Having a baby is a great experience. There are cheers and beers (but not for the mother) all around. And anyone who is expecting in today’s world is aware of the latest lifestyle-related pregnancy complications. But in this article, we are talking about the weirdest things that could happen to mommies-to-be when they are expecting, which your doctor may have skipped through – for fear of freaking you out, epically.
That said, having a baby is really a wonderful thing as most parents would tell you, and they would recommend not to let a few fears and worries affect this otherwise happy time. Most of these situations can be treated medically, sometimes even with home remedies, and for the ones that only time (and the impending birth) can cure – remember that this too shall pass… And metamorphose into your bundle of joy.
15. The Human Pincushion Effect
Scared of needles? You are now embarking on a soul-searching journey that will not only strip you bare (literally) but also take away all your fears of needles.
How? By repeatedly and painfully jabbing you with them on account of blood tests, vaccinations and sometimes even banal phrases like “the baby needs it.” Despite the sheer accuracy of the home test kit that may have joyfully announced with its two stripes that you do have a bun in the oven, your doctor will ensure you have a blood test to confirm the same. And that is where the real horror begins.
A blood test for this and a blood test for that, a vaccination for this and a vaccine for that and finally there will also be ample amounts of multivitamins and other such instruments of torture that your doctor will decide that you have to be jabbed with, repeatedly. And they won’t spare you on the labor bed too, what with an IV and a spinal jab for the epidural. Not that you would care at that point…
14. Morning Sickness Like You’d Never Believe
We are not talking about the garden-variety, first trimester morning sickness that makes you upchuck your morning cuppa orange juice or toast. We are talking about Hyperemesis Gravidarum. What is that you ask? Remember the Exorcist? The green gunk spewing girl? That could be you. Minus the possession and the spirit, of course.
This kind of morning sickness develops late, sometime in the 4th or 5th month as opposed to the normal (and expected?) sickness that occurs primarily in the first trimester. The normal morning sickness usually makes pregnant women throw up a bit in the morning, and usually does not require any medication.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum makes you throw up anything you put in your mouth. Food, check. Water, check. Swallowed your saliva, check. And it can and does happen at any time of the day and night, and is made worse by food smells and odors. It’s bad and needs urgent medical attention lest you and the baby starve.
13. Blood Is Thick – Like, Stupid Thick
None of us ever pay attention to that little plus or minus sign that follows the A, B, O or AB of our blood type. It’s only when you’re pregnant that this little sign can turn into your worst nightmare. The Rh factor is a kind of protein layer on blood cells – a ‘+’ means you have it and a ‘-’ means you don’t. The problem arises is when the momma is Rh- and the baby inside is Rh+ (can happen when daddy is Rh-). Momma’s blood doesn’t like all that protein in the baby’s blood and starts making antibodies to tackle this evil. Blood is thicker than water, but no one said it had a brain. The antibodies can in turn attack the baby’s blood via the placenta and cause all sorts of bad things to happen.
This is why they keep sticking you with needles. The good news is that this time, the baby’s father gets jabbed too, if he doesn’t know his Rh factor. The bad news is that only you will be jabbed further if treatment is needed.
12. Have A Seat? Nope, Too Painful!
Pregnant? Well, congratulations – not only is your belly trying to burst itself open, it’s also trying to push the other organs out of you via your back door, or so it seems. The happy news is that you are not alone if you have hemorrhoids – more the 50% of pregnant women seem to get these. Along with gas that could put a locker full of baseball dudes to shame. Often accompanied by the bane of all pregnancies, constipation. Sigh.
Basically hemorrhoids are nothing but swollen nerve endings that cannot stay where they belong and simply have to poke their head out of your nether regions. The good news is that in most cases, having your baby cures the hemorrhoids since it takes away the pressure your internal organs and nerves are being subjected to. The bad news is that constipation can worsen them so remember to drink lots of water and eat food that’s rich in fiber.
11. Sugar Is Sweet, So Is Your Blood
Think of Gestational Diabetes (GD) as a beautiful concoction made especially for you during your time of the pregnancy. Okay, strike that – it’s a brew from hell. It gives you diabetes just lasting your pregnancy. Once the baby is out, you are back to your normal sugar levels. Why this is bad is because it can make your baby weigh way more than normal and then getting him out of you might cause, let’s just say, excruciatingly painful pain.
