- Women's Health
What They Won't Tell You About Your Pregnancy
What is happening to my body?!
Okay, let's be honest...
If your girlfriends told you the truth about pregnancy:
You might not want to get pregnant!
I - like many unsuspecting first time pregnant mothers - was totally mortified by all of the crazy, gross, and just plain weird things that happened to me during my pregnancy.
So, to be fair... whether you are pregnant or not (just yet), I am bringing these secrets out of the closet, so there are no surprises, less problems... and hopefully LOTS of solutions!
What's with all these needles?
No doubt that if you are already pregnant and have seen your OB, you are feeling like a human pincushion by now. I found a website that listed eight separate blood tests that would be done IF you are healthy and problem free.
You will also be required to give a urine sample every time you go to the doctor, so be sure to drink some water on the way there. Don't worry, this will come easy later on in the pregnancy.
Lotions, Oils, or Cocao Butter: Oh my!
Stretch marks: Those little silvery marks that appear on your skin when you get large, quickly.
There is a myth amongst expectant mothers that if you rub your belly, daily, with oils or lotions, you will evade stretch marks. This is not true.
Moisturizers only seep into the first few layers of skin. Stretch marks develop in deeper layers of skin than any moisturizer can reach.
Stretch marks are hereditary. If your mother had them, there is a big chance that you will, too.
This is a mixed blessing. You don't have to worry about rubbing your belly religiously, but if your genetics are bad...
You are out of luck!
The Solution: The only real solution to these little badges of motherhood is plastic surgery or laser therapy.
That Bad Taste in your Mouth
This was one of the most troublesome things to me, early on in my pregnancy. More so than nausea, which tells you how nasty the flavor stuck in my mouth actually was.
I've heard it described as a "metallic" taste, but to me it tasted like I had eaten some kind of chemical from the garage.
I searched long and hard and came up with one tip that worked for me. For the few months that this lasted, I used this solution.
Mix baking soda with water, swish it around in your mouth, and gargle it. You will have to do this every time it comes back, so you may as well just leave the baking soda by your sink. For me, the flavor stayed away until the next time I ate. It actually kept me from wanting to eat.
Saving Your Boobies
So... realistically, you cannot. The skin on our boobies stretches to accomidate the additional breast volume we aquire when we are pregnant, so that we may (or may not) breastfeed.
When you stop breastfeeding, your boobies go down to their former size. Now, the skin is stretched, so they appear saggier. This, again, rests heavily on genetics and how your mother's boobies reacted to pregnancy.
The Solutions: There are no real natural solutions. The best advice is to wear a supportive bra throughout your pregnancy and breastfeeding stints. No amount of pectoral exercise will get them back to what they were. The only real solution is breast augmentation.
Your Support System - Giving them a fighting chance.
Here is a smart selection of supportive bras to help you through your pregnancy. Remember, your boobies will grow up to two sizes! You will need to buy about 3 new bra wardrobes before this is all over. The two sizes you will go up and nursing bras in your final size, after your breastmilk comes in.
You can actually find sexy ones like these. I had one that was leapord print with black lace. Ooooh!
Oh. I forgot. You also need a pumping bra if you plan to pump. A good friend of mine was awesome enough to tell me this. Well, actually, she said there was something I needed and she would bring it to me.
Another Boobie Myth
Breastfeeding does NOT
make your boobies saggy.
It will not make a difference.
Your Whole New Wardrobe
You might not realize this at this point, but you will actually need about 2 new wardrobes.
The first one is for right after you grow out of your pre-pregancy jeans (get used to this term... you will use it a lot). This is your in between stage. You don't fit in normal clothing, but you don't quite look pregnant, yet, so maternity clothes are ridiculous. Good choices for this time would be a belly band and jeans a size up that have a stretch waist if possible. I know they sell them at Kohls because that is where I went to stock up for cheap! Larger than your normal size tees are also a good choice for right now. For work, just get some large blouses that are pretty basic, so no one will know/care if you wear them a lot. Stretchy skirts are perfect. Maternity hose will be good right now, but won't fit comfortably for much longer.
The second one is for when you start showing. Use your in between stage clothes for as long as possible. Then, buy a size up from your normal size. Stores and books will sometimes tell you to buy your normal size, but if you do, you will end up having to buy three wardrobes! This is when you should go for maternity everything. Stretchy pants or waistbands. Those full panels seem like a better idea, but they are so awkward and usually cut you right across your belly. You need shirts or blouses with enough room for your belly and really stretchy tanks.
