50 Pregnancy Symptoms & Discomforts Every Mom-to-Be Should Know About

50 Pregnancy Symptoms & Discomforts Every Mom-to-Be Should Know About
Image: iStock.com/nd3000

pregnant woman with symptoms
iStock.com/nd3000

No one said the hardest thing about pregnancy is giving up hot tubs and sushi for nine months. We all know that carrying a baby can come with all kinds of annoying symptoms, like bloating and backaches. And while there are some good things that tend to happen when pregnant -- the elusive glow! thick hair! no period! -- there tend to be more discomforts than joys, mostly thanks to raging hormones, increased blood supply, and weight gain.

Like most things in life, pregnancy symptoms vary from person to person. There are a few lucky moms-to-be who breeze through pregnancy with a slight discomfort or two. Many of us are plagued by a bunch of weird body changes that are slightly freaky but overall manageable. And some have to deal with at least one particularly nagging thing that makes it almost impossible to function (hello severe morning sickness and sciatica!).

Some of these symptoms are notorious (like fatigue and cravings), but others are ones we don't always hear about (vision changes? And how about that discharge? Whoa!).

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It's important for moms-to-be to keep their doctor in the loop about any symptoms they're having. There are many that are just par for the pregnancy course -- like swelling -- but could also be a sign of a complication, so monitoring the situation is key.

Read up on the most common bodily changes that can happen during pregnancy. And hang in there -- all will be worth it when baby arrives!


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  • Sore or Tender Breasts

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    woman with sore breasts
    iStock.com/John Sommer

    One of the most common early pregnancy signs is breasts that are sore or tender to the touch. Yep, the body may start prepping for breastfeeding as quickly as a week or two after conception -- before she even misses her period. But some moms-to-be don't necessarily notice, since PMS boobs can feel similar.

  • Mood Swings

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    woman having mood swing
    iStock.com/PeopleImages

    Crying at cheesy commercials. Suddenly lashing out at a spouse for something silly. Pregnant woman being moody isn't a stereotype -- it's often a reality. Pregnancy mood swings are usually blamed on the hormone changes going on while making a baby, but stress, fatigue, and dealing with a bunch of other symptoms can certainly make a mom-to-be grumpy too.

  • Implantation Cramps

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    woman having abdominal cramps
    iStock.com/Carlo107

    Super quick biology lesson: Once a human egg gets fertilized, it has to implant itself into Mom's uterine wall where it will hang out and continue to grow and develop for the rest of the pregnancy. When it implants -- about six to 12 days after conception -- it might cause mild cramps that last a day or two.

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  • Implantation Bleeding

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    iStock.com/Voyagerix

    Implantation can also cause light spotting. This is a perfectly normal pregnancy symptom and is often thought to be the earliest sign of pregnancy -- but many expectant women don't experience or don't notice it.

  • Nausea

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    woman sick in bed
    iStock.com/AndreyPopov

    Possibly the most notorious pregnancy symptom -- morning sickness -- has a misleading name. When we're pregnant, nausea can strike any time of day, usually starting around two to eight weeks after conception and ending around the end of the first trimester. That's a long time to be feeling queasy, let alone puking our guts out.

  • Fatigue

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    tired woman at computer
    iStock.com/Wavebreakmedia

    Who can blame a mom-to-be for feeling exhausted? Making a tiny human takes a lot of energy! Early in pregnancy, fatigue is likely caused by those hard-at-work hormones. Late in pregnancy, hormones are also a factor; plus a woman is carrying extra weight and may be having trouble sleeping at night.

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  • Heightened Sense of Smell

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    woman holding her nose
    iStock.com/Ranta Images

    It's not certain why some women's sense of smell gets extra keen during pregnancy, but chances are it's connected to hormones (just like most other symptoms) and nausea. Suddenly, a coworker's perfume or a neighbor's dinner might seem extra stinky.

  • Food Aversions

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    woman disgusted by her food
    iStock.com/skynesher

    Going hand-in-hand with nausea and a ridiculously sensitive sense of smell is food aversions. This is where a woman finds herself disgusted by foods she's normally fine with -- sometimes, even a few of her favorites. Some experts theorize that this is an evolutionary trait that protects the mother and fetus from eating something potentially harmful. Whatever the reason, some moms have food aversions only in the first trimester, and others have repulsions that stick around long after pregnancy.

  • Cravings

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    pregnant woman eating peanut butter
    iStock.com/vadimguzhva

    On the flip side, there are pregnancy cravings. Stereotypical ones are ice cream and pickles but women may crave a variety of foods from jalapeños to pineapple to liver and onions. Cravings are par for the pregnancy course, as long as the mom-to-be doesn't find herself craving things that aren't food. In that case, it's a medical condition called pica, and she should tell her doctor right away.

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  • Dizziness

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    dizzy pregnant woman
    iStock.com/baona

    Hormones cause a pregnant woman's blood vessels to relax, increasing the blood flow to her baby but also reducing blood pressure, which can cause temporary dizziness or a faint feeling.

