I promise that my blog won’t turn into a “let me talk about being knocked up 100% of the time” diatribe, but being pregnant is probably the most interesting thing going on in my life these days and there are somethings I’ve been thinking about for a while now: No one tells you about the crappy parts of pregnancy.
I’m going to go ahead and be honest here and say that being pregnant isn’t all that pleasant. I mean, I’m super psyched to meet this kiddo I’m cooking, people now offer me a seat on public transportation, and in general people smile at me a lot more, but the actual act of making this little boy is uncomfortable and I feel lied to. Society—and my mom—have told me that being pregnant is this magical, amazing, other worldly experience.
I’m a little more than halfway through this experience, and I can honestly say that I still feel like me, only heavier and with all sorts of awkward new habits like random bouts of throwing up and new patches of hair that appear in places there shouldn’t be new patches of hair.
I did what any expecting mother would do as soon as that second line showed up on the pregnancy: I went to Google. I had a general idea about what sort of restrictions being pregnant meant for my life, but I had no idea that lunch meats were off limits and too much vitamin A can cause birth defects. I needed guidelines for pregnancy, and I needed them now. There are a ton of blogs and Youtube videos with pregnancy must haves, and I read and watched dutifully, adding the recommendations of strangers to my Amazon cart, confident that I had this pregnancy thing covered. Let me say that the recommendations I got from other blogs were totally valid. Yes, you do need a prenatal vitamin when you’re pregnant. Yes, you should get some sort of body oil/lotion routine going to try and prevent stretch marks (although stretch marks are more likely to be genetic than situational), and you absolutely should carry around a bottle of water wherever you go—you will be thirsty ALL THE TIME.
But the more pregnant I got the more I realized that there were a whole lot of things that weren’t mentioned at all, and I think that’s because they’re not things we like to talk about publicly. Did you know that pregnant women pass more gas than they would during non-pregnant times. Relaxin, nature’s muscle relaxer makes it harder to control your sphincter. Who knew? I know that we’re all very civilized people who would prefer that pregnancy was all vitamins and cute new water bottles. But, here are a few things that I wish someone had told me I’d need early on in my pregnancy:
Chances are if you’re pregnant you’re experienced in the act of coitus, so I’m just going to be frank and honest about this: Sex during pregnancy hurts. Well, it hurts me and a lot of other women. I asked my doctor for some suggestions for less painful sexy time, and she just shook her head as if it were a lost cause. I liken it to losing my virginity on the regular. Everything is engorged and swollen and definitely more sensitive. For some couples that’s great, it creates a much more intense sexual experience for both parties, sadly I’m not one of those people.
Since there’s not much you can do, other than ship your husband off to another room with some tissues, an iPad, and a bottle of lotion, lube is your next best option if you’d like to continue to have sex during pregnancy (it’s totally valid if you don’t). I’m not saying that lube will make everything feel as good as it did pre-preggers, but it definitely makes things less ouchy. I use Babeland brand lube, because it’s paraben-free, water-based, and non-sticky, but I don’t feel like I need to recommend it to others, you know what you like, but if you’re planning some baby making in the near future, keep in mind that the more pregnant you get the more uncomfortable some things may feel.
And no, he won’t poke the baby.
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
Guys, the heartburn. Oh. My. G-d. The heartburn. I didn’t know that the eternal fires of hell were located at the bottom of my esophagus, but they are. I had some mild heartburn from very early on in my pregnancy and TUMS and a whole lot of water seemed to do the trick for a while, but about week 17 things took a turn toward the excruciating, and when I asked the pharmacist to recommend something stronger than TUMS, I got a sad expression and an apologetic shrug (some doctors will recommend drugs like Zantac to pregnant women, I’m trying to go the natural route).
As far as I’m concerned Apple Cider Vinegar should be handed out with pregnancy tests. This tip was recommended to me on a Facebook mommy forum and it’s a lifesaver. I’ve been drinking one tablespoon of ACV mixed in 8oz of water when I wake up in the morning, and another right before bed. It doesn’t taste good, but it tastes a lot better than then the searing flesh of your esophagus.
I thought that getting pregnant would be a 9-month vacation from feminine products. I was wrong. Besides a serious uptick in vaginal discharge (it’s called leukorrhea and it’s totally normal) you may pee yourself. Sure, you’re prepared for the sneeze-pees that come after the baby, but it actually starts during pregnancy. Again, thank that muscle relaxing hormone, Relaxin.
Here’s something interesting that no one tells you during pregnancy. In very early pregnancy hormonal changes can cause you to feel a wee bit backed up. Those shifts tend to stabilize around the second trimester, but the bigger your little guy gets the weirder your internal organs feel. As your body makes room for baby, it pushes your organs around, and smooshes your intestines, making it harder for poop to get through. This is made doubly more difficult by the fact that pregnant ladies need to increase their iron intake significantly, because their blood volume increases between 40-50%, they make a whole new organ out of scratch (the placenta), and they’re making a new human who also needs iron. Iron is constipating. Whoever developed this system was just not thinking things out clearly.
Whatever stage of pregnancy you’re in, including a stool softer in your daily routine isn’t a terrible idea. My doctor actually prescribed me a prenatal vitamin with one included. If you hate taking more pills than necessary, I’d ask your doctor about a prenatal/stool softener combo. Also, prunes. I buy them in bulk.
1,000,000 PILLOWS or YOUR OWN BED
Once your belly starts to show well meaning strangers are going to stop you in the street and smile, they want to touch your belly, but you will stand far enough away to let them know that they’re being creepy, and then they will start imparting their advice. Among this advice is always the adage, “Sleep now.”
And you will nod and smile, but on the inside you will be screaming, “I can’t.”
I can’t sleep now.
All of a sudden I’m a snoring monster who needs a million pillows to prop me up in some weird quasi-standing sleep position. And the truth is, it’s not just my growing belly, I couldn’t sleep early on either. Even though my body hadn’t started to change outwardly, during the first trimester I was a crazy sweet monster one minute and shivering under a stack of comforters the next, as my hormones went haywire trying to accommodate this new experience, my inner thermostat followed suit. As I got bigger sleeping only become harder because I just couldn’t get comfortable. The fact that I’m naturally a stomach sleeper probably adds to my frustration. At this point I have no less than 8-pillows I strategically keep near me, so that at any given moment during the night I can rearrange myself.
I’m incredibly grateful that I get to be this pregnant. I was really worried after my miscarriage that I might not be able to have a successful pregnancy. Having said that, I believe in truth in advertising: Pregnancy is a really cool experience, but it’s not necessarily comfortable. And if you’re not comfortable that’s 100% normal, you’re not doing it wrong. I can’t wait to meet this Little Fella, and I’m sure once he’s here I will forget about having to shave areas I’d never considered or taking shots of vinegar. But for now, well for now I reserve the right to complain.
Experienced mamas, what did I leave out?