The “No One Ever Told Me” List: Pregnancy edition. I’ll be making a labor/delivery and postpartum edition too, but we’ve got a few months for that yet. At the top of this list is the stuff I was personally impacted by. The lower you get, the more you get into stuff that barely touched me or which I’ve thus far evaded completely. I don’t make this list to scare women away from pregnancy, but just to give you a heads up.
Unless you’re a flippant teenager wanting to get on MTV. Then you should read this list with horror. HORROR!
Bodily Functions including but not limited to poop, pee, discharge, and effects of such. First you’ll need to pee constantly. This will start in your first trimester and progress until you’re walking around with depends in trimester three. You will inevitably pee your pants at some point, and when you do make it to the restroom you often feel like you need to pee still even though you’ve just unloaded close to a liter. When this starts getting more intense, start wearing panty liners because a good sneeze could set you off. When sneezes, laughs, and even giggles set you off every time, it’s time to switch to the big girl diapers.
You’ll be constipated. You can do a lot to relieve this, but it will happen either way. I use a cup of fruid every morning and frequent pulpy fruit juices. [Be careful about large amounts of cheap OJ in your first trimester, there’s shaky evidence that ascorbic acid can be used as an abortive in large quantities really early in term.] Now don’t be fooled, the fruit makes passing the poop much easier, but it’ll still pile up without reason here and there. And by here and there, I mean weekly.
With constipation comes hemorrhoids. I’m sorry in advance for you. My physician was kind enough to warn me about the hemorrhoids, saying that due to the increased circulation in your body alone you’re at a heightened risk for them. She didn’t mention that the most common way to get them is following your first poo of the week. Hemorrhoids can be external or internal and can cause bleeding, but mention them to your doctor if bleeding is persistent. Even small open wounds in that area just isn’t a good idea. All that being said, don’t feel alone if you’re on the can long enough for your cat to settle in.
Vaginal discharge increases, gets thicker, and can alter it’s consistency without warning. It’s usually like a really thick mucus, but can get rather watery for no apparent reason at all. You really need to contact your physician with any degree of watery anything leaking from your lady parts, but don’t be surprised if they roll their eyes and send you home with the first time mom pat on the head. You might find yourself most comfortable with thin panty-liners that can be switched out regularly. Or you may be more comfortable with changing your undies once or twice daily. To each her own.
Drool, Nose Bleeds, Teeth Bleeds. You’re gonna wake up a few times on a soggy pillow. It’s okay because that means you’re sleeping which is it’s own accomplishment in pregnancy. You’ll have extra saliva to begin with during pregnancy, so it’s not uncommon for it to drain from your face via your gaping mouth during the night. You’ve also got a lot of extra blood circulating so you’ll probably get nose bleeds, or at least a few bloody tissues when you blow your nose. Extra mucus happens in your nasal cavities as well so expect a runny nose and be pleasantly surprised if it never shows up. Last, you’ll be a little surprised the first time you brush your teeth and realize your pristine sink has turned quite pink. Bleeding gums is common in pregnancy, another thing you can blame on your extra circulation. It’s really important to keep your teeth clean, especially in your third trimester when gum problems can trigger early labor.
“Morning” Sickness is a bullshit term. Pardon my bluntness. “Morning” sickness happens all day, if you have it. It can be anything from underlying nausea which you can tame now and again to full-blown projectile vomiting of everything, including a glass of water. If you have the later, you’ll know it, and you’ll probably end up in a hospital for IV fluids and prescription relief. If you have more of a constant nausea try upping your calcium intake, be it milk or ice cream or tums, and eat frequent small meals. I had more the constant nausea, but I’ve known people at both ends of the spectrum. Genetics doesn’t seem to have too much to do with it, but if your mom found herself in the hospital during her pregnancy due to uncontrollable vomiting, prepare for the worst.
Also important to note here is that some women’s morning sickness doesn’t fade after the first trimester. For some women it gets worse as the pregnancy progresses and the stomach gets pushed out of the way by the swelling uterus. Similarly here, prepare for the worst and be pleasantly surprised if it doesn’t hit you.
