Having my first child was a dream come true in many ways. Becoming a mom is the best thing that I have ever done. However, I might have enjoyed the experience even more, had I known what to expect. Here are nine things I wish I knew before I got pregnant — perhaps what I’ve learned can help you.
1. How My Body Would Change
Pregnancy means that your body changes — a lot. However, it’s not all bad. My favorite side effect was the thick head of hair that made me the envy of my stylist, even if I did lose much of it after giving birth.
However, a less pleasant side effect was the way my lower back ached, especially during the second half of my pregnancy. I now understand that hormones relaxed the muscles in my pelvic area combined with a shifting center of gravity caused my problems. If I could go back and give myself one piece of advice, it would be to invest in a chair that better supported my posture.
I expected changes such as breast enlargement and weight gain. However, even though I would have breastfed my baby anyway, I was delighted by how doing so helped me shed the pregnancy pounds quickly. I got to enjoy bonding with my new baby while getting my old body back before I knew it.
2. That I Didn’t Need All Those Maternity Clothes
I spent way more than necessary on maternity clothes. If memory serves me correctly, I started shopping a few minutes after the plus sign appeared on my test.
However, I didn’t need anything resembling a muumuu until my third trimester — and even then, some of my sweatpants worked just fine if I put the band under my belly. I now have a closet full of clothes I may wear again someday or donate to charity.
3. That Your Emotions Will Roller Coaster
I thought PMS was bad.
I now scoff at that notion.
My fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels made me a moody mess at times while I was expecting. I could go from happy one moment to tears the next. I thank my long-suffering partner for putting up with my irritability, which I know was impossible to bear sometimes.
4. That Exercise Is Possible — and Often Advisable
I didn’t exactly fall into the “I’m now a delicate female flower” camp when I got pregnant. However, I did decrease my activity level, which may have made my labor more difficult than it would have been otherwise.
You should always consult with your doctor, but you can exercise throughout pregnancy unless you are at risk of conditions like preeclampsia. You should stay away from contact sports such as kickboxing, but there’s nothing to stop you from hitting the heavy bag at the gym.
You might feel more tired than usual — I know I did — but try to maintain 30 to 60 minutes per day of moderate activity. Consider it a time to switch up your routine. For example, if you run, you might switch to speed-walking as your belly gets bigger.
5. That Dr. Google Can Be Scary
If you heed no other advice, please listen to this tidbit — use the internet with caution when you’re pregnant, especially for the first time.
Google is a wonderful resource. However, if you’re seeking confirmation that eating or even smelling the wrong thing can hurt your unborn baby, you can find it online — even if the information is erroneous. Stick to your OB/GYN for advice.
6. That I Needed to Get Health Coverage Before Conception
If you are thinking about getting pregnant, please secure health insurance during the open enrollment period. Getting pregnant does not qualify you for a special enrollment period, although giving birth does.
What does that mean? If you get pregnant without insurance, you may need to rely on community services for prenatal care. You’ll have a much wider array of options if you are covered.
7. That You Should Have Your Shower Early
I didn’t go into labor early, but some women do. If I had delivered prematurely, I might have left the hospital without a crib at home in which to lay my newborn.
Baby showers are a blast — but don’t save one of the best parts of pregnancy for last. Having yours early allows you to take inventory and get those items that you didn’t receive.
8. That Some Bleeding During Pregnancy Is Normal
The first time I spotted after I received the good news, I flew into a panic. I didn’t rush to the emergency room, but I did call my OB/GYN.
You should call your doctor if bleeding becomes heavy or you sense something is wrong. However, mild spotting often occurs due to changes in the cervix and isn’t necessarily a cause for concern.
9. That You Need Not Heed Every Word of Advice
When your bump becomes apparent, the pregnancy and parenting advice begins. You won’t need the internet to suffer information overload — everyone has a tip.
Remember, you need not heed every piece of advice. If your sister swore by pickles to curb cravings when she was expecting, but they turn your stomach, you don’t have to munch on a dill spear. There’s no magical ingredient in pickle juice that will ensure a healthy delivery.
If I Had Only Known These 9 Things Before I Got Pregnant
I don’t regret anything about my pregnancy — but there are some things that I could have done better. I wish I knew these nine things, but now you can say that you do.