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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Gross (Normal) Things in Pregnancy That No One Talks About (but should!)

When I became pregnant with my oldest, I was told about the swollen feet, the morning sickness, and the glowing skin (and, after 3 pregnancies - I am still waiting for said 'glowing skin'). However, there were many things that I was not prepared for. Things that I found utterly embarrassing. Did I really want to ask my friends if it was normal to pee myself, should I ask my OB if frequent farts were normal, and just exactly where was that smell coming from? Unfortunately, the Feds must have locked up and censored all of these 'dirty, nasty' things and silenced everyone with fear of being improper.

Well, 'eff being proper.

So, with the assistance of Twitter and friends and family - I wrote this as a way to provide preparation, hope, help, and advice through my List of Disgusting and Embarrassing Side Effects of Gestation.

Burping - like a drunk man
I will never forget how I scarred the pizza boy during my current pregnancy, when I opened the door and, without saying a word, proceeded to burp loudly in his face. Twice. I apologized, but the look he gave me was priceless. I haven't ordered Pizza Hut since.

Mind you, I burp with reason. With all of my children, I have had morning sickness and the easiest, quickest way to kick my nausea right in the groin is to drink root beer and burp until my stomach feels better. Unfortunately, there is something about pregnancy that makes your gas loud and smelly - no matter the route or the exit ramp. This sometimes makes me wonder if I should be waddling around with a beer gut, belly shirt, and trucker hat - but, for now, I would rather burp in the face of a delivery man than puke.

Solution - Accept your fate. If you're a burper - it's just gonna happen, preggo. Usually, it lightens up after the 1st trimester on it's own. You can also try Tums or other calcium supplements, which may help.

Real Life Stories:
"You should write about when you think you're going to burp and then you throw up in your mouth. Kind of like sharting, but instead of [pooping] when you fart, you puke when your burp :( I think it's almost worse than just regular puking because it's gone up my nose before. At least if I know I'm going to puke, I can adequately prepare for the unblessed event. 'Purking' is just unfair."

Constipation - like whoa
If pregnancy-induced insomnia is nature's way of preparing your body for sleepless nights with a newborn, than pregnancy-induced constipation is nature's way of preparing your body to push out a baby.

I'm glad I poop alone, because I fear people would call an ambulance and tell them, "she's having a baby! In the bathroom!" I scream, I grunt, and I say, "Come on, owww..." I change positions, I try to relax, and - towards the end - I definitely give up and say, "I can't do this anymore!" I don't have a choice though - and I persevere. After the final push, I feel relief and gratitude - proclaiming, "I did it! I DID IT!" I am so ready to have this baby. Thanks, constipation.

Solution: Water. Drink tons and tons of it. If you were a caffeine-aholic before becoming pregnant, don't quit cold turkey. Wean yourself, which would make it so you don't plug yourself up. You want to stay away from laxatives, but most over-the-counter stool softeners are safe (but, as always, consult your midwife or OB before starting any sort of medication)

Discharge - this requires no witty subtext
You know how nasty comics are always claiming that vaginas smell like fish? Well... heh. You may be surprised and, in my case, mortified, at what comes out of your vagina when pregnant. It's discharge, but it changes color (pink, brown, white, yellow...), consistency, and scent. Usually, on a daily basis. There's also a lot of it. A lot.

Solution: You know how you were so excited when you realized you wouldn't have a period for 9 months, and you thought that meant you would stay away from all sorts of menstruation products? Think again. I keep a supply of panty-liners, usually opting for the scented ones since the smell of discharge has made me gag. For more eco-friendly moms, you can try cloth pads - which tend to reduce the smell of discharge as well.

Flatulence - uncontrollable, obvious flatulence
You know those really, gross, loud farts that your husband blames on the dog you don't have? Or, in my case, on the baby? His farts have nothing on pregnancy farts. As women, we tend to have quiet, usually discreet, farts. However, when pregnant - this all changes.

They're LOUD. EXTREMELY loud. There is no "I-think-I-may-fart" sensations - this just come, out of nowhere. Without an invitation, without warning. They also smell, and, they smell badly.

Don't think these ones will go away once you're un-pregnant, either. These farts can follow you well past the post-partum period.

