We’ve all heard about morning sickness, middle-of-the-night cravings for pickles and ice cream, and mood swings. But what about the more unexpected side to expecting? Here are five bizarre—but totally normal—symptoms of pregnancy.
PREGNANCY BLUES… LITERALLY
Alejandra was blessed with a pretty non-eventful pregnancy…until the day she and her husband Chris noticed that their toilet seat (usually a standard porcelain white) was starting to turn blue. “We both thought it was weird and blamed the other for the change of color, but [there was] no real explanation,” says Alejandra. “Then I noticed that the bluish hue had turned into a deeper blue and was now covering most of the seat.” So what was causing it? “One day I was making our bed,” continues Alejandra, “and I noticed that just my side had this bluish color on the sheets. So of course my reaction was ‘What the hell?!’” Turns out Alejandra isn’t alone. The Internet is rife with similarly baffled-sounding postings from pregnant women who have turned their toilet seats blue, purple or pink. Often, mothers-to-be will leave behind a perfect imprint of their, well, behinds. And it’s a good thing they have the Internet to reassure them. “In my 32 years in practice, I have never heard this complaint!” says Nancy Kraus, Licensed Midwife at Downtown Women Ob-Gyn Associates in New York City, who wonders if the colorful imprints could come from the “dye used in prenatal vitamins.” It could also be blamed on hormones—and why not, since they’re the cause of so much other bodily mayhem during pregnancy. Whatever the cause, this unusual symptom seems harmless enough, and sure makes for a better story than stretch marks.
BIGFOOT SPOTTED ALIVE AND WELL (AND IT’S YOU)!
I have always had dainty feet…until I became pregnant with my son and none of my shoes seemed to fit anymore. The warm weather was approaching, so I switched to some old flip-flops, but it was like trying to squeeze into my 7-year-old stepdaughter’s pair. It wasn’t until my mom treated me to a new pair of shoes that it dawned on me: not only was my belly bigger, I was now a whole shoe size bigger! Foot growth is another pregnancy symptom that’s a little hard to believe. There’s two perfectly normal reasons behind it: One is plain old pregnancy swelling, and the other is a pregnancy hormone called relaxin, which “loosens the ligaments and joints around your pelvis so your baby can fit through,” according to What To Expect. “Relaxin doesn’t discriminate between the ligaments you’d want loosened up (like those pelvic ones) and those you’d rather they’d just leave alone (like those on your feet).” Some expectant moms may find that their feet shrink back to normal after they give birth; others—like me—find that their new normal is permanently bigger tootsies.
CONSTANT CRAVINGS (FOR DIRT, THAT IS)
A pregnant woman who has a sudden urge for Taco Bell at 3a.m.? Perfectly normal. Another who has an equally urgent desire to gobble down handfuls of dirt? Also normal, believe it or not. Known as pica, craving inedible substances isn’t as common as the standard hankering for pickles and ice cream, but it is a recognized pregnancy symptom. According to the American Pregnancy Association, “some speculate that pica cravings are the body’s attempt to obtain vitamins or minerals that are missing through normal food consumption.” These cravings should be avoided, even with substances that seem harmless. “Eating non-food substances may interfere with the nutrient absorption of healthy food substances and actually cause a deficiency,” reports the APA, and can also be a problem because “non-food items may contain toxic or parasitic ingredients.” Tell your doctor about any pica cravings you might be experiencing; he or she can help address any nutritional or emotional issues that might be causing this unusual, but normal pregnancy symptom.
THE NINE-MONTH ITCH
Mood swings might have an expectant mom acting bitchy, but what’s causing her to feel so darn itchy? “I expected my belly to itch,” says Eladia. “After all, the skin on my stomach was stretching to accommodate my growing baby. But my elbows? The palms of my hands? It kept me up at night.” Behold, another common pregnancy symptom that can also be blamed on hormones. According to BabyCenter, “This common condition may be caused by an increase in estrogen. It usually disappears right after delivery.” In addition, “You may also find that things that normally make you itchy—dry skin, eczema, food allergies—make you even itchier when you’re pregnant.” It’s a good idea to mention any itchiness to your doctor, as there can be some underlying conditions behind the symptom. These conditions can include a rash known as PUPP (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy), bumps known as prurigo of pregnancy, and cholestasis, a liver disease specific to pregnancy. The latter may sound alarming, but it is treatable and “usually goes away within a few days after delivery,” according to the American Pregnancy Association.
IT’S NOT JUST THE BABY WHO’S KICKING!
Recently, my partner Joe told me that my “jimmy legs” were keeping him up at night. The phrase is a cute way of referring to a pregnancy symptom known as restless leg syndrome (RLS), described by What To Expect as an “uncomfortable and disconcerting tingling, creeping, and crawling in the feet and legs accompanied by an urge to move the legs, especially noticeable as you’re trying to get to sleep.” If it sounds disruptive, that’s because it is. Not just to the pregnant mom who’s desperate for sleep, but for her bed partner, as well. Unfortunately, it’s not really treatable. “The usual treatments for leg cramps—flexing and stretching—don’t work, and medications that might relieve the restlessness are off-limits during pregnancy,” reports What To Expect. As with other symptoms, do mention it to your doctor since some believe that RLS can be related to iron deficiency anemia.