It’s also bad for you because it puts both you and the baby at an increased risk of developing diabetes later in life. If these two reasons weren’t bad enough, you are now stuck with all your heightened pregnancy cravings – be it that ice cream, or that cookie, or that ice cream and cookie – with no relief in sight. This might be scaring your baby’s father too, if he’s reading it. No relief from cravings equals no relief from the ravings (thank you, pregnancy hormones).
10. Hot Tubs And Alcohol Poisoning
Pregnancy really tires you out. Like really. So doesn’t a soak in a hot tub to soothe those tired muscles and that over-stretched belly sound heavenly? The problem with taking a soak is that it raises your body temperature. The problem with raising your body temperature while you’re pregnant is that it raises the uterine body temperature, thereby cooking up a whole host of fetus-related problems including scary ones like an increased risk of your child getting spina bifida. So however achy, breaky or shaky pregnancy might be making you feel – cool or warm showers are the safest.
The same goes for alcohol – steer clear of drinks if you are trying to conceive. Even the tiniest amount of buzz from the booze can also go straight to your baby – and baby livers are simply unable to process alcohol and break it down into less harmful compounds. So booze is bad for the baby, and that’s not a banality.
9. Everything Tastes Like Metal
Anyone who’s ever been on a course of antibiotics knows and shudders from a metal mouth. Everything you eat or drink seems iron-ore tainted. Now imagine trying to eat for two (one full-sized and one pint-sized) for nine months (closer to six actually, for the first trimester you need to eat healthy but not eat more) with a mouth that tastes like an over-productive quarry.
So water is metal, your favorite juice is metal, even that’s creamy, cheesy pasta you so crave is metal. Metal so isn’t your favorite brand of music anymore… You can thank the wildly fluctuating levels of estrogen in your body for this metallic taste though. What you can do to tackle it is to try and eat some pungent foods – pickles, citrus and such – but only if your tummy allows it. Else there’s no option left but to grim, and bear it. Grim it is, pregnancy doesn’t make you zany happy.
8. A Needle? That Big? In My Belly?
If a normal-sized needle that goes into a vein to suck some blood or into the buttocks to get in some vaccine sounds scary to you, then meet the gargantuan amniocentesis one. Amni-what you say? For the unaware, amniocentesis is a controversial but sometimes unavoidable procedure in which doctors stick your belly with a vacuum cleaner masquerading as a needle to suck out some of that fluid your baby is blissfully floating in. The fluid is then tested for various factors to ensure your baby isn’t victim to a genetic disease or mutation.
For all you goggle-eyed mommas-to-be, imagining a biggish needle near your tiny little bundle of joy, relax. They don’t nick the baby with it as it is done through a guided ultrasound procedure that shows the needle and the baby very clearly. However the very sight of the needle is enough to give even the toughest of mamas the heebie-jeebies. The thought of letting someone stab you in the belly with it needs a heart and mind calmer than the Jedi – so we are wishing the force be with you.
7. Who Moved My Placenta?
Think of the placenta as a circular appendage that anchors your baby inside your womb lest he starts getting jostled around too much. The placenta also forms a blood connection between the momma and the baby and allows for essential nutrients to pass from momma’s bloodstream to the baby’s. So basically, not only is the placenta is a good thing, it is essential for the survival of your baby…
Sometimes, though for inexplicable reasons, the placenta decides to detach, or attach to places it simply should not be going to. Even worse, sometimes it decides to stay inside even when the baby is out. And then all hell breaks loose. Or maybe it’s just the placenta. The problem is that when this benign thing goes bad, it goes breaking bad; making you bleed and causing severe birthing complication. Ergo, listen to your doctor and follow all advice and instructions to the boot.
6. Oops Momma, I Pooped Inside You
Most babies, despite not being toilet-trained at birth, have the decency to pass their first poop once they are safely out of you. Some little devils just cannot wait to try out their apparatus and so they poop while still on the inside, and then they end up ingesting it. And get poop in their lungs. Yes, babies are somewhat icky…
This in-mommy pooping leads to is known medically as MAS aka meconium aspiration syndrome – meconium is the baby’s first poop and is blackish in color. Mostly meconium is stored inside the baby’s intestines and passed only after the baby is born. Sometime though, due to fetal distress, the baby may end up passing meconium inside the womb and ingests it via the amniotic fluid. This can cause severe respiratory and cardio problems in newborns. The problem is that you cannot really prevent MAS but regular doctor visits ensure that your baby is being monitored and well taken care of.
