From bigger feet to a blue vagina…14 weird side effects of being pregnant

A woman's body goes through huge change and faces new pressures – so it's hardly surprising you might notice bizarre side effects.

While some might be a bit alarming, experts said it's important for women to understand what's normal and what's not – and seek help if they're worried.

The important thing for any women to remember is, no matter how common she thinks symptoms are, speak to a midwife is anything unusual is happening, Val Willcox, from parenting charity NCT said.

"If in doubt speak to your midwife because that’s what they are there for," she told The Sun.

"It’s better to be reassured and told that something is absolutely normal than staying up all night fretting."

Here, we reveal 14 bizarre things that happen when you're pregnant that you might not be expecting…

1. Your feet get bigger

Most mums-to-be will know their feet might swell in pregnancy, but few realise they may actually get bigger.

"Obviously things get bigger during pregnancy but often one of the most unexpected ones is that women’s feet get bigger," Val said.

"They tend to get wider because they are supporting more weight.

"It’s one of those things that changes during pregnancy that may not go back to how it was before.

"Some women find they go up half a shoe size or even a whole shoe size."

2. Blue vagina

You'd be forgiven for panicking when you look down there and see you've turned blue.

But don't worry too much, it's all to do with blood flow.

"A pregnant woman produces additional blood, so those areas that have a really good supply of blood can change in appearance," Val explained.

"It can turn purplish or even blueish."

3. More saliva

You know that feeling of saliva you get when you think about something really tasty?

Well, some women experience that a lot more while pregnant.

"It’s thought to be down to hormonal changes," Val said.

"Some women may find they are swallowing a lot more and some women even have to spit it out, and that’s within the bounds of normal for some women."

4. Body hair bonanza

This is one that won't affect all women, but many will experiences changes to their hair – and not all of it's great.

"Some women will find the hair on their head gets thicker and glossier, which is a lovely side effect of pregnancy," Val said.

"But some women will find they grow more hair on their body.

"In particular some women find they develop a linea nigra, a line of dark hair that comes from their pubic area up to their belly button.

"Again, it’s probably due to hormonal changes but we also know that when babies are first born they see best in black and white, so there is a thought that the linea nigra actually helps the baby orientate towards the breast.

"Some women will also develop dark spots on their skin. It’s not harmful but wearing sunscreen will stop them getting darker."

5. Tingly hands

Towards the end of a pregnancy there's a lot of swelling and fluid floating around, and it can cause some unusual side effects.

"This might be more towards the end of the pregnancy but some women develop carpal tunnel syndrome," Val said.

"Because mum’s body has more fluid it can press on the tendons and cause numbness or tingling in the hands.

"Sometimes it’s not so much of a problem but if it’s really painful it’s worth seeing a midwife."

6. Cramp

There's nothing more painful than waking up in the night with cramp, but imagine how it feels when you are heavily pregnant.

"A very common symptom of pregnancy is the mum getting cramp, particularly at night and particularly in the legs and feet," Val added.

"If you imagine being eight months pregnant and then you get cramp in your foot in the middle of the night, it’s not that easy to jump out of bed to stretch it.

"Some women find doing some stretches before they go to bed will help it."

7. Itching

There are many things that can cause a women to experience itching while pregnant, some more serious than others, Val warned.

As your tummy grows to accommodate your little bundle of joy, it's normal for your skin to itch a bit.

And Val added: "Some women find their skin becomes more sensitive when they are pregnant, so body lotions and shower gels that may have been OK before may irritate them during pregnancy."

But, some mums-to-be will develop itching in odd places.

If you notice itchy palms of the hands or soles of the feet, Val said it's important to speak to your midwife.

"There is a condition, called intrahepatic cholestasis, that a pregnant woman can develop when the liver and bile duct stops working as efficiently as it normally does.

"It needs to be checked with a blood test as it's linked to an increased risk of stillbirth," she said.

"There’s also another condition called PUPPS, which is to do with the skin itself.

"It causes itching that’s not dangerous for the baby but it’s infuriating for the mother because he skin is constantly itching."

8. Pelvic pressure

It will come as no surprise that carrying around all that extra weight can put an incredible amount of pressure on your pelvis.

But, your pelvic floor muscles are the ones really taking the strain.

"A pregnant woman is carrying around a great deal – a baby, a placenta, amniotic fluid – so a sense of pressure in the pelvis is quite normal," Val said.

"It’s caused by the growing weight of the pregnant uterus.

"It’s really important that women do pelvic floor exercises to keep the muscles strong."

9. 'Fanny daggers'

On the topic of pelvic pain, some women experience shooting pains down there.

"One of the things that women talk about in my antenatal classes is a shooting pain in and around the vagina – or ‘fanny daggers’," Val said.

"They can be really quite sharp. If they are fleeting then it’s probably nothing to worry about but, again, you should always speak to a midwife if you are worried.

"It’s probably caused by growing pressure in the pelvis."

10. Bizarre belly buttons

You may notice your belly button changes, or you experience pain around the area.

"Usually in the second trimester, when the bump is really growing up and out, there are lots of ligaments around the support the uterus and they’re obviously going to be put under more pressure and stretch," Val said.

"Some women will also find their belly button completely flattens and other women will discover that what was once a nice, neat ‘innie’ has changed to be an ‘outie’.

"It's likely to go back to how it was once the pregnancy is over."

11. Spotting

This is something that should never be ignored.

In most cases it won't be a sign of something serious, but you must tell your midwife, just in case.

"If there is ever any spotting you should speak to a midwife," Val said.

"Some women will spot throughout their pregnancy, so it’s just something that happens.

"But the first time it happens you should speak to your midwife.

"I tell women that any episode of fresh, red bleeding should be referred to a midwife."

12. Shortness of breath

Another common side effect that often comes out of the blue for expectant mums is struggling with a shortness of breath.

"In the third trimester the growing uterus fills up a lot of the abdomen, pushes up the diaphragm and women can lose up to a third of their lung volume," Val said.

"Literally just walking upstairs can leave you out of breath, mild exertion will do that.

"If it’s happening all the time then talk to a midwife because constant shortness of breath isn’t normal."

13. Baby brain

Many women expect to experience some kind of brain fog – forgetting what you went upstairs for, putting your keys in the fridge – that type of thing.

While in most cases it will be harmless.

It's important to note it can be an early warning sign of postpartum and antenatal depression.

If you notice a feeling of overwhelming dread, anxiety and depression it's important to get help as soon as possible.

"The brain fog of accidentally putting your phone in the fridge is quite normal, but if a woman is worried about where her head is at then it’s worth speaking to a midwife, particularly if she is feeling down," Val added.

"There is just so much going on for a pregnant woman that a certain amount of being scatty is normal.

"But if she is feeling anxious and depressed then speak to a midwife, the sooner you get help the sooner you start feeling better.

"A lot of people assume that if you are pregnant then you must be over the moon and happy, especially if it was planned, so any woman experiencing more challenging emotions can find that particularly difficult."


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