One of my biggest fears when thinking about having a baby was all the terrible pregnancy-related symptoms I would have to experience.
I was blessed to be the youngest child of nine in our large family and so I got to hear stories of pregnancy and birth from my sister-in-laws from a very young age and one of whom was a nurse, so no details were spared. Sometimes the way they talked about pregnancy and birth, it would make you wonder why anyone would want to have babies! But, then I saw how much they enjoyed being mothers.
When my husband and I were making the decision to have a child, we were both still in college, and so I worried about all of these horrible things that could happen if I became pregnant, like terrible morning sickness, which would make attending classes difficult. I mean, no one wants to throw up all the time, let alone during a class in front of all their peers! I really just wanted to know what to expect during pregnancy.
Five years and four children later, I have learned that actually, there are lots of things you are not guaranteed in a pregnancy, or during childbirth, and that terrible pregnancies are actually not all that common and is often much more about your frame of mind than anything.
13 Pregnancy Symptoms You are Not Guaranteed to Experience
I’ve had several girlfriends express concern and worry, like I used to, about many different pregnancy symptoms. I mean, no one wants these things to happen to them! Who wants to feel terrible for nine long months? However, I have good news. Some women actually do not experience the following issues in pregnancy and childbirth:
1. Morning Sickness
Morning sickness is the most common symptom of pregnancy, and up to nine out of 10 women will feel sick or be sick at some point in their pregnancy. But, about 1 in 3 women feel sick but don’t actually vomit. Actually, about one quarter of pregnant women luck out all together and have neither nausea or vomiting at all during their pregnancies. Chances are if your mother never got sick, or your sister, you won’t either. I have never thrown up during any of my pregnancies, but have felt a little queasy, more so in my first (twin) pregnancy than any of the others.
2. Lots of Weight Gain
I usually gain 40-50 lbs during my pregnancies, but some women only gain 10-15lbs and deliver perfectly healthy babies. If you do actually experience morning sickness, you may actually lose 10-15lbs in the first trimester, and then end up only gaining a little more than you lost back. The crazy thing is, that despite how active a woman is and how healthy they may eat, many women still can gain a lot of weight, and women who aren’t as active or eat as well may still only gain an average amount of weight or less. It’s important to eat healthy and take care of yourself and get exercise while pregnant, but not just because of the weight gain potential. Not every woman that gained 40+ lbs will develop gestational diabetes either. Some women just make large babies or small babies, and carry differently necessitating more or less weight gain.
3. Food Cravings and Aversions
Did you know that only half of women in the United States report at least one food craving during pregnancy, according to Judith Broth, author of Whta to Eat Before, During, and After Pregnancy? Maybe it’s because they are already eating a well-balanced diet, or because their hormones aren’t messing with them as much, but some women luck out or miss out on strong food cravings or food aversions.
My husband was disappointed that I didn’t send him on 2am runs to the store for ice cream or some random thing I was craving during my pregnancies. He apparently was looking forward to that part of having a pregnant wife someday.
4. Constant Urge to Pee
I may be the only one who avoided this, but seriously, I wasn’t running to the bathroom every hour to pee my entire pregnancy, even at the end. The urge was a little more frequent during the third trimester, but not all pregnant women have to pee all the time or experience incontinence.
5. A Propensity to Cry
Many pregnant women have extra strong emotions which often make them cry extra hard for good news, bad news, or no news at all! But, some don’t at all. I was my normal, rarely cry person during my pregnancies. Afterward may be a different story though.
6. Bed Rest
Going on bed rest sounds awesome in theory, with an excuse to just stay in bed or seated for days or weeks, watching endless TV and having people do everything major for you. But, it can actually really suck, especially if you have little people to tend to, a job, or are on hospital bed rest. Thankfully less than 1 in 5 women in the United States are put on bed rest at some point during their pregnancy.
Growing a baby is tough and important work and some women have no problems crashing for long periods of time during their pregnancies. In fact many women sleep extra, especially during the first trimester! During the last few months sleeping can be especially complicated with a large belly and generally being uncomfortable. But, there are ways to figure out how to sleep during pregnancy, like using special body pillows for pregnant women that may help, as well as some natural sleep aids. And hey, maybe it’s a good excuse to get a new mattress, or just a great way to prep you for life with a new baby.
8. Stretch Marks
Apparently 50-90% of all pregnant women get stretch marks. The good news is that there is still a possibility that you will be in that lucky 10% that doesn’t (and have all your girlfriend secretly hate you). But, thankfully there are stretch mark creams to help prevent and treat any you might get.
While more than half of all pregnant women report symptoms of severe heartburn, many only experience it occasionally, if they experience it at all. There are lots of ways to prevent heartburn during pregnancy as well as ways to treat it, should you experience it.
10. A Miscarriage
Some women will never experience a miscarriage, even if they have multiple children. My mother had eleven pregnancies and not a single miscarriage. However, some sadly have multiple miscarriages. Among women who know they are pregnant, the miscarriage rate is about 20-30%. As scary as it may seem to face losing the new life you carry, there is always hope.
11. Pre-Term Labor and/or Birth
Having a baby early, especially super early, is scary stuff. However, less than 12 percent of babies in the United States are born prematurely, and about half of the women who experience preterm labor eventually deliver at 37 weeks or later. And thankfully there is lots of awesome medical technology to help a baby that is born early, or stall labor if it starts too soon.
12. A C-Section
While the C-Section rate in 2014 was 32.2% (source), many of them are planned repeat C-Sections or planned because of baby presentation (breech) or something similar. Most women are still delivering babies without the need of a Cesarean Section. And most are eligible to deliver a baby vaginally the next time they become pregnant (I have had two successful vaginal births after Cesareans).
13. Tears and Stitches
Only around 4% of women who deliver vaginally end up with a more serious tear in their perineum. If a woman tears, it is mostly likely a first degree or superficial tear or a second-degree laceration that will need a few stitches but heal within a few weeks. There are some things you can do to help prevent tearing too.
There are other things you are not guaranteed to experience as well. The point is, you don’t need to fear becoming pregnant or going through childbirth. Some women have great pregnancies. Some don’t. You are not guaranteed to have all of the pregnancy symptoms, nor are you guaranteed to not even know you are pregnant because you have so few. And sadly, you aren’t guaranteed to have a healthy child in the end either.
But, I pray that you know how worth it is to go through pregnancy and bring forth a child, no matter how complicated or easy it all may be. God will bless you in your sacrifice and your willingness to carry and care for a new child.
What is your biggest fear of pregnancy and childbirth? Or what do you wish you didn’t experience?