22 Things That Have Really Surprised Me About Pregnancy, According To Someone Going Through It For The First Time

Hi, I'm Hannah — and I'm currently 24 weeks pregnant with my first baby. Now that things are starting to rapidly feel more and more real, I wanted to write a little bit about my experience so far.

My dog and my ultrasound.

(That's my dog, Hudson — ready for the family to expand by one member.)

Hannah Loewentheil

Pregnancy is a wild ride, full of twists and turns and hormones and joy and confusion. And as a first time mom-to-be, I've found myself wanting more personal information than what the usual "mommy blog" content provides.

But first, I just want to say that I know pregnancy and trying to conceive can be really difficult subjects for some people. I'm writing about my own experience in the hopes that it helps other women and sheds some light on a really personal subject. That being said, I understand these topics can be triggering and not helpful for you. 💕

So, here are a bunch of things that have surprised, delighted, scared, and confused me about pregnancy so far.

1.The first trimester is really, really tough.

My dog with a pregnancy test.

By the time you find out you're pregnant, you're already technically about four weeks pregnant (calculated from the date of your last period), but the first trimester — which lasts until week 14 — is full of uncertainties. Lots and lots of things can go wrong (and if you're prone to Googling things, it's easy to convince yourself something will definitely go wrong).

Everyone has a different timeline for sharing the news. I always thought I'd be the person who would tell my friends the news right away, but I decided to wait until after my first doctor's appointment to tell anyone beyond my immediate family.

In addition, my first doctor's appointment wasn't until eight weeks. That second month of pregnancy was one of the longest months of my life — it felt like one long countdown to the day I could hear my doctor say there's a heartbeat and everything looks healthy.

Hannah Loewentheil

2.But it has forced me find new ways to cope with anxiety and stress.

Holding a journal in my hand.

In the month leading up to my first doctor's appointment, I felt more stress, anxiety, and uncertainly than ever before. I knew the obvious pregnancy rules (no alcohol, no sushi, etc...) but there was so much that felt questionable. What about my workout routine? Traveling? Carrying heavy bags of groceries between Trader Joe's and my apartment? According to my doctor, all I could really do was try to stay calm and take my prenatal vitamins (the former is easier said than done).

All in all, the first trimester for me was thinking a lot about my own mental health. I picked up meditating for the first time — as little as five minutes a day when I first woke up or even short, mindful walks around the city. I never realized how much more balanced I could feel after just giving myself a few minutes to breathe in deeply and think about all the things I'm grateful for.

In addition, I bought a journal and started writing down my feelings — little anxieties, things I was excited for, thoughts I would have. I found that the simple process of writing these sentences on paper felt seriously therapeutic.

And finally, I stopped reading blogs and discussion blogs on all those pregnancy apps. There was a point where I found these resources helpful, but once I became pregnant, I discovered that they instilled way more stress than relief. Reading about other peoples' experiences often made me anticipate the worst case scenario for myself. So, I made the right decision for me, which was to cut myself off from these social platforms.

Hannah Loewentheil

3.And at times, I felt really lonely.

Me standing by the ocean with my dog.

Keeping the news from my best friends was really difficult and, in a way, isolating. I usually find that talking to my friends makes me feel better about everything, but something about telling them the news before hearing a doctor confirm it felt superstitious to me.

I decided to wait until my eight-week appointment to tell even my closest friends (these are the people from whom I would need support should anything go wrong), and I waited until the end of the first trimester to tell everyone else.

Even so, for much of the first trimester, I found myself trying to get out of plans (particularly those plans where drinking would be involved), and trying to lay low. I tried to avoid some conversations where I felt like at any minute I would blurt the news out loud. As someone who is used to saying pretty much whatever is on her mind, this period of time was seriously lonely and strange.

Hannah Loewentheil

4.But physically, it was way better than expected...

Phoebe from "Friends" looking relieved.
Phoebe from "Friends" looking relieved.


