Pain is something we usually associate with labor and delivery, for sure, but a lot of folks seem to think pregnancy is some sort of beautiful, magical vacation. These individuals have clearly never been pregnant. So, sadly and honestly, it's no surprise that most people fail to realize the painful things pregnant women deal with. Few pregnant women experience all of these (if you do, I salute you) and some can go through pregnancy without feeling uncomfortable at all (good for you, but you can't sit with us — kidding, kidding), but most of us get a combination of common aches and pains. It sucks, sisters, but even if non-pregnant society doesn't get it, the rest of us certainly do.
I had a miserable-ass pregnancy. Literally. I wouldn't necessarily classify the nausea and vomiting in my first trimester as painful so much as a constant discomfort. However, there were plenty of other garbage pregnancy side effects that I can only describe as physically agonizing. From hemorrhoids big enough to name (Sean, Tomi, and Big Bill O'Reilly) to mid-day migraines to a swift kick to my innermost lady parts, pregnancy was a freaking rodeo. And not in a good way.
In my opinion, this should be required reading for all partners, women trying to conceive, and anyone who has the gall to tell a pregnant woman to suck it up. We're pregnant, we're in pain, and we'd appreciate a little goddamn sympathy.
According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), headaches are common in the first and third trimester. The increased blood volume and hormones in early pregnancy can be aggravated by stress, caffeine withdrawal, and lack of sleep. Later on, headaches can be triggered by poor posture from carrying extra weight in the form of a tiny human.
I have a friend who suffers from terrible migraines and only gets relief when pregnant. I, however, was the opposite. I had my first ever migraines when I was expecting and, of course, you can't really take anything for the pain. My midwife "prescribed" a small Coke. Thanks?
Baby Center tells us that pregnancy constipation is a result of the hormone progesterone, which relaxes all the muscles in the body. That includes the digestive tract, causing food to pass more slowly through your intestines. In other words, you're going to get seriously backed up.
It's the pregnancy pain no one wants to talk about because, you know, butts. I, however, will tell anyone who will sit still long enough all about my experience with pregnancy hemorrhoids, mostly because I want them to be grateful they can sit down.
In my humble opinion (I know, there's nothing humble about my opinion), the hemorrhoids themselves, but especially in combination with surgical treatment, are worse than childbirth. No one offers you an epidural for piles.
Round Ligament Pain
Count me among the pregnant ladies trying to figure out WTAF was going on because I was hurting in a part of my body I didn't know could hurt. WebMD describes round ligament pain as a sharp or jabbing pain in the low belly or groin area.
I definitely felt it in my pelvis; like I could actually feel my hips expanding to accommodate my growing baby. I also had pain in my tailbone that I still don't understand three years after the fact.
Lower Back Pain
I'm going to go ahead and admit that a lot of people actually do know that pregnant women suffer from lower back pain. It's almost a cliche: pregnant woman eating ice cream with her hand on her aching back. It makes sense because you're asking your body to carry an additional load, but making light of it doesn't make it any easier to bear the burden.
Shoulder & Neck Pain
This doesn't make a lick of sense to me. I mean, it's not like you're carrying a baby in your chest cavity (unless I have seriously misunderstood the miracle of life). But no, according to BabyMed, progesterone causes the ligaments in the shoulders and back to loosen.
I'm a person who gets heartburn from drinking two chai tea lattes, but I feel like it comes out of nowhere during pregnancy. It's that bastard progesterone relaxing all your sh*t, which Health tells us includes the stomach valve that keeps acid our of your esophagus. That's good information, but all you know is you're ready to mainline a handful of wintergreen Tums.
And yes, my baby was born with a head full of hair.
Breast pain — it's not just for PMS! Breast tenderness is a common first symptom of pregnancy, according to What To Expect. What is initially a reassuring sign quickly becomes an unwelcome guest. Soreness sucks, and if you're not telling people about your tender boobs, it's hard to explain why you're taking a hard pass on hugs.
Cramping during pregnancy is not only painful, it's also freaking terrifying. The American Pregnancy Association (APA) assures us expecting moms that most pregnancy cramping is normal. It can be caused by the embryo implanting in the uterine wall (first trimester), rapid growth of the uterus (second trimester), and Braxton Hicks contractions (third trimester).
There are, however, cases of cramping that are serious and warrant a trip to the doctor's office. There's no need to panic, but make sure you know the signs.
You guys, I am so sorry that this is so very much a thing that it needs its own terribly descriptive name. Healthline describes the phenomenon as a shooting pain in your pelvic area as baby descends into the birth canal. It's about as awesome as it sounds.
You know how some men will compare childbirth to getting kicked in the nuts? Yeah, they have no room to talk. Because you get punched in the vagina and then deliver a baby, so I'm going to go ahead and say that's worse. Way worse, actually, but at least you get a pretty adorable bundle out of the whole painful ordeal.