What to ‘Actually’ Expect When Pregnant!

I remember reading one of those What to Expect When Expecting books when I was pregnant with my first. A few months into my pregnancy I threw it away. I was just not ‘normal,’ at least not according to them. How can you put every single pregnant woman the same category? We are not average. We are each individuals and what is normal or average for me, may not be the same for you!

I recently asked on the Birth Without Fear Facebook page, ” What surprised you the most about the changes in your body when you were pregnant?”

As you will read, there is a vast difference and range of what is ‘normal.’ Here is a real list of things you may or may not experience when pregnant. In the real world, we are ALL ‘normal!!!’

  • You may be so hormonal you’ll cry at commercials or movies that give you no reason to do so.
  • Experiencing the movement of your child may be scary, amazing, beautiful or even weird to you. We are all different!
  • Changes in breasts can range from no change at all, bigger areolas, nipple changes, soreness (or lack thereof), increase in 1 or more cup sizes, change in sensitivity, and don’t forget the changes that come after having baby…those just can not be predicted. Good luck!
  • You may not be able to see your feet.
  • You may be able to still see your feet, bend over and tie your shoes at 9 months pregnant.
  • Morning sickness can really be ‘all day sickness’. You may never get this, you may have it the ‘average’ 12 weeks or you may have it up until the day you give birth. Sorry.
  • Peeing your pants will no longer be a memory from your potty training years. Standing up too fast, sneezing or coughing may induce a trickle. Be prepared!
  • You may find that you and your spouse absolutely fall in love with your pregnant body. Maybe not.
  • Your belly may go flat again after birth (causing many of us to be jealous) or it may never get back down and there will always be squishiness to learn to love.
  • You will want to have sex all the time…can’t get enough! Bring it!
  • You will never want to be touched. Sex? Ew…gross.
  • When your baby has the hiccups you can feel it and it may tickle.
  • All your pregnancies will vary. Emotionally and physically.
  • Your senses might be heightened.
  • You may be surprised that you experience no changes at all. You will feel the same pregnant as you did before you conceived.

So here is a list from real mamas who have experienced pregnancy. You may recognize many of them or none of them. Either way is just perfect for YOU! Enjoy the changes of each pregnancy you are blessed with.


  • Nicole Small

    Great article! I agree that every woman is different. I did read my pregnancy book every day though, because I was so excited to be pregnant. I would tell my husband “Aww, the baby is the size of a jellybean!” Which soon became “Aww, she has fingernails now – I wonder if she scratches me… yikes!” I knew the way my baby was growing would vary from the book but it was still fun. And my book said that every woman feels different with every pregnancy so I didn’t feel abnormal when I had no food cravings and wasn’t “in the mood” the entire pregnancy. If you’re pregnant now and would like a good recommendation on a book/journal check out The Pregnancy Journal by Christine Harris!

  • Tammy mendoza

    I have to agree. Every person is different and each pregnancy can bd different. I was a rare form in delivery. Most first time moms take up to 2 days to deliver. From start of first contraction to pushing the baby out was 4 hours flat. Natural with no epidural. I was a proud mama of a 9 lb 9 oz baby boy. Yes, I tore 4th degree and spent the next 5 days in a hospital bed with 2 blood transfusions, but I was so proud of myself. And if I were to get pregnant again, I will do it all over, pain and all.

    All moms are different. We need to learn to embarce ourselves just as we are and embrace eachother just how they are. 🙂

  • Mychel Hefner

    I’ve had 3 pregnancies, all different. 3 births, all different (this wasn’t necessarily because nature took its course grrr) and I have 3 children who are all different, our relationships are different. When will the world realize that difference is a good thing rather than fear it. Individuality has to be considered in every persons case, especially in medicine. If providers would allow for individuality, we would have less c-sections.
    My last OB (whom I fired) laughed at me when I said labor could take more than a day…

    • Holly Wilson

      Good for you! (for firing that doctor) Who needs Negative Nelly (or Negative Ned) in your delivery room anyway? I wish I had known enough to fire my OB when he “threatened” me with a C-section twice. (If you don’t do X by Y time…)

  • Meagan

    My mom keeps saying that she didn’t have such and such when she was pregnant. It’s more discouraging than those books I’m afraid. Even if my symptoms are “normal” I still feel like no one believes I really have them. Especially being so tired all the time. I just the get the “well, didn’t you sleep ten hours last night?” Yes, but I’m still tired!

    • Elfie B Taylor

      “Sleep? Sort of. My inner child didn’t, though.”
      “I may have slept last night, but I’m building a little person from scratch, here.”
      “How do I sleep with all that movement? I DON’T.”

