10 Pregnancy Challenges Nobody Really Talks About


pregnancy challenges

In a plethora of movies, I’ve seen this scene play out a thousand times before me… It starts with the expectant couple excitedly hovering over the pregnancy stick, waiting for their future to be revealed to them. When that little stick reveals to them that they are indeed expecting, they embrace, they kiss, they laugh hysterically in this moment fueled by euphoric happiness… Well, I’m calling Hollywood and I’m issuing a complaint because that is so not how my story went.

I took a pregnancy test fully expecting it to come back negative. My period was late but that wasn’t cause for concern; my periods have always been somewhat rebellious when it comes to being punctual. So, expecting that me and my pee stick would share a laugh together, I emptied my bladder onto it and sat waiting for the negative sign to pop up so that I could ring my boyfriend and laugh about the fact I’d wasted $10.00 on a piece of plastic. So, when a positive popped up and not a negative, there was understandably no laughter. I did pick up my phone to make a call but it wasn’t to my boyfriend. It was to my mum. And I was sobbing down the phone as these three words echoed back at me: ‘Mum, I’m pregnant.’

Fast forward half hour and I was fresh out of tears. I’d rung my boyfriend to inform him that I was, in fact, pregnant. He asked whether I was okay, and now that the shock had subsided, I realized that I was okay. I was even . . . happy. My boyfriend felt the same, and so a situation that had felt scary not too long ago, suddenly felt completely different. We were going to be parents! We were going to venture on this incredibly momentous time together and watch as my body would change to carry our child.

Well, I’m 20 weeks pregnant and I’ve spoken to all of my friends with children and asked them each one pivotal question: Why did no one tell me pregnancy was going to be like this

You see, there are pregnancy challenges that no one tells you about. Mainly because the people you’re relying on for the ugly truth have already birthed their bundles of joy and have forgotten all of the horror that went with it. They’re in their honeymoon period where their baby is this precious little human, and everything they went through was worth it. Well, ladies, I am here to share with you EXACTLY what it’s like to be pregnant, and I promise you, it’s NOT all golden.

1. The glow doesn’t come to us all 

Once it had truly sunk in that I was growing a baby inside of me, I eagerly awaited my pregnancy glow. I’d heard about the glow. I imagine if you could somehow bottle that glow and sell it, you’d make a fortune. So when I sprung out of bed feeling like some kind of majestic unicorn and ran straight to the mirror I was horrified to find that, not only had the glow eluded me, but I also had red, angry and damn right painful acne across my chin. Yep, I looked like a spotty, hormonal teenager, and nothing I did made my skin condition any better. And glow? The only glow I’ve had is the sheen of sweat from being bent over the toilet throwing up. If vomiting is one of the pregnancy challenges you managed to evade, oh, you just don’t know how truly lucky you were.

pregnancy challenges

2. You have an unwanted Superhero Power 

When answering the ‘what would your superhero power be’ question, I would always say invisibility. Well, I got my pregnancy superpower and it was a heightened sense of smell. I suddenly had the ability to smell scents that didn’t even exist. I could smell onion and garlic from a mile away, and all my boyfriend had to do was breathe near me and I could identify exactly what he’d last eaten. Every scent was out to get me, and foods I’d previously loved were now terrorizing me, making me cling to the toilet with feelings of nausea. I pretty much resided near the toilet for the first trimester.

P.S. Ask your significant other to not go near garlic for 9 months. It’s the least they can do.

pregnancy challenges3. Your Gag Reflex Has No Off Switch

I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve never had an issue when it comes to my gag reflex, unlike my boyfriend who heaves every single time he brushes his teeth. (Seriously, what is with that?) Well, that soon changed. I was suddenly sensitive to things I had no control over. I scrolled through my Facebook feed and a photo of some raw meat had me running to throw up. And that annoying habit my boyfriend has of gagging whenever he brushes his teeth? I now do the very same thing. What’s worse is we set one another off so it’s like a game of who’ll be sick first. Which leads me to number 4 . . .

pregnancy challenges

4. Your Bladder is Broken Before You’ve Even Had The Baby

R.I.P. bladder. I don’t know what broke you, but I first realized you were broken when I was huddled over the toilet being sick and I felt my knickers grow warm. Yep, I am twenty-seven and I had just urinated myself. No one mentions that pregnancy comes with a lack of bladder control because your bladder sits right under your uterus. So, as your baby grows, your bladder won’t always be able to handle the pressure. So, ladies, take full advantage and appreciate the control you have over your bladder before that particular pregnancy challenge comes along and ruins it all.

