When you're pregnant, your body undergoes many changes; physical, mental, and emotional. Some effects of pregnancy are well-known by everyone, expectant mothers and otherwise, such as a growing belly, morning sickness, and cravings. But pregnancy brings with it many quirks that some women don't expect. While it's always good to make the"symptoms" you experience don't indicate a problem, rest assured that a lot of the weird changes are totally normal.

Belly Button Popping Out (Or Back In)

In the second and third trimesters, lots of mothers-to-be will notice changes in their belly buttons, most commonly an "innie" or flat navel becoming an outie. This happens for exactly the reason you might expect:  the growing baby puts enough pressure on the mother's stomach to push it out. It might make some sense, then, that the baby changing position can actually allow your belly button to go back in. And possibly in and out a few times during your pregnancy! After pregnancy, most women's belly buttons return to normal.


Stretch Marks

Stretch marks are common during pregnancy, but not just on your abdomen where the most stretching happens. Some pregnant women develop them on the hips, legs, and buttocks, as well. Hormonal changes during this process make the skin more susceptible to stretch marks, and it's genetics, too, that will determine but how prominent they'll be and whether they will fade after the birth.

Lots of creams and treatments claim to get rid of stretch marks but not many of them actually work. Just remember stretch marks are completely normal and as many as 90% of women have them!


Nipple Changes

Changes in the nipples are common during pregnancy, but since they're often covered and little discussed, many women are surprised by this side effect of pregnancy. The areola may darken, get bigger, or change shape. The new look may be permanent, or the color and size could reduce or go back to normal after pregnancy. Leaking from the nipples may also occur during pregnancy, as the body begins producing milk in preparation for the baby.


Mood Swings

The extreme changes in hormones during pregnancy can lead to lots of changes in mood for the mother, and these can be sudden and unexpected. New moms may find themselves much more emotional, set off by the smallest of things. Usually, mood swings are at their peak in early pregnancy, though they often make a come back in the third trimester.

While changes or fluctuation of mood is completely normal during these periods, if you are concerned about your mental health throughout your pregnancy, going to therapy is an excellent way to ensure nothing more serious is impacting you.


Altered Sense of Smell and Taste

Increased levels of estrogen during pregnancy can sharpen a mother’s sense of smell, which can be a very unwelcome side effect when paired with morning sickness. Some researchers believe this enhanced sense of smell developed as an evolutionary advantage for the pregnant mother, helping her more readily identify and avoid toxins that could harm her or the baby. As smell is inextricably linked with taste, previously enjoyed foods might taste terrible to some pregnant moms.

Interestingly, while some women notice increased sensitivity to smell and some notice no change, still other expectant mothers find their sense of smell decreases during pregnancy!


Pregnancy/Mom Brain

Especially later in the pregnancy, moms-to-be may experience forgetfulness or “pregnancy brain.” Things that used to be second nature might feel out of reach for some time. This is due to changes that occur in the mother’s brain helping her get ready to look after a baby; some areas shrink to make room for the areas more related to caring for an infant.


Swelling of the Feet and Ankles

Swollen ankles and feet are a huge hassle — especially when your belly gets big enough that putting your shoes on is a struggle — but thankfully, this is one feature that will end when the pregnancy does. Swollen feet and ankles while pregnant aren't something to worry about, in general; they're caused by the baby placing more pressure on the lower veins, or as the body stores more fluids to support the growing baby.

Later in the pregnancy, if swelling sets in suddenly and occurs alongside symptoms such as a severe headache, it can be a sign of pre-eclampsia, which needs fast medical intervention.


Bleeding Gums

Bleeding gums are common in pregnancy — yet another side effect we can blame on changing hormones. The gums become more sensitive and more likely to bleed, but that doesn't mean you should stop taking excellent care of your teeth with a regular dental regimen and regular checkups.

The sensitivity can lead to pregnancy gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease that, surprisingly, affects as many as 75% of pregnant women.


Blocked Noses and Nosebleeds

The list of body changes from hormones shifting during pregnancy feels almost neverending. Hormones are also the reason pregnant women might experience nosebleeds. They can happen at any time, even when you’re asleep, but thankfully, they are generally quite minor. These changes in hormones can also make blocked or stuffy noses more likely in pregnant women.

If your nose starts bleeding, sit forward and pinch the soft part of your nose for 10 to 15 minutes. If the bleeding doesn't stop, see a doctor.


Skin Changes and Linea Nigra

Darker nipples and stretch marks aren't the only skin changes that can occur when you're pregnant. For some women, the skin darkens all over, while others experience melasma or dark patches. Moles, freckles, and birthmarks may darken too, and new skin tags often appear.

Some women develop a dark line down their abdomen. This is called the linea nigra, and hormones are the most likely cause of its development. The line is always there (the linea alba), but it is usually the same color as your skin. The darker line might disappear soon after the baby is born, or remain for a while and fade slowly.


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