The unexpected pregnancy side effects no one tells you about

Getting pregnant is miraculous and wonderful, but what happens to a woman’s body while it’s growing a human can be a little unexpected.

Obviously you expect some physical changes while your body nurtures a new life, and many women eagerly anticipate the first hints of “showing”. But there are also a number of pregnancy side effects that, while completely normal, you may not expect.

Here are just some.

The Mask of Pregnancy

It is said that a woman glows during pregnancy. Unfortunately for many this skin bloom is more of a blotchy tan.

Chloasma, often called “the mask of pregnancy”, is a pigmentation that presents in the form of tan or brown splotches and, of course, usually on the face. Experienced by more than 70 per cent of pregnant women, it’s believed the patches are caused by an increase in hormones when pregnant, which can lead to heightened production of the skin pigmentation, melanin.


They generally fade after your pregnancy, but to lessen them, stay out of the sun and wear a good sunscreen. UV rays can intensify the hyper-pigmentation.

If you’re still unhappy after your baby, there are skin bleaches (both over the counter and beautician-applied) available. Plus the more extreme treatment of lasers, but do not use these while you are pregnant, and always seek health advice.

Slower Digestion and Constipation

Intestinal movement can seem to come to a complete stop, particularly in the first few months of pregnancy, and then at the end when everything gets a bit crammed in the body.

Dietitian Kate Di Prima says the hormone progesterone is to blame. “An increase in the progesterone hormone during pregnancy causes the relaxation of your body’s muscles and that includes your intestines; and slower moving intestines means slower digestion, which can often lead to constipation.”


Drink plenty of water, eat two pieces of fruit per day and plenty of salad and vegetables to provide fibre. If constipation becomes unbearable you may need help from a fibre supplement or a stimulant. Always talk to your pharmacist, dietitian or doctor before taking anything.

Persistent Nasal Congestion

It’s not only the intestines that can block while the body grows a baby – some women will suffer perpetual nasal congestion, which actually has a formal name: rhinitis of pregnancy. This can occur any time during pregnancy and is believed to be caused by fluctuating hormones.


Keeping well hydrated has been linked with clearing the sinuses, as has moistening a flannel with hot water and holding it to your nose and breathing through it. If it’s really bad, talk to your doctor about other remedies.

Increase in Blood Supply

Here’s a wild statistic about the pregnant body – by the 20th week, the body has 50 per cent more blood than it did when the baby was conceived. This is to support the uterus, which is nurturing the growing baby. Increased blood supply has been linked to some fabulous pregnancy by-products like skin glow, luscious hair and increased libido. However, it can also make women more prone to nose bleeds and bleeding gums.


The increased blood supply is going to happen but if you feel you are dizzy and light-headed or the nosebleeds are getting you down, talk to your health professional.

Changes in the Nipples

Even the owners of the most petite and dainty pink nipples can be shocked by what happens during pregnancy. As hormones rage and the breasts grow, the nipples often become larger and darker in colour. In fact, it is nipple change that can be one of the earlier signs of pregnancy – the appearance of little bumps called Montgomery tubercles, which develop to provide a soothing and antibacterial lubricant to nipples in preparation for breastfeeding.


Enjoy and embrace your new breast shape, size and colour – it won’t last forever. But any changes in the breast such as puckering or lumps should be immediately discussed with your GP.


Why not get organised before your baby arrives by shopping for all your baby care essentials at Chemist Warehouse? It’ll save time later down the track!

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