The Solutions: You could go all the way and buy your items from a boutique or Pea in the Pod. But, for most of us, the prices at these places are WAY out of reach (especially considering these clothes will only be worn for about four months.
I found the best maternity clothes at Baby Gap (in the back of the store they sometimes have maternity; call ahead) and at Motherhood Maternity. They have a wide selection and their items hold up really well. BabiesRUs also carries good stuff, although a bit expensive for the brands they have. Surprisingly Sears had some pretty great stuff, too (I would NEVER shop there for anything but tools if I wasn't pregnant).
I did NOT like Old Navy's stuff. It looks great online, but when you actually see the items in person they look super cheap and flimsy. Kohls has the smallest and plainest maternity section ever. If you need basics, go there; otherwise, skip it. I never found anything (except some shorts) cute and flattering at Target. Who knows if they will have better stuff when you set out on your shopping escapade. Target does seem to have the least expensive belly bands, so you may end up going here, anyway.
As for shoes, you will probably need the next size up. Buy nice if you only have to go half a size up. Buy cheap if it's more than half a size.
Journaling?!? Journal THIS!!
Let me tell you.
Between morning sickness, the bad taste in your mouth, and your mood swings...
Journaling is probably not the best idea!
I tried for a bit. I generally have a positive outlook on life and I obviously like to write. Well, it was comical. Basically, every journal entry had something to do with being bloated or feeling sick.
If you still insist on writing it all down...
Here are some options.
This is the one I had. Someday, maybe I will share some entries with you!
Even if You're an Honest Person
Being open and honest with your OB/GYN will not come naturally
Any books you read will have lots of wonderful suggestions about what to ask your doctor when you get there. Well, after I had been poked and prodded and medically violated, I could never remember any of those great questions. When I wrote them down, I found that I just wanted to leave as soon as possible. I didn't want to sit around and chat.
It's always weird when they ask if you drink. Ummm... not right now! No before: How much did you say you would drink a week? Huh? Am I going to sound like a lush if I say three glasses of wine a week?
Keep in mind that doctors have heard everything. It is very unlikely that your embarrassing story will surprise them.
The Not So Pleasant Ultrasound
What is that strange tool connected to the U/S machine and why is there a rubber on it? Until you are in your second trimester, they do not use that cute little wand that tickles your tummy. It is not powerful enough to pick up a picture.
They use a long wand that goes inside you. They put a rubber sleave on it so that it is sanitary and put lubricating jelly on that. It is very strange and kind of scarey the first time.
The Solutions: Don't worry. Just relax. As soon as you see your baby on the screen, you will forget all about the strange wand.
That 40 week thing... That's a myth!
Okay, let me tell you... by the time your slow moving, swollen hands, can't see your toes 36th week comes along - no matter how much you love being pregnant - you will be so ready to get that baby out.
Only 5% of babies are born on their due date. According to Dr. Spock, 50% of pregancies don't end until two weeks after one's due date. And, what a miserable two weeks that would be if you are rigid about your expectations!
Many women schedule a c-section. These women usually have their cesarian one to two weeks ahead.
A lot of babies come out around 36 weeks. These are the lucky mommy's. Babies are considered full-term at 37 weeks. It seems like a lot of my friends had their baby's by 36 weeks.
Hey Lookee Lookee! - Babies Kick Hard
Let's Face It... Birthing classes are silly!
While they are a good idea for the first time parent, you can achieve the same depth of knowledge from a good DVD version of the class.
I did the DVD and felt like I knew exactly what to expect and how to breathe. The DVD taught lamaze style breathing as well as tips for the "coach" (you husband, mother, or BFF).
This is a perfect option for anyone who does not have time to set aside for classes. They are often once a week, two hours long, and for a six week duration. Seriously? Yep.
Also, if you get anxiety in groups or are easily embarrased, a DVD is definitely the best way to go.
This is the video I watched and had my coaches watch:
The footage is a little vintage, but the message is the same. This video really helps. It teaches you and your coach everything you will need to know.
Husband? What Husband?
Oh yeah. He is so not into this pregnancy thing.
