When I realized I was expecting my first baby, I knew not because of a missed period or a test. Instead, a full week before the obvious signs of pregnancy, I started having the weirdest symptoms.
I felt lightheaded, short-tempered and my nose was so sensitive that I thought everything smelled like cat litter. I felt so odd I told my husband, “I’m either pregnant or something is seriously wrong!”
Of course, I did what I do best: I Googled. Sure enough, my sensitivity to smell, mood changes and dizziness were all signs of pregnancy.
Pregnancy expectations vs. reality
From the moment pregnancy begins, your body is going to work! And buckle up, because pregnancy can feel like the roller coaster ride of a lifetime.
“Pregnancy triggers an increase in certain hormones, blood flow and fluids to accommodate your growing baby,” said Jade Pizarro, MD, an obstetrician and gynecologist with Women's Care Florida who delivers at Baptist Medical Center Clay. “Not all women experience strange symptoms, but all of those changes your body is going through can certainly be noticeable in various ways.”
I thought I knew what I'd experience based on what I'd heard from friends or, admittedly, what I saw portrayed on television. I expected pregnancy side effects such as:
- Back pain
- Heightened sense of smell
- Food cravings or aversions
- Morning sickness
- Frequent urination
- Breast changes
I wasn’t prepared for the reality of symptoms that hit me like a wrecking ball the moment my body started releasing the pregnancy hormones.
8 weird pregnancy symptoms you might not expect
Some lesser-known side effects of pregnancy include:
1. Carpal tunnel syndrome or burning palm
Increased blood flow in the body can lead to swelling of the feet and ankles, but did you know it can also put pressure on the nerves in your wrists? This added pressure can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome or strange sensations on your palm, like burning or itching.
Back pain is to be expected, especially in the third trimester with your watermelon-sized baby bump. What I didn’t know is you can experience sciatica and back pain in the first trimester, even before you’re showing.
Yes, irritability is only to be expected at some point in pregnancy. While I assumed this would occur due to discomfort, I didn’t expect it so soon. “Pregnancy rage” is a real thing and it hit me as soon as my hormones shifted during the implantation phase (8-12 days after ovulation) and felt like extreme PMS.
4. Lightheadedness or dizziness
Hormones, blood flow, size or position of the baby can all cause light-headedness or dizziness. The flush of hormones I experienced definitely made me dizzy, but also the pressure of the baby on nerves when lying flat. I nearly fainted at almost every sonogram appointment.
5. Lack of appetite
“You’re eating for two!” is what they say, but turns out, between the nausea and the growing baby pushing on your stomach, food may be the last thing on your mind. Thankfully, this subsided after my son was born.
6. Seeing blue toilet seats
One truly wild phenomenon reported in pregnancy is the assertion that toilet seats look blue! There are many theories as to why this happens: hormones, a dye in prenatal vitamins or a condition known as pseudochromhidrosis. However, there isn’t very much research out there with an explanation.
7. Swollen or red nose
In a hashtag that has gone viral, TikTok users shared their experiences with #PregnancyNose. These women shared before and after photos of their noses, demonstrating changes in size, shape and color. Theories suggest increased blood flow can cause swelling or even dilated blood vessels in the nose.
This is not a fun symptom to catch you off guard as it did with me, but, yes – pregnancy can actually cause nosebleeds. This is due to hormonal changes and increased blood flow. The blood vessels inside the nose can actually expand due to this increase in pressure.
Moms and babies need special types of care
Delivering care for both moms and babies
Pregnancy can cause many out-of-the-ordinary changes to your body from the first trimester all the way through the postpartum period. If you’re pregnant or think you might be, Baptist Health is here for you.