Thanks to sitcoms, romantic comedies and our mother’s cuss-filled horror stories, we all know pregnancy is no walk in the park. In fact, pregnancy can cause some horrible, horrible things, like inny belly buttons temporarily turning into outies and ugly-people-making.
And then there’s the stuff from a horror movie. Here are seven bizarre symptoms pregnant women experience prior to giving birth that would make the rest of us think we were dying of a disease they’re going to name after us.
#7. Hyperemesis Gravidarum
In movies like Knocked Up, vomiting is a quick and tidy signal that the lady in question has a bun in the oven. Once she realizes what’s going on, the nausea magically disappears, and our mother-to-be gets on with her wacky life crisis, right?
Anyone who’s ever had a killer hangover or suffered through a raging flu has experienced the glory of constant nausea. Not just the throw-up-and-get-it-over-with kind of sick, the kind where everything that goes down comes back up in the form of Satanic bile. Everything. Every meal, every snack, even every sip of water or swallow of saliva. Even when you don’t eat, you’re treated to the dry heaves and the burps. You’re so broken-down that all you want to do is go to bed and/or die.
Now, picture getting that sick after every meal of every day for nine solid months. Oh, and another thing — picture that as the months progress, a rib-crushing basketball grows under your shirt, making your hourly face-down trips to the toilet an exercise in torture. Also, just for funsies, imagine you’re also experiencing a host of other ailments, like heartburn, backaches, random bloody noses, loss of bladder control and a wicked case of the furious farts. If you can imagine all that, you’ve got hyperemesis gravidarum down pat.
In the worst cases, extreme nausea lands moms-to-be in the hospital for dehydration, and nothing short of an IV can get them back into fighting shape. And even when someone does come up with a medicine to treat nausea, most ladies hesitate to medicate themselves while hosting a mini-human parasite. Especially since the last time a nausea medicine was widely prescribed, it left 10,000 kids around the world with severe birth defects.
#6. Metal Mouth
Anyone who’s ever spent more than an hour around a pregnant woman already knows what hormones can do to an otherwise normal, reasonable person. When not sobbing over weight gain or the horrors of elastic waistbands, her heightened estrogen levels are also turning her body into a freak show. For example, in some cases extra estrogen is making the inside of the woman’s mouth taste like a quarry.
To someone already suffering from a host of other ailments, the constant taste of penny suckage is not the best way to start the day. Plus, some prenatal vitamins make the metal taste worse. And it’s not like you can skip out on the prenatal vitamins if you ever want to look your child in the eye (eyes, if you’re lucky) later on. On the plus side, for most women suffering from metal mouth, the taste goes away after the first trimester. On the negative side, the best way to distract taste buds is with foods that are high in acid, which probably aren’t going to be doing the maternal stomach any favors.
What starts out sounding like something the Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff do in the summer actually suuuuucks when you’re pregnant. As everyone knows, the most horrifying part of pregnancy isn’t the changes your body goes through, it’s the prospect of squeezing a person out of a lemon-sized orifice. Fortunately, that’s where the hormone relaxin comes in. Relaxin is what gets the pelvic muscles all loosey-goosey in preparation for the big push. So, obviously, it’s a good thing. Unfortunately, the hormone doesn’t just confine itself to the nether regions; it’s also what causes women’s feet to grow by up to a whole shoe size during pregnancy, as the tendons that keep the bones in her feet together relax and start high-fiving the ground with every step..
But walking around with a permanent case of clown feet isn’t the worst part of relaxin. The horror is that all that relaxin extends to your freakin’ esophagus. As in, the one place that blocks stomach acid from shooting up into your throat hole. So if you’re ever talking to a glowing mom to be and she gives a sudden, gurgled “GAHHARHGG,” don’t make fun. Her stomach contents just relaxed their way up into her mouth.
Speaking of relaxin, sometimes ladies get so much of it that their abdominal muscles relax the fuck off the belly. They just flat out vamanos from the the Front of the Stomach Club and separate. That’s when a new gang shows up, the Ridge Going Down the Middle of Your Stomach Gang. That ridge? That’s a uterus. Here’s an illustration of one in action:
It’s almost like the abdominal muscles are giving your body a preview of what’s going to happen to your vagina in a few months. But where things really get disgusting is after the baby is long gone from its home womb. When a mom has a diastasis recti, her abdominal walls stay separated, but without a 7-pound person stretching them out. It looks, uh, sorry to do this, kind of like this:
Be sure to call your mom and say hello!