I spent most of my life convinced that pregnancy would be a horrible experience marked by crippling morning sickness. I'd heard enough horror stories of women who were so sick they could barely function, and I was prepared to spend three months of my life hovering over a toilet bowl in a constant state of nausea. Turns out, my experience couldn't have been more different.

I had read that for most women, morning sickness begins around week six. I waited and waited, but spoiler alert: It never came. Sure, there were maybe two or three days where my stomach felt a little unsettled, but overall, I was thankfully spared from the nausea entirely. This lack of morning sickness led many people to tell me that I must be pregnant with a boy (spoiler alert: also no).

Of course, the physical symptoms of early pregnancy are hugely different from person to person, and I know I could experience horrible morning sickness with a second baby. But this go around, my notions of pregnancy could not have been further from my reality. 

5....Except for the fatigue, which was extremely real.

Me napping on the couch with my dog.

The tiredness, on the other hand, has been no joke so far. My husband usually jokes that I'm like an energizer bunny, but holy moly, the first trimester knocked me on my ass. Starting at around six weeks, I felt tiredness like I've never experienced before — like, I'd need to stop whatever I was doing and lie down because my eyes were closing and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I guess growing a human really does knock something out of you.

This fatigue peaked at around eight to 10 weeks, but for a time, it felt like it would never end. I became a very good napper, a skill that had previously eluded me for my entire adult life. I also became a very good sleeper for the first time. I had worried that giving up my melatonin gummies and bedtime tea would be a nightmare, but turns out I've never slept so soundly and deeply than throughout my first trimester. My bedtime quickly became 9:30 p.m., and I would sleep through the whole night. This aspect of pregnancy was delightful.

Hannah Loewentheil

6.But I really did get an energy boost in the second trimester.

Me doing yoga outdoors.

I've heard lots of people describe the second trimester as a honeymoon period, and I can confirm that thus far, it really has been. Not that I had morning sickness to begin with, but for a lot of women, the nausea dissipates around week 14. For me, the fatigue did sort of disappear like clockwork right as I entered my second trimester. I am now at 24 weeks, and I have definitely experienced some recent days where I'm feeling a bit lethargic, but overall, the second trimester has been a big burst of energy and a return to feeling like my normal self.

Hannah Loewentheil

7.The constipation is not fun. 😐

A woman looking upset.
A woman looking upset.


I don't think this one really needs much explanation, but IMO, constipation is the least talked about, worst pregnancy symptom. 

8.I've actually loved watching my body change.

Me taking a selfie at a doctor's office.

I wasn't sure how I would feel about my body changing during pregnancy — the feeling of my old clothes getting tight or the number on the scale changing. But actually, I've found it more fascinating than anything. According to my pregnancy app, the baby inside of me has grown from something the size of a poppy seed to what is now the size of an eggplant (😲), which is really wild to think about. Watching the subtle and not-so-subtle changes as my body transforms to accommodate this quickly growing human has been pretty incredible and empowering.

Hannah Loewentheil

9.But the boobs...not so much.

"Stop growing!"
"Stop growing!"

Universal Pictures

There are lots of women who go their whole adult lives without boobs and are overjoyed to discover they finally have them, thanks to pregnancy. As someone who has had big boobs forever, I can tell you they are extremely overrated! Mine started growing immediately, and they are showing no sign of stopping. SOS!

10.I've learned to stay far away from Google.

Carrie Bradshaw typing on a computer.
Carrie Bradshaw typing on a computer.


I arrived at my first OBGYN appointment with lots of questions for my doctor, many of which started with, "Well, I read on Google that..." My doctor's advice? "Stay off Google." I can't tell you how helpful this has been. 

I should have already known the dangers of Google because I'm the person who convinces myself that every single headache is something much worse. If you're pregnant for the first time, there's no doubt you're going to experience a lot of new sensations, symptoms, and have lots of questions. But Google is not always your friend in this department!! 

