Apart from the well-known facts about stretch marks and breast tenderness, morning sickness and general hormonal rollercoasters, some more unusual side-effects of pregnancy hormones can happen too.
Clare Livingstone is a professional policy advisor at the Royal College of Midwives. She explains that every pregnant woman experiences changes in the body differently, and for the most part, you don’t need to worry about them unless they start to bother you.
1. Increased susceptibility to colds and flu
A particular hormone (hCG) found in the body during pregnancy suppresses your immune system, in a bid to reduce the chances of your body rejecting your baby. As a result, you may find that you’re sneezing or feeling under the weather more often.
In addition to this particular hormone getting the blame, pregnancy has a huge physical impact on the body as a whole, therefore your system is facing a fight from all angles. These reasons are why pregnant women are strongly advised to get the flu vaccine.
2. Your feet might grow
Some people say that this happens (again, blaming the hormones) due to a hormone called relaxin that your body produces when you’re pregnant. This hormone loosens both your pelvic joints and the ligaments in your feet.
However, Claire Livingstone believes this may just be due to swelling – a completely normal and common aspect of pregnancy. If you find your ankles and feet to be excessively swollen to the point that it is affecting you, it is best to get them checked with your midwife, just in case.
3. Skin changes
Unfortunately, the “pregnancy glow” doesn’t happen in all cases. An increase in progesterone due to pregnancy can cause spotty breakouts as this triggers sebum production in the glands, which in turn can clog your pores. Acne, dry skin and eczema are common skin conditions experienced during pregnancy. Then, there are the lucky ones who really do experience the “pregnancy glow.”
4. Your belly button may change
Because the skin on your stomach stretches throughout your pregnancy, changes can happen to the appearance of your belly button.
Again, this tends to go back to normal after you give birth.
5. Nail growth
When you’re pregnant, your nails tend to grow faster and longer. This is likely to be down to metabolic changes in the body, says Livingstone. They’ll probably resume their normal rate of growth three to six months after giving birth.
6. Constant good-hair-days
For many women, during pregnancy, their hair gets thick, shiny and looks healthier than ever. Even the texture of your hair can change, from poker straight to Curly Wurley.
Unfortunately, when you give birth, there is a chance your hair may start to fall out again. It is generally not in an extreme way, but it is definitely not unusual for a new mother. Again, hormones are to blame here, along with increased blood circulation.
7. You might notice a line on your stomach
A dark, vertical line can become apparent on your stomach during pregnancy, generally stretching from your belly button to your pelvis. If you notice you have one, chances are you have always had it but it just becomes more apparent when you’re pregnant, usually around the second trimester. This line is nothing to worry about, it is simply where the muscles meet in the abdomen and the colour is pigmentation due to pregnancy hormones. It tends to disappear after pregnancy.
A pregnant person should not take anything to treat any of these symptoms without first getting medical advice. Check with your midwife or GP beforehand.