You think you know what to expect when you get pregnant? Well, brace yourself, pregnancy side effects can get pretty ugly!
We’ve all heard of the nausea, the swelling, the bigger feet, the wider hips, and all that good stuff that comes with incubating a tiny human inside your body for 9 months. Some mommas-to-be are even lucky enough to experience some of the awesome pregnancy side effects like gorgeously thick hair, stronger nails, brighter “glowing” skin, and bigger boobs. And all of us, no matter where we end up on the pregnancy spectrum, get the biggest gift mother nature can bestow: NO MORE PERIODS (well, for 9 months at least)!!!
But have you ever heard of getting boils on your lips, your eyelashes and eyebrows falling out, or getting ringworm and cold sores??! Well, welcome to my second pregnancy ladies and it’s a doozy! I think these strange and horrific pregnancy side effects have impacted me even more because with my first pregnancy (my son’s) I got the best of the best that pregnancy had to offer. No nausea, beautiful thick hair that never fell out, fast-growing nails, clear skin and great, perky boobs. Fast forward to pregnancy #2 with my daughter and it’s like I have to pay for all the good times I enjoyed the first time around!
My boobs look like those of an ancient fertility doll and are far larger than when my milk came in with my first! My hair is thin and weak; I’ve had acne, discolored patches of skin on my face, belly and arms; dry patches above my eyelids; I got ringworm in my second month and a cold sore in my 7th month! My once long and strong eyelashes and eyebrows have fallen out and become super-short and the last straw was getting a break out of boils on my upper lip in month 8!
Here are a list of uncommon pregnancy side effects and some remedies that can help you beat the “I look like crap!” pregnancy blues!
EXCESSIVE GAS DURING PREGNANCY:
This bump was made for farting, and (unfortunately) that's just what you'll do!
Oh, I forgot to mention this one earlier, silly me! Although far from an uncommon pregnancy symptom, excessive gas deserves to be mentioned. This time around my gas is uncontrollable. I have actually lost my ability to safely let one loose in a public situation. There is no muffling of the sound with careful contractions or discretely releasing a non-audible fart. I am a full-on 60-year-old man caliber farter, and this started early on in the pregnancy and has just gotten worse! My husband looks shocked and amazed (appalled?) every time one comes barreling out of me. At first I felt ashamed and defensive reminding him that it’s his fault that this has happened to me! Now it happens so much that I just laugh along with him and count down the days to when my body is back to being mine!
Why does it happen? First, the increase in Progesterone plays a major role in excessive gas since progesterone slows the digestive process. Also, your growing uterus pushes your digestive tract and stomach back towards your spine, causing things to further slow down. This cramped space and slower digestion leads to more air bubbles and pockets that are released as flatulence.
Remedies: Exercise is said to help ease gasiness in pregnancy. But all those healthful, fiber-filled fruits, beans and veggies our OBGYNs want us to eat only causes more gas. Be careful with over-the-counter remedies like Gas-X, as they may not be safe to use while pregnant. As with everything pregnancy-related ask your OBGYN what you should and should not take. I’ve just decided to live with it and I’ve lovingly named my inner trucker “Carl.” So when one rips, I just say “Oh Carl!”
Hey, wait a minute! Not all of us are blessed with thicker, stronger hair (that doesn't fall out) during pregnancy!
HAIR LOSS DURING PREGNANCY:
My hair was fabulous during my first pregnancy! It was so wonderful to have super-strong, shiny hair that didn’t shed during my showers (I’m a bid-time shed-er when I’m not pregnant). It was honestly one of the things I was most looking forward to with my second pregnancy–but it never came. In fact in the first trimester my hair seemed to be falling out even more than usual! What the heck? I was jipped! Luckily, during my second trimester my hair loss subsided, but it is still less than shiny or strong, oh well I’ll take what I can get!
Why does it happen? According to the American Pregnancy Association, hair loss during pregnancy is rare beacuse “during pregnancy there is an increase in the level of estrogen hormones [which] causes hair to remain in the growing phase and stimulates the growth of your hair.” Typically pregnancy-related hair loss occurs after pregnancy, most notably three months postpartum when hormone levels plummet. The APA advises that the pregnancy-related hair loss “should begin to diminish within 3-4 months after delivery.” They also caution that “if you feel that you are experiencing unusual hair loss while you are pregnant, this may be due to a vitamin or mineral deficiency.”
