A little guide to the ups and downs of pregnancy, from my personal experience, that you can take with a pinch of salt because every pregnancy is different.
Advice. You’re going to receive it from everywhere and some of what you hear might be contradictory or just plain ridiculous. You absolutely have the right not to listen to it and you most certainly do not have to listen to anyone who has never been pregnant or any man who isn’t an OB/Gyny.
Useful phrases to use when met with advice-givers,
“Thank you but I think I’m okay”
“I’ve actually got a really good support system”
“You’re talking out of your arse”
Oh, and never Google any of your symptoms. No one likes to be told that they could be dead in three days.
Acceptance. Your body will change. Your life will change. Everything will change and if you try and fight it, you are going to be so miserable.
Accept that you won’t be able to see your feet after the second trimester.
Accept that you have stretch marks that look like angry faces.
Accept that your friendship groups will alter.
Accept that you can’t get Big Carl out of the cupboard and finish an entire bottle of wine in one night.
Accept that you might never sleep again. Ever.
Baby clothes. The temptation to go out and buy loads of cute little outfits once you’ve found out that you are pregnant can be overwhelming but try to hold back. There are two reasons for abstaining from a mass purchase, 1) you will likely receive a lot of gifts from family and friends and 2) you need to have a proper plan of what actually you need.
When my mum came to visit, we went through all of the clothes that I had (and the many that were brought over) and realized that I have a lot of 3-6 but not many 0-3 and thus we shopped accordingly. You won’t need many of the tiny outfits because baby will grow quickly – unless you do have a teeny tiny darling. My Princess is so long and is just growing so quickly.
Also, be careful what you buy and make sure others do the same – onesies that have buttons on the back or require you pulling it over your newborns head is a no-go. You need a lot of basic easy, quick pieces when you have newborn because though they be small, once they tense up their arms, no power on earth is going to pull it through a sleeve.
Baby Shower. Yay, presents! My lovely friend organized mine and I am so glad for the surprise and to just have a few hours of attention, gifts and laughs with wonderful women.
There are so many gorgeous ideas on Pinterest for baby showers ….
Men don’t have to miss out on the fun. Nappy Showers are the guys equivalent and basically just consist of your man and his close friends going out for food and drinks and everyone bringing the daddy-to-be a bag/box of nappies. Mr H’s close friend organised his which was so awesome and I was so grateful because it was an event just for Mr H (which he so deserved).
Breasts. Some women get huge boobs from the onset of pregnancy and they remain large for the full 9 months and beyond. Mine went big and then went back to nothing again…but even without the size, the discomfort is still there. It can go away in your second trimester but then comes back in your third. It’s important then to invest in decent bras that don’t squash your puppies in or give them too much room to bounce around.
Breathing. As baby grows, she’ll want to start a close and personal relationship with every one of your organs. One such important organ is your lungs and maybe you’ve never climbed Mount Everest but I guarantee that by 9months, you’ll know how it feels to walk into a thinning airspace and want to collapse just from putting on a pair of socks.
C…is for Control. Ha. Hahahahahahaha. That word is hilarious. There is no control once pregnant. Your body isn’t your own. Your mind isn’t your own. If, like me, you love to be organized then this is going to be one of the most difficult 9 months of your life. Ever. I have found it very important to have routine and to try and keep to it so as to save what semblance of sanity I have left but when you get out of bed after having just 30minutes sleep because your body felt like it was under attack from fire ants all night, then any plans you had that day fall away immediately. Just try (I can’t believe I’m saying this) to be a little flexible.
Depression. During my 16th week, I had 6 days when I could not sleep and I felt suicidal. There was one morning when I couldn’t do anything but cry.
In my 7th month when my pelvis wanted to leave my body and join a cult somewhere, I felt like staying in bed forever and wishing everyone would vanish.
For the whole of April, my last month of pregnancy, I survived on around 1-3 hours of sleep a night. I am not exaggerating. I suffered debilitating itchy skin that burned 24/7
And as if the ailments of the body are not enough, there are times when you have this overwhelming panic at the thought of looking into the eyes of a tiny piece of you and realizing that you never want to fail them but you know you might because you’re not perfect…and that scares the hell out of you.
Dads.It’s not just you who gets angsty and nervous. This is a HUGE change for the both of you but you’re both going to handle it and experience it differently. So whilst you’re perusing the malls for cute clothing items and building up your “I’m Preggers” pinterest board, the temptation is to feel that your partner isn’t preparing as well as you but really, he’s just doing it in a different way. And that’s okay.
Make sure you do include him in your fears, your excitements and in all purchasing!
Exercise. I can’t stress how important this is for your overall well being and the well being of your baby. Obviously, the bigger you get, the less options you have available to you in terms of the types of exercise that you can do; crunches are a no-go, contact sport is definitely out and yoga moves that require lots of twisting and time spent on your back must be done away with. I found that aerobics and walking were the most beneficial and I tried to do 30-40 minutes four times a week.
The other benefit of exercise is that it makes you feel better about yourself, keeps your weight manageable, prepares you for labour by making you work on your endurance and it keeps swelling down. I thoroughly believe that eating sensibly and working out helped my body go back to normal so quickly.
