15 Ways to Think About Pregnancy to Understand Just How Crazy It Is

What is pregnancy really like? It's often described as a miracle, although medical advancements have taken a lot of the mystique away from the process. But whether you're a first-time mother or just a curious reader, you probably have a lot of questions about the process.

Plenty of weird things happen during pregnancy. You grow brand new organs, for example, and develop incredibly heightened senses. That's not to mention the cravings - who hasn't heard the stereotype about pregnant women hungering for pickles and ice cream?

This list, however, digs deeper into some of the strangest and most awe-inspiring aspects of incubating a baby. Read on to discover truths about pregnancy that you may not have considered, like the hormonal connection between hairy babies and acid reflux during pregnancy. You're likely to come away with a newfound respect for what the human body can do.

Photo: Nuno Ibra Remane / Flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

  • It’s Possible To Get Double Pregnant

    Although extremely rare, it is possible to conceive a second time as a result of sex during pregnancy. When this happens, an already-pregnant woman releases an egg a few weeks into a pregnancy (a phenomenon called “superfetation”), which gets fertilized. This gives the fertilized eggs different due dates; however, the two babies are usually delivered at the same time. This often results in the second child being delivered prematurely.

    A similar process means you can have “twins” that have two different biological fathers.

  • Pregnant Women Grow A Brand New Organ From Scratch

    Pregnancy is the only time your body spontaneously generates a whole new organ. The placenta connects a developing fetus to the uterine wall during pregnancy - it’s the thing that the umbilical cord attaches to. The placenta helps provide nutrients and oxygen to a fetus, and it eliminates waste from a fetus’s bloodstream during pregnancy. Because of its hyper-specific job, the placenta grows during pregnancy and is expelled after delivery.

  • Pregnancy Can Last For Over A Year

    Yes, you read that correctly. Although the typical gestation period is approximately 9 months (280 days), it’s possible for some to last for much longer. The longest pregnancy documented lasted for 375 days - over a full calendar year.

  • Expectant Mothers Really Glow

    So, it turns out that that famed “pregnancy glow” has a physiological component during pregnancy. Part of the pregnancy glow comes from the increase in blood and blood flow brought on by changes to the cardiovascular system. This increased blood circulation can give a woman a brighter, flushed appearance. Hormonal changes also kick a pregnant woman’s oil glands into overdrive. Blood, combined with oil, equals that beautiful dewy glow.

  • Pregnant Women Grow Mega Hearts

    In order to be able to accomplish that whole "growing a human" thing, a pregnant woman’s cardiovascular system goes into hyper drive. Blood volume, blood flow, and blood composition all change as a result. The craziest part? A growing uterus pushes the heart up higher into a new position in a woman’s chest cavity, and the heart increases in size by around 12%. With her new and improved mega-heart, a pregnant woman can better support her own needs along with those of a growing baby.

  • Partners Can Develop Sympathetic Pregnancies

    Ever heard of couvade syndrome? Maybe you’ve heard it called by its other name: sympathetic pregnancy. Couvade syndrome occurs when a non-pregnant partner experiences the symptoms of pregnancy alongside a pregnant one. If a father has couvade syndrome, he might experience increased hormone levels, morning sickness, weight gain, and even labor pains. Sometimes a partner will even experience postpartum depression. The jury is still out on whether couvade syndrome is biologically induced by hormones or a psychosomatic condition.