Something else fun: you’ll notice your OB/CNM will frequently tell you “eat small, frequent meals.” The reason they tell you this is primarily so that your metabolism, however slow, stays steady. It also helps with heartburn and indigestion. Something my CNMs have never mentioned to me is that if you eat a large meal and baby shifts or kicks your stomach shortly thereafter, you may have sudden vomiting. I only know of this one from experience. Even a normal size meal can be violently pushed back out if baby moves north directly following and procedes to kick your stomach. Small meals make everyone happy.
Indigestion, Heartburn, and Gas. You will have them, and you’ll know the difference. Indigestion is when your stomach doesn’t like your food, but passes it along to the intestines and they throw a fit because the stomach didn’t do it’s full job before the food got there. It’s a squirmy sort of discomfort. Heartburn is when your stomach wants to punish you for eating the food it doesn’t like and sends acid up your esophagus and sometimes into the back of your throat. You can’t really mistake it for something else. Acid reflux is when your stomach does this no matter what you eat because it hates you, but you won’t terminate its lease. All are uncomfortable and seem to occur at their worst when you eat close to bed time. So don’t. Most OBs will give you a list of things you can take for common ailments and you’ll probably have this category memorized. Tums work for me, but there are those who’s stomachs laugh in the face of tums and throw more acid up their throats. This is something you’ll have to find your own solution for.
When I say gas, I don’t mean a few cute toots. I mean farts that will make your eyes water and burps that will put college frat boys to shame. These are not the farts that smell kind of good to you but no one else. They are more rancid than old fish and spoiled eggs. On the up side, you can feel free to let them rip while strangers are giving you unwanted advice or telling a long story about their distant relative, revealing as the story goes on how little they actually know about it. These are the most appropriate times to let these loose, I feel. On the down side: the longer you hold them in, the worse they smell and the more uncomfortable the pressure gets. As for the burps, your loved ones will comment on them saying “woah” or “whew” or “better out than in, eh?” and you’ll blush, not because you burped, but because you just suppressed that burp as much as possible and if you’d let ‘er rip proper you probably could have propelled the SantaMaria across the Atlantic in record time.
You just might hibernate the entirety of your first trimester. I find this is the best reason to tell people you’re pregnant early if you’re not worried about complications or miscarriage. My first trimester I felt sick constantly. There were some nasty flus going around, so I might have been, but I slept most of it away. I was constantly exhausted, when I wasn’t exhausted I was at least fatigued, and I daydreamed of curling up in bed. I’ve known a few women who were like this in their third trimesters, but I think that was more due to insomnia or inability to sleep through the night rather than just feeling so tired they couldn’t bear to be awake. You might just find that one of those stair-riding chairs looks rather appealing. Don’t sweat it, curl up and dream it away. Call out sick a few times and get a doctor’s note for morning sickness or whatever. Your body is making tons of changes, so don’t be ashamed that you can’t bear the though of stairs, or pulling on clothes.
Temperature Confusion and Sweat. Your body now has a second body it’s growing internally. That’s a little hard to wrap your brain around, so don’t be too surprised that with all this body confusion your body is altering temperatures constantly. You will get uncontrollably cold, then crazy hot, then shivering cold again. I had days on end where my toes felt like they were on ice cold concrete and my toenails were blue (not due to polish). Through all of this I learned something: your body sweats incessantly during pregnancy, even when you’re cold. When you’re cold your armpits will still be warm and they seem to actually think you need to sweat. This causes your deodorant to evaporate quickly, so I recommend taking some with you if you’ll be out all day. On the opposite of getting cold is obviously hot flashes. These are more well-known during pregnancy, but they’re not the cute movie hot flashes that are all comical and stuff. They can be pretty scary when you can’t get your temperature down. When they’re coupled with anxiety and shortness of breath you’ve got yourself a panic cocktail. Set yourself down to rest and remind yourself it’s normal. If it doesn’t subside, call a physician.
WTF Sleep. There are a few wtf things about pregnancy. One of them, I feel, is sleep. When you’re pregnant you’ll have strange dreams, strange sleep patterns, and strange sleep positions. You may also have insomnia. This started for me when I woke up in the middle of the night during a deep sleep in trimester one. I was halfway off my bed, bracing my weight on my leg, which was on the floor, but my chest and head were still squarely positioned to be on my pillow. My other leg straight, my arms were God knows where, and my weight bearing leg had fallen asleep, so I’d been in this position for some time. I never sleep on my back, let alone halfway off my bed on my back. It was like my left leg had decided to sleep-walk and the rest of my body wasn’t quite on board. Last night I woke up with my left arm laying off the bed in a hyperextended position. Not too dangerous since my elbows bend slightly backwards, but it’d been there long enough that I couldn’t pull my arm back, I had to use my right arm to move my left. So, sleeping positions will just screw with you.
