Well… If you landed here, chances are you’re already pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant. You just couldn’t contain your curiosity, could you? I know exactly what you’re feeling. I used to ask myself all the time when I was trying to conceive: “What does it really feel like to be pregnant?”
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I couldn’t find the answer anywhere. Nobody could explain it with all the details that I wanted to hear (or read). Hence, the idea to write this post.
I’m glad you ended up on this page because things are about to get real my friend. You’ll finally be able to picture the reality of living in a pregnant body.
What it really feels like to be pregnant during the first trimester
The first trimester is extremely underestimated by anybody who’s never been pregnant. They (or better said, we all) just assume that not a lot of changes are going on to a pregnant woman since none of them are visible.
That’s where everybody gets it completely wrong. The first trimester might just be the one with the most (not visible) changes in your body. Just because you can’t see it, it doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
It’s the one trimester you stop being just you, and start being two. Every time I think about this process, I can’t help but be in awe of what God created us to be and do.
Here are a couple of symptoms that I felt and I’m sure the large majority of other pregnant women feel them too:
- Fatigue: while you might think you will be the most fatigued in the last trimester, the most fatigue I have ever felt in my life was in the first trimester of pregnancy. Have you thought about the fact that your body is basically building a second human being inside you? Yup. That intense.
- Morning sickness: some women have quite severe nausea in the first trimester, vomiting several times a day. In my two pregnancies, I only had a very mild morning sickness, and as the name suggests, only in the mornings. I was very sensitive to smells though, to the point I would feel sick if other people were wearing heavy fragrances.
- Excess saliva: can you believe that even our saliva changes? Your mouth fills up with saliva more frequently than usual. Weird, but true for some pregnant women. From what I can remember, I think it was true for me!
- Frequent urination: omg!!! I’ve always urinated more frequently than most people. I have no idea how I could survive both my pregnancies. My husband and I couldn’t watch a movie without me going to the bathroom at least 3 or 4 times.
- Breast changes: my friends kept telling me all the time how big my breasts were getting and I didn’t really believe them. I thought they were exaggerating, until when I saw stretch marks on them. Those stretch marks wouldn’t have appeared in my breasts if they weren’t growing a lot and fast, would they? Yeah… Didn’t think so. Wait. There’s more. Your areola will darken, enlarge, and some darker spots may even make their way on there. After birth, they will lighten up a little but not entirely. And…they also won’t go back to its original size. Yeah, bummer.
- Stretch marks: not only in your breasts, but you might start seeing some on your hips and thighs too. Not cool. I know. Just a tip: make sure to use stretch mark creams everywhere even in the first trimester. I explain more about it here and also share my favorite pregnancy stretch mark creams and oils.
- Spotting: I remember completely freaking out when I looked at my panties and saw a pinkish stain on them. I had no idea that pregnant women sometimes spotted in the first trimester of pregnancy. I called my OB/GYN at the same time, and I’d still encourage you to do so just to make sure. I’m on the better-safe-than-sorry team.
- Visible veins: during pregnancy, your body has an increased blood supply that helps nourish the baby. Because of that, you might see some visible veins on your breasts and belly. I had a lot of them on my breasts.
- Mood swings: please, let your husband know right away that he will have to be very patient with you during those 9 months. Especially in the first trimester, your hormones are at their peak, which causes you to have extreme mood swings. One moment, you might be laughing and feeling this overwhelming happiness. Five minutes later, you might be crying over your husband eating the last cookie in the jar.
- Constipation: it’s a real thing. I was constipated all the time, especially when pregnant with my first child, Samuel. But there’s a scientific explanation for that. “The high levels of progesterone circulating in your expectant system cause the smooth muscles to relax, making them sluggish – and allowing food to hang around longer in the digestive tract” as seen in the book What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I used to have this natural drink to help me regulate my digestive system and it worked like a breeze.
I hope I didn’t make you overwhelmed by how many different things are listed here. First of all, not everybody feels all of these, but most women do. Second, they don’t happen all at the same time. So relax.
Another cool fact that happens in the first trimester is that between 10 to 12 weeks of pregnancy you can start hearing baby’s heartbeat depending on his/her position. Isn’t that amazing? We got so emotional when we heard the boys’ heartbeat for the first time.
Now, completely changing the subject, another aspect of you that gets affected by pregnancy is your sexual desire. For some women, it increases significantly. For others, it completely vanishes. I don’t know which one you will be, but in the first trimester, mine completely vanished. In the second one, though, it came like wildfire. I guess you never know what these hormones will do. It’s just crazy!
What it really feels like to be pregnant during the second trimester
The second trimester is the most chill of all to the mama. I guess our body is a little bit more adjusted to the whole creating-another-human-being thing. You stop urinating so much, fatigue gets a little better, and morning sickness is supposed to be saying bye bye to most pregnant women as well.
