The second part to my A-Z of pregnancy guide. Enjoy.
N…if for nosebleeds. As your body takes on an extra 4lbs of blood, your capillaries and membranes get a lot thinner and, well, juicier. Nosebleeds happen a lot even if you just blow your nose…and your gums get very sensitive too.
O…is for Oopsies. I’ve never fallen over so much in my life as when I was pregnant. I didn’t think it was an issue until I wasn’t pregnant anymore and realized that I was walking like a normal person.
Balance gets seriously affected which is so ridiculous because it’s the one time when you’re desperately trying to be careful. I have serious respect for mums-to-be who keep doing yoga up until they pop….tree pose with a bump is insane.
Imagine a world where every time you wished you take your baby out, a muscled beefcake appeared out of nowhere with a pushchair balanced in one hand; with the ease it takes to finish a bag of M&Ms, he folds said pushchair and places it in your car. Once at your destination, he gets pushchair out of boot, unfolds it and places baby carefully inside. He does this every time you need to use your pushchair.
Now wake up.
If you’re reading this and have that very scenario in real life then we need to become friends. If, like the majority of us, you don’t, you need to think long and hard about what type of pushchair/stroller/travel system you need and here are some handy tips for choosing.
DON’T pick one just because X and her husband got one and it looks nice.
DON’T pick one because it has three wheels and is for all terrains UNLESS you use all terrains and need something for the rough outdoors.
DO take the time to fold and unfold said pushchair to see how easy it is.
DO measure the size of your boot so that you can actually fit a pushchair in there.
DO pick up the pushchair when folded to test how heavy it is. As a frequent flyer, I know off by heart what 7-8kgs feels like because that is hand luggage. I can comfortably lift that and move it around and that is the limit of what I am prepared to do with my pushchair. A 9kj pushchair might not feel like a big deal to you but imagine you have a crying baby on your right hip who refuses to be put down and now you must maneuover the pushchair into the boot with your left hand. Not so easy.
I can’t stress how important it is to try and do as much of what you want before you have the baby. Clean, nest, go out for dinner, read a lot of books, bake, go for slow walks – DO IT ALL. Once baby is here, your time is not your own.
Q…is for questions. Never be afraid to ask questions of mums around you or of your healthcare professionals.
I had my heart set on a water birth in a birthing pool and was told that it was possible at my chosen hospital. When I went for a tour of the wards, I was told by the sisters that I could labor in the pool but I could not give birth. I then asked more questions and found out that the hospital was actually banning pools because of complications. NO ONE would have told me until I rocked up with my pool so make sure you check everything and ask as many people as you like until you feel satisfied.
When it comes to labor, make sure you are completely happy with what will happen – it might not go to plan of course, so do be prepared – so you never feel lost or confused. Better to appear the needy, irritating chick than Jon Snow.
U…is for UIF. Sadly, most companies in South Africa do not assist you during maternity leave which means you need to tackle the unnecessarily complicated process that is claiming UIF whilst on your 4 months maternity leave. There are a ridiculous amount of forms to fill in and once those are done, you will need to queue at a department of labor whilst pregnant/with your baby for lengthy periods of time and it’s no fun at all. I went the route of paying R650 to a company for them to do all the waiting and paper handling themselves and if you can afford it, do it.
R…is for Recluse. In my last month of pregnancy, I didn’t go out (It was too painful) and became a bit of a hermit. I don’t think there is anything wrong with having some personal time but it’s good to have some normal human interaction before you’re life becomes a whirlwind of nappies, burping and feeding….on the other hand, it’s nice to not be around people who keep asking you why you haven’t popped yet/”She must be very comfortable in there”/”Have you tried walking more?”…as if you’re not anxious enough as it is.
Sex. There are two camps. You either want it or you don’t. No in between. And when you get to your third trimester and you can’t even see your vagina anymore, you might find it very difficult to muster the energy to try and find it.
Skin. With everything stretching, you will feel quite itchy, especially your tummy. Get lots of cream and slather it all over yourself regularly – refrain from using fresh cream even if it is a craving of yours.
