By Emma Stessman
Your body changes a lot during pregnancy, which isn’t that surprising considering you’re growing a human inside of you.
Some of those changes come as pleasant surprises—like the pregnancy glow that trumps even the best skincare routine. Others, however, might catch you off guard.
Take Amy Schumer for example. She recently made headlines for her seemingly never-ending pregnancy nausea. It turns out she was suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum (the same thing that sent Kate Middleton the hospital during her first pregnancy), an extreme form of frequent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, explains Adeeti Gupta, MD, FACOG, founder of Walk In GYN Care in New York City.
Thankfully, less than ten percent of pregnant women experience this, so it’s not as common as the constant media coverage might make it sound. That being said, some nausea is almost unavoidable, unfortunately. “Up to 90 percent of pregnancies can have some degree of nausea and vomiting,” she says.
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You might expect that, but we asked two experts to break down the more surprising symptoms that are common during pregnancy, so you can be totally prepared. While some of the changes might not make you too excited for the nine (or ten) months ahead, keep in mind: “Pregnancy is an amazing and exciting time for a woman,” says Felice Gersh, MD, a board-certified OB/GYN. “It’s a time to celebrate femininity and the incredible female attributes which allow the carrying and deliverance of a new life into this world.”
5 Unexpected Pregnancy Symptoms
Swelling happens not just in the places you’d expect, like your feet and stomach, but throughout your lower half as a whole. As the uterus gets bigger, it puts pressure on the vena cava, the large vein that cycles blood from your legs to your heart, Dr. Gersh explains. “The large uterus essentially acts as a dam––decreasing the blood flow past it,” she says. That built-up pressure in the veins can lead to swelling in your ankles, legs, and feet. Though, she notes, if you see significant swelling throughout your whole body, that can be a sign of a more serious condition called preeclampsia, and you should consult your doctor. (If that sounds at all familiar, it’s what Kim Kardashian had during her first two pregnancies.)
2. Light bleeding
During the first few months of pregnancy, as your uterus changes and adapts to its new state, you may experience some light bleeding, Dr. Gersh says. That being said, it’s better to play it safe on this point. So, if you see any bleeding, no matter how much, you should get it checked out.
3. A blue vagina
Throughout pregnancy, the blood flow increases to other areas of your body––including to your vagina, says Dr. Gupta. This increase in blood flow can, as shocking as it may sound, lead to a blue-ish or purple-ish tint to your vagina. This change is called Chadwick’s sign, and it’s “pretty normal,” she says. It often happens early on during pregnancy and can last until shortly after birth.
4. Vision changes
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause the lens of your eye to swell, leading to a possible decrease in sharpness of vision, Dr. Gersh says. “The difference isn’t enough to be dangerous, but it’s enough so that seeing life through the lens of a pregnant woman can be slightly hazy,” she says. Even though your sight is changing, this isn’t the best time to get a new prescription, she notes, as your vision will likely shift again after pregnancy.
5. An altered center of gravity
High levels of progesterone can actually change your posture and slightly alter your spine. “All of this can mesh to alter the body’s center of gravity and degree of mobility,” Dr. Gersh says. “Hence the pregnancy waddle and an altered sense of balance.” It’s also why women often experience lower back pain in the later stages of pregnancy. She suggests working with a pregnancy-specialized physical therapist to remedy these changes if they’re bothering you.