Constipation will be there probably until the end of pregnancy. In the second trimester, it even got worse for me. Just when you start seeing the growth your breasts are experiencing and you think they couldn’t be any larger… oh well, they just keep growing.
Here’s what’s new to this trimester:
- Heartburn: you might start experiencing some mild heartburn, although, for some women, it only starts in the third trimester. Which was my case, but it was strong and very uncomfortable.
- Occasional dizziness: if you change positions too fast, you could feel dizzy. I felt dizzy way too many times, especially in the morning, when I just wanted to jump out of bed and get the day started.
- Sensitive gums: your gums get so sensitive, that sometimes they even bleed when you’re brushing your teeth.
- Increased appetite: yes, friend! This is the part where you start using the I’m eating for two excuse all the time. 😉 At least, this is what I did in both pregnancies. No shame on that. Only maybe regret, because now I can’t lose the extra 7 pounds that didn’t go away when my second was born. Oops.
- Swelling of ankles and feet: although it can start during the second trimester, it can be more intense in the third one. My feet looked scary in the third trimester.
- Increase in vaginal discharge: yeah…that happens. Not my favorite thing about pregnancy. Definitely not the worst either.
- Breathlessness: This was a big one for me! I remember having to catch my breath all the time when I was talking for a longer period of time. Maybe even between every sentence. It was cra-zy!
- Forgetfulness: Oh… This is a big one too. Not only for me but for all pregnant women! I have a friend who’s pregnant now and sometimes she can’t even finish two sentences because when she’s done saying the first one, she can’t remember what she was going to say next!!
- Achiness in the lower abdomen: sometimes, it feels like you can feel your ligaments and bones stretching, which I’m sure they have to adapt in some way to all the space that little baby’s taking up in there.
- Leg cramps: for me, those came more at night, especially when I was sleeping. I even woke up abruptly a couple of times because of the pain.
- Baby movements/kicks: Towards the middle of the trimester (around 20 weeks) you can start feeling some gentle movement inside you, almost like as if little butterflies were flying around in your belly. You’re not even sure if it’s the baby, but it’s gotta be. There’s nothing else moving in there, right? Then, towards the end of the trimester, around 24 weeks, you start feeling stronger movements, more like actual baby kicks.
- Foot growth: This might be a good time to shop for some new shoes, friend. Your feet are growing and they might never go back to its original size. Mine grew if not one, at least half a size and stayed there. Never looked back.
I didn’t specifically say this in the bullet points, but this is also the time when your belly finally starts showing. With it, comes the unwanted belly touching. Or like for me, not so much the touching. I didn’t mind people touching my belly. I thought it was sweet! But what shocked me, was this one time when a friend lifted up my shirt with 2 or 3 more people in the room. Jaw dropping. I just couldn’t believe it!!!
I felt really embarrassed, yet I didn’t want to be rude so I just pretended to not care. But this is not something you do to a pregnant woman. Big no no!! Is it so hard to ask if you can touch her belly? Or if you so desperately want to see it, just ask too. But please, don’t lift her shirt without asking, especially in front of other people. Just don’t.
You know what else comes that is unwanted? Advice. Advice is great when you ask or when it’s given as a suggestion. But there are just some people who cross a line. They want you to do as they say because they think they know everything. Or sometimes they’re just trying to help, but still being invasive.
I will never forget this friend who told me that I had to rub a toothbrush on my nipples to toughen them up if I wanted to be able to breastfeed. My nipples are extremely sensitive and I would never ever rub them like that. I’m sorry. That’s just not my way of preparing myself for breastfeeding. And she kept insisting on it every time she saw me, which was super awkward and uncomfortable.
It doesn’t end there. You might start having trouble sleeping. For me, the toughest was having to sleep on my back. I love sleeping on my belly and I would wake up several times during the night to try and find a better position. What really helped me was when I got a full body pregnancy pillow. It really looks like you’re gonna sleep buried in it, but it’s so so helpful. It might just be the one thing that will help you sleep a few hours longer.
What it really feels like to be pregnant during the third trimester
The third trimester is definitely not as chill as the second one. This is where you start to become big. Yeah, that’s the word, big! The baby is still developing and being formed, but in this trimester, he or she will also start gaining a lot of weight and chubbiness.
I will be honest and say that it’s the most uncomfortable trimester out of the three. It’s where you start being tired not because your body is working to create another human being, but because it has created one that weighs several pounds and you’re also carrying it inside you.
Sleeping becomes that much harder as moving your whole body is now an arduous task.
Here’s what you were feeling that won’t go away in this trimester:
- Baby kicks: This is a good one, right? And as baby grows, his or her kicks will only get stronger. Depending on their position, sometimes even uncomfortable. But you know what? Even when it was uncomfortable, I was smiling because I could feel how strong my little boy was!
