Pregnancy is undeniably a fascinating thing. Inside your body you nurture what starts out as a sack of cells into a little human being that enters the world. The concept alone is wild. But in case you’re not floored, we’ve compiled some facts about pregnancy that might leave your mind officially blown.
You can get pregnant while pregnant.
Yes, this sounds like something that might happen on Days of Our Lives. But although extremely rare, it can happen. The phenomenon of getting pregnant while already with child, even weeks after your first conception, is called superfetation. That’s two pregnancies (two fetuses) from two different menstrual cycles — so we’re not talking about twins here, folks.
The journal PLOS ONE says superfetation is possibly a reproductive strategy for European badgers and some other mammals. Apparently, during mating, lady badgers get it on multiple times and with different male badgers to increase their chances of getting pregnant. This potentially confuses the dude badgers about their offspring, which, in turn, protects the little critters (since infanticide is pretty common among badger-dads — that is, unless the dad thinks it might be his baby badger).
But if you’re reading this, you’re not a badger, and you’re probably wondering how this applies to your life. According to the Journal of Reproduction and Sexual Health, most of the time in humans, conception stops ovulation thanks to a flood of hormones. Plus, the womb thickens to prevent another embryo from attaching. Also during pregnancy, a mucus plug forms at the cervix, acting as a natural diaphragm. That means sperm will be unlikely to get through the gate.
It’s also possible to conceive twice during the same menstrual cycle — that’s called superfecundation. Does the remote possibility of superfetation and superfecundation mean you have to use a barrier method for sex when you’re pregnant? No. Well, not unless STIs are a concern. Most of the (again, extremely rare) instances of superfetation in humans have occurred in people undergoing fertility treatments.
Your brain loses gray matter.
You’ve probably heard of “pregnancy brain,” the idea that the body directs its resources to the growing fetus, causing a sort of brain fog, ie memory or focus issues for you. Science is still studying whether that’s fact or myth. But what researchers have discovered is that pregnancy actually does have lasting effects on your brain.
A study published in Nature Neuroscience found that pregnancy alters size and structure, specifically a loss of gray matter, in brain regions responsible for our emotional intelligence. But that doesn’t mean you’re losing function. The researchers don’t know exactly why pregnancy inpacts the brain. But the changes are evident in areas of the mind that illicit a strong response when the person who gave birth views pictures of their new infant. That’s why the scientists theorize the brain remodels itself to help you care for and bond with your babe.
Pregnancy literally changes your heart.
You might imagine your figurative heart swelling with love for your baby-to-be. But your actual heart, that handy organ that pumps your blood, is possibly a bit bigger. A report published in the journal Circulation says that the heart’s four chambers dilate during pregnancy. Plus, your heart rate increases and your blood volume nearly doubles — all in support of your baby bump and the extra demands pregnancy places on your body.
Your vision can change.
You’d think pregnancy would have zero to do with your peepers — except for the idea that maybe you were visually attracted to a partner and that led to some baby-making activities. However, pregnancy can impact your vision, affecting distance or near sight in one eye or both, according to the Journal of Pregnancy.
About 55 percent of pre-existing retinal issues worsen with pregnancy, and about 14 percent of pregnant people need to change their eyeglasses prescription, reports a study out of the University of Heidelberg. The American Academy of Ophthalmology reports that 40 to 100 percent of those experiencing preeclampsia and eclampsia will have retinal changes. If you notice issues with your sight, talk to your doctor or ophthalmologist. Many changes will resolve sometime after delivery. However, if you have diabetes and are planning to get pregnant, you should have a dilated fundus exam. Get an eye exam in your first trimester, as well, and follow up according to your physician’s recommendations.
Your baby pees inside of you and drinks it.
And finally… Remember that episode of Man vs. Wild where Bear Grylls drinks his own pee in the Australian Outback? (You’re welcome.) Well, your bun in the oven does that all the time, except the outback is your womb, and hopefully you aren’t planning to name your kid Bear.
Starting at about nine weeks, the fetus produces urine inside the amniotic sac, according to an article from Facts, Views and Vision in ObGyn. By the time you reach 20 weeks, about 90 percent of your amniotic fluid is urine. Also, in the latter part of the first trimester, the buccopharyngeal membrane ruptures to reveal the tiny mouth that’s forming, allowing for a refreshing gulp of pee. Drink up, little one!