Pregnancy symptoms nobody warned me about -the bad and the ugly

Pregnancy is a unique and beautiful time. Full of hormones, hopes, fears and preparation for the upcoming main event. The further along this journey I go, the more I think more should be done to prepare expecting mothers for what’s to come. Here are a list of symptoms I experienced that quickly had me googling – is this normal?!

Congested sinuses

I now have to carry tissues around with me everywhere, because I am constantly needing to blow my nose. This also causes a lot of headaches and strain between my eyebrows when I’m extra bunged up. This is due to the overproduction of the hormone progesterone which dilates the nasal passages, whereas the extra oestrogen has an effect on the mucus production. The best solution I have found is to have a long hot shower (not too hot) and get rid of as much as I can in the morning. Using essential oils and a dehumidifier at night can also help.

A constant bloody nose

From the end of trimester one, this was something I dealt with everyday. With my pockets now full of handy tissues, I am constantly blowing my nose and 90% of the time there is blood in it. Sometimes just dried blood, other times I’ll be actively bleeding and have to sit with a tissue up my nose. This is apparently due to the increased blood flow and changing hormones and is a common symptom of pregnancy (which nobody told me about). However, if your nose continues to bleed for an abnormally long period of time, do let you midwife know.

Extra hair… everywhere

One of the main benefits of pregnancy most people rave about is thicker hair. And it’s true, the hair on my head did start to look shinier and healthier from trimester 2 onwards which was lovely. This is due to your hair not shedding as it normally would, so your body holds onto the hair follicles. The downside of this is that the increase in my hair was is not isolated to my head. My chin, stomach, legs, buttocks and breasts also saw a significant increase too. Not ideal for any woman and something I’m praying goes away post-birth!


I have written elsewhere about my acne struggles but generally since cleaning up my diet and supporting my gut microbiome, I don’t really suffer anymore. If I do, it’ll generally be hormonal spots on my chin around my monthly cycle. However, in the first trimester and the first half of the second trimester my skin had episodes of going crazy, particularly on my cheeks and forehead which was something new to me. I wasn’t eating as well because of my sickness, but I am 90% sure this was purely hormonal. During this time, I was mystified as to what people meant by the pregnancy glow was it made me feel quite gross!

Itchy legs

As in so itchy they keep my up at night and had to text my midwife at stupid o-clock. They were unbearable. It turns out all of my skin had just become incredibly dry, and going forward I had to moisturise my legs daily (something I had probably done twice in my life before). This can however be a sign of something more severe particularly in later pregnancy, so if you do suffer from this please contact your midwife.

Rib pain

Back pain is a common story in pregnancy that most women experience it to some degree, however rib pain was not something I had heard of before. Apparently your ribs can move during pregnancy to accommodate the growing baba inside, which can contribute to the pain around your sides. I found yoga really helped with this, and doing a bit daily kept all the pains at bay.

Lack of pee control

So they tell you post-birth that pee control can be a problem, however, I’ve found during pregnancy that sneezing and vomiting both now need a conscious effort to squeeze the pelvic floor in. This is also due to the hormones and the extra pressure on your bladder from the little baba. I have had friends who really struggle with this and have had to seek help, as it can be quite an embarrassing and uncomfortable problem.

Sharp stomach pains

This is caused by the growing uterus as your belly stretches to accommodate your growing baby. I’d find these to be short, sharp pains very low on my stomach that could strike at any time, sometimes on walks which would mean I’d need to sit down or really slow down. Obviously if you are experiencing unusual stomach pains it is worth speaking to your midwife or a healthcare professional.

Initial weight loss

Due to the first trimester sickness, which for me was extreme I lost over a stone in a month. However, even for mothers-to-be who are not suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, an initial loss of weight is a common occurrence due to the food aversions. Your midwife should keep a tally of your weight and let you know if it is anything to be concerned about, for most women this is more than rectified in trimester 2!

Fears of the delivery

I really wish this was spoken about more openly in society. Birthing a child should be a beautiful experience but the horror stories in western culture are widely spread. Using hypnobirthing techniques such as those mentioned in Hollie De Cruz’s book ‘Your baby, your birth’, alongside positive affirmations, I am working to put my head in a more positive headspace before the due date.

Despite all these unexpected (and mostly unwanted) symptoms of pregnancy, the beauty of growing a child far outweighs any negatives that I have experienced so far – including the hyperemesis gravidarum. I hope that as our culture becomes more open and honest, more women feel able to speak more openly about their experiences of pregnancy – both the good and the bad!

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