A woman’s reproductive timeline in our society goes as follows: menstruation-pregnancy-menopause. Often, these experiences are portrayed in an overly romanticized and patronizing way. Women who are unable to go through any of these processes are made to feel like failures, meanwhile not nearly enough is said about the pain that is a component of these experiences. I was personally thrilled the first time I found leukorrhea in my underwear. It precipitates periods, so I knew I was well on my way to womanhood. The thrill very quickly turned into excruciating pain the first time I finally got my period, and has been a constant part of my menstrual health ever since.
Thanks to social media, more women are sharing honestly, the (weird) side effects they experienced while pregnant as a way to find solidarity in their experiences, and to inform/prepare other women who plan on starting a family. We asked 8 Nigerian women to share the unspoken side effects they experienced while pregnant, and here is what they had to say.
1. Ada, 53
I have five children. I had my first child when I was 26 and the last when I was 38; no two pregnancies are the same. With some, I experienced morning sickness, but with others, I was strong until the end of the pregnancy. There were a few things I had in common throughout all 5 pregnancies: I got fat, had a huge nose, started producing breast milk at three months, and became very dark-skinned. The last pregnancy I had was 15 years ago – I am done with babies.
2. Dumebi, 31
I was 18 when I experienced my first pregnancy. I remember it being extremely uncomfortable. During the week leading up to my delivery date, I was deaf the whole week and had to be spoken to using sign language. The only other side effect I experienced was stretch marks, which I still have today. That was the last time I had a child, and while I don’t necessarily look forward to another, it is an option.
3. Liandy, 30
The word I would use to describe pregnancy is scary. I had skin tags, nausea, darker skin, and weight loss. My pregnancy was 2 years ago, but the skin tags are still there. I’m looking forward to one more pregnancy, but I’m hoping it will be better than the last.
4. Remi, 31
My pregnancy had many great moments, but morning sickness will humble you! My feet and breasts were bigger, and I had a dark neck and stretch marks. Although the stretch marks persist, I am looking forward to having another baby.
5. Ogo, 44
I loved being pregnant. I ate whatever I wanted, was very active, traveled frequently and was even getting on a plane at 39 weeks. The downside was that I had awful heartburn and had to take TUMS everywhere. Additionally my feet grew by a half size and I could no longer fit in any of my shoes! My heart has also become softer; I cry more easily and frequently now. All of these were 8 years ago, I have lost some weight so I can wear my old shoes now.
6. Dhivy, 21
I am currently 39 weeks along in my first pregnancy. There are too many symptoms for me to list, but I will try: darker skin tone, acne, fuller hair, and an insane appetite. However, the fact that you can visibly see your stomach stretch to accommodate another human being is just beyond words, I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
7. Deborah, 24
I am 5 weeks gone and it is honestly weird: I am cranky and have mood swings; I sleep a lot, sweat a lot and experience cramping. My breasts are painful and perky, beans and plantain now repulses me, sex with my partner is now stressful because I no longer get wet like I used to and I don’t have any motivation to do things that I normally do. But by God’s grace, I want more; in fact, I want triplets.
8. Tolani, 27
I have only been pregnant once and I don’t think I will ever be doing it again. I really do not recommend it because my experience was so bad that I am still recovering, and I gave birth when I was 24. My mental health was in the bin, and I was never really able to acknowledge the fact that I wasn’t doing okay because I was carrying a child inside me and everyone wanted me to be strong. I had problems with my teeth, my hair was falling out like crazy, my feet grew twice its size and I got very DARK (my stomach most especially) to the point that I couldn’t even recognise myself.
9. Lami, 33
My pregnancy was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever been through. I basically went bald during my second pregnancy, and the back pain I experienced was so unbearable, followed by the permanent excruciating pain in my pelvis. I was PERMANENTLY nauseous for 9 months and I also experienced weight loss and enlarged feet. My husband has been hinting for a third child but I don’t think I ever want to get pregnant again.
Some parts in this article have been edited and condensed for clarity.