Most women will admit that having a baby changes their lives in unpredictable ways. Depending on the pregnancy option they choose, they have to take responsibility for leading a healthy life (before and after pregnancy) and, if they choose to parent, they will have a small bundle of joy who will rely on them every day for the rest of their life. It’s enough to change a person forever.
But, there’s another aspect of having a baby that you should think about: the side effects of pregnancy, both short-term and long-term. Before you decide to get pregnant or to carry a pregnancy to term, it’s important that you consider the effects of pregnancy on the body and your personal situation to make sure you are prepared for the changes ahead of you.
Below, you’ll find some basic information about the physical effects of pregnancy and what you can expect moving forward.
What are the Side Effects of Pregnancy?
If you are new to pregnancy, you probably have a lot of questions about what to expect in the nine months ahead. One of the biggest may be, “What are the effects of being pregnant?”
There are a lot of ways that being pregnant can affect your life but, in this article, we’ll focus on the physical effects of being pregnant and carrying a baby to term. There are both positive and harmful effects of pregnancy, and it’s important that every expectant mother is 100 percent prepared for what’s ahead of her before getting too far in her pregnancy.
First, know this: Every pregnancy is different, so what some women experience as the effects of being pregnant may not be the same as what you experience. Your doctor is always the best person to determine if what you are feeling is normal for your pregnancy or a cause for concern. The information below should not be taken as medical advice; please rely on your doctor’s counsel before making any important decisions during your pregnancy.
Side Effects of Pregnancy: Early Months
Often, women ask, “What are the side effects of early pregnancy?” Perhaps they’ve been actively trying to become pregnant for a while, or they are experiencing odd symptoms that they think may point to an unexpected pregnancy. Either way, they often wonder whether these symptoms are a sign of pregnancy.
The effects of early pregnancy on the body will be different for every woman. The first couple of months can be very rough for some expectant mothers and a breeze for others.
If you’re asking, “What are the side effects if you’re pregnant?” know that you may experience these symptoms during early pregnancy:
- Cramps and body aches
- Tender and swollen breasts
- Slight spotting or vaginal bleeding
- Nausea throughout the day (also known as morning sickness)
- Mood swings
- Food aversions or cravings
- Faintness and dizziness
If you think you are experiencing any effects of early pregnancy on your body, make sure to always confirm your pregnancy with a test. You can buy an at-home pregnancy test at your local drugstore or be tested for pregnancy by your doctor. That way, you’ll get to know whether what you are feeling are really common side effects of pregnancy — or simply the side effects of something else, such as your upcoming menstrual period or the flu.
Side Effects of Pregnancy: Later Months
The side effects of pregnancy often change from month to month and, yes, they will be different for each woman. For some women, the later months of pregnancy are easier; side effects such as morning sickness and headaches gradually go away. For others, the later months of pregnancy are worse; with their growing belly comes increased back pain and body aches.
So, what are some side effects of being pregnant in your last few months? Here are a few things you may experience:
- The constant urge to urinate, a lot
- Fatigue and muscle soreness from carrying an ever-growing child inside of you
- Irritability due to difficulty sleeping and getting comfortable with an expanding abdomen
- Gas and bloating
- Bleeding gums
- Swollen extremities
- Mood swings due to changing hormones
- Constipation and other upset stomach
- Heartburn and backache
- And more
It’s important to receive prenatal care and stay in continual contact with your doctor as your pregnancy progresses. Some side effects during pregnancy later on are to be expected but, if they start interfering with your daily life or causing constant pain, or if you feel like something is “off,” it could be a sign of a more serious condition. Never hesitate to contact your doctor for medical support if you think you may need it.
Side Effects of Pregnancy: After Delivery
Labor and delivery can be the most difficult part of pregnancy, especially for those who have never gone through this experience before. But, as much as you should prepare yourself for your childbirth experience, it’s also important to be aware of the physical effects of having a baby that may emerge after your delivery and when you return home.
Childbirth is a taxing process, and it requires a lot from your body. The extent of your side effects of having a baby will depend upon your delivery experience; for example, the side effects of a vaginal delivery will be different from a cesarean-section. For our purposes, we’ll describe the side effects of the former, as it’s still the most common way for women to deliver their babies.
If you have a vaginal delivery, the side effects of having a baby may include:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Abdominal cramps
- Perineal discomfort, pain or numbness
- Difficulty urinating
- Stretch marks
- Body aches and pains
- Night sweats
- Sore or cracked nipples if you are breastfeeding
- Leaking breasts
Don’t forget about the possibility of developing postpartum depression as one of the more serious side effects of pregnancy. Some of the symptom of this mental illness may present as physical symptoms, so pay attention to your mental state and how you are feeling, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it.
Recovering from the side effects of pregnancy will take some time, but remember that your doctor will be there to support you every step of the way. Don’t be afraid to reach out if you feel like one of your side effects of having a baby feels wrong, or if your side effects are taking longer than expected to resolve. Pregnancy can be a risky business, and it’s important for you to become your own advocate during this life-changing process.
Haven’t found a doctor for advice on physical effects of pregnancy? Start looking for one with this guide.