An extra benefit of moisturizing so often is that the softer, more supple your skin, the less likely you are to have stretch marks.
Sweat. This is really going to gross you out but I’m never one to back away from being a little too open…I had the sweatiest feet ever! It was as if everything I drank came running out of my feet and I could have ended the drought we had.
Swelling. The word “cankle” was invented because of pregnancy and I have seen some EXTREME swelling (imagine the legs of a Hippo but on a woman), the stuff of nightmares I tell you.
I think that exercise and drinking lots of water does keep the majority of swelling away but hot weather will make you puff up no matter who you are so try to rest your feet and try and keep them as cool as possible.
T…is for Trends. Your pregnancy is not just divided into trimesters. Trends seems to be the most accurate way of describing the changes and quick transitions you experience e.g. the first two weeks of only wanting to eat toast; the third month of just needing chocolate; the fourth month when I just felt really bloated; month 7 when my pelvis felt like it had been crushed by an angry Hippo; the need to climb inside a watermelon; the months of despising anything to do with Rooibos….I could go on. I say ride all the trends out…unless your wish is to bungee jump whilst doing Tequila shots then maybe reconsider
V…is for Vitamins. Many women don’t know the importance of folic acid and other good vitamins BEFORE you start trying for a baby; start taking decent vitamins even if you’re adamant that you never want to have children.
My mum gave me folic acid two years before we started “trying” (her way of hinting for grand kids).
W…is for Weight. Apparently, the average woman puts on between 10 – 12 kgs when pregnant owing to the influx of blood, bodily fluids, the baby you’re growing, your uterus etc (Here’s a breakdown of what you add). If you are going to eat for two, which is not necessary, then expect to put on more.
I know that if I suddenly up my eating, my body will throw a lavish house party and my body fat will be the guest that refuses to leave so I was careful about what I ate…except when it came to chocolate and cake. Before I got pregnant, I was trying to exercise as much as I could and was doing lots of yoga and walking because I wanted to give my body the right start. My weight, though a little high for me, was 61 and when I found out I was pregnant, I realised that I didn’t want to go over 70.
Purely from not over eating, from walking and drinking lots of water, 70 was my highest and once baby was out, my body shrunk back to 59 in a matter of weeks (breastfeeding is the best diet EVER).
I think that maintaining a good weight helped keep stretch marks away plus, I didn’t have to spend money on lots of maternity clothes
This is not to say that you all must do this, crumbs, it’s a wonder with the amount of nutella I kept smuggling into my bedroom that I wasn’t rolling. I just knew that with all the energy-zapping changes that happen, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t adding to that exhaustion by being unfit.
X…is for Xtreme. Pregnancy is like an extreme sport, minus the cheering fans, sponsorship deals and your own sports channel. It’s not 9 months of discomfort, It’s 10 months of craziness that will affect you in a completely different way to anyone else. I liken it to an episode of Running Wild with Bear Grylls – you know, the one where he pushes the participant out of a helicopter into a wild forest except that with pregnancy there is no helicopter, Bear doesn’t follow you and the map he’s given you is written in the tears of your womb.
Y…is for Y DO YOU NOT LIKE ME? Ah, the crazy pregnancy hormones. Don’t be surprised if the smallest thing makes you break down in tears or movies that you would otherwise shun turn you into a wailing banshee. It’s good to be able to note when you’re being hormonally-led especially when it comes to interacting with your partner. They can’t read your mind and you screaming or crying at them in incoherent spurts won’t help.
z…is for zzzz. Silly people will tell you “get as much sleep as you can”, as if you’re not trying your damn hardest. It seems grossly unfair that you can’t really sleep properly during pregnancy because of the squashed bladder situation and the aches and pains AND then you’re expected to keep up with the demands of a baby. Instead of telling people to sleep, we should just say “rest”. Now is the time for you to relax on a lounger in the sun with a mocktail. Go get a nice foot massage. Take a trip to the beach and amble on the sand. Chill mamma, chill.