What pregnancy is really like: mums share their honest opinions

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 Photo: Getty Images

In movies, pregnancy is often depicted as starting with a wee bout of morning sickness, followed by the mum-to-be radiating a "beautiful glow" while lovingly stroking her belly. Cut to her waters breaking normally while she's out shopping, and in no time at all she's cuddling her baby.

It's not quite like that for most of us. Being pregnant is such an individual experience for each woman; some don't feel nauseous at all and are full of energy, but many discover it's one strange and unpleasant side effect after the other. All of these side effects are probably "perfectly normal" but you're likely to have never heard of them until they happen to you.

We asked real women what surprised them during their pregnancy. They've shared their experiences in the hope of preparing the rest of us better for the ride ...

DUE DATES, HAM AND TEARS

"Due dates a load of crap and really the kid could come anywhere between two weeks before the due date and two weeks after. "

"Those hormones really turn you into a crazy person at times. I will never forget a David Attenborough episode I watched which was about a type of goose that breeds on a clifftop. Eventually the mum encourages her babies to jump off the cliff despite the fact they are unable to fly. Long story short - not all of them make it. I completely lost it and bawled my eyes out for at least two hours. "

"During both of my pregnancies my pee started smelling like smoked ham! I went to the doctor for it twice and there was nothing wrong with me. So weird."

"Some babies will NOT turn no matter what exercises or weird positions you get into and those ECVs (the procedure to turn babies in the womb) are painful!"

"Your body changes, and when your bones move it hurts."

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"I was surprised at how everybody thinks it's OK to share details of their pregnancy and their opinions of yours. It can be overwhelming and annoying! It's almost like a competitive race you didn't realise you'd entered with every woman you bump into that has ever been pregnant."

IT SHOULDN'T BE CALLED MORNING SICKNESS

"Morning sickness doesn't alway stop after first trimester. I was still throwing up during labour."

"Pregnancy is so uncomfortable! People say to enjoy it and rest while you can, but the truth is I sleep better once baby is out!"

"I was surprised at how the indigestion affected me so badly. And how constipated you get!"

"My husband was the one who got morning sickness. No jokes. It was great."

"I was incredibly sick throughout my whole pregnancy and so so so exhausted. I couldn't believe how tired I was (even though nothing compares to mum tired!)."

ALL THOSE SIDE EFFECTS

"The varicose veins on my labia horrified me. I Googled to discover it wasn't uncommon ... thankfully it disappeared after bub was born, as Google said it would."

"I was surprised at how scary it can be being pregnant. When I had aches and pains I was so scared something bad was going to happen to my baby, and that because I was sustaining him it would be my fault. You have so much love (and responsibility) for someone you haven't met."

"What surprised me was all of the complications that I'd never heard of! Nosebleeds, foot and leg cramps, pelvic joint and spine pain, incredibly painful varicose veins and uterus malformation disorders I had certainly never heard of. It turned out that morning sickness was the least of my concerns."

"I ended up having gestational diabetes. This meant I was no longer seen by my midwife, who I liked, but was referred to the hospital. Almost every week I'd wait and wait at the hospital to pee and be weighed and then have to sit in a room waiting again for whoever from the team was going to see me. It was a pretty awful time and made me incredibly anxious about the birth and about my baby having to go to NICU straight after to have her blood sugar levels monitored."

"How extremely ravenous and exhausted the first trimester was. I remember thinking nothing really changed during the first trimester and being really surprised that I needed to be asleep at 9pm and was a walking zombie post 6pm."

THE GOOD

"I truly did have amazing clear skin/strong nails and luscious hair!"

"My pregnancy was a far easier ride than I thought it would be. I knew so many women with terrible nausea, painful pregnancies, and I actually felt great and pretty strong during mine. I counted myself very lucky."

"I could walk through a packed mall and be given a 'right of passage' from the public."

"Not everyone gets massive and suffers all the symptoms - I didn't get swollen feet/legs, I didn't get any noticeable cravings, my belly didn't get humungous. I could still touch my toes, I just couldn't breathe at the same time! No constipation, no heartburn, etc. Don't worry about all the things you MIGHT suffer. Keep exercising - though keep walks short at the end, you never want to be far from a bathroom!"

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