I’ve also had really strange dreams. Vividly strange dreams. Last night I had a dream that every man who set foot in the ladies bathroom of my high school disappeared mysteriously due to local ghost and demon activity. Except that the bathroom wasn’t where it belonged, you never saw the men who disappeared before they disappeared, and the school was on summer break but still full of kids. I’ve also had dreams when my co workers are living with me and my manager demands a pan fried steak. He thought that one was pretty funny. I wanted a pan fried steak.
I tend to rope insomnia into a strange sleeping pattern, because the way some people talk about it, it certainly can be. I’ve always said Fight Club describes insomnia best:
Insomnia is when you don’t actually rest, even if you sleep, so the whole world seems really fuzzy and dream-like. If you have it bad enough you may even develop difficulty determining the difference between dreams and reality. That’s when it’s time to see a physician. In fact, you should see a physician long before you can’t distinguish dreams from reality. In pregnancy you have really bizarre sleeping patterns. You might sleep for 9 hours and then need a nap around 3. You might sleep great until 4 a.m. and then wake up bright eyed and busy tailed ready to run a marathon or clean the entire house. Your sleeping pattern will fluctuate and you’ll probably need more sleep than you were getting before. Doctors will warn you about getting too much sleep too, where you wake up all fuzzy and never really feel alert. The bottom line is your sleep is going to change a lot and you’ve gotta prepare for it. Get one of those ridiculous body pillows, give yourself ample time to relax before bed, and allow yourself enough time to sleep.
Pregnancy Brain: aka forgetfulness, clumsiness, and balance problems. I recently read that the brain mass of a pregnant woman decreases slightly during her pregnancy and possibly short term postpartum. You can read all about the technical details at the “what to expect” website, but what it boils down to is lots of forgetting (write down every dr. appointment and set phone reminders), clumsiness (increasingly less funny as bending over becomes more difficult), and balance problems (no, no, I was testing my latest dance moves).
Bottom line is you might feel like you’re losing your mind because of all the brain farts you’re sporting in addition to your other smelly farts. Don’t sweat it too much, sit down and remember there’s a lot of physiology beyond your control right now, and take a deep (slow) breath. There are better ways to go nuts when pregnant.
Boobs. Okay so I knew they get bigger. There’s a bit more to it than that. They will ache, especially in your first trimester. Like not the achy feeling you have when someone elbows you in a crowd, achy like they’re bruised all over. You will probably threaten your spouse for breathing on them. They’ll get considerably bigger (I went up a cup size in a week) and you can gain up to three cup sizes during pregnancy and then one or two more once your milk comes in. I don’t personally know any women who have gained 5 cup sizes during pregnancy, but I’m sure it’s possible. Within your boobs are of course your nipples. Your nipples will enlarge, darken, and your areolas will enlarge too. Kiss those cute pink kiddy nipples goodbye and say hellooooo momma nipples. My personal theory is that this is so your feeding receptacle looks like a great big target, but I doubt that’s backed up by science. Seems like this specific change is most commonly chalked up to hormones. Things that completely caught me off guard: you can start lactating early, even if your milk hasn’t fully come in, you can have some small discharge now and again. Also, your boobs will itch. Itchy-boob is probably due to your skin stretching, but keep an eye on your skin in case it develops into a rash. I use the same cocoa butter all over and it helps keep my itching minimal.
You might have cramps, even in your abdomen. This alarmed me during my first trimester because I was pretty sure that after “implantation” I wasn’t supposed to have cramps. But apparently having cramps during pregnancy is not really reason for alarm unless they get really intense or turn into regular stabbing pain. I personally had achy abdominal cramps in my first trimester and since I’ve had minor abdominal cramps which seem related to where the baby is sitting and what it’s pushing out of the way, like when it tries to falcon-punch my full bladder out of the way.