You are carrying this baby. You are feeling it kick. It is understandable that Daddy may not get excited until the day of arrival.
Try to keep him involved, but do not drive him nuts by forcing him to write letters or fold baby clothes. Ask him to help with the nursery. There are some things you may normally be totally efficient in doing, but cannot manage with a belly (for ex: balancing on a chair of ladder). Force him to feel the baby kicking. This may seem cheesy to some guys, but feeling that kick can warm his heart. Lastly, try to get him involved in at least one ultrasound appointment. Seeing his baby as a concrete thing on a screen may change his attitude.
On another related note, I read a disturbing article when I was pregant that made me declare that my husband would not be permitted anywhere closer to my "down there" than my head. Basically, this magazine did a survey amongst fathers, asking if they thought of their wives differently in bed, after seeing a baby come out. The overwhelming majority said yes and that it affects their bedroom affairs for months afterward. Yikes!!
So no matter how mature and involved he might think he wants to be on the big day, the decision should be made carefully.
Actually, no, not always.
While I was growing up and while I was pregnant, my mother sternly warned that labor was the most painful thing she had ever experienced. She acted like I was doomed and was going to have a near death experience. I was terrified.
When I got to the hospital for my scheduled cesarian, I was already in labor and was having contractions 2 to 4 minutes apart. I had no idea. I didn't lose my mucous plug noticably, break my water, or feel any contractions any stronger than Braxton Hicks.
I was pretty much at the time limit when I requested meds and it was actually my best friend that said something, not me. It never hurt any worse than a bad cramp. I didn't scream. I never cussed. I just breathed and tensed up. After they gave me the medicine, it didn't hurt
at all. It was hard work to push after 11 hours of labor, but that was my only concern.
The only thing I did differently was read a book on Hypnobirthing. I didn't actually think it was going to work. I didn't practice as much as they suggested. I just like to read and get different points of view and that was one of the many books I researched. I was told by the nurses that I had a "high pain tolerance". But, I have to wonder if I didn't just hypnotize myself through contractions.
If you want to try to hypnotize yourself... - Start here:
This is the book that I read.
A C-section is Not The Best Option
I also ended up having a c-section after the 12 hours of labor.
My BFF had pleaded the whole time that I just schedule one so that I didn't have to go through labor (she has not had a baby, yet).
Well, when they said it would be a surgical delivery, I almost passed out. I was terrified. I started to have a panic attack. Luckily, after expressing my intense fear to my anesthesiologist, he took pitty on me and upped the meds. I also told my doctor and the attending nurse that I did not want to know anything that was happening. I did not want a play-by-play. Because I spoke up and was honest, I was more comfortable with the process. Do not be afraid to speak up if the plan changes.
Also, after the surgery, I started having crazy pain under my incision. The outside looked perfect and had healed beautifully. At my two week appointment, I mentioned the pain and my OB/GYN's nurse told me it was normal. A few days later I couldn't even stand. I had the nurse paged. She told me it was still normal. My husband insisted on taking me to the ER. They also thought I was exaggerating. After an MRI, they told me I had an infection and prescribed pain meds and antibiotics. Two days later I was almost painfree.
My point is, a cesarian is not always a better option. It is major surgery with major complications. They are cutting you open, removing your organs, and pulling a 7 lb baby through your tummy. Take it seriously and do not be afraid to speak up if something is not right.
A Pain in Your A**!
Something you are likely to experience at some time during your pregnancy is Sciatic Nerve pain. You will know if you have it by pain and tingling in your butt cheeks and top of your legs. It hurts and even had me in tears at the start of my pregnancy.
Luckily, for Mother's Day my husband sent me to get a prenatal massage at a local spa. I told the massage therapist about my pain and he hurt me so good that I never had it again throughout my entire pregnancy.
He also told me that if the pain came back, I could get my husband to dig his elbow into my butt cheek and nudge it in a circle around the bone in there. I never had to do this, but it might help you.
But, if you can... get a real massage!!
The Real Deal
Looking for books that don't lie or sugar coat? Here are some great suggestions.
I Want to End with a Positive Note
It's not all horrible.
The end result (your baby) makes it well worth it and is (it has to be) the reason women get pregnancy amnesia and want to do it all over again!
I was really happy to find out that between breastfeeding (burns 500 calories) and hauling your baby around, it is pretty easy to get back to your prepregnancy weight.