Dipping gherkins in chocolate spread and enjoying it? You’re not alone! There’s nothing like expecting a baby to cause some surprising changes to your body – some side effects are more pleasant than others (saucy dreams, anyone?) but often they’re just plain weird. Thankfully, there’s still plenty you can do to beat pregnancy symptoms
Super-human sensesFor some women, it’s a mouth that tastes like a bag of coins, while others go off the smell of their usual washing powder or favourite perfume.
‘The exact cause of these heightened senses is unknown, but they’re thought to be linked to changing oestrogen levels,’ says midwife and hypnotherapist Lorraine Berry.
And you may well also get a desire to eat specific things. Common cravings include sour fruit, ice and salty or spicy snacks. Some women even crave non-food items, such as coal or paint, a condition known as pica.
‘There’s no evidence to suggest cravings indicate any dietary deficiencies, and they often pass quickly,’ says Dr Virginia Beckett, from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
Beat it: To counter nausea triggered by an aversion to scents, keep a tissue sprinkled with a few drops of peppermint oil in your bag. If what you’re craving food-wise is reasonably healthy, go for it. But exercise restraint if it’s sugary treats – try dried fruit instead. If you’re worried you’re craving anything unsafe, see your GP.
Rude dreamsExperiencing (even more) nocturnal musings about David Beckham? Many women report having naughty night-time dreams while pregnant. ‘It’s due to surges in your hormone levels, and increased blood flow to your vagina,’ says Dr Petra Boynton, who specialises in sex and relationships in pregnancy and parenthood.
Beat it: Enjoy this perk while it lasts. If it leads to sex with your partner, that’s great – just speak to your midwife first if your pregnancy is high risk.
Nosebleeds and bleeding gumsExtra blood flow is at the root of nosebleeds and bleeding gums, says Virginia. ‘Your increased blood supply is putting pressure on delicate veins. The good news is it’s nothing to worry about, and not a sign of high blood pressure.’
Beat it: If your nosebleeds are frequent and don’t stop fairly quickly, get them checked out. And go to the dentist regularly – NHS check-ups are free in pregnancy and for a year after birth.
WindWhether it’s burps or gas from the other end, this is the least ladylike of pregnancy symptoms. ‘Windiness is caused by the hormone progesterone relaxing your digestive system, slowing everything down,’ says Lorraine. ‘This means food lingers in your system, making you more bloated.’
Beat it: Some wind-relieving capsules, such as Wind-Eze, are safe in pregnancy, but have a chat with your pharmacist first.
Swollen anklesUp to 80 per cent of pregnant women report swollen feet and legs. ‘Your body is holding on to too much fluid,’ says Virginia. ‘This is caused by pressure on the blood vessels in your pelvis forcing water into the tissues of your feet and ankles.’
If you have sudden, severe or uneven swelling in your face, hands or feet, it could be a sign of pre-eclampsia (pregnancy high blood pressure), which can be serious for you and your baby, so see your GP straightaway.
Beat it: ‘Raise your feet 15-30cm above your body, propping them up on cushions, to help your circulation,’ says Virginia. Drink lots of fluids, too – it may seem counter-intuitive, but keeping hydrated stops you retaining water.
Sensitive nipplesDuring pregnancy, you'll notice a number of breast changes, including your nipples, which may become darker, larger and more sensitive – this is caused by hormones activating the cells that give skin its pigmentation and preparing your body for breastfeeding.
Beat it: If your nipples are sore, you might get relief from gently massaging them or cooling them down with a wet flannel.
Tingling legsRestless Leg Syndrome affects a quarter of mums-to-be – it’s the feeling that you need to move or shake your legs because of an uncomfortable tingling in your feet, calves or thighs. ‘It can be a nuisance for you and your partner when you’re trying to sleep,’ says Lorraine.
Beat it: ‘Increase your intake of iron-rich foods, such as leafy greens and red meat,’ says Lorraine. Dried apricots are an excellent source of iron and are also great at combating constipation. ‘If it’s keeping you awake in the night, get up and walk about. Massaging, stretching or bending your legs might help too,’ she says.
What's the most odd pregnancy symptom you've experienced? Let us know in the comments section below.