From the moment you see those two little pink lines show up on the pregnancy test, you can feel your whole world changing. No longer are you just ‘you’, you are growing a tiny little baby inside of you.
It’s both absolutely amazing and downright scary.
I look back to the start of my first pregnancy and can’t believe how far I’ve come since then. Oh, how naive I was… I had absolutely no idea what was ahead of me, both the good and the not-so-spectacular.
A friend of mine recently found out she was pregnant with her first child and I started thinking of all the things I wish I knew at the start of my first pregnancy.
Then I realized, there are probably a lot of women who feel the same.
So, pass this on to any women you know who are in the same position, add your own things you wish you knew, and smile at how different things were then compared to how they are now.
1 – Despite What Everyone Might Imply, You’re Not Highly Breakable
As soon as I knew I was pregnant, I felt like I wanted to put up this invisible shield around me and hibernate, in order to keep my babe safe.
I was terrified of tripping over and falling, eating the wrong thing or doing anything that could cause damage to the baby.
The truth is, your baby is pretty darn safe in there. Your body was built to keep this baby safe and healthy. And really, the majority of foods are safe to eat.
Chat with your doctor about what you really, really have to avoid and go with their advice – not your Great Aunt Maye’s.
Most of the time, you can continue doing the activities you love, within reason. Just listen to your body and if something feels off, don’t do it.
It’s actually a really great time to get into the practice of paying attention to your body, how it feels, the different sensations, and what makes you feel good – something that will definitely come in handy during labor!
2 – Not All Pregnancies Are The Same
Just because your friend Sally gained 30kg in her pregnancy, doesn’t mean you will too.
And just because your friend Sarah was able to run 5km every day of her pregnancy, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to.
No two pregnancies are the same, even for the same mother. So don’t feel like you have to keep up with or compare yourself to anyone else.
While it’s nice to hear anecdotal stories from friends, and sometimes these stories can make you feel better about what’s happening, they can also do the opposite.
The best thing you can do is focus on your own pregnancy and how you’re feeling.
Keep reminding yourself, this is your pregnancy, no one else’s, and no one has ever had your pregnancy before.
3 – Everyone Will Offer You Advice – And You Don’t Have To Take It
Seriously, as soon as that bump starts to show or as soon as you start telling people you’re pregnant, it’s like this switch flicks and everyone starts dishing out advice left, right and centre. * Including me, right now… *
You don’t have to take anyone’s advice. Just because your friend says you have to have a baby shower, doesn’t mean you actually have to have one.
Just because your mother-in-law says that you shouldn’t allow your baby to co-sleep because they will become “too dependent on you” (insert eye roll) doesn’t mean you have to take her advice.
As long as what you’re doing is safe, you’ve discussed it with your doctor or midwife, and you and your husband are happy, then that’s all that really matters.
Read This: The Worst Advice I Was Given As A New Mother
4 – Get Someone Qualified In Your Corner
This is a major game changer when it comes to understanding your pregnancy and being prepared for pregnancy, labour and parenthood.
Get someone qualified in your corner.
For me, it was a private midwife in my second pregnancy. She was amazing and had my best interest at heart.
She wasn’t an obstetrician wanting to keep their surgery stats looking good, she wasn’t a hospital midwife who was waiting for her shift to end so she could get home, she was there with me for the whole thing.
She knew me, she knew my family, she knew what we wanted and she supported me through everything.
If there was anything I didn’t understand, I asked her. And I knew and trusted her enough that if she told me something had to be done, then it had to be done.
You don’t have to have a private midwife like I did, but find someone who is qualified and will be with you and have your needs first. It makes the world of difference.
Further to that, understand the limitations of your care providers, and ask to see a specialist if required.
For example, while many midwives understand the fundamentals of breastfeeding, most haven’t done any specific training in this field.
Find a good IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) who can help you with any issues you have, help you build confidence, and help you understand all of your feeding options.
Another specialist that is highly recommended is a physiotherapist that specializes in women’s health. They can help you with your post birth recovery, and are the next level up in expert care.
5 – This Is YOUR Pregnancy, Know Your Options
With my first pregnancy, I didn’t really know that I had options available.
Admittedly, it wasn’t a straightforward pregnancy and I had to be closely monitored for a long time, but still, I had more options than I thought, especially when it came to labor and birth.
You don’t have to labor in a hospital, you don’t have to birth in a hospital, you don’t have to have a cesarean, there are ways to move a baby around who is presenting breach, you don’t have to have an epidural, and you don’t have to give birth naturally.
You have so many options available – ask questions and don’t take everything on face value. This is YOUR pregnancy.
One strategy that can help you make informed decisions is using the BRAIN acronym which stands for:
B – Benefits: What are the benefits of making this decision? What are the benefits to me? What are the benefits to my baby?
R – Risks: What are the risks involved? What are the absolute risks – that is in real numbers (for example, if you’re being told something ‘doubles your chances’ of an adverse reaction, are you going from a 20% chance to a 40% chance, or a 0.01% chance to a 0.02% chance?).
A – Alternatives: What alternatives are available? (There are almost always alternatives available – be sure to be given all the alternatives, not just the ‘negative’ ones).
I – Intuition: What is your intuition telling you? What’s that gut feeling saying? Often you’ll have a feeling that something is not quite right or that someone is trying to influence your decision.