Many women also complain about leg crams and RLS. I’ve personally struggled with minor RLS since my teenage years. My legs get super jumpy and restless late at night if I’m exerting my sleep schedule, particularly on road trips. The only time this has happened while I was pregnant it was the second worse episode of RLS I’ve had, violent leg jumps and all. My worst was on an international flight in a crowded cabin that didn’t allow enough space to elevate my legs. I haven’t had any leg cramps to speak of yet, but women talk about them like they’re a circling shark, so just have your heat pads and tylenol ready and don’t exert yourself.
Anxiety and Shortness of Breath. I’ve kind-of touched on these already, but it’s common for women to feel anxious during pregnancy. Every once in a while the idea of labor hits me like a brick wall, or I’ll panic at how quickly the space in my own body is being taken up by my baby. I struggle with claustrophobia, and when I can’t catch my breath because my own body just doesn’t have the room to breath it can trigger some major anxiety. I will my way through these minor panic-attacks with calm thinking and deep, slow, breaths. Yoga has also helped me mellow out.
Shortness of breath is pretty common during pregnancy (hello stairs), but many women don’t know that it’s often triggered by anxiety flying under their radar. You may not feel anxious at all, be working peacefully on your breakfast, or email, and suddenly you can’t catch your breath. Then you panic because all of a sudden you can’t catch your breath and what does that mean, and it really just turns into a vicious circle. If anxiety or panic attacks turn into a big problem, ask your OB if there’s anything to be done. Often if you are medicated for anxiety prior to pregnancy you will remain on those medications (or similar medications, or lower doses, etc.) So don’t cause yourself any extra anxiety just thinking about it.
You’re gonna have some bizarre mood swings. And hormone swings. And crazy swings.
I’m not really sure how else to describe these. Mood swings are a given, it’s kinda like PMSing on crack. It’s not constant, in fact it’s random which can be worse. You’ll have hormone swings like no one’s business which means one moment you may be enticing your husband into the bedroom and then relaxin surges in and suddenly you’re asleep and drooling before he can drop his pants and say “pass me the handcuffs!” On the other hand, you may find yourself suddenly extremely aroused halfway through sex. It goes both ways. As far as crazy swings, you’ll have surges of confidence and uncertainty intermittent This can affect your body image too, and your body image can in turn affect your mood. You’ll probably get the weepies every now and again. I find mine are usually related to something barely upsetting which suddenly cascades into the need to empty Niagara falls into a tissue. And by “suddenly” I mean “instantly”. Last, you might have violent urges or anger urges. Urges to say something really mean that you would never actually say, or to do a person physical harm in order to stop them from talking. This one totally caught me off guard, and I find that I usually have these urges concentrated over the course of a day rather than spread out at random, so I just keep to myself on these days. I have no explanation for the violence except for the usual cop-out of hormones.
Varicose veins. I am very lucky to have not gotten these yet. My mother had these due to her second and third pregnancies, and I’m sure it was tough for her to answer my questions of “mommy, why do your legs look like that?” when I was very young. Varicose veins is where your veins get really close to the surface of your skin and begin to bulge out of it. In pregnancy they can be temporary or permanent My mom’s were permanent because she had a genetic predisposition and hers were essentially triggered early. Even more unfortunate than getting them in your legs is getting them in your vulva, which you probably won’t read on most blogs. I’m not sure how common it is to get them in the vulva, but the few women I’ve seen writing about it describe it as painful and thankfully temporary.
Linea Nigra. It’s not the trendy new dance all the kids are doing, it’s a dark line that can develop down the center of your stomach and around your belly button.
First off, props to this woman for photographing that baby bump. Many women are embarrassed by linea nigra and shy away from photos. Linea Nigra is caused by pregnancy hormones which can cause pigment to darken. The same hormones can also cause dark patches of skin on the face and will cause your aereolas and freckles to darken. Women with darker skin are especially prone to have this dark line appear, and likewise women who tan during pregnancy are likely to find the line appearing as well. There isn’t much to be done if you have it, but the good news is it’ll fade over the months following pregnancy.