Remedies: Talk to your OBGYN so they can review your prenatal vitamins t make sure you are getting enough vitamins B, C, E, zinc and biotin, as these are all critical for the growth and strength of your hair. Your OBGYN can also make sure that your hormones in a proper balance. In addition to supplementing with these nutrients, and testing your hormone levels, the APA suggests “eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables, which contain flavonoids and antioxidants that may provide protection for the hair follicles and encourage hair growth” and “using shampoos and conditioners that contain biotin and silica.” Also try to abstain from using heated tools on your hair or binding your hair in tight styles.
LOSS OF EYELASHES & EYEBROWS DURING PREGNANCY:
Jeepers! You may lose those pretty lashes framing your peepers!
This was the pregnancy side effect that I least expected! In fact, when it happened at around 6 months, I thought it was unrelated to my pregnancy. Low and behold after typing “losing eyelashes during pregnancy” in my google search I realized: yes this is caused by being pregnant, I am definitely not alone and MAN DOES THIS SUCK!
Why does it happen? When it comes to your eyelashes and eyebrows thinning and getting shorter, the problem may be a nutrient/vitamin deficiency or your thyroid function. According to The American Thyroid Association, your thyroid changes during pregnancy due to the hormones: human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and estrogen which may lead to hyperthyroidism. Your thyroid functions also fluctuate in the beginning of pregnancy before your baby’s thyroid starts to function by itself, but should return to normal by the end of pregnancy.
The other possible cause of losing your eyelashes and eyebrows during pregnancy is a nutrient/vitamin deficiency. On other forums moms have reported that their protein levels were low when tested and that once their OBGYNs got them on a high protein diet their eyelashes returned to normal. Unfortunately, for me this simple solution did not apply–my protein levels were spot on!
Remedies: As always, talk to your OBGYN first so your protein levels and possibly thyroid can be tested. If those tests come back normal you can take matters into your own hands by using a natural-based eyelash conditioner. I’m not talking about chemical or drug-based eyelash growth products like RapidLash or Latisse, but a natural-based conditioner that will coat your entire lash hair. Two great products are DHC’s Eyelash Tonic or Talika’s Lipocils. Another important step you can take to preserve your lashes is to not wear mascara because the chemicals in the mascara break down your lash hairs. If you do have occasion to wear mascara, make sure to wear one of the lash conditioners underneath it, this will protect the lash hair and make the mascara come off easier.
RING WORM DURING PREGNANCY:
Increases in estrogen provide fertile grounds for this fungus to find a home on your pregnant skin!
This pregnancy side-effect was a real shocker for me. It happened on my elbows around my 2nd month and I figured it was some kind of pregnancy skin irritation. When I showed it to my OBGYN, he said “Oh, that’s ringworm.” Being pregnant in and of itself does not cause you to get ringworm or other fungal infections. You have to come in contact with the fungus somewhere to actually get it, but with a lowered immune system it could be as simple as picking it up at the local playground!
Why does it happen? My OBGYN told me that increases in estrogen cause pregnant women to be more susceptible to getting and keeping this fungus (which is the same as athlete’s foot).
Remedies: My OBGYN said I could safely use any over-the-counter anti-fungal cream. I decided to just ride it out and it cleared up in about a month.
COLD SORES DURING PREGNANCY:
Don't feel too embarrassed if you get a cold sore outbreak during pregnancy, weakened immune systems lead many mommas-to-be to experience outbreaks!
So, I saved the worse for last! I hadn’t had a cold sore since 2007, and although I know they will never go away, only lie dormant, I had assumed that pregnancy would not cause an outbreak because I had not had one with my first pregnancy. But, like everyone tells you, every pregnancy is different (and in my particular case: opposite!). Getting the cold sore in month 7, with still about 3 months to go and after I’m feeling so fat and getting tired again, was just a real morale killer! Needless to say tears did ensue!
Why does it happen? People have all kinds of unassuming and cutesy names for these blisters on the lips and mouth like “cold sores” or “fever blisters.” The truth is cold sores are caused by the Herpes virus and once you have it they will never go away. I got mine from my high school sweetheart (thanks!) when I was only 16. Oral herpes can lie dormant for years and outbreaks are usually caused by stress or sun exposure. According to BabyMed when you’re pregnant your immune system is weakened which can lead to a herpes outbreak.
Remedies: When I’m not pregnant and I get an outbreak, I take Abreva which is an over-the-counter ointment that shortens the cycle of your cold sore, especially if you start taking it at the first sign of an outbreak. This time I told my OBGYN and he prescribed me Denavir. It was costly at $50 (after $150 was paid by my insurance) but it worked very quickly and instead of having the sore for a week or two it was fully healed within the week and was far less painful.