Energy. It’s all very well me stressing about the important of exercising but what if you don’t have the energy. Some days you can barely shake the duvet off of you and on those days it’s best you just stay as one with the bed. Don’t push yourself to the extremes because you’re going to feel worse.
Folic Acid. This B vitamin is essential for the development of a healthy fetus, as it can significantly reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Start taking it BEFORE you fall pregnant!
Food. You’re probably already aware that there are a number of foods that you shouldn’t eat when pregnant, especially in the first trimester when the fetus is at its most vulnerable state. These foods include, but are not limited to, soft cheeses, mercury-rich fish, raw eggs (cookie dough is a no-go I’m afraid), raw fish or meats, shellfish, sprouts and any dairy product that is unpasterized. Salmonella, E Coli and Listeria like to dwell in these products and whilst your body can handle them, your precious miracle can’t.
I really missed ham and once baby was out, went to Woolworths, bought two packets, and then made myself an epic toastie.
G…is for Gas. Wow, pregnant women are so attractive. It’s a good job all these “delightful” symptoms hit when you’re knocked up because there ain’t no way anyone would be wanting to rip your clothes off when you fart each time you stand up.
Heartburn. There are so many nasty things you get when growing a baby and heartburn really is the pits. Knowing your triggers is very important – mine were lemon and hot water which I used to have every morning, dark chocolate, and raspberry jam which meant that my peanut butter was very lonely. Have Gaviscon to hand and Rennies.
Hair. I normally look like a lion but during my pregnancy I looked like a glossy “winner of the National Geographic wild photography challenge 2016” Lion because I suddenly got an influx of lush, bouncy hair, fit for a L’ Oreal advert… except that sometimes it’s not just confined to your head. If you’re used to shaving/epilating your armpits every 3 days, you might have to up that.
Fortunately, the hair didn’t get any darker and I didn’t grow a beard but I’ve heard the stories.
I…is for Itchy skin. Nightmares are made of itchy skin. It’s normal to get an itchy tummy and boobs as the two grow but some poor beings, myself included, get the extreme version whereby EVERYTHING itches so badly that you have to keep your feet in an ice bath. For the month of April I could only cope for 30minutes before having to put my feet on ice because the burning was awful. My body felt like it was on fire and honestly, I’d take crowning over the itch.
If you do suffer from this, there is no cure (labor certainly takes your mind off of it) but it starts to fade a week after giving birth. I can only recommend ice and deep freeze.
J…is for Joy…or lack of. You’ve just found out you’re pregnant and the excitement is so overwhelming that you can’t keep it in. You wake up the next day and everything your partner does makes you feel agitated and for some reason, the thought of not being able to have a really strong coffee makes you weepy – welcome to hormones!
The mood swings of pregnancy are so delightful; one minute you’re rubbing your tummy and planning the decoration of the nursery and the next, you’re getting the sniffles because you’ve run out of your favorite cereal and no one seems to care.
I knew it was the pregnancy hormones when I started getting teary-eyed whilst watching movies…and I NEVER cry during sad films.
K…is for Kicks. From 16 weeks on wards you can really start to feel the wonderful movements of your baby and it’s like a perfect compensation, sometimes, to the long-ass wait because at least you know there is something in there. Later in your pregnancy, the kicks, squirms and punches will be aimed at your bladder and ribs and it will be as though he/she is taking part in an Olympic sport…which would be great if you were receiving the gold medal, the handsome prize money and the Nike sponsorship deal.
L…is for Leave. You get 4 months maternity leave that your place of work has to honour. In this difficult economical climate, taking the full 4 months can be impossible but if you can, don’t let anyone try and make you feel bad about taking the time off. You deserve it and legally you require it…not that 4 months with a new baby is anywhere near enough.
Morning sickness. Some women get it really bad and swear by ginger biscuits and chewing gum as a means to keep the sick feeling at bay. Others either don’t get it at all or can just feel nausea without the vomiting. I tried to eat fresh fruit but honestly, toast was one of the few things that worked for me.
How do you know if you have morning sickness? Oh you’ll know. Your tastebuds will become warring fractions within your mouth and foods that you used to love will make you feel as though you’ve spent a week at sea in a tug boat. There was a winery I went to during my early weeks of pretending I wasn’t pregnant and I now can’t stomach the idea of every going back there because I am just reminded of having carpet mouth.
I also ate a lot of humus before I was pregnant and now can’t look at a tub of the stuff without wanting to vomit. Some tastes you might never get back. Fortunately wine is one of them for me.
Maternity clothes. Hold your horses ladies! Just because you’ve found out you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you need to run to Cherry Melon and buy new clothes just yet. You could be one of those magical beings who hardly puts on any weight during their pregnancy and therefore doesn’t need any clothing until a week before your due-date….or you could be someone who wees on a stick, gets a positive confirmation and then BAM, looks like they ate a watermelon. Wait to see how your body changes. And then go nuts…at H&M, because they have such nice options.
I’m sure there are LOADS of things that I’ve missed so feel free to add your own. Stay tuned for part 2