P.S. Sneezing also has the same effect. Always try to sneeze near a toilet.

pregnancy challenges

5. Saliva, Saliva Everywhere

If it wasn’t food and scents making me sick, my saliva was. My mouth was in a constant state of excess saliva-ness. I reckon I was drinking my daily intake of water through my saliva alone. Hormones seem to be the cause, as is most of the bad during pregnancy, but nausea could also be the culprit. I was suddenly feeling very much connected to my dog who tends to produce lots of saliva before he’s sick. I was basically a human Shih Tzu. One day it just goes away, and when that day comes it’s truly joyous.

pregnancy challenges

6. It’s Not a Heart attack; It’s Just Heartburn 

I genuinely thought my first bout of heartburn was a heart attack. I was lying in bed, and the pain caused me to spring into an upright position as I clutched at my heart. It lasted around fifteen seconds, and then it was gone, and then I was punching my symptoms into Google for a diagnosis. It was heartburn, and when it appears, it feels like it will never go away. It feels like you’re about to throw up acid or open your mouth and breathe fire. It’s all due to a hormone (see? they are always to blame!) called progesterone that relaxes the uterus so that we don’t, y’know, shoot the baby out of our vagina. It also works to relax the lower esophageal sphincter, (you’ll learn some wonderful new names for your body parts when you befriend Google to diagnose each and every symptom) which can cause stomach acid to rise into the esophagus, giving us lovely side effects such as acid indigestion, acid reflux, or heartburn.

pregnancy challenges

7. You May Waddle

I don’t know when it happened, I just remember becoming aware of the fact I was moving side to side as I walked. I was officially waddling. And not only was I waddling, I was aching from places I never knew could ache. I no longer wake up in the morning feeling refreshed. I wake up and identify which part of my body is aching that day. It’s currently my back, due to the fact my breasts are turning into actual watermelons.

pregnancy challenges8. Everything Makes You Cry

I think the moment I realized I was truly pregnant was when my boyfriend showed me a photo of a cute goat and I responded by bursting into floods of tears. The cuteness was overwhelming, and the only way my body could respond was with tears. In the coming weeks, I would cry a lot and my mood swings gave me whiplash. I could look adoringly at my boyfriend and feel a surge of love and then five minutes later be Googling ways to get away with his murder. One minute all I’d want was for him to cuddle me and kiss me, and the next moment I would be disgusted by human contact. Hormones are to blame, and you may feel like you’re up and down, but once you hit the second trimester they calm down, and your boyfriend can feel safe and loved by you once more.

pregnancy challenges

9. Time Literally Stops Moving

When announcing my pregnancy, I was told by some women to enjoy it because it would pass by in a blur. Well, I don’t know what kind of whirlwind pregnancy they had, but for me, time stood still. Looking at my pregnancy app and discovering I was only at week 12 of 40 felt like torture. I was living my life one week at a time, just so I could knock one more week off of my pregnancy timeline. And each week brought with it a new pregnancy side effect. What am I suffering with at week 20? Constipation, my friends.

pregnancy challenges

10. You’re Scared ALL The Time

I didn’t so much as look at any baby information, or get excited until after my first scan when it officially felt a whole lot more real. I was scared and anxious before that point. Before that scan, all you have is the pee stick you marked your territory on and the shifting feelings inside your body. That first scan feels like months away, and I was scared that I would go for the scan and there would be no baby. I don’t think I’m alone in admitting that I was afraid I would do something that would cause me to lose my baby. I didn’t know how to be pregnant. It’s a normal feeling, especially if it’s your first pregnancy. And so when we went in for our 16-week scan and this baby popped up on the screen, I felt my body physically relaxing. I was having a baby, and that baby was there, on the screen, right in front of me. I’m not sure the fear ever really leaves. I’ve had two scans since then, and each time I grow fearful that something may go wrong, but my midwife has reassured me each time that the baby has a strong heartbeat, and is healthy. And we’ve recently found out that we’re having a baby girl, due in June of this year. Suddenly that tiny human growing inside of you has a gender and a name, and it starts to feel more personal.

Want to know something else, future mothers? Being pregnant is hard. It really is 9 months of highs and lows, but the first time that you feel that tiny life inside of you moving, it’s the moment you realize it’s ALL worth it. Pregnancy can suck, sure, but you’re growing a life inside of you. That’s pretty amazing, right?

pregnancy challenges

Lora O'Brien

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