WTF Abdominal Pains. Another of the WTF items of pregnancy: all the random abdominal pains. First off you’re going to feel a building discomfort due to the amount of pressure shift in your body. Your circulation is up and there’s a giant sack of fluid expanding rapidly and pushing all your organs out of the way, so much so that it will protrude from your body, stretching your skin the size of a beach ball. I suppose when you think about that it’s a no-brainer that you’re going to have a lot of pressure discomfort. This comes and goes, but I’ve found it isn’t entirely fading in trimester two, in fact it’s more persistent, but I’m getting used to it. Kind-of. The next abdominal pain is actually a groin pain and I was warned of it in advance (thank God). The infamous Lightning Crotch! I’ve heard this described as many things so let’s be clear. Lightning crotch is when your unborn spawn kicks you in the cervix. This is the female equivalent to the glands on the penis. I’ve personally only had one so far (thank God) and as minor as it was, once was enough. I’ve heard tell of women actually falling over because of the severity of pain, or at least stumbling to grab onto something while their legs remember to walk. Next is ligament pain which is when your ligaments, which hold your uterus in place like a hammock are suddenly strained and cause pain, similar to when you try to do a split and can’t. I find this pain is worst when I stand suddenly, or with a full bladder. You’ll also have random pains, some being sharp and stabby, others being achy like a pulled muscle. Anything persistent or severely painful should warrant a call to your OB at very least. And lastly, your baby can kick you in a number of places where it hurts. Sometimes just the fact that baby is kicking is what hurts. Baby kicking is all cute until their toe catches a nerve or your bladder.
Your dietary needs and desires may have a massive shift. I’ve personally started eating gluten again. Who knew?! You’ll probably require a great deal more protein, which may mean altering a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. At very least you’ll need to pay a lot of additional attention to your nutrition. You’ll have different degrees of cravings too.
Swelling feet. During pregnancy your feet will both swell and spread. This means it’s likely you’ll go up a shoe size or so. The swelling will go down, but the spreading is there to stay.
Hair and skin growth. So I was told pregnancy was a great way to grow your hair out, but no one ever cared to mention that *all* your hair grows faster during pregnancy. So stock up on razors and wax strips if you wax or shave. Also, keep in mind trimming your lady parts will be more difficult as your pregnancy progresses. If you’re particular about having things trimmed or waxed, teach your partner early in pregnancy how they can help you maintain your hygiene, while you can still see what’s going on down there to instruct them. You can also grow moles and skin tags during pregnancy. Fun fun, eh? Though this is pretty normal, keep an eye on any new moles and let your ob know if anything springs up. They have some idea what to look for in skin problems, which can arise due to the increased hormones during your pregnancy.
Teenage acne is here to stay. At least for 9 months or so. Not only will you be fighing acne again, but it will spring up in areas you never thought of before. Now let me qualify this: I had TERRIBLE acne during my teenage years and this acne is nothing like that was. It’s just like having PMS acne on a weekly basis. The bizarre thing of it is that it pops up in strange places. Like in your armpits, or on your hip. Strange.
Your lady parts might swell up too. Sorry about that. Circulation, water retention, etc. are to blame here. From what I’ve heard this can come and go and is more common later in term when pretty much everything is swollen or bloated anyway. It can be painful so ice packs wrapped in paper towels or even condoms filled with water and frozen can bring a great deal of relief. I hear tell that if you go the condom route you’ll want it at a slushy consistency.
This one has pregnancy in the title and I’d never heard about it. Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy is a nasty rash that can develop somewhere around 35 weeks gestation. It’s most common in first pregnancies, multiples of three or more, and (believe it or not) in pregnancies which deliver boys. Treatment usually consists of some sort of topical cream but severe cases may be prescribed antihistamine pills as well. So basically if you have a bad rash that doesn’t quit, mention it to your OB. PUPPs usually disappears after pregnancy so rest assured that it can’t possibly last too long and rub some more anti-itch cream on your extra itchy belly.
Stretch marks will probably show up eventually. I’m sorry if you’ve been convincing yourself that lotions and potions will make them vanish overnight. Truth of the matter is that stretch marks are as much a genetic predisposition as they are a physical result of the care of your body. Cocoa butter based lotions that also contain vitamin E are really great for your skin and can reduce the amount or severity of stretch marks, but the best thing you could do to reduce them is to maintain healthy levels of fitness and stay super-hydrated. Trim bodies have more elasticity in the skin, and hydration helps almost every pregnancy symptom. Those two things combine will reduce, but not nullify, the appearance of stretch marks. Again, there’s a lot you can do to lessen their appearance, but chances are you’ll get them. I’ll be writing a review soon on a great lotion I’ve been using that’s been reducing the number I see on my own skin.