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Achiness in the lower abdomen
- Occasional dizziness
- Constipation: Believe it or not, even more accentuated.
- Sensitive gums
- Leg cramps
- Swelling of ankles and feet: a lot more than before, especially in the last month.
- Shortness of breath: some people say that once the baby drops, it becomes easier to breathe. However, I never felt any of my babies drop and I don’t think my breathlessness got any better towards the end of pregnancy.
- Difficulty sleeping
Here’s what new or (stopped in the second trimester, but) comes back once again in this trimester:
- Itchy belly: the best thing to do is to not scratch your belly, but the thing is… it itches so much that it makes you insane. At least, this is what happened to me. I tried holding myself back and not scratching it because it increases the chances of having stretch marks or having even more stretch marks. But it was just impossible. I ended up exploding and scratching it like I meant it. The itchiness in your skin happens because your belly is stretching so much, that it gets dry, which is only one more reason for you to apply stretch mark creams.
- Stretch marks: The reason why I included stretch marks here again is simple. If they didn’t make an appearance yet, they might do it by now. And if not, lucky you!!! My mom had three kids and not one single stretch mark. I had stretch marks in my first pregnancy and in the first trimester. Go figure!
- Colostrum leaking from nipples: This didn’t happen to me, but I hear a lot of moms saying that it happened to them. Colostrum is a thick substance that comes out of your breast to nourish the baby during the first few days. It’s rich in fat and nutrients that the baby needs to grow strong in the very beginning of his or her life. You could say it’s your very first batch of breastmilk.
- Large belly button: With your belly stretching this much, did you really think your belly button wouldn’t grow with it? I remember I always wondered why my mom’s belly button was significantly larger than mine and my sister’s. Now I know exactly why. Thank you, mom! I always remember wondering about things in my mom’s body that after I had my first baby I could understand. Now I look at my body and I feel an immense gratitude and thankfulness towards my mom. It makes my eyes water every time. Moms are just amazing.
- No position is comfy enough: Especially in the ninth month of pregnancy, I remember feeling like I couldn’t stand up for much time. Or lie down, or sit down. Nothing felt comfortable anymore. I kept alternating my positions, but man… it was just hard.
- Braxton Hicks contractions: these are training contractions. They’re not the real deal yet. Some of them might be super strong towards the end. A lot of women think they’re going into labor when it’s still Braxton Hicks.
- Frequent urination: Now the baby is almost fully grown and pressuring your bladder. Don’t neglect the urge to pie. Go to the bathroom right away or an accident might happen.
Oh, God. I know you must be feeling completely overwhelmed by now!!! But let me tell you the best part of it all. As exhausting as pregnancy sounds (and I’ve said this before), I consider it one of the most enriching experiences a woman can have in her life.
You probably feel miserable physically speaking in the last few months, but you start to get excited about the idea of finally holding your little one and looking into their eyes. And oh, this moment will be the best one in your whole life. When you look into their eyes and realize they already know and love you. You can see they recognize you as their sweet mama. They’re counting on you and expecting love and care from you. It’s the most amazing feeling in the world.
You probably want the pregnancy to be over. In addition to feeling drained, you just can’t wait to meet your true love.
There’s fear too. Fear of the labor. And fear of not being a good parent. But let me tell you one thing. When God created you, he also created an on/off mom switch. It’s ok if you’ve never heard this, but it’s true! When the baby is born, your switch turns on.You will never be a perfect mother. But you will surely be the best mother your baby can have! #motherhoodClick To Tweet
This was a pretty long post, but if you think you still have a lot of questions floating around in your head, you might wanna think about getting this book:
It has 23 chapters and covers everything and anything you can imagine all the way from preconception through childbirth. In all the different phases, the book covers 3 different aspects:
- What you may be feeling;
- What you can expect;
- What you might be wondering about.
If you’re wondering about the development of your baby in each month of pregnancy, the book talks about that. If you want to know how to deal with morning sickness or exercise during pregnancy, there’s an explanation for that. What’s safe when it comes to sex during pregnancy? Can I get highlights in my hair? How much more should I eat? Is my body going to ever look the same as it did before? This book covers it all.
It doesn’t stop there. It has full chapters dedicated to dads, twins & triplets, postpartum, and even for when the baby arrives. I have a copy of the book at home and I’m still impressed with how much of our questions it covers.
I know we will always want to know more about pregnancy and baby. Those are the two major stages of our lives that seem very unknown to us. Until we experience it ourselves, we will always be wondering “what does it really feel like to be pregnant?” I truly hope I was able to answer at least a few of your questions.
For all the other bazillion questions traveling over your head, you might want to just grab the book! Or leave a comment down below and I will be glad to answer it!
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