If you're anything like me, asking Google will inevitably make you feel worse and bring up a thousand additional questions. I have sworn off Google for most questions. Now, if I'm actually concerned about something, I just call or email my doctor, which has been a game-changer for my mental health.

11.Contrary to everything Instagram Reels taught me to believe, I'm pretty sure my dog has no idea I'm pregnant.

My dog lying on my lap.

This one was a tough pill to swallow. Despite stories I've heard of dogs sensing their owner's pregnancy before a positive test result and my Instagram feed, which is pretty much flooded with adorable videos of dogs cuddling up to their pregnant owner's bellies, I still don't think my dog has any idea he's about to get a sister. Maybe once my belly is huge and the kicks get more severe, he'll notice something is up. Or here's to hoping...

Hannah Loewentheil

12.And that pregnancy "glow"... yeah, not for me.

My skin broken out.

You hear people tell pregnant women they are glowing all the time, so of course, I expected that my skin would be amazing and I'd feel like a model in a Neutrogena commercial. Very unfortunately, this was not the case. In fact, my skin has never been worse in my life, and the changes started as soon as I went off birth control. As someone who never really broke out before, I was shocked to wake up day after day with new pimples. My skin was especially bad for the first four months, and while it's gotten much better as my body gets used to lots of hormonal changes, I can't say I've entered that glowing period yet. I'm still crossing my fingers, though.

Hannah Loewentheil

13.The hunger is no joke.

A bowl of yogurt on a blanket.

It's safe to say I've never been so hungry in my life as I was during the entirety of my first trimester. Even in the week before I got a positive test result, I noticed that I was starving all hours of the day. Throughout my first trimester, I just wanted to eat all the time. I would often wake up at 4 a.m. with my stomach doing flips, and I'd have to venture into the kitchen for a snack before going back to bed. I used to be someone who wasn't hungry for breakfast, and now, I can't imagine going back to 10 a.m. without food. Well into my second trimester, and while my appetite has cooled down a bit, I'm still pretty ravenous most days.

Hannah Loewentheil

14.But I haven't experienced "weird" pregnancy cravings.

Pints of ice cream on a table.

I was always intrigued and excited about the notion of weird pregnancy cravings. I thought it would be wonderful to send my husband to the grocery store to come back with some odd combination of pickles and ice cream. But truthfully, I haven't had any "unusual" cravings at all so far. Most nights, I don't even have a strong preference about what I want for dinner. I just want food all the time, and my cravings are consistent with the foods I normally enjoy.

The one major change is that this baby has given me a major sweet tooth. I am usually the person who orders a cheese plate for dessert. I almost always prefer savory over sweet. But from the very early days of my pregnancy, I found myself gravitating toward things like ice cream and cookies, which I'm certainly not mad about.

Hannah Loewentheil

15.A lot of the time, I don't really "feel" pregnant.

Me taking a selfie in a mirror.

My friends have been amazing about checking in and asking me how I'm doing, and I feel pretty boring when I simply respond, "Really good!" But it's the truth. I always expected that being pregnant would feel like some monumental shift, but I feel just like my normal self, except that I'm expanding (slowly at first, and much quicker now). Many have assured me that once the third trimester hits, I'll start to feel differently, so I'll keep you posted.

Hannah Loewentheil

16.And I didn't really "look" pregnant for a while.

Me standing in the ocean.

While I could tell that my body was changing from early on, these changes were not at all obvious to others. I'm just now starting to even think about buying some maternity clothes. Everyone is completely different, but my doctor had told me from the get-go that many women don't begin to show until 20 weeks. Still, it felt strange, especially in situations like going out for dinner and being handed a cocktail menu. The process of appearing pregnant to the outside world has been a whole lot slower than I anticipated. I have a feeling it's about to move at a rapid pace now, though. 😄

Hannah Loewentheil

17.I've had to do a lot of my own research.

Me holding a blueberry.

