Pregnancy is a beautiful and amazing experience. However, it's also a lot of work. And I don't mean that in the way that you're going to have to do so much cleaning or laundry (although you will!). There are some things—like how your body will change and what people will say about your pregnancy—that can be difficult to deal with, but they're all just part of the process. Parenthood has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life so far and I'm glad that I've been through it (multiple times)!
The hardest part of being pregnant is the lack of self-care.
It’s completely normal to feel this way, but it can be overwhelming if you don't have someone around who understands what you are going through.
I wish someone had told me how much I would want to curl up in a ball and sleep all day. I wish someone had told me how many people would tell me what was best for my health and my baby, regardless of whether or not they were qualified to give advice on either subject. I especially wish someone had warned me about how hard it would be when people didn't understand why something as simple as eating chocolate made me happy, because gorging on junk food has been one of the only ways I've felt normal during my pregnancies.
You will be constantly hungry (and I mean constantly).
As you might expect, the physical changes that come with pregnancy can make you hungry all the time. But it's not just about the increase in appetite: your body needs more nutrients and calories to provide for your baby's growth. So even when your stomach is full, it still feels like something is missing. This feeling will get stronger as your pregnancy progresses, but it doesn't mean that you have to start eating everything in sight—foods high in sugar or fat may actually make you feel worse if they're not balanced with other nutrients (not to mention the health risks associated with too much sugar).
The worst part? The hunger pains don't always happen when you'd expect them—they'll also hit unexpectedly throughout the day and night. You may wake up needing something sugary or salty before breakfast even starts! And no matter how much food I ate during meal times, I still found myself snacking throughout my waking hours—I became a human vending machine whose only purpose was satisfying my snack cravings whenever possible.
Your body will feel different, but that's okay.
You will feel uncomfortable. Your body will change in ways you never imagined, and perhaps not for the better. You might feel like you’ve gained weight when in reality, you haven’t or at least not much. Your back and hips will probably hurt, and so will your skin—and no one tells you how bad stretch marks can be until they have them! You won't sleep well at night because of a baby bump taking up room in your bed between you and your partner; and being tired all day long is something that just comes with being pregnant.
There are women who will judge you for your choices, and that's okay.
You can’t please everyone. It’s important to know that some people will judge you for your choices, and that's okay. Some mums are still breastfeeding at 2 years old; others use formula from birth. Some women choose to work out during pregnancy; others don’t want to exercise until after delivery because they have medical condition which make it unsafe for them to be active.
It's easy to get caught up in what other people think, but ultimately you have the final say on how you choose to parent—and that's something no one can take away from you!
What to expect from other people when you tell them you're pregnant.
There will be a lot of people in your life when you get pregnant. Some of those people are close to you, some are acquaintances and friends of friends. It's important to remember that these other people have their own lives going on and their own emotions they're working through.
In general, most of the people who find out about your pregnancy will be excited for you. Many may want to know what is happening with your body at different stages or ask questions about how your pregnancy is progressing. Others might just want to hear stories about the baby's movements or first kicks. A few might ask whether this is your first child—and if it isn't, they may ask which one was hardest or easiest!
However—and this is important—not everyone is going to be happy for you when they learn about your news! While many people do not express sadness openly, it's important to remember that everyone is on their own journey and others may have had trouble conceiving or experienced pregnancy loss like we did.
What does it mean to be "in labour?" People always want to know what you're going through, so here are some terms to use as you describe your experience during labour!
A lot of women have asked me what it means to be "in labour," so I thought I'd share some terms to use!
- Labour: This is the actual process of giving birth, which begins when your cervix starts to dilate (open) and ends when your baby is born. There are typically three stages of labor: the first stage, second stage, and third stage (the pushing phase). Your body usually has its own way of telling you that you're in labour—and it isn't always painful or uncomfortable! You may notice an increase in back pain or pressure on your pelvis from the baby's head as well as contractions that feel like strong period cramps.
- Stages Of Labour: Most women generally go through three specific stages before their newborn arrives! Here's a rough example of what happens during each one.* First Stage Of Labour - Contractions begin here and happen every 5-30 minutes until they become more frequent and closer together.* Second Stage Of Labour - contractions intensify during this time with a shorter rest period between them.* Third Stage Of Labour - this is where pushing occurs after baby passes through birth canal
What happens after baby is born? What do you do with all of those leftover pregnancy symptoms?
After the baby is born, it's common to have some lingering pregnancy symptoms. Here are a few things that might help you out!
- Get back to light exercise. You've been pregnant for nine months, and now your body has completely changed. This doesn't change with the birth of your child; getting back in to some light exercise once you've had clearance from your doctor will help you look and feel better.
- Get an extra pair of hands on deck. You may not be able to do everything that you did before having a child without some extra support from family or friends during this time period.
Breastfeeding information, tips and tricks (for both mum and baby).
If you’re breastfeeding, it’s important to stay vigilant in your baby-feeding routine. This is especially true during the first few months of breastfeeding as your baby learns how to latch on correctly and regulate how much milk they take from you.
Never be afraid to reach out to your midwife or doctor for advice.
Pregnancy is a beautiful but hard experience, and there are plenty of people available to answer any questions that might arise!
Pregnancy is confusing, and you're not always going to know what's happening to your body. There are many wonderful books and online resources that can help answer some questions along the way. For me personally, I found "What to expect when you're expecting" and "Pregnancy, Birth & Baby" great sources of information when I was expecting.
I wish more people knew about these things, and I hope this helps you become a little more prepared for the journey ahead. If you have any questions about what's going on with your body or at any stage of your journey reach out to your doctor.
Until next time, all the best Mama xx