You’ll probably be moderately itchy, particularly in your belly and boobs. As best I can tell via research, this is due to your skin expanding rapidly. Kinda like you got growing pains in your legs when you were young, now you have itchy belly and boobs thanks to jr. If the itch gets unbearable or develops a rash, you should mention it to your OB or give them a call. You could develop PUPPs or even eczema.
You’ll retain water more than you used to, even though you’re peeing every ten seconds. Sodium is a big factor in water retention and your OB will (probably) tell you to keep your sodium during pregnancy minimum in order to keep swelling and water retention down. Rare exceptions are if you’re like me and have hypoglycemia, which can lead to a sudden drop in blood pressure and possibly passing out. In those cases you want to
Belly Button WTF?! Many women know that the belly button will “pop” eventually. I’ve also heard tell of women’s belly buttons only popping halfway, but no one told me how sensitive my bellybutton would feel during pregnancy. Sometimes I feel like it’s the weakest point in my abdomen and one of these days baby will just kick right through. I also had a bizarre reaction to some of the ultrasound gel that I had to clean and soothe with antibiotic ointment. You’d think that little spot would be better protected.
Smells. You will be able to put bloodhounds to shame. Really, I’m not sure why the police haven’t made a “pregnant sniffers” unit. Maybe because they’d just lead the handlers to taco bell at 3am. But really, you’ll be able to smell things you never thought you could, and plenty of things you really don’t want to. Some smells will even trigger severe nausea and can also trigger vomiting, especially in the first trimester. So steer clear of anything remotely resembling a trash can or public restroom, and don a Venetian mask with rose petals up the nose.
Other social stuff that isn’t physical, but is probably biologically driven.
You’ll be tougher (and maybe more judgmental) towards your spouse. I like to chalk this one up to hormones too. You’ll get the PMS snaps and the random urges of violence, but because your spouse is who you spend tons of time around, they’ll probably bear the brunt of your raging hormones. Remember this as you go through your fifth emotional roller-coaster today and maybe buy them a slice of cheesecake they can have all to themselves? Or mostly to themselves? On the up side of this, you’ll probably feel closer to your spouse too. I don’t know how the two really work, but you’ll feel more connected with them, perhaps because you’re carrying a physical result of their presence with you.
Babies EVERYWHERE. Being a recently pregnant woman you start seeing pregnant women everywhere. You might have hit a more fertile time to become pregnant, but chances are they’ve been there all along.
Since you’re experiencing early stages of pregnancy yourself, you’ll probably start to see them in other women as well. You’ll notice a woman who walks with an unusually low center of gravity, or who is wearing a tight shirt over a suspiciously large “pooch”. Feel free to allow yourself a smug smirk. It’s like being in a club that’s secret for a short time. You’ll also see children everywhere, and their parents. You’ll observe and make mental notes that you’ll likely break within a short amount of time during your parenting career. Don’t sweat it. Observation and learning are the names of the game.
STRANGER DANGER! Once you begin to show people will come out of the woodwork to discuss pregnancy with you. They’ll ask you how you feel, if you’ve had morning sickness, and then they’ll probably tell you some pregnancy related story they’ve been dying to share. I’ve heard tell of strangers literally crossing streets to speak with pregnant women about trivial matters barely related to pregnancy. I think this is God’s way of developing your patience before the child arrives, but that’s just me. If you really don’t like talking to strangers, feel free to sport earbuds wherever you go, or early in term you can always act like you’re not pregnant, just chubby.
Personally, I plan on wearing a shirt late in term that says “DON’T TOUCH ME” because strangers also like touching baby bellies. I’ve even had women tell me strangers touched their pregnant boobs. I don’t know in what world that’s even moderately appropriate, but I’m personally concerned that the small amount of martial arts training I’ve had would cause me to reflexively defend myself against the advancing hands. Be prepared for plenty of unwarranted stranger interaction.
