not, this may also be a normal part of pregnancy.
Making a baby isn't easy -- your body's blood volume increases dramatically during pregnancy, up to double. The increased blood flow to more sensitive tissue such as gums and nasal membranes may cause bleeding. Hang in there, it shall pass.
5. You're extra stretchy
If you practice yoga or exercise before and during pregnancy, you may discover newfound flexibility you never imagined. It's only temporary -- your body is preparing for childbirth, so enjoy touching your toes while you can.
A hormone aptly named relaxin will start releasing, preparing your pelvis to expand by the time you're ready to birth. All that flexibility can be uncomfortable, too. Your pelvis and surrounding ligaments may shift more easily, especially while you sleep, causing soreness and pelvic pain.
6. You develop stripes and spots
Well, not really, but you may notice a darker line from your belly button down. It's called the linea nigra, and it was always there. It's just darker and more obvious when you're pregnant. It's not the only thing that darkens. Some pregnant people experience other forms of hyperpigmentation such as melasma (face spots) and darker nipples. No need to worry; it's common and benign.
7. Brain fog -- it's real
Another one of the many weird pregnancy symptoms is a level of forgetfulness sometimes known as "pregnancy brain." You may feel more forgetful or distracted, having trouble focusing as you used to. It may be caused by hormonal changes and even from an interruption in your regular sleep patterns.
While some may question whether "mommy brain" is real, over a dozen studies have been done and they all agree that pregnant people do experience cognitive decline during and after pregnancy.
Acne tends to rear its ugly head again during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. While "pregnancy glow" is often mentioned, far too many people glow less and break out more.
There's not much you can do if you're dealing with acne other than riding it out, using oil-free products and gentle cleansers. Using acne medication or retinoids which are usually effective against acne, are not recommended for use during pregnancy.
9. Metallic taste
Some women experience a strange taste in their mouth, typically metallic. Known as dysgeusia, symptoms usually flare up because of the hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy.
There may be other reasons behind why there is a metallic taste in your mouth. Your gums may be bleeding or vomiting from morning sickness may be throwing off your breath. Next time the unusual flavor appears, consider brushing your teeth with peppermint toothpaste, drinking mint tea or chewing on flavored gum or breath mints.
10. Stuffy nose
No, you're not allergic to being pregnant -- you're simply congested or feeling stuffy. Known as pregnancy rhinitis, the chronic stuffy nose you're experiencing during your pregnancy is caused by swollen mucous membranes and enlarged nasal veins.
Although congestion can be uncomfortable, avoid over-the-counter medications, which can do more harm than good when you're pregnant. The best ways to get relief include sniffing citrus or mint essential oils, adding a humidifier to your space or drinking more fluids.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.