Solutions: Avoid greasy, spicy foods (if, your cravings will allow you). In my case, I was able to escape embarrassment because, after the first time my husband made fun of one of my louder "toots" - I burst into crazy, psycho, hormonal sobs. After that episode, he began to take the blame for me when I was having a gassy moment in public.

Real life stories:

"I wish someone would tell me 'by the way, you may fart ALL THE TIME."
" no one told me about the post partum uncontrollable farting either"
"I teach yoga and even 1yr post partum I have to be careful & hold things extra tight in certain poses. Otherwise..I've let out a few choice sounds in front of an entire yoga class. I don't react & just hope people couldn't tell who."
"I also farted my life away while in labour which was excruciatingly embarrassing. I had an epi so no pain to distract me. Also I was up in stirrups for ages. Poor midwives :-("
"I farted in my OBs face during an exam once. Luckily, he pretended like he didn't hear it"

Hemorrhoids - they really DO exist
I've never experienced these personally, so I'm leaving this one up to the personal stories:

Real Life Stories:
"I actually didn't have them until AFTER birth (from pushing, I'm assuming). It was very uncomfortable. Vaseline [helped] and I've heard that [Sitz Baths] can help"
I've never had them, and then last week out of NOWHERE, surprise!!! I was seriously so shocked and embarrassed and mad at my body, that I cried myself to sleep. I seriously thought they were a myth. And then one night, after a week of diarrhea, oh... my.... god. its terrible. thank goodness mine went away after like 3 days, but I was afraid to go to the bathroom, or sit down, or talk about it."

"[what helped was] suppositories & actually using "family cloth" instead of TP! So random but it's been SO much better since."

Leakage - my milk brings all the babies to the yard
I'm sure you've heard the story of the new mom walking around the grocery store and, upon hearing a stranger's baby cry, begins to leak profusely from her breasts. However, did you know that not only is this real, but it's extremely common. Milk will leak from your chest for a good month, at least. Sometimes, it will soak through your shirt. Your sheets. Your mattress.

I remember waking up after my milk came in with my oldest. My boobs were as hard as rocks and my bed was soaked. Soaked. It was sticky and gross and I thought I was dying. I love breastfeeding and I think breastmilk is liquid gold- but it's not something I want to bathe in. I also have leaked while out in public and only noticed when I realized people were staring at two giant wet spots on my chest.

Solution: don't forget to always stuff your bras. With breast pads, that is. They make all kinds, ranging from disposable to cloth. Another solution is to make sure you nurse when baby is hungry and, usually, within a month or two - your milk supply will regulate and your breasts will become dryer. I didn't stop leaking for good until my son was 8 months old. I became used to it though and, so do most women.

Real Life Stories:
"I leak milk like crazy. I use a "Milkies" milk collector when nursing (opposite side) to collect & save milk."

Orgasmic Stimulation - in the worst situations
When you've got a fetus in process, your body helps prepare your body by increasing your blood volume. And, it increases it everywhere. There's nothing like starting the engine of your car and being met with a - er, sensation.

Solution: Wear loose fitting clothing, don't sit down, and, avoid motorcycles. Or, give it some time. This problem usually only affects women for a short time.

Real Life Stories:
" Even just a tight pair of pants does it sometimes"

Pooping - and the fear of
Everyone knows about pooping on the delivery table, and, most women fear it. However, honestly, I wouldn't know if I had. Nurses and midwives tend to clean any defecation up pretty quickly and quietly. However, the real gross situation comes after the birth. When pooping becomes scary. When the nurses give you laxatives. When you think you may split open if you allow any sort of material to come out of you again.

Solution: Relax. And, pray. Also, take some stool softeners - but DON'T over do it. You can also eat a lot of 'P' fruits.

Real Life Stories:
"the... first bowel movement after labor pretty much feels like you're pushing out another baby... I only ate beans, whole grains, dulcolax, and fruit for days."
first poo! Terrifying but not as bad as you'd think."

"they gave me so many laxatives&stool softeners after I had [my daughter], I actually POOPED myself... I remember being terrified to take my first bowel movement though. TERRIFIED...I thought if I pooped, my stitches would burst open"

Vaginal Farting - or, 'queefing'
After you push what feels like a 7-8 pound bowling ball through your legs - you're going to realize that your vagina has changed. In more than one way. However, no one told me or even hinted that I would begin to be able to fart from there. Initially, it happened all the time. If I closed my legs too fast, air would escape from my canal and - queef. Eventually, that was a rare occasion. However, it still happens occasionally during sex and, because I act like an immature 13-year-old boy when I'm naked, I laugh every time. Which tends to throw my husband off because he's pre-occupied with things more important than the sounds coming from my vagina. I find a sense a humor really helps though.