  • Runny or Stuffy Nose

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    woman blowing her nose
    iStock.com/Wavebreakmedia

    Sure, it could be a cold, but sometimes pregnant women get stuffy or runny noses just because they're pregnant. There's even a name for the phenomenon: pregnancy rhinitis. Chalk it up to that increased blood volume, which can make the nasal mucus membranes swell.

  • Frequent Urination

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    woman in bathroom
    iStock.com/gpointstudio

    Early in pregnancy, increased blood volume causes the kidneys to process extra fluids, making a woman have to pee more often than usual. Later in pregnancy, the growing baby crowds the bladder, inhibiting its ability to expand, and causing extra trips to the bathroom.

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  • Vaginal Discharge

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    woman with panty liner
    iStock.com/ljubaphoto

    That thin, milky discharge has a name: leukorrhea. And some women are shocked by how much of it their body produces during pregnancy. Wearing a panty liner or absorbent underwear helps some women feel more comfortable. It's important to let a doctor know if the discharge is green or yellow or comes with itching or redness; these are signs of infection.

  • Bloating

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    pregnant woman holding stomach
    iStock.com/NataliaDeriabina

    Commonly, bloating may be one of the earliest pregnancy symptoms. Just another fun side effect of those newfound pregnancy hormones. This is usually similar to how some of us feel at PMS time.

  • Backaches

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    pregnant woman with sore back
    iStock.com/Yuri_Arcurs

    It's no wonder pregnant woman get backaches: Our center of gravity changes, affecting our posture. Hormones make ligaments and joints more relaxed. And we're gaining weight by the week! The good news is exercise, stretching, massage, and good posture can help.

  • Nosebleeds

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    woman with nosebleed
    iStock.com/Wavebreakmedia

    Nasal passages can get extra dry during pregnancy, and blood vessels are more prone to break, causing some pretty gnarly nosebleeds. We recommend using a humidifier and wiping and blowing gently when stuffed up.

  • Constipation

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    woman in bathroom holding toilet paper
    iStock.com/baona

    Some women's digestive systems slow down as their pregnancy hormone levels rise. Plus, taking vitamins with iron can cause constipation. Eating fiber-rich foods, drinking lots of water, and getting plenty of exercise can help get things -- and keep things -- moving.

  • Hemorrhoids

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    embarrassed woman
    iStock.com/g-stockstudio

    As if constipation wasn't bad enough, all that straining on the toilet can cause uncomfortable (and even painful) hemorrhoids. These swollen rectal veins can also be a result of all that pressure the baby-to-be put on mom's lower half. Clearing up constipation issues can certainly help, as can OTC remedies and a nice sitz bath soak.

  • Hair Changes

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    pregnant woman with full hair
    iStock.com/Aldo Murillo

    Ever notice how many pregnant women seem to have thicker, more healthy hair? This is one of the few perks of pregnancy! Hair usually sheds gradually but during pregnancy, high levels of estrogen cause hairs to hang on longer, so there are actually more of them at a time. The bad news is, the body will have an adjustment period post-pregnancy, during which many women find their hair falls out a heck of a lot more than usual.

    Some women swear their hair texture changes completely during or after pregnancy: straight to wavy, tame to frizzy, or even curly to straight.

  • Unusual Hair Growth

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    tweezers
    iStock.com/KatarzynaBialasiewicz

    Chin, back, and even ... butt ... are just a few of the weird places women have told us they suddenly started growing hair during pregnancy. Blame the hormones!

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  • Excess Sweat

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    pregnant woman lying in bed
    iStock.com/DeanDrobot

    Hormone surges, increased blood flow, and racing metabolism can all make a pregnant woman feel hot. Can anyone blame her body for trying to cool her down with a bunch of dripping sweat?

  • Visible Veins

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    iStock.com/bukharova

    Some pregnant women find their veins are so dark, they can see them right through the skin. Those veins are carrying extra blood through the body, so it's no wonder they get so prominent. At least it'll be easy for the nurse to find a vein for any blood draws!

  • Feeling Hot

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    pregnant women cooling off in pool
    iStock.com/Jennifer_Sharp

    As we mentioned before (with the sweating), it's normal to feel hot while pregnant. But it's important for a pregnant woman to make efforts to stay well hydrated and cool as much as she can (turn on that air conditioner!), since overheating could be harmful to baby early in pregnancy. Later in pregnancy, dehydration could cause preterm labor.

  • Round Ligament Pain

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    pregnant woman with abdominal pain
    iStock.com/ljubaphoto

    Some pregnant women are surprised to find all the stretching going on as baby grows can actually hurt. The round ligament, with supports the uterus, does a whole lot of stretching, which can cause discomfort in the abdomen and even in the groin. Ouch.

  • Leaking Urine

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    pregnant woman laughing
    iStock.com/Halfpoint

    As baby grows and crowds Mom's belly, she might find herself peeing a little when she coughs or sneezes. We wish we could say this always clears up after pregnancy.

  • Excess Drool

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    woman wiping mouth with napkin
    iStock.com/LeoPatrizi

    Here's an unexpected one! Increased pregnancy hormone levels can also cause an increase in saliva production, making some moms-to-be feel as drooly as the family dog. Some find that it helps (at least temporarily) to chew gum, suck ice, and ... um ... spit a lot.