When I was pregnant with my second baby, I couldn’t stand being near my dog. His smell, constant need for attention, and habit of cuddling up right next to me every time I sat down drove me crazy. It was strange because, before my pregnancy, I was obsessed with my pup. He’s an adorable 25-pound French bulldog who naps most of the day and demands very little—other than the occasional dog treat and physical attention. Prior to having kids, I spent most nights cuddled up with him on the couch, and he even slept in bed with my husband and me.
Admitting that I couldn’t stand my pet probably makes me sound heartless, but as it turns out, there’s a scientific reason behind pet aversion during pregnancy—a heightened sense of smell. It’s just one of many weird pregnancy symptoms many women experience.
“There can be many ‘surprises’ when it comes to pregnancy symptoms that not everyone expects when they discover they are pregnant,” said Mari-Elena Leckel, a birth doula, lactation expert, and founder of Boston Birth Associates. And these “weird” pregnancy symptoms vary from person to person.
“Every pregnancy is different, which means there are a lot of different early pregnancy symptoms, many that aren’t as common,” said Siobhán Alvarez-Borland, an Atlanta-based postpartum doula. Here, with expert input, we’re sharing some of the weird pregnancy symptoms you might not know about, from pet aversion to a chronic runny nose.
Editor’s Note: Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.
7 Weird Pregnancy Symptoms
1. Heightened sense of smell
Pet aversion is largely due to your heightened sense of smell during pregnancy, experts say. “While not common, aversion to pets usually comes into play during the first trimester and is actually tied into the heightened sense of smell,” explained Alvarez-Borland. “The smell of your pet, from their coat to their food to their breath, can trigger a negative reaction based on your pregnancy super-smelling powers.”
This usually gets better in the second trimester, she noted. But this isn’t always the case, and my aversion to my pet continued until I gave birth. Turns out, I’m not alone. “Sometimes this goes away later in pregnancy, but sometimes it does not,” said Leckel.
How to cope
And if you find yourself getting irritated with your pet during pregnancy, it’s a good time to ask for help.
“Be sure to pay attention to how you are feeling when it comes to your pet and have someone close to you help with the pet during pregnancy and when you get home with your baby,” Lickel said. “This can help alleviate your aversion to your pet or any feelings of worry [or] being overwhelmed.”
I was lucky that my husband was happy to step up and be the primary caregiver for our dog during my pregnancy. This also came in handy after my son was born since I was tied up breastfeeding and figuring out a new sleep schedule. Taking ownership of the dog’s care was a great way for my husband to help out post-birth.
Fatigue is a lesser-known early pregnancy symptom, said Alvarez-Borland. But more than 94 percent of women experience it, research shows.
How to cope
“Be sure to have someone you feel comfortable with and can talk through the ups and downs of your emotions and take time to rest when you feel fatigued,” Lickel said.
Sometimes, it just takes time. “Other [pregnancy symptoms], like breast tenderness and fatigue, will only go away with time,” Alvarez-Borland said.
3. Nasal congestion
Persistent nasal congestion, or pregnancy rhinitis is another weird pregnancy symptom. (Fun fact: I had this with my first. It was miserable, and the only thing that gave me a bit of relief was using saline nasal spray.)
“Nasal congestion or pregnancy rhinitis are things that many women experience in pregnancy because of the rise in hormones and blood flow in the body,” Leckel says. “This causes swelling of mucous membranes, which can sometimes lead to nosebleeds because of the irritation in your nose.”
How to cope
I experienced pregnancy rhinitis with my first baby. It was miserable, and the only thing that gave me a bit of relief was using saline nasal spray. Check with your provider for their recommended treatments.
4. Bleeding gums
“[One surprising] symptom may be bleeding gums due to the increase in hormones and increase in blood flow,” Leckel says. Fun fact—when you’re pregnant, you’re more prone to plaque buildup, which can cause your gums to bleed and become inflamed. The cause? Hormonal changes, of course.
How to cope
“When it comes to managing your oral hygiene, be sure to brush and floss regularly, and if your gum sensitivity gets worse, make an appointment with your dentist. This again is due to the increased hormones in pregnancy and will usually resolve a few months after pregnancy,” said Lickel.
As if being pregnant wasn’t hard enough, you may have constipation to deal with. “Some pregnant women experience constipation during any time in their pregnancy and once again due to all those increased hormones in the body,” Leckel explained, noting that increased progesterone levels in the body during pregnancy are to blame. “Pregnancy, it’s a glamorous life,” she quipped.
How to cope
“Getting enough rest, drinking plenty of fluids, and taking a prenatal vitamin in addition to eating a healthy, protein-rich diet is one way to help alleviate some early pregnancy symptoms,” Alvarez-Borland said.
6. All-day sickness
Morning sickness? A sort of misnomer. “Often people expect to have morning sickness but don’t realize it can be morning, noon, and night,” Leckel noted.
How to cope
To help curb your morning sickness, try ginger chews or foods containing ginger, eat smaller meals, stay hydrated, and avoid foods or smells that may exacerbate your symptoms. You also might try a SeaBand acupressure wristband, a non-invasive way to combat nausea. “If nothing seems to help alleviate your symptoms, contact your provider,” Lickel said.
7. Breast tenderness and changes
“[Another] lesser-known symptom can include breast tenderness,” said Alvarez-Borland. This is largely due to the increase in blood flow and fluids to your breasts. Again, blame those hormones.
How to cope
Some ways to cope with your new pregnancy boobs include investing in comfier or larger-sized bras, or maybe even opting for a sports bra. You can also use cold compresses or take a warm shower.
Remember “weird” likely means “normal” when it comes to pregnancy symptoms
“Just remember there is not ‘one way’ to feel when you are pregnant, and everyone experiences it differently,” Leckel said. “Know you are not alone in how you feel.”
But there are some pregnancy symptoms that merit a call—or a trip—to your OB-GYN. For example, “If you experience itching in pregnancy, this can be a normal part of your changing body, but if you notice excessive itchiness in the legs, abdomen, or arms, be sure to contact your provider,” Leckel said. Itching, while normal during pregnancy, can also be a symptom of the liver condition intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP), which needs medical attention. Additionally, severe morning sickness shouldn’t be ignored.
As far as my weird pregnancy symptom—pet aversion—these days, my dog and I are back in cahoots. He’s still his lovable and lazy self and even offers an extra layer of playtime for my boys, now ages 3 and 5. And after they go to bed, it’s our time to snuggle on the couch and relax… though he never quite made it back into our bed.