#4. Gingivitis and Pregnancy “Tumors”
There’s an old wives’ tale that says, “For every pregnancy, a woman loses a tooth.”
It turns out that researchers at NYU found that, on average, women with children have fewer teeth than women without. As the levels of estrogen and progesterone climb higher, gums become more sensitive and often swell. They also bleed more easily, so the pearly white smile that normally follows a good tooth-brushing becomes a nasty red one.
In fact, according to one report, up to 75 percent of women suffer from gingivitis during their pregnancies. And since we’re so jaded from hearing all about gingivitis on toothpaste commercials, we tend to forget what actual gingivitis looks like. Here you go!
It’s almost like the gums are Sherman and the teeth are Atlanta. But with more bloodshed. Fortunately, if the gum-swelling is kept in check, it will just disappear after the baby’s birth. That’s also true with pregnancy “tumors,” which fortunately aren’t actual tumors. They’re just painful growths that can bleed, crust over and stay put until long after that baby is squeezed out.
#3. Disfiguring Skin Changes
You’ve likely heard of “pregnancy glow,” a magical aura of awesomeness that surrounds the fertile female.
Less awesome are:
skin tags …
Let’s start the horror show with chloasma, the “mask of pregnancy.” Sadly, it’s not a fabulous superhero identity: it’s dark brown, blotchy patches on the face caused by an increase in melanin, and it happens to 50 to 75 percent of pregnant women. While her face is turning splotchy, her neck, armpits, groin and under-breasts are growing skin tags, which are polyps that look like tiny flaps of skin. So now the mom-to-be looks like the Phantom of the Opera and is covered with little bits of extra skin … let’s throw a rash into the mix!
The most common pregnancy rash is pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy, or PUPPS for short. It starts on the belly with red welts that look like hives (the skin kind, not the bee kind) and then spreads like a tiny rebel force over the thighs, breasts, arms and butt. And since her body isn’t going to go down without a fight, it itches like hell and looks pretty fucking disgusting. The only good news here is that two of the skin conditions go away once the baby is born and that skin tags can be easily removed, which probably isn’t a lot of comfort to the pregnant woman who’s looking like an unholy hybrid of Davy Jones, Two-Face and a diaper rash.
#2. Cheeseburger Crotch
It’s hard to imagine combining two things that most men love and getting something horrible out of it.
All that person making involves a lot of blood, which is why the amount of blood in a woman’s body increases by up to 50 percent during pregnancy. As the baby gets bigger and heavier, more fluid + weight = external vaginal swelling, or cheeseburger crotch. Why cheeseburger crotch? Because some long-suffering lady realized the excess fluid in her bottom bits made her look like she was shoplifting a cheeseburger in her panties. And just for kicks, the inflammation doesn’t have to be equal: one side can be totally normal, while the other can be as puffed up as a Donald Trump press release. It can come and go, too, so one day might be business as usual, and the next … would you like fries with that burger?
As an added bonus, if her lady parts turn bright red, purple or blue, she might have varicose veins in her va-jay-jay. And there’s not much she can do about it, other than — you guessed it — have the baby.
#1. Hairy Nipples
Here’s how hair growth normally works: individual hairs grow about half an inch a month for a few years, then they stop growing for a few months like they’re in some kind of sleep chamber, then they fall out. Then, if you’re lucky, the cycle starts over. So, for most of a lady’s life, her hair is 90 percent growing and 10 percent resting.
Until she gets pregnant. The same hormones that are torturing the rest of her body parts do an insane number on mama’s hair growth. Specifically, that little resting phase that hair goes through before falling out is obliterated. There is no resting period during pregnancy — the hair just keeps growing. And that’s why, alongside the obvious knocker-related advantages of pregnancy, thick, luxurious hair is the one thing the ladies have to look forward to. That’s the good news. We wish we could just stop there, we really, really do. But if you made it this far, you might as well know the truth: In addition to getting a head full of sexy tresses, pregnant women also find individual hairs in places they don’t belong. Like the upper lip, chin, back, belly and, you guessed it, nipples.
And other than the usual hair removal remedies that ladies have been employing since the dawn of time, there is nothing you can do about it. BUT! The bad news doesn’t end there! Like every other condition on this list, things are (hopefully) going to return back to normal once the baby is born. Except the hair-growth thing. And not in the way you’d expect. At some point in the weeks and months following the baby’s birth, all that that hair was that was growing like a pesticide-resistant weed is going to fall out. In clumps. Maybe not clumps clumps, but definitely enough to clog the shower drain and freak an already hormonal woman the fuck out.