Solution: Kegals, kegals, and - well, kegals. Before and after birth.

Real Life Stories:
"and tampons never fit properly ever again. [I know a girl who] birthed one in her sleep last week"
"Ah yes, the vag farts. [my husband] has been too kind (& smart) to say if things are different, but I know it must be, based on that..."

Urination - wetting the bed isn't just for kids, anymore
During the first trimester with my current pregnancy, I had a moment of fear when I felt liquid seep onto my underwear. I feared the worst and ran to the bathroom, assuming I would discover blood. I was so upset by the prospect of having a miscarriage - that I was almost scared to look down. When I did, I was confused and felt pretty damn goofy when I discovered I wasn't bleeding - I had just peed myself.

When your uterus is growing and moving right on in, evicting your organs to other parts of your body - it puts a ton of pressure on your bladder. It's not uncommon to pee yourself at night or to wet your panties when you sneeze.

Solution: Once again, panty-liners will help since, most of the time, the urination is kept to a minimum. Also, don't forget those kegals! They help strengthen that area, which helps give you more control over your urethra.

Vivid Sex Dreams - that make you feel like a dirty, dirty girl
Since you'll be waking up every.five.minutes to use the bathroom at some point in your pregnancy, you'll tend to remember your dreams very clearly and, because of hormones and that pesky blood volume - you may have some extremely pornographic dreams.

I felt like I was cheating on my husband. I have dreamt about having sex with the neighbor, my co-worker, my female friend, Eric -from True Blood, and Harry Potter. Most of the time, I didn't even find these people remotely attractive. However, I had a lot of sex when pregnant. Well, in my head. Once in awhile, I awoke in a sweat and apologized to my spouse - asking him to please forgive me. Poor man wasn't getting any action, yet my brain was getting a'plenty!

Solution: Once again, relax. Turn off any guilt and enjoy the moment. Who knows, maybe you'll wake up and write a romance novella and become the next Danielle Steel.

Real Life Stories:
"I have orgasms in my sleep during my first trimester. I wouldn't call that gross, though. ;)"
" I'm having definite sex dreams now! And, damn, are they VIVID"

* I hope this list helps anyone who feared that maybe their pooping issues were theirs, and, theirs alone.

If anyone has any solutions or any other 'gross' things to add - please, do!


  1. I shouldn't have read this while wallowing on the couch with a stomach ache because the laughing made it hurt so much more! That was hilarious and awesome. And identifiable. And a reminder of what I have to look forward to... again. I should go apologize to my husband in advance and put an exhaust fan by the bed.

  2. Oh, yes, the burping! I burped throughout my 41 hr labor like crazy!

    And yes to all the above. I think every visitor during the first month heard me say "Just hold the baby for a minute while I go change my shirt..." 3 1/2 months later and I still leak like crazy, but only when he's nursing for the most part (on the other side).

  3. Nausea, Heartburn, Indigestion, Upset Stomach, Diarrhea, and NO Pepto Bismol!

    Horrible gagging heartburn followed me around for the last trimester. I couldn't eat anything without feeling like I should try out for a tums commercial. No one tells you your esophogas relocates during pregnancy until you have heartburn to the point where you are almost BEGGING to just throw up and get it over with.

  4. Pretty much everything you've written is so true!

  5. One I forgot:

    Sweating! I sweat like a trucker.

  6. This needs to be updated to include all of the joys of the third trimester.

    I am 30 weeks today and am experiencing what I can only describe as my daughter trying to push my vagina out from the inside. I have no idea how she herself plans to come out if I have no vagina, but CLEARLY she no longer wants it to be a part of my body. >:(

  7. The you have is very useful. The sites you have referred was good. Thanks for sharing... Pregnancy Week by Week

  8. I haven't laughed that hard in so long. What a great read. So true. Of course while I was laughing I passed gas because I'm 13 weeks so it made me laugh even more. I'm pregnant with my second child and I too have orgasms 2 to 3 times a week in my sleep which I didn't have with my first. Hey, I'm not complaining, it's just so odd to me. Thanks for the great write up!!!