Things I Didn’t Expect About Pregnancy
September 17, 2020
With only 8 weeks to go in my pregnancy (although, who knows when baby boy will make his appearance!) I feel ready to write this post already. So much has happened in the past 32 weeks and a lot of it wasn’t in any of the baby books, not included in anecdotes from family & friends, nor how the media portrayed pregnancy.
Now, with that being said, every pregnancy is different so this is just my experience. However, if you’re the type of person who likes to know what possibilities lie ahead, then this might be helpful if you’re planning on getting pregnant in the near future (or for any of you mums who feel like having a funny reminisce on your own pregnancy – maybe you can relate to some of these!).
Let’s start with an obvious one that became not-so-obvious to me! I always imagined that you had one craving for the entirety of your pregnancy (e.g. pickles). That was absolutely not the case for me at all. In fact, I wish there was more conversation around food aversions vs. cravings because this affected me far more! The shift in your nose and palate is one of the most fascinating things about the “side effects” of pregnancy. With morning sickness comes an intense aversion to all sort of foods – some more random than others. I still have aversions to some foods that turned my stomach back in the first trimester, and after speaking with a friend, she still (16 months postpartum) cannot have some foods/drinks that she had pre-pregnancy.
As for cravings, I’ve found that mine have changed about every two weeks and none have repeated. I’m also quite picky with what I want to eat & when I want to eat so this just adds another layer to the difficulty of food during pregnancy.
It was the beginning of my second trimester and I felt that my heart was about to pump out of my chest! The first few times I experienced this, I was truly frightened by what was happening. Thankfully, a quick Google search reassured me that my body just needed to pump extra blood to baby (which obviously makes sense) but experiencing something like heart racing with no warning was a terrifying thing in the moment.
Frequent Bathroom Visits…
I knew that as baby grows, they put pressure on your bladder which causes increased urges to visit the loo. I thought, however, that this was particularly true only in the third trimester. That has definitely not been the case for my bladder. I experienced increased desires for urination starting from the beginning of my second trimester with no signs of letting up! When I say frequent I mean sometimes I would need to visit the loo 4 times within 5 minutes. This. Is. Not. An. Exaggeration. Talk about a toilet paper shortage during COVID-19…
Maintaining an active pregnancy is something that your doctor, all the baby books, apps, etc. will promote and encourage. Somewhat hilariously, I’ve found this advocation damn near impossible to meet due to my bladder! I’m not even joking in the slightest…
We’re encouraged to drink even more water than usual during pregnancy which I’ve happily been doing (especially with these heatwaves!) but that just means my bladder has had no respite! I commend any pregnant woman who is able to do a proper workout and last longer than 10 minutes without needing to use the restroom. I suppose it’s a saving grace that my gym has been closed due to COVID-19 because I’m not sure how fruitful those visit would’ve been anyway.
I do, however, still want to maintain a decent level of movement and not remain sedentary the entire day, so walks have been the biggest form of activity I’ve felt comfortable doing. I tried a few online prenatal yoga classes but found them boring so gave up on that quite quickly and have just been doing my own stretches at night time.
One of the most common questions I’ve received (after “Can I see your bump?!”) has been “Have you felt baby move yet?” Baby’s movement changes throughout your pregnancy (which is to be expected) but I didn’t realize just how that would happen. The first movements are “flutters” and incredibly subtle. They progress to “kicks” which remain mostly internal and eventual protrude so your partner can start to feel them as well. This is one of the best parts of baby’s movement – having your partner feel what you’re feeling and watching their excitement! This is when I felt a shift in my perception of baby’s movement…
His kicks started aiming towards my bladder (as if I didn’t have the urge to pee enough!) so I began feeling thoughts of frustration which I never imagined having towards my unborn child – cue guilt trip! I then experienced rhythmic “kicks” a few weeks back and couldn’t for the life of me figure out what was going on (was it my blood pumping aggressively in my womb?!). After a quick Google search I learned baby had the hiccups! *awwwww*
Fast forward to two weeks after that first hiccup and now his hiccups can last upwards of 5-7 minutes at a time which, again, leads to a feeling of frustration. I haven’t heard many women speak about having negative feelings towards their baby’s movement (unless there were sharp and painful kicks to the ribs) so experiencing this mental shift has been a hard one to come to terms with. Mummy guilt is definitely a real thing when baby is here, so I suppose I’m merely experiencing this early? Something I need to keep reminding myself is that an active baby in the womb means a healthy baby and that tends to always ground me.
How other people would perceive my pregnancy didn’t cross my mind once pre- or during pregnancy until Eddie and I took a mini babymoon a few weeks back. One day we were walking about in the town’s village (I was a massively protruding 28 weeks preggo lady) and I received more looks and whispers than I care to remember. Probably fuelled heavily by hormones, but I became incredibly self conscious about my appearance and went into a bit of a reclusive funk that day.
Conversely, the next day we took a hike and I received nothing but praise, positive comments, and snippets of motivation from every single person we passed! What a 180!
This is just to say that a.) you shouldn’t care what others think of you. Period. but b.) hormones are definitely a mystery and can play nasty tricks on your mind.