5. Glowing Skin Is A Bad Joke
Ever told someone the good news to get this very common, highly irritating (but gratifying) comment, “I knew you were pregnant, you are glowing!” Some pregnant women, however, have the opposite of a pregnancy glow. They develop what is commonly and evilly known as the pregnancy mask AKA melasma.
Does not sound good, does it? Well, it looks even worse. Sometime pregnancy hormones, the same ones responsible for the pregnancy glow, turn evil and race around in poor, unsuspecting mothers’ bloodstreams; giving rise to skin that’s blotchy, spotted and has zits. As if having your body swell up like a balloon wasn’t enough; you also might have to deal with skin that looks like a wart on a witch’s nose. The birthing eventually makes the skin clear up and return to its original state.
4. Foot In Mouth, Or Elephant’s Feet
Love to sit on a chair and dangle your feet? I do, and I am rather tiny myself so I end up dangling my feet on most chairs. Now it’s fine to do this if you’re not pregnant, but if you are – wait till you see how much your feet can swell with just 10 minutes of dangling. This is where an ottoman comes in really handy – when in the seat, put up those feet.
Another issue here comes with the hormone relaxin, which basically relaxes your tubes and plumbing to prepare them for the birthing. While relaxin sounds oh so very relaxing, it relaxes all your joints, including and especially your ankles. This is why you waddle on clown’s feet – feet that flap as you walk and make you feel, well, clownish. So you look like hell, waddle like a duck and have swollen feet; and they said pregnancy wasn’t fun!
3. You Don’t Sleep, You Hibernate
Your body needs a lot of sleep when you are expecting. It’s undergoing major changes, growth and hormonal swings. Do ensure you sleep for at least 8 good hours at night and have a nap in the day. Otherwise, you are just going to turn into a scary and fearsome Momzilla to just about everyone you encounter. Less sleep is going to make you crabby and grumpy on the whole; and while the baby may indeed be sleeping even when you are awake, your levels of tiredness will affect your and the baby’s health equally.
Of course, getting enough sleep is pretty difficult if you already have children to take care of but somehow, it has to be managed. A good night’s sleep is vital for the baby as well, though the little one may be bouncing around in your tummy. A stressed out, over-tired mama doesn’t speak well for the pregnancy or the subsequent birthing.
2. A Slice To Avoid A Tear… Say What?
Any thought of pain down south is cringe-worthy. In fact, I have immense respect for women with Brazilian waxes – they deserve medals. That said, an episiotomy is your doctor assisting you to give birth by slicing down your um, Mount Pleasant, almost all the way to your back door. This is done to widen the birth canal so that the baby can slip out easier and avoid any unsightly tearing of the vagina. Mostly it is done after a topical anesthesia shot if you have not opted for an epidural, but it still sounds uncomfortable to say in the least.
To avoid tearing, they slice. Either way this sounds painful to me – probably not so much when you are screaming to get your bundle of joy out of you – but later when they stitch you back up and send you home to recuperate. I mean sitting is ouch, bending is a wince and peeing is perhaps an all-out blood-curdling cry.
1. The Birthing Cradle AKA The Ring Of Fire
Haven’t you heard these really swollen, but completely active pregnant ladies say, “I’m just pregnant, not sick – I can do almost everything myself.” Mostly this is true, barring any serious pregnancy complications. However, there are women for whom pregnancy is like having continuous and scary menstrual cramps in your pelvis and nether regions.
And it’s especially worse when you are doing difficult things like sitting or breathing. And I’m not kidding – a late night bathroom trip is unbearable agony because standing straight up and trying to walk any speed beyond an awkward shuffle is like having burning lances going up and down your pelvic region and legs. Most OB/GYNs would refer you to a physiotherapist, who could then recommend some exercises for you. Kegels AKA pelvic floor exercises really help in easing the pain a bit.
Finally, do remember, once you have your baby in your arms – all these problems will fade away like distant memories. Of course, then you will have to contend with the worst things they didn’t tell you about being a new parent, but that’s another story…