One of my friends was asking last week what it’s like being pregnant, and what advice I could impart. I got to thinking about some of the things that I wish someone told me ahead of time so I could be prepared. So here it goes – for my friend (for preparation), for me (as reflection) and for anyone else who might be curious:
10. Morning sickness affects everyone differently, but many of those who suffer from it state that it’s not just “morning” and it’s not “puke and you feel better” (like college!). For me, it was like being seasick every time I tried to eat anything, and even randomly through the day.
It often occurs for the first trimester, though for some women, it can go all the way through their pregnancy (those poor, poor women). Personally, 5 1/2 months of it was entirely too long. My OB prescribed a medication to help with nausea, which was a life saver.
9. I didn’t “feel” pregnant until about 5 months. Up until 5 months, I felt bloated, sick, tired, and generally icky. I felt doughy. I wanted to look pregnant so people would understand why I felt like I did. The irony is once I started to look pregnant, I started feeling much better. I have a few students that are pregnant and they are at the “I don’t feel pregnant” stage. I promise you – the minute you feel the first kick, you start looking for more of those. That’s when I finally “felt” pregnant, even though I looked it for months previous.
Side note: You also don’t feel any kicking until 16wks – 22wks, depending on the pregnancy. I started feeling what I thought was kicking at 18 weeks, but it was much further along in the pregnancy than I thought it would be. I also thought she was the result of eating too many beans in my burritos for the first few kicks. Now, we don’t have that confusion because my entire abdomen moves with each kick or flip and it’s really cool (unless I’m driving. Then it’s a bit distracting), but it did take a lot longer than I really thought it would to feel the existence of a little human in my own body.
8. Maternity Pants are THE BEST. I’m going to keep a pair around for Thanksgivings, or other special occasions. I also feel that they should make Man-ternity pants for Football Sundays.
7. What do you mean that you’re actually pregnant for 10 months?!? Currently, we are just a couple days shy of our 8 month mark. However, the baby isn’t scheduled to be here for another 2 months (July – August). I couldn’t find a concrete answer to this, but the best theory I have is that we start counting at the day of our last period, which actually adds two weeks to the calculation. We also assume that when you hit 9 months, your turkey is cooked, but you are actually still counting (9 months, 2 weeks; 9 months, 3 weeks, etc). So you’re into your 10th month at full gestation instead of 9.
To toss one more wrench in: each month has a different number of weeks. Either way, it’s hard to explain to people “how far along are you” followed by “when are you due” and the two numbers don’t seem to add up.
6. Constipation anyone? Get stock in Benefiber and Colace. Even if you’ve never suffered from it before, buy it now and thank me later. Food takes longer to get through your system. It’s a built in response from your body to slow down digestion to make sure that all the nutrients are sucked out of food. This is to get the most nutrition to you and the baby, but the side effect is it takes longer for everything to get through your system, and as uncomfortable as you already are with 16+ pounds of baby counter weight, there are things that sadly make it more uncomfortable.
5. Gummy vitamins! Most prenatal vitamins are the size of horse pills. The ones I had at the beginning actually triggered a vomit reflex (taste aversions don’t just apply to food. For me, I had to switch toothpaste and vitamins as well). My sister recommended the gummy vitamins and I’ve been taking them religiously since.
You do have to supplement with slow release Iron (they can’t put Iron in the Gummies), but those pills are little tabs, and much easier to swallow…pun intended.
4. All of your internal organs get shoved up into your rib cage. I made an entire post on the wacky things your uterus does while incubating human life. Perhaps the most fascinating thing to me through this entire process is that your internal organs have to go somewhere else.
Your large & small intestines get pushed up into your rib cage, your liver gets shoved under your lungs (making it hard to breathe), and your entire abdominal cavity is dedicated to your new “womb mate”. Don’t believe me? Here’s a crazy animation showing exactly what happens, and why you can’t breathe after you eat, or walk up 4 steps.
3. People make weird shit you don’t need. Again, I’ve already written about it, but it begs to be shown again. Side-note – there are things in here that can’t be unseen. Placenta Bears, $17,000 binkies, and Man Boobs for breastfeeding are totally on this list. You’ve been warned.
2. Your joints get really loose and not in a good way. I wish I sought out Chiropractic sooner in this adventure, but I thought the stiff legs, back pain, tightness was all normal and something I had to suck up. Apparently, most of that is correct – except for the “suck it up” part. Conveniently, a woman I know through the dog park is a well respected Chiropractor in my neighborhood, so I popped in to see her last week. She explained that during pregnancy, the hormones responsible for getting everything flexible for childbirth has some other consequences: your joints get loose, things fall out of place, plus you are compensating for carrying 16+ pounds of weight out from your center of gravity. This puts an enormous strain on the spine, shoulders and neck. I hobbled in, and I walked out. 4 days later, at 8 months pregnant, I can still touch my toes from visiting with her last week. It’s not easy, but I can touch my toes 🙂 So my advice is, if it hurts, see someone about it and don’t suffer thinking “it’s normal”. It probably is normal, but you can still fix it and feel much better.
1. Everyone will comment on your belly, and no two things will sound the same. It’s not meant to be a blow to your ego, a blow to your body, or a blow to you at all. People are just looking to comment, make a joke, or connect with you in some way. It’s hard to take “Wow – it looks like you swallowed a watermelon!” as a joke when you’re hormonal and feeling like a bloated cow, but keep in mind they don’t mean it as a slam. In the same night as the watermelon comment, I also heard the following:
“I thought you were only 5 months along – seriously, you look great! You should eat more because you don’t look like 7 months” (a student)
“You really popped this week – she must have had a growth spurt” (a co worker)
“Hey lady – congratulations!” – total stranger, rubbing his belly, wearing a Paul Pierce jersey, as I was getting out of my car.
So in a 24 hour period, I heard “fat, not big enough, getting bigger” and “Wahoo! Baby!” from 4 different people, different degrees of knowing these people and they all had a completely different perspective as to what normal is at a given stage of pregnancy – which makes sense because there is no normal.
Everyone is different. My sister is carrying her daughter higher than I’m carrying mine. We look very different standing next to each other, even though we are only three weeks apart. Some people bloat more. Some people put all their weight on at the end, while others do so slowly through the entire 9 (ahem….10) months. And everyone will comment on it.
It’s hard – but you are incubating a human life form. You’re not fat – you’re not bloated (well, you might be bloated. That’s a side effect). You are bringing life into the world.
And some days, it sucks to look in the mirror because the body you had isn’t yours anymore.
For some women, that’s really hard to get over.
For others, they embrace their pregnant selves and relish in what their body is doing (I am not that woman).
But every night when I lay on the couch with my husband and she kicks, it makes all the puking, back pain, morning sickness, bloating, not being able to tie my shoes, not being able to sleep, or having to pee every 7 minutes totally and completely worth it.