There's a lot of things about pregnancy no one ever talks about, or you're just not aware of until you're pregnant and you start receiving daily emails updating you on what you might be experiencing. So, throughout my pregnancy I recorded things that I learned and found interesting along the way. Here are 20 of them.
1. Worrying Starts Right Away
They say worrying starts as soon as you become a parent, but you don't realize that that starts as soon as you realize you're pregnant, at least for women. For me, managing my eating disorder had me namely worrying about whether I was consuming enough food, while also trying to make sure I don't put on more weight than necessary. On top of that, I worried about whether everything I was consuming was safe or not, and even if I drank too much tea! Yes, because apparently you're not supposed to have too much tea whilst pregnant. And then in general, I was worried, because I understood that miscarriage was far more common than we realize. Even after I had my first appointment with the perinatologist at 13 weeks, who exclaimed "I love what I'm seeing. Everything is super," I was still skeptical. How does he know everything is super? The worrying continued into other areas of life, too, like trying to live more sustainably!
2. When You're Hungry, You're HUNGRY
You know how sometimes you start to feel a little hungry, and you can push it off for a while. In the beginning, at least for me, I'd wake up with my stomach screaming for food. And then every two hours my stomach started screaming again. When they say you should eat every two hours when you're pregnant, they literally mean every two hours. This subsided a little in my second trimester, but then picked up again. Throughout my second and third trimester, my hunger levels varied and I could tell he was growing when I'd have extra hungry days. Towards the end of pregnancy, starting at 30 weeks, I started to get full easily and that I believe is because there was less space for my stomach.
3. Bloating is Worse Pregnant
I've always had serious bloating issues, particularly around my period, but once I was pregnant, every day was a gradual progression of bloating, so by the end of each day, it looked like I was several months along already, or at least carrying a giant food baby. And I'm so used to always sucking it, even when I got to a point where I couldn't suck it in as much anymore, I still retained the natural reflex to do so before remembering there's no point in sucking it in. Even as I grew, I noticed my belly would be bigger at nights and some nights were worse than others. Eventually when I was visibly pregnant and particularly in my third trimester I stopped paying attention to it, because belly or bloat, there was a baby inside.
4. Some People Are More Excited Than You Are
It unexpectedly took me a while to get excited about my pregnancy, so when I'd share the news and others would jump up and down or nearly cry, it always surprised me. I wondered how can they be so excited for me, when I'm not feeling that way yet? But then I remembered that whenever a friend tells me she's pregnant, I'm also super excited for her. You can read about all my first thoughts and reactions after realizing I was pregnant here, including not being sure if I was just experiencing a strange UTI or not.
5. Gender Stereotypes Plague Our Babies
As soon as you start looking at baby stuff, you realize how deep gender stereotypes, norms, and standards run in our society. Pretty much everything is blue or pink. Unicorns are siloed to the girls' sections and dinosaurs to the boys'. Girls get all the fun bright colors and boys...well, every now and then there are some fun bright colors, but there could be a lot more. Beyond colors, gender stereotypes and standards are propelled by the stories we read our kids, movies and television, and toys. I think people are starting to be more conscious of this, but it's taking its time. Creating our baby registry really opened my eyes even more so to all of this. And gender neutral always seems to revolve around greys, yellows, teals, and browns. While I like yellow and teal, and even grey sometimes, I call this gender boring.
6. Speaking of Baby Registries
I found creating my baby registry simultaneously a black hole you get sucked into and can't get out of, because you're doing so much research on what the best, safest, and most necessary products are, and also really annoying. I just kept wondering how necessary everything is, who is just trying to sell me stuff, and then I'd get pissed thinking about people making fortunes off of our basic needs. Babies need diapers--why are they so expensive? And what about strollers??? Do they really need to cost that much? Thankfully I found a brand that is comparable to one of the more popular high-end/high price tag models that runs for $350 instead of $900, all because it's a direct to consumer product. Therefore, when you think about it, more than half of that $900 stroller is the price of third-party fees and who knows what else. It's cray. There are also so many opinions on what's needed and not, and I really took a minimalist approach while also understanding that every baby is different, so what works for one may not work for another. Not to mention, I do not have space for all the baby gadgets in the world.
7. Underwear is Really Uncomfortable
This may not apply to every pregnant woman, but I found that underwear quickly became uncomfortable. First it started with bras. I'd strip them off as soon as I could, and thankfully working from home, I'd only put them on as needed or wear sports bras and bralettes. However, even some of my sports bras became too restrictive--too much support! Towards the end of my second trimester I start to dislike wearing my undies. But it was also about the material. My skin became so sensitive that I couldn't wear anything that wasn't buttery soft and seamless. It didn't occur to me until then that there might be maternity underwear, and sure enough there are! But of course, anything maternity tends to be overpriced. Eventually, I did splurge on some underwear, but I splurged on eco-friendly underwear as I became a more environmentally conscious shopper throughout pregnancy. Let me tell you something...it's all about the bamboo!