I love my OBGYN and the whole practice where I'm delivering, but if I relied only on my doctor to tell me everything I needed to know about pregnancy, I'd truly have no idea what's happening in my body. Everyone is different (and maybe some people don't really want to know the details), but I certainly do. So, I've done a lot of my own reading in order to understand not only the growth and development of my baby but also what to expect at different stages.

I loved reading Emily Oster's Expecting Better in order to really understand the data behind a lot of the things that are considered "off limits" during pregnancy. This book is helping me to make my own informed decisions, for example, swearing off deli meat entirely until the baby is born, but indulging in a piece or two of high quality sushi on occasion.

I've also downloaded a bunch of pregnancy apps that break down tons of information into highly digestible tidbits. What to Expect is one of my favorites. Each week, it gives me a breakdown of what's happening in my body, what new changes are happening to the baby, and some common symptoms I might experience with them. There are also lots of helpful articles about upcoming scans and tests as well as some complications people experience.

Hannah Loewentheil

18.Feeling movement and little kicks has been one of the coolest experiences.

An ultrasound of a foot.

At about 21 weeks, I started feeling tiny movements inside of me. For the first week, it felt like a tiny goldfish was fluttering in my belly at random times of day, but these little vibrations quickly turned into more recognizable movements. Now, I feel series of kicks (mostly when I'm resting on my back), and my husband can actually see my stomach spasming as the baby moves. Or, I can watch and feel as a whole side of my lower stomach becomes distended as she twists and turns around looking for a new position. Nothing prepared me for the realization that an actual, living thing is growing inside of me and moving on her own. It's been one of the coolest and most surreal experiences. Now I'm just enjoying the small love taps before this baby and her kicks gain some serious strength in the weeks to come.

Hannah Loewentheil

19.I experienced some really strange pregnancy symptoms that I never expected.

A photo of my stomach.

While I didn't experience some of the common symptoms like morning sickness, I have experienced a bunch of other ailments that I had no idea could be related to pregnancy. For example, I have had frequent cramping in my legs — charley horses that come out of nowhere and last off and on for a few hours — I've been extremely thirsty, I've been sweatier than usual, I've started to have extremely vivid dreams and often wake up drooling, my gums bleed easily when I brush my teeth, and I've experienced frequent bouts of a weird, metallic taste in my mouth that will not go away!! Who knew all of these odd symptoms are actually totally common?

Hannah Loewentheil

20.I miss alcohol way less than I thought I would.

A mocktail by the sunset.

I really love wine, I very much enjoy sipping on a delicious cocktail, and I truthfully thought it would be difficult to give up these little things for nine months. But I was extremely, pleasantly surprised to discover that it's actually been pretty easy. In fact, I wasn't even interested in wine during the first trimester. I'd see my husband pour himself a glass, and instead of wanting a sip, I'd find myself totally turned off by it.

Most shocking of all, giving up alcohol has actually made me feel pretty damn good. My head feels really clear, and I would be very happy to never experience a hangover again. It turns out that giving up alcohol — something I was sort of dreading — has actually been one of my favorite things about pregnancy. Oh, and mocktails can be really, really delicious.

Hannah Loewentheil

21.Other people have a lot of opinions.

Kim Kardashian responding to advice.
Kim Kardashian responding to advice.


Once people find out you're pregnant, you're probably going to hear a lot of unsolicited opinions and advice: things you should and shouldn't do, baby products you need and those that are a waste of your money, baby names people love and hate, and the correct way to raise a child.

I've already been bombarded with information from friends and strangers alike, and I've heard everything from"these are the best prenatal vitamins on the market" and "you really shouldn't be drinking any coffee" to "you really shouldn't raise a kid in the city." At this point, I've accepted the fact that I'm going to get a whole lot more opinions once the baby comes, and the best I can do is graciously smile, then figure out what works for me and my husband and make our own decisions. 

22.I still don't feel "ready"...whatever that even means.

I want to hear about your experience! What was pregnancy like for you, what surprised you, and what would you like to tell first-time moms? Drop some wisdom in the comments!