What Nobody Tells You About Pregnancy...
Updated: May 18, 2020
There are so many little things about pregnancy, labor and postpartum that nobody tells you. Why? I think mostly because people forget (and that is why we are able to do it over and over again!) But when you're in the thick of it, it's frustrating to discover crazy new symptoms or surprises and think, "why did NOBODY warn me about this?!" I remember making mental notes throughout both my pregnancies, thinking, "you've got to warn other moms about this!" but then I'd quickly forget because PREGNANCY BRAIN is a real thing.
So here's my list (of things I can remember anyway!). It is be no means exhaustive but it's a list of things I learned throughout my own pregnancy experiences and by teaching so many women over the years. Stay tuned for similar lists on labor and delivery and postpartum.
And if you read it and have something you think I should add, let me know. It might help a future mama feel more prepared! :-)
Yours in health,
WHAT NOBODY TOLD ME ABOUT PREGNANCY...
WHOEVER COINED IT MORNING SICKNESS LIED
Morning sickness isn't always in the morning. And it's not only in the first trimester. And it can last ALL day. Most women just feel queasy, they don't actually throw-up, but if you're lucky like I was, you get to do both. A LOT. I even got sick while driving in the car (thank you, hormones). Up to 85 percent of pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, with 60-70 percent of them dealing with the actual throwing up portion, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
Morning sickness can be triggered by smells, by being hungry, by eating too much, by eating spicy foods, by waking up first thing in the morning, by lying down, by bending over, by not eating enough protein, and many other things. It's different for everyone and sadly there is no silver bullet solution.
OOF MY RIBS
If your ribs are achy from the baby's position, you can put a bag of ice or frozen vegetables in the painful position and it will relieve the pain AND motivate the baby to move (it worked for me and several of my students!)
BYE BYE HIGH HEELS
Your joints will be a lot more sensitive and prone to injury. Wrists and ankles, hips and knees especially. So be extra careful not to over stretch them. And invest in really comfortable, supportive shoes. I got my first pair of Birkenstocks with pregnancy #1 and never looked back!
UMMM... WHY DO I FEEL SO... HORNY?!
Sometimes being pregnant increases your sex drive. Sometimes it does the exact opposite. Either way, you may have really weird dreams! I found it was different for me with each pregnancy. Don't feel guilty for feeling whatever it is you feel. You and your partner may have to get creative as you grow larger, and your breasts become more sensitive. And, BONUS, when you are in your third trimester and nearing your due date, sexual intercourse can help stimulate labor so have fun!
Your nipples will be super sensitive and get darker in color. It goes away but it can be alarming at first! It's nature's way of making your nipples more visible to your baby.
9 MONTHS? NOPE!
The average first pregnancy lasts 41 weeks and 3 days. That said, my first baby came at 37 weeks and my second was induced at 39 weeks... everybody is different! But 41 weeks, 3 days is the average. So don't get too fixated on that 40-week timeline. Know that baby will come at the right time.
AM I REALLY EATING FOR 2? NOT REALLY...
Pregnancy is NOT eating for two, it’s eating for 1.1 (source: Lily Nichols). Lily Nichols is an awesome resource for nutrition before, during, and after baby. I highly recommend her book, Real Food for Pregnancy.
THE BABY IS HOW BIG?!
Ultrasounds are not always accurate at measuring baby's size, especially in the third trimester. During the third trimester, they are an average of 10-20% off in estimating your baby’s actual weight. In other words, an average sized baby could be estimated as weighing over 9 pounds. In my case, my baby was measuring very small (in the 12% for size). When I was induced at 39 weeks, she turned out to be 6 pounds (small, but not too small!).
MY FEET ARE SUPER ITCHY AT NIGHT
If you have itchy feet in pregnancy, especially at night, you should mention it to your health care provider. I did and it turns out it's the ONLY symptom of a liver condition known as Cholestasis and it can lead to preterm labor and infant mortality so it's super important to communicate this. If you have it, you will likely be induced a few weeks early.
You may develop restless leg syndrome during pregnancy. It's uncomfortable and usually happens in the evenings. When I was sitting on the couch in the evenings, I'd suddenly feel this strange discomfort in my legs and kick them up in the air and wiggle them about. I found for me it was worse when I was extra tired and low in iron and magnesium.
WHY AM I ALWAYS SO STUFFY? I'M NOT SICK!
You may have a chronically stuffy nose in pregnancy due to something called Rhinitis. It's a buildup of mucus in the sinuses due to pregnancy hormones and it STINKS but it goes away after the baby comes out and you will be able to breathe clearly again (I promise! I had it with both!) Nasal strips can help at night as well as sleeping propped up.
TIME TO DETOX
Dr Mark Hyman is a physician who focuses more on functional medicine. He also talks a great deal about the toxicity of our environment and foods, and how this can impact our overall health. This is interesting to consider during pregnancy. Check out my previous blog post about Preparing for Pregnancy to read about ways you can try to lesson your toxic exposure for the health of you and your baby.
IS THAT MY... MUCUS PLUG?!
I'll never forget the first time my pregnant friend told me about her mucus plug. She was so excited because it had fallen out, but she actually didn't end up going into labor until over a week later. When I went to the bathroom one day and felt something slick down there as a wiped, I immediately googled mucus plug and sure enough, there are a whole lot of pictures (yuck) and websites about this lovely topic. Here's the thing though: not everybody loses it. It also looks slightly different for everyone and many women aren't even aware when and if they lose it. And most importantly: it doesn't always mean labor is imminent.
PLANNING FOR POSTPARTUM
Prepare for your postpartum experience WHILE you are pregnant. Do your research, listen to podcasts, read books. Once the baby comes, you may find yourself overwhelmed and it will be easier to prepare in advance for the experience. You will be grateful you did.
In addition to preparing for a hospital stay and drafting a Birth Plan, you should also draft a Postpartum Plan and think about the kind of support you would prefer in the early days of having a newborn at home.
Please note: I am not a doctor. I am a prenatal yoga instructor who does a great deal of research in my free time about pregnancy and birth and postpartum health. If you have any concerns about your own health or the health of your baby, you should always consult with your personal healthcare providers.