As your skin begins to stretch, some women will experience more itchiness around the stomach area, hips, thighs, and buttocks, so it make sense that certain materials will irritate your skin more. I started feeling itchiness around my belly area once I hit 18 weeks and my belly was noticeably expanding. Apparently rubbing oils and refraining from scratching will prevent stretch marks. I wasn't itchy all the time, but I could tell my body was growing anytime I'd start feeling itchy again.
8. Waiting to Pop
I'll never forget about my friend not realizing she was pregnant until she was already five months pregnant, and even then she wasn't noticeably pregnant. After that though, she certainly grew quickly. Still, nowadays with so many people making formal baby announcements on social media and tracking their baby bumps on social media, I guess I expected to look more pregnant as soon as I completed my first trimester, since that is typically when you start telling the world you're pregnant. It wasn't until 18 weeks that I noticeably had a belly, but I still felt more like an expanding balloon. On week 18, day 5, was the first time my belly actually felt hard, and I think for the first time I felt pregnant. Still, if you didn't know me, you might not have realized I was pregnant. Everyone is different though. So for me, this baby belly felt like a slow popping popcorn machine. I just wanted to get out of the "Is she pregnant or is she gaining weight?" phase. The first time someone said to me that they were relieved to hear I am pregnant, because they had been wondering that very question, I actually felt relieved and so thankful, because I thought, I must be close to popping! But it wasn't until 28 weeks that I felt like I had truly "popped." And by that I mean, I could wear a sweater, and it was clear I had a pregnant belly and I wasn't just large.
9. Your Body Knows What It Needs
In this first trimester my body craved a lot more carbs than I normally eat, which seems to be common amongst other pregnant women. I suppose it's the need for energy during that fatiguing time as your body creates a human inside it. I've also eaten more cheese throughout my pregnancy than normal, and craved cereal to drink milk with because for some reason as an adult I stopped enjoying the taste of milk. However, I know this must be my body telling me I need calcium. A friend of mine told me her sister-in-law who was vegetarian started craving meats, which was probably because her body needed iron. So, it's just a reminder of how incredible our bodies are, and that we need to learn to listen to them.
10. Skin Changes
I had heard of pregnancy acne, and while I did have some mild breakouts, it wasn't anything really anyone could notice. My skin tends to get dryer if anything whenever I have skin issues, and that definitely occurred. I also had a few sunspots on my face appear that weren't there before. I have been wearing sunscreen everyday since I was a kid, but gotta wear that wide brimmed hat! What saved me with dry skin was my Teami Green Tea Mask! I love this mask so much. It's a clay, with green tea and lemongrass, and it smells amazing. As soon as you apply it, it feels like it's sucking all the dirt out of your skin. After 10-15 minutes, you wash it away easily with warm water, and you feel like a fresh baby's butt for days! If you're interested in trying it out, be sure to use my code: JUSTINE13 any time for 10%, or check my Instagram for the latest deals. Other women may experience other skin issues, some new and some just a growth of skin issues you may already have like rosacea. The weirdest thing for me was I developed two little moles on either side of my armpits, and I didn't realize they were moles. I joked with my husband I must be growing wings to go with my new superhero status.
11. Acid Reflux
I kept reading about acid reflux, but didn't experience any until about week 22, so I thought I was in the clear for a while. Then when I first noticed it, it wasn't that bad. It was more like an uncomfortable burp. However, after Thanksgiving, which got me to 23 weeks, it was bad. One evening it was so bad my stomach hurt like never before and I got really nervous. I finally took some Tums, which is safe during pregnancy, and THANKFULLY that took care of it. But O MY GAH, it was horrible. From that point on, I knew I couldn't eat anymore junky foods. Not that I was eating a lot of junk food, but it was the holidays. Plus, after a music video shoot I took home the leftover Red Vines. Red Vines are so bad for you anyways, but man the acid reflux it was giving me...I thought, this is for the best. I shouldn't be poisoning the baby with these chemicals anyways. So, in a way, I'm grateful for the acid reflux because it forced me to stick to healthier eating habits, but man o man that acid reflux ain't not joke! I had a bad spell of acid reflux/indigestion once more after that, and then it subsided. In my third trimester, there was still a bit of acid reflux, but nothing horrible.
