Dec 7, 2020

Stay Calm: Odd Things that are Normal During Pregnancy

 Dr. Google is a first time mom's best frenemy during pregnancy.

It's so easy to freak out about every little thing, especially during that high risk first trimester, but all that worry isn't good for anyone. Every little twinge feels like it's an impending miscarriage and even the absence of discomfort can be troubling. Stay calm! 

Here are some things that are perfectly normal during pregnancy.

1. Absence of symptoms.

I didn't know I was pregnant until the late first trimester, around 8 weeks, because super clear symptoms (debilitating morning sickness and fatigue) didn't start until around 7 weeks for me. 

I missed my period before that, had some achiness in my breasts and mild lower back pain, but none of these symptoms were clear or strong enough for me to really think anything was wrong.

For women who are actively trying to conceive and possibly testing even before their missed period, they may know they are pregnant a full month before experiencing any pregnancy symptoms. That doesn't mean that the pregnancy isn't viable, just that symptoms take some time to show up!

2. "Period" cramps.

I had really sharp cramps several times in the late first trimester. They were so painful, I was sure that I must be miscarrying.

I wasn't. The baby was totally fine and the pregnancy completely viable.

Cramps in the first trimester can be perfectly normal, even when they really hurt. There's a lot of growth and shifting around that's happening in there at that time, including growing an entire new organ (the placenta)! 

3. Lightening crotch.

This pregnancy symptom is pretty much exactly what it sounds like and it's not fun. I freaked out about every little pain in my early pregnancy, because I wasn't aware that pregnancy is often uncomfortable beyond just nausea, fatigue, and eventually the weight of a giant bump. 

But it is! Pregnancy is hard, but that can be normal and nothing to worry about.

4. Spotting.

July 3 at around 1:30pm I saw a spot of bright red blood in my underwear. All these months later, I still remember how the icy fear gripped me the moment I saw it. I couldn't move. I was sure that this was it, the beginning of the end.

I told my husband and he comforted me, assuring me that everything would be okay no matter what happened. We watched a tv show, I can't remember which one, and while I couldn't focus on a thing that was going on on the screen just having the distraction and his arm around me helped. 

A few hours later, the light spotting had stopped. It turned out it was due to mild cervical irritation, which can happen for any reason from exercise to sex, and our baby was never in danger. It also turned out that a lot of women experience spotting at some point during their pregnancy.

It's always good to check with your doctor when you see blood during pregnancy. That's what they're there for. But while you definitely should let your doctor know, you don't need to immediately panic. Spotting is quite common during early pregnancy.

5. Not feeling kicks until 20+ weeks. 

Pregnancy first time mom

I felt my first clear, defined kicks at about 20+3 mid-flight. Maybe she's a little traveler already! 
While second and third time moms may feel kicks earlier, it's not uncommon for first time moms not to feel kicks until 20 weeks or later into the pregnancy.
If you have an anterior placenta, it may take until the late second trimester to feel anything. Don't worry - as long as everything else looks good at your doctor's appointments and on your scans, your little one will soon be kicking up a storm.

6. Gaining weight nonlinearly. 

While week-by-week pregnancy weight gain recommendations suggest that pregnancy weight gain follows more or less linear patterns, that couldn't be further from the truth for most women. 

An S-shaped curve is much more common for weight gain, with slow gain (sometimes even a little loss) in the first trimester, more rapid gain in the second trimester, and gain leveling off in the third trimester. 

Some weeks you may gain four pounds in a week and some weeks you might gain nothing at all. 

Some people stop gaining entirely at the end of the third trimester and may even lose a pound or two, while others may see the pounds pack on as baby starts building his/her fat stores.

Some people gain neatly within the 25-35 pounds recommended for a single (not twin) pregnancy and a normal starting BMI, while others may gain less than or more than that range. Don't worry - as long as you're being mindful of your health, eating when hungry and to satiety, and eating mostly nutritious food (with some cravings thrown in, if you have them), our body will do what it needs to do, whether that's gain 27 pounds or 52. 

All of these things are fine. 

One thing to keep an eye out for is very rapid gains in a short period of time. Particularly in the third trimester, gaining 5+ pounds in a week can be a warning sign for preeclampsia. Let your doctor know! They'll likely check your blood pressure and check your urine for protein, to make sure that your rapid gain isn't signaling something more serious.

7. Bump 'shrinking.'

You imagine your bump will keep growing continuously throughout your pregnancy, sometimes more and sometimes less. But always growing.

