10 Pregnancy Myths
Glowing skin. Bad sex. Cravings for pickles and ice cream. You may expect these changes - but here’s why they may not happen to you
Myth: Your skin will glow Gestation is a time of growth
All the hormones produced by our blossoming bodies are hell-bent on one thing: augmentation. That's why many expectant moms enjoy beauty benefits like thicker hair and faster-growing nails. But while they may bask in a rosy glow from the increased blood volume churning through their bodies, others endure broken blood vessels and spider veins. Add to these moles, skin tags, acne, chloasma (the mask of pregnancy), and/or linea nigra (a dark line on the belly), and you've got more "enhancements" than you bargained for.
"These changes are probably the result of hormonal surges," says Iris Aronson, M.D., associate professor of dermatology at the University of Illinois, in Chicago. "For example, pregnancy hormones stimulate a woman's body to produce more pigment."
The good news: With the exception of moles, many of these conditions vanish or recede after delivery. (A skin tag may fall off on its own, but usually a dermatologist can remove it in a simple procedure.) In the meantime, a dermatologist can also prescribe acne treatments that are safe to use during pregnancy. Sunlight can intensify chloasma; try to stay out of it, and use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.
Myth: All pregnant women experience the same side effects and symptoms Just when I think I've heard of every possible growth or condition that pregnancy can trigger, there always seems to be a new one. During the first trimester of each of my three pregnancies, I was so sensitive to odors that it seemed my husband's pores were oozing garlic. I tortured him, insisting that he carry breath mints and accusing him of ingesting offending foods for lunch, even though he swore he was eating peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches.
"Sensitivity to odors is a common hormonal effect of pregnancy," says Dr. Phelan.
Far worse than my (or my husband's) predicament was that of Susannah Hunnewell. From her tenth week on, she produced so much saliva that she couldn't swallow it. "I had to spit constantly - in the subway, on the sidewalk, at work," she says. "I'd be talking to a co-worker and he'd say, 'Time to go spit.'"
Hunnewell was suffering from ptyalism, a rare condition that, like many quirky and annoying side effects, goes away once the baby is born.
Myth: By your eighth month, you will feel and be untouchable
Sure, many expectant moms think they're less attractive as their bellies enlarge. But thanks in part to soaring estrogen levels - which can rev up libido - some women feel downright delectable. "After my first trimester, in all of my pregnancies, I felt very sexy," says Cindy Rourke (not her real name), a West Coast mom. "I was on such a high from being able to create life inside me, I thought I was the true earth fertility goddess. Making love was wonderful."
It also helped that her husband was equally excited. "He found me very attractive," she says. "We loved reveling in my ripeness!"
Take advantage of this perk while you can.