12. Medication Limitation
After our first doctor's appointment, I learned that there is a strict list of permissible meds you can take while pregnant. It makes sense, because anything you ingest can affect your baby; but I had never thought about it before. If you catch a cold, it's recommended to try to heal naturally. As someone who gets migraines, and definitely got them during pregnancy, I was grateful I could at least have Tylenol. When I got sick, Tylenol and nasal spray saved me from complete misery. And as previously mentioned, Tums came in handy for acid reflux. If you have a cold, you can also take Robitussin for a cough, but that stuff is nasty so I stayed away from it. I can still taste the nasty memories from my childhood. For my cough, I resorted to an ancient Chinese concoction of Chinese herbs and honey. I probably should have double checked with my doctor, but since it's all natural I just went with it. There's also nothing like a little hot water with lemon juice and honey.
13. My Boobs Don't Have Their Own Zip Code
I feel like it's generally known that women's boobs grow when they're pregnant, but for some reason my impression of this aspect of pregnancy was that they grow a lot and noticeably. This was not the case for me. Some bras became tighter and more snug, and I stopped wearing my super supportive sports bras, but otherwise, there was no overwhelming or noticeable-to-the-outside-world growth. It made me wonder if this would affect my ability to nurse, but thankfully boob growth has no affect on milk production (I think unless you're totally flat and have no growth at all).
14. I Can Still See My Feet
My most vivid memory of a super pregnant woman was the Spice Girls' pregnant friend in the movie "Spice World." I remember her making a comment about not having seen her feet in ages, so throughout pregnancy I was waiting to lose sight of my feet, but thankfully that never happened. I also didn't have an issue with much swelling, other than in the belly. So, I feel fortunate as I know friends who had take off their wedding rings and walk around in house slippers towards the end of their pregnancies. It wasn't until 37.5 weeks did I start to feel my rings tighten, but I kept them on. I consider myself lucky!
15. I Feel Bad For Friends Who Had Babies Before Me
I say this, because I really had no clue what to get them at their baby showers! Although, I always stuck to baby registries, I still didn't always even know what I was buying them!
16. The Pregnancy Pillow is the Best Pillow EVER
I got this early on in my pregnancy, but I am never going back, even if it makes my bed look lumpy when I make the bed. This is the most comfortable pillow I've ever slept on. It's also great for those who aren't pregnant, such as those with back pain. But it's also nice just to cuddle, and for me, it's the perfect firmness--not too firm and not too soft. There are C-shaped pillows and U-shaped pillows. When I was researching which to get, I read that U-shaped ones are good if you tend to move a lot in your sleep, which is totally me. So, I got a U-shaped one. Even my husband loves my pillow and has commandeered it since giving birth.
17. Use Your HSA or FSA Account
A friend brought to my attention that you can use your HSA or FSA account to make certain medical related items purchases. During pregnancy, this includes items related to breastfeeding needs and post-partum recovery. On Amazon, when you go to your cart, you'll even see which items are HSA or FSA eligible.
18. You're Likely to Be Similar to Your Mother
Something I noticed is that most women, at least the ones I know, tend to experience pregnancy similar to their mothers. Since I naturally fluctuate in weight all the time, I was worried I'd gain weight very easily. But my mom had always said that when she was pregnant, she just gained a belly, which then became true for me. My hips have definitely grown and I wonder how they will shift postpartum. Otherwise, until you saw my belly, my pregnancy wasn't so noticeable.
19. How You Sleep Matters
Generally we're aware that sleeping during pregnancy can be difficult and uncomfortable, particularly as the bump grows. But what I didn't know was that women are advised to sleep on their left side. Apparently, circulation is better on that side and the baby gets more nutrients. Sleeping on your right side, while okay to do, means the weight of your bump is laying on your bladder which means even more frequent trips to the loo. Trust me, there were many times that as soon as I turned on my right side, I had to go. Once your bump gets bigger, sleeping on your back is not recommended because you can cut of your circulation.
20. The Most Magical Feeling in the World
I can't say I loved or didn't love pregnancy, but there was one thing that was for sure the most magical thing ever, and that was feeling my baby move. Early kicks and movement are so subtle and unexpected, many describe as feeling like flutters or gas. I thought the latter meant it would feel like I needed to far, but I remember at first feeling like someone was blowing bubbles inside my belly. It was a funny and cute feeling. I never experienced really intense kicks or anything, at least nothing like I had imagined. Feeling him move and change positions sometimes made me laugh because the movement is so strange it almost tickles. And I oft felt him hiccup which were light rhythmic movements and also fun to feel, probably because it was fun to imagine him hiccuping inside me.