N – Nothing: What would happen if you did nothing at all (or wait a little while longer)?
And remember, you can almost always ask for more time to make a decision – it’s rare that any situation is so time critical you can’t be afforded a few minutes (or even hours/days) longer to make a decision.
Another great thing to keep in mind is to ask your care providers simple things like ‘What else can you tell me about…?’ or ‘What are my options for this?’
By asking questions you become more informed and you can make better decisions about your pregnancy, labor, and birth.
6 – You Don’t Need 90% Of The Things On Your Amazon Wish List
It’s so exciting with your first baby, and you’re delving into a world unknown so it’s easy to be sold to on all the baby ‘essentials’.
But really, there aren’t many true essentials. And your ‘essentials’ will be different to everyone else’s.
So, before you make any big purchases weigh up how much the item will actually get used, what benefits it will have (will it allow you to have some hands free time or will it allow you to spend more time closer to your babe?) and evaluate for yourself if you believe it’s worth the spend.
Talk to other moms and see what they loved and what they bought that they thought was a bit of a waste to get a good idea of what you actually do need.
Of course, this is all personal preference and you should do what works for you, but it’s important to keep in mind that you don’t need to spend a fortune or have everything ‘just so’ to be a good mom.
Plus babies grow so fast, and that fancy $600 rocker might only be good to use for a few months (and if your baby is anything like my babies, then they’ll probably hate the rocker anyway).
And just in case you’re wondering – no, you don’t need a wipe warmer. It had to be said.
7 – Use Your Pregnancy To Your Advantage!!
Don’t feel like going out to the work dinner party? Pull out the pregnancy card!
No one is going to argue with a pregnant woman who wants to rest (and if they do, they are a very game person…).
You’re not going to be able to use this excuse for very long so make the most of it while you can.
And if you want to use it as an excuse not to do the grocery shopping (it’s too hard to reach the top shelves) or to not clean (all the bad chemicals), then that’s fine too!
It’s also a good reason to request extra foot massages and back rubs. You’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.
Read This: 10 Of The Best Perks Of Being Pregnant
8 – You Are Stronger Than You Ever Imagined Possible
You are literally growing a human inside of you. That’s pretty darn amazing. It’s easy to forget just how incredible this is.
We are reminded that millions of women around the world have been doing this whole ‘pregnancy’ thing for millions of years and it can dilute how incredible this process really is.
And there will be times when you want to give up – and just pass the pregnancy on to your husband for a day to give you a break. There will be times when you feel like you can’t do it anymore.
There will be moments of so much love you’ll feel like your heart is going to literally leap out of your chest. And there will be moments when you’re not sure how you can physically function.
But you will. And you will be amazing.
Because you are so much stronger than you ever imagined possible. You are more capable than you ever dreamed. And your understanding of yourself and your life is about to change in the most amazing way possible.
9 – You Are Not Alone – Not Ever
There are going to be times when you feel so incredibly alone, even when there are people around you. There will be people who don’t understand what you’re going through, people who you wish would just give you a hug and listen.
The nights when you’re up because pregnancy insomnia sucks, when even the smell of your husband (a smell you loved so much before) makes you feel nauseated, and when all those thoughts of ‘what if…’ runs through your mind… you are not alone.
There are so many communities where you can find women to talk to. Your friends may be able to help, but one of the most amazing places to look for support is Facebook.
There are always new Facebook groups for ‘due in…’ mothers and they are amazing. These women are going through what you’re going through at the same time.
There are usually hundreds of women in there, so there’s someone who is bound to be experiencing the same things as you. And they are up at all hours of the day and night.
Find an amazing group (even if you have to join a few at first) and these women will be such valuable friends to turn to. I joined a group when I was pregnant with my first baby and we are still friends over 5 years later (and boy have we been through a lot in that time).
Your first pregnancy can be overwhelming, there’s so much new information to take in. But mama, take a deep breath… you’ve got this.
BONUS – It’s Okay Not To Enjoy Being Pregnant
I mega loathe being pregnant. I spend most of my pregnancy vomiting, curled up next to the toilet, or sleeping (thank you hyperemesis).
When that phase passes, I feel so unnatural in my body, I don’t get the pregnancy glow (and if I’m ‘glowing’ it’s probably just the pre-vom sweat), and I don’t feel glamorous or sexy at all like so many other women do.
All of this to say, it’s okay if you don’t enjoy being pregnant. It doesn’t make you a bad mother, it doesn’t mean you’re ungrateful, and it doesn’t make you any less of a woman.
Pregnancy is hard, both physically and emotionally, and it’s okay to not love every second of it.
When I started talking about my lack of enjoyment of pregnancy, I had a lot of backlash. So many women told me I was selfish, insensitive, and that I’d never say that if I’d ever had a miscarriage (I have) or infertility issues (I did) and that I should just be grateful I was pregnant.
To be clear – joy and gratitude are separate things. I can lack joy, and still be grateful.
I can not like being pregnant, in fact, I can absolutely hate being pregnant, but still be so darn grateful that my body is growing such a darn perfect tiny human.
So yes, it is okay if you hate being pregnant. And the more I’ve spoken about it, the more women I find who feel the same way, so I promise you’re not alone.
Just remember that it’s temporary and it will all be worth it in the end when you’re holding your brand new baby in your arms.