While that's true for the most part, there are a few times were you might notice your bump looking smaller one week than the week before. 

The first is as you come out of the first trimester. All the progesterone coursing through your body in the first trimester can be incredibly bloating and it's very common to have a bloat bump well before you have a true baby bump. 

As the bloat goes down towards the end of the first trimester and the beginning of the second and the baby bump takes its place, it might look like your stomach is smaller for a bit!

The second common time to experience a shrinking baby bump is during the late third trimester when the baby drops. For some moms, this happens weeks before labor. For others, it happens just hours before labor. 

Whenever it does happen, the baby's dropping can make your bump not only look like it shifted lower but also like it shrunk. That's normal!

8. Morning sickness returning in the third trimester.

Ugh. No one is happy to see the old nausea rear its head again, but for a significant percentage of women some nausea and possibly even food aversions return in the third trimester.

It could be due to hormonal changes. More often, it can be due to heartburn and indigestion from the growing baby squishing all of mom's digestive organs into a smaller space than they usually occupy. 

The good news is that third trimester morning sickness tends to be less wretched than first trimester morning sickness for most. If it hits you particularly hard, don't be a hero - talk to your doctor about safe anti-nausea and antiemetic medications.

9. Morning sickness sticking around for the entire pregnancy.

When I was feeling my very worst in the first trimester, everyone reassured me that things would start looking up as soon as the first trimester was over. I was counting down to week 12 and the promised golden days. 

Fortunately for me, though my morning sickness lingered a bit I felt consistently better around week 16 (and my appetite returned around week 12). Some women aren't as lucky. 

Especially for women with hyperemesis gravidarum, which Princess Kate famously had with her pregnancies, morning sickness can last the entire pregnancy. This doesn't mean the baby isn't healthy, but it sure is unpleasant for the mom. 

If you're experiencing morning sickness that doesn't improve even well after the first trimester, talk to your doctor! There's a lot more than ginger chews and saltine crackers that they can offer these days (diclectin, Zofran, Unisom, and B6 are some common aids).

10. Pelvic pain, possibly complete with snapping noises.

I was mopping at 34 weeks pregnant and took too big a step when I heard a horrible symphony of snaps coming from my pelvis, accompanied by sharp pain. I immediately freaked out. Had I somehow shattered my pelvis? Would I still be able to try for a vaginal birth?

It wasn't anything so dire. I had just begun experiencing SPD, symphysis pubis dysfunction. I was lucky to avoid it as long as I did - some women experience SPD from the early second trimester all the way through the end of their pregnancy!

SPD is a collection of uncomfortable symptoms caused by stiff pubic joints or the joints moving unevenly at either the front (in my case) or back of your pelvis.

SPD isn't comfortable and can impair your mobility. Some things I found that helped were resting a lot after the initial pain and then eventually bringing back gentle movement in the form of slow walks. I also found not separating my legs too far and doing pelvic tilts relieved some of the discomfort.

Of course, if you ever have any serious concern you should definitely reach out to your obstetrician or midwife. Sometimes your intuition knows best and it never hurts to be on the safe side. Just stay away from Dr. Google!

Moms, what were your weirdest pregnancy symptoms?


  1. I can attest to Google being your best frenemy during pregnancy and after that sweet baby arrives. All your points are spot on for some or all of both of my pregnancies. A not so fun symptom for me was migraines in my 2nd trimester

  2. Thank you for sharing this. These symptoms are very common and I ma sure it will help many women.

  3. Interesting read. I've never been pregnant but cool to learn how different all pregnancies can be!

  4. I remember getting bloody noses when I was pregnant with my first. That was probably my weirdest symptom. It's crazy what happens to our bodies. I was never relaxed fully until my baby came out and we both were ok!

    1. Oh I completely forgot about those - but I've had them, too, and I never have bloody noses outside of pregnancy!

  5. I didn't have any of the typical symptoms during my first pregnancy. I only knew I was pregnant because we were trying and I tracked my cycles! I know I worried about every little thing too!

  6. Totally agree about Dr. Google! I had many of these symptoms too when I was pregnant. It's helpful that you are sharing these so other expectant moms know. The spotting is scary and thankfully it was fine for you too. Enjoy the rest of your week:)

    1. Thanks, Martha! It really can be unsettling, because so many things (like spotting) aren't commonly thought of as normal in a healthy pregnancy - when they can be!

  7. I remember experiencing most of these odd things during my pregnancies. More so the bump drop. That made me nervous.


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