Pregnancy Pillows & Sleeping “Discomfort”
Ahhh the ever talked about pregnancy pillow. One of my best friends lovingly bought me a pregnancy pillow right when she found out I was pregnant! It arrived in the biggest box I’ve ever seen and remained on my bedside poofs until I knew I needed a little aid with my belly. (Side note: I’ve always slept with a pillow at my back and a pillow at my tummy ever since I can remember. It’s a comfort thing I suppose).
I gave it a shot at the beginning of my second trimester and felt it too intrusive in the bed so plopped it back on the bedside poofs and brought it back into bed just before my third trimester began when my belly was really massive. Again, I found it more annoying to sleep with than beneficial. This might be due to the type of pregnancy pillow (there are a gajillion styles out on the market), my sleep style (I flip back and forth a lot in the night), the size of my bed, etc. So, perhaps take this with a grain of salt, because I know there are a plethora of pregnancy pillows out there to choose from. This is the one I have and this is one I’ve heard nothing but raves about and could see being more manageable in bed (although it does have a heftier price tag).
Instead of investing in another pregnancy pillow to try, I simply grabbed cushions I already had and shoved one between my legs (which stays put nicely when I decide to flip sides). I must say, since I already sleep with two pillows for either side of me, the addition of one between my legs has done the trick nicely as it relates to solving pregnancy discomfort.
Speaking of ‘discomfort’ I’ve actually found that I’ve not been too uncomfortable sleeping whilst pregnant (although, rolling over does take a new approach). The interruption to my sleep typically comes when baby boy decides he wants to have a dance party in my belly from 4am – 5:30am most mornings. So, my sleep is generally interrupted with multiple bathroom trips throughout the night and then movement from baby keeping me awake throughout the morning. I have heard stories of women hating their mattresses and needing to sleep on the couch which must be a nightmare!
Making Medical Decisions
This is probably one of the biggest gripes I have about my pregnancy experience thus far. Before deciding on an OBGYN, the internet gives you a list of questions you should ask them during your evaluation process. However, the questions listed are things like “How do you feel about the use of pitocin?” “What is your stance on episiotomies?” etc. Whilst I like to consider myself someone who does lots of research before embarking on an adventure, overwhelming myself with every single detail of pregnancy and birth at the beginning of pregnancy was simply something I couldn’t come to terms with. You pretty much needed to have done ALL your baby book reading, internet research, documentary watching, and speaking to family/friends about pregnancy/birth to make wise decisions about your medical choices BEFORE you fall pregnant. Nobody in their right mind could possibly have completed all of that before deciding on a doctor and birth plan.
For example, upon falling pregnant I knew I was interested in giving birth at a birthing center (we have one associated with the hospital here which is lovely) but after speaking with Eddie we had agreed that he’d feel safer if I gave birth in the hospital. To be fair, our hospital looks very much like a birthing center with tub, birthing ball, light adjustments, etc! However, after watching the documentary listed below just two weeks ago, I had a massive change of heart (with Eddie’s full approval) and decided I wanted to switch our plan and go back to the birthing center as our primary choice. Unfortunately, I was too far along in my pregnancy and there was a waitlist at the birthing center so I won’t be able to go that route and will need to stick with the hospital. This is something I could’ve avoided if I had done all my research prior to pregnancy but it’s just an unrealistic expectation to put on first time expectant mothers.
With all of that being said, I do have some resources to share with you that have helped me tremendously pre- and during pregnancy! I’ve got a slew of books for post-baby that I’ve not even tackled yet, but if anyone sees anything missing that would be helpful to include, please share below! 🙂
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May. This is by far my favourite book I’ve read so far. It was one of the most highly recommended books for a natural birth experience and so when a friend gave it to me I completely nerded out!
Expecting Better by Emily Oster. This was the first book we read before falling pregnant and I’d say it does the best job at demystifying pregnancy. Emily tackles everything from a research perspective (she’s an economist) and gives you easy-to-reference cheatsheets throughout the book. (We loved Expecting Better so much that we also bought Cribsheet by Emily Oster but have yet to tuck into that one! It’s on our to-do!)
Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. I spoke about this book in one of my Newsletters. This one is more geared to postpartum but already gave me plenty to think about as baby boy’s arrival is quickly approaching. I’ve already had a shift in how I want to approach raising my child, working full-time, and balancing the nuances of being a good mother. Also, it’s wildly entertaining to read!
‘The Business of Being Born’ Documentary on Amazon Prime. This is the documentary I mentioned above that made me want to go back to a birthing center. Whilst older (12 years old) it still has plenty of relevant information to keep in mind when planning your birth.
The Positive Birth Company – I just purchased this course over the weekend so haven’t begun it yet, but the research behind Hypnobirthing is concrete and I will happily share my experience after I’ve completed the course and given birth for anyone curious!
I hope this was even the slightest bit helpful. I truly am loving being pregnant and am excited for birth! My friends have planned a virtual baby shower for me that’s happening this weekend so I’m feeling beyond loved by everybody. Thank you to everyone who has reached out throughout my pregnancy and shared your tips! I will gladly keep accepting them all. 🙂