      Oh, yes. I remember those days, and those clueless questions… And still doing it again. <3 Second time around, though, I just didn't call my family members as much. MUCH more restful. 😉

  • Kari

    You may gain LOTS of weight in the first trimester or none. Both are normal. Also, even if you haven’t gained much weight, your feet may swell. EVEN if you drink excessive amounts of water…..

  • Diana L

    I cant access the facebook page is there something wrong with it? please email me and let me know if you know thanks tons Diana jadealyn26 at yahoo dot com

  • Claire

    Teehee, what about…

    I loved being pregnant. My friend hated it.

    And they never tell you that as your belly gets bigger, your arms don’t – thereby making it harder to wipe after going to the toilet!

    • Joy

      Yes, this one surprised me actually (currently 6 mths with my first). Even wiping in back is hard because when I lean back that way (over my slightly enlarged butt), it stretches the muscles in my belly, which hurts, and makes me not want to reach back so far. This was one silly symptom I had never heard of!

  • Soshanna

    Lol, I love this. Embrace the differences, trust your body and know that you and each experience is unique and perfect just the way you are. Hope than makes sense, it’s late and I am tired but I so enjoyed the post I had to comment. How about one on the signs of labour and or experiences of birth?


  • Mandy

    I was most surprised by
    1)A linea nigra
    2)Nipples/aereoloa changing color (they got really dark) and bigger
    3)Being able to feel my daughter moving her head in my pelvic area when I was 40+ weeks pregnant.

  • Cindy B

    The biggest thing that I felt no one talks about is what to expect postpartum… It’s so different for each of us… but recovery for your vagina (or whatever you like to call it) and the amount of pain that you’ll have there immediately afterward (especially if there’s a tear that requires repair)… I had never heard anyone specifically talk about that until ex post facto… and I expected some pain but nothing like what I experienced… delivery was easier than recovery for me.

    Glad it didn’t/doesn’t stay that way but I wish I had prepared myself mentally.

  • kristina matthews

    I think its interesting how many women tell you their pregnancy horror stories as soon as they find out your pregnant. I know alot of people get angry at this, and sometimes it does scare you a bit, but I do think they are trying to mentally prepare you for what may come your way. It’s sort of like being inducted into a club. I think that women who have already experienced pregnancy are much more informative than any book you can buy.

  • Rachel

    I remember reading a part of “What to Expect When Expecting” a couple of months ago… It made me SO mad! It was geared towards being ready for the doctor to do this, or that to you… preparing for a c-section… what to take to the hospital… questions to ask about breastfeeding… yeah, it was bad. My mom is a midwife, so my perspective on birth is very different from many people I know. In a good way. In my mind, it isn’t normal to have a doctor tell you what to do. How long have women been birthing? Thousands of years! And how long have doctors been telling women how to do that very thing? Since about the 50’s! The whole model of care is that the doctor knows best, and women don’t know anything! It is SO wrong! Some women don’t know, that’s true. However, women are not respected, nor are they listened to. It’s so sad to me how women get treated. I read about women who have had birth trauma and want to either cry, or go out and change it for them… 🙁
    One birth at a time! One woman at a time!

  • Anonymous

    Oh yeah, and nobody tells you that you might grow hair on weird areas of your body! I’ve been left with a permanent happy trail which is SUPER embarrassing! Also they don’t tell you that your nails and hair will be in amazing shape! haha

  • Victoria

    I threw away that book too! I hated it, I didn’t agree with more than half of what was in that book, and I thought it focused WAY too much on the negative aspect of pregnancy and complications. I don’t fear labor, birth, pregnancy, my own body. Be confident and love yourself NO MATTER WHAT! Who cares what happens to your body before and after? All that should really matter is the love you’ve created, and the little baby in your arms!

  • hilary

    I, too, also read some of “What to Expect” which for me was good for the fact/clinical aspect of some of the process of pregnancy and birth. I was also fortunate to be in school while being pregnant to be trained to be an alternative medical dr so was also getting some great information that way. What neither was preparing me for though was the instinctual aspect of birth, the soul and innate connection to myself and my little growing bean inside of me. I picked up the book “Birthing From Within” after a couple of months (initially I had looked at it and thought it too hippy for me – which in itself is pretty funny considering I’m pretty hippy…!) and it was exactly what I needed. The book brought me back to centre, made me realize I could do it and to listen to my intuition about it all. The medical side of it all helped me assert my rights about things I would never have though of to put in my birth plan, while Birthing From Within helped me prepare spiritually. The end result is my first child, a beautiful baby boy, 6 hours of labour and drug free. Yes, the few after days were difficult and sitting can still be awkward 7 days later, but it’s all worth it when I look at his little darling face. We all have it in us, we just have to calm the outside voices first.

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