Seven Unexpected Changes During Pregnancy

Seven Unexpected Changes During Pregnancy

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There are some things about pregnancy that come as no surprise: Swollen feet that have spread to a full shoe size larger, angry red stretch marks that zig-zag around your hips, belly and breasts and of course, weeping uncontrollably at any commercial that’s remotely sentimental, especially one that features dogs (don’t get me started on that heartbreaking ASPCA commercial with Sarah McLachlan singing “Angel”).

Being prepared for what’s to come can help you brace yourself for the many physical and emotional challenges that go along with being pregnant, which is why the popular pregnancy bible, “What To Expect When You’re Expecting,” still flies off stores shelves—and has now inspired a movie, which premiers today.But there’s only so much you can prepare for when it comes to a major life change such as pregnancy. Bottom line: Expect the unexpected. In the meantime, here’s a heads up on just some of the surprising changes you can look forward to during pregnancy.

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1. You grow more hair—all over. You’ve heard about the fabulously thick locks and longer, stronger nails that are the reward of pregnancy hormones. But what people don’t tell you is that not all hair growth is glorious—or where you’d like it to be. Peach fuzz can crop up on your belly as though you’re suddenly turning into a cuddly bear. Worse, some women grow excess facial hair and nipple hair brought on by those same hormonal changes. The good news? It’s temporary. “Most women lose a significant amount of hair in the postpartum period or after they stop breastfeeding,” says dermatologist Bruce Katz, M.D, founder of the Juva Skin and Laser Center in Manhattan. “For hair growth during pregnancy, it is best to tweeze, wax or shave unwanted excess hair.” Skip laser hair removal or depilatory creams while pregnant, suggests Dr. Katz.

2. You have crazy sex dreams. No one talks about it, but pregnancy can trigger these intense, blush-worthy sex dreams featuring everyone from your loving husband to that hot volleyball player you had a crush on back in high school. You can thank hormones and the extra blood flow to your genitals that have you starring in your very own version of “Shades of Grey” and even having full-blown orgasms—yes, orgasms—while you’re asleep. Seriously—Google it. And don’t be surprised if those erotic urges carry over to when you’re awake, especially if you’re in the feel-good second trimester.

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3. You don’t necessarily want to eat everything in sight. While some women share Jessica Simpson’s cheesecake for breakfast-like cravings, others have no appetite at all thanks to either miserable morning sickness or a stomach so utterly smushed by the baby (or babies) growing inside of you it’s like you’ve had gastric bypass surgery. Fitting in food can become an unexpected challenge as you try to get in nutrients to nourish both you and your baby. That’s all the more reason to make every bite count, making sure you’re getting in plenty of protein and complex carbohydrates as well as some fat, along with prenatal vitamins.

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Rachel Grumman Bender
Rachel Grumman Bender is an award-winning freelance health and beauty writer and editor. She writes regularly for The New York Times and has written for Women's Health, Yahoo Health, Everyday Health, the New York Post, Cosmopolitan, and many more publications. Rachel has held Health Editor positions at and Cosmopolitan magazine. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism at Boston University and her master’s degree in journalism at New York University. She lives in northern California with her husband and her twins.