Your mom isn’t crazy, but she is probably out-dated. I’ve been a lot more understanding of my mom recently and she’s not quite as crazy as she was to me ten years ago. I understand a lot of mom stuff I just couldn’t get back then, and I’m sure I’ll understand more through raising my own children. But the last time my mom had a baby was 23 years ago, and the information she was given then just isn’t up to date. She’s really helpful and understanding, but I find myself needing to gently, but firmly, remind her that the medical advice she’s giving isn’t supported by modern medicine and although I appreciate her trying to help it’s important that she understands I’ll go to my OB for medical questions. This was something important to point out early because of my mom’s medical background. We’re both firm believers in boundaries and she understands that I really like getting her advice on some things (like whether to take the hospital exercise class or the local gym’s exercise class), but not on others. Your mom is going to be a great asset through your pregnancy, and probably through your child-rearing, so don’t ostracize her unless her nature makes it a necessity.
You’ll receive alcohol judgement on either side. Modern medicine hasn’t yet determined what levels of alcohol are safe for pregnant women to consume, not even on a sliding scale based on blood content. The Europeans frequently enjoy a glass of wine through their pregnancy, but Americans are very set in the idea that no alcohol during pregnancy is appropriate. During your pregnancy you will be judged if you consume alcohol. You will probably receive dirty looks if you go to the liquor store by yourself to buy your husband beer. And if you’re young you may even have friends complaining at you because you can’t all go out drinking together anymore. I wouldn’t let any of this bother you. In my humble opinion, fetal alcohol syndrome isn’t worth the risk of drinking during pregnancy, so I personally don’t. If you have a glass of wine during your pregnancy I really don’t care. If you’re getting drunk regularly I think that’s irresponsible, pregnant or not. And if your friends don’t want to be your friends because you can’t drink together, you should probably find better friends.
All of that being said, please understand two things: first I’m not advocating for or against drinking during pregnancy. Intoxication is certainly dangerous, but studies don’t seem to have a threshold for the amount or frequency of drinking short of being drunk on a regular basis. There’s a lot of guesswork in how much is damaging. Second, understand that if you got drunk early on in pregnancy it’s no guarantee that your child will have FAS. God only knows how many of us were conceived with alcohol on board, and there are some studies that suggest a few drunken nights that early in term couldn’t possibly do damage. Get it checked out, but don’t add panic to your list of concerns. Consult a medical professional instead of google.
Animals might follow you, particularly your animals. I’m half convinced this is how Noah managed to get all the animals on the ark. My cats started following me about three days after conception. They still follow me. If I am home, they are both in nearby proximity. I’m not sure if they think they’re guarding me or if they like breathing whatever prego hormones I’m emitting, but they certainly do follow me constantly.
You’ll eventually lose your modesty. This might happen during the pregnancy or after giving birth, but I’m so used to doctors needing to see my belly that I now have the action of pulling up my shirt and down my pants committed to muscle memory. I can bear my belly in seconds in front of any doctor or medical professional or person resembling a medical professional without shame or second thought. My belly has been my most self conscious area for some time, and I’m now completely used to displaying it on a semi-comfortable medical table covered in butcher paper. I read blogs and comments on blogs frequently of women saying the same about breastfeeding. Women who have any trouble breastfeeding are so used to whipping their breast out and latching on baby that the “who” or “where” doesn’t phase them. I think that might be why so many women are comfortable breastfeeding in public in a culture that is so enamored with the breast that it can’t be seen. They’ve been desensitized in a way our culture has yet to be.
SO that wraps up my list. I’m estimating somewhere around 60 items listed that you may or may not have known about pregnancy. I did my best to combine personally witnessed tales, blogs, lists from the interwebs, and comments on the later two in order to compile this list, but I’m bound to have missed something. If you had a symptom or result of pregnancy that surprised you and I haven’t covered it here, please let me know so I can add it to the list! And bear in mind that this list deals directly with pregnancy. There will be a list about labor later and also one about postpartum baby-raisin’. So please please chime in if something caught you off guard and I’ll gladly add it to the list. ^.^
Updated 4/30/13: Rib Pain. I’ve been having a constant pain on my ribs on my right side, right under my boob. A quick internet search has revealed this is normal due to the pressure being put on my abdomen by the uterus, and that it will continue until baby drops into birth position late in term. Hooray. In the mean time, stretching and lying around are my best options for relief. Even better.