Things I wish someone told me about PREGNANCY
Finding out you are pregnant, at a point in your life when you want to, hope to be is a feeling that is both surreal and more real then anything I have ever experienced.
In the beginning, at least for me I was very conscious about not allowing my previous experiences cloud or distort this one. I wasn’t going to take it any ‘easier’ then I needed because my last experience (I’ll do a post of this at some point) had nothing to do with my activity levels, my moods, my anything.
I wasn’t going to ‘over-stress’ the small things, and I wasn’t going to overthink the long run. For me a day-by-day experience was the most important part of this nine months.
But, still, despite everything, carrying a baby to term comes with a series of it’s own challenges, challenges we are often not told about or even aware of until we discover them in this process. After all, in movies it looks fairly easy; we are constantly led to believe that it’s a 1-2-3 step to getting pregnant, carrying the baby for nine months and then giving birth.
It’s a lot more challenging then that, but not in the ways you may consider. And not in anyway that you should ever fear.
After all, most (younger versions of ourselves) people picture nine months and think of themselves not drinking wine or not rock climbing or sparring or not traveling to exotic places. They picture a large belly looking large and think of the weight they will gain. They picture a scale tipping further to the right and remember how someone told them they’d start loosing their balance in the last two months.
Sure, there’s some truth to this stuff, I mean you won’t drink or jump out of an airplane over the coast line of Tanzania for at least nine months. But, that’s not really anything you ever need to worry about. You won’t miss it (you just won’t), not for this short of a time (yes, nine months is a relatively short period of time in your life).
The reality is that while the words, ‘No one can prepare you for this’ are right on, they are also oddly off-putting. Like we are being deployed to war or something. The truth is that pregnancy is different or everyone. And that the very realities of pregnancy are different as well.
First and foremost, no matter what tales of terror and discomfort you’ve heard, it’s a slow and steady climb and it’s something that your body was meant to do. With everyday that the baby grows and you grow (I mean mentally and spiritually grow) your body and mind adapt more to the changes – think of it like training;
You don’t overload your squat with 200 pounds day one, you progress into heavier loads once your body adapts. It’s the same with all of the physical and mental changes (and challenges) of pregnancy. Your body adapts over this time, makes the adjustments and allows you to find your space and place in every stage of the process. It is in fact much more doable, manageable and beautiful then scary.
That my friends is why this nine months is such a gift. It’s really a daily process of conditioning your body and mind – until you’re almost at term (as I write this I am 38 weeks, that’s a bit over 8 months for those of you not wanting to do math right now) and despite that changes and some physically challenges I am feeling really good (and you will too). The changes are steady and not to be feared: you are waking up everyday with a small shift in the way your body and mind moves and feels – that’s it.
The key, as I found it is to embrace it, and not overthink it. As my mom said to me once: “If you are pregnant that will pass. And if you are not pregnant that will pass too.” – A small yet witty Russian quote I think most women would enjoy.
Now what i will say is that, instead of scaring me about the process with limited elaboration, I wish someone just shared a few things with me, things that I would like to share here with you;
Things I wish people told me/ talked about
Pregnancy is like a marathon and before getting pregnant you should train for it:
There are tons of women that complain of fatigue, back-pain, sciatica, swelling and many other physical discomforts. Now, every pregnancy is different, but I will say that if you develop a training regiment prior to getting pregnant you will undoubtably develop a strong body (and mind) and this will be one of the most valuable things during this nine month journey.
I have severe sciatic nerve issues, and from years of martial arts I knew that strengthening the back and core and hips would be one of the most important elements of having a more pain-free and active pregnancy. Despite that fact that I have been training for a decade and half, once I knew that my husband and I would want to start trying for a bay I made myself a very challenging and progressive pre-hap and strength training program. I also made sure to never miss a single day, and I place challenges with-in the program to help me build a mentally fortified threshold. Tis way, if there was a discomfort in the pregnancy I was better able to deal with it having built up a mental capacity in my training prior to getting pregnant.
if you are interested in this, feel free to email me, with my Masters in Exercise Science I have made hundreds of preparation and goal programs for individuals ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Your gums (no seriously)
No one actually tell you this, but go see your dentist before getting pregnant. Have a deep cleaning and explain that you are hoping to be pregnant soon. Your dentist will surely explain that in pregnancy your gums weaken, and you are far more likely to develop gingivitis and experience gum weakness and bleeding. He will oxen the best times in the pregnancy to have a follow up visit and how to best treat these symptoms. Because – trust me- your gums will bleed, and if they haven’t before this could scare or shock you.
Stop reading and start feeling
If you are a natural researcher or highly analytical you’ll likely read everything – I read about Braxton Hicks contractions and symptoms and a whole bunch of other stuff. The problem was that every source said something a little different and the information wound up overwhelming me and confusing me.
At 18 weeks I thought I was having Braxton Hicks contractions and called my doctor. At the office he explained the actual science to me and my current shifting anatomy and I realized that I had placed a ton of my reading too literally into my body – I was expecting things to happen as I read them instead of feeling my own body and recognizing my own process.
Be easy on yourself and what you read, go slow and read things week by week. Do not overwhelm yourself with things that ‘should’ happen unless your doctor says they should.
Take every doctors visit extremely seriously- those sonograms aren’t for you amusement
This one is very important. In my first experience with pregnancy I thought that a sonogram is a fun way to see the baby. The reality is that its a very important appointment where the doctor monitors growth and development. Instead of going in without questions, do your research and listen a ton to what the doctor says. Take everything seriously, but don’t overanalyze, just ask the questions you need and make sure if there is something you do not fully understand you do not leave without it being explained to you.
Take your supplement game seriously and start beforehand
Pre-natal vitamins should be taken even before you get that positive sign on the take-home pregnancy test. Doctors and experts say 8-6months prior, or once you start trying you should be taking your pre-natals.
But, the one thing few doctors will tell you is that a DHA & OMEGA supplement is the second very important key to success. I was lucky enough to be in the fitness and health industry and listen to a ton of this research by scientists – but basically this is important for your babies brain development, and often you should take an Omega DHA song with your pre-natal (even if the pre-natal vitamins have some in them).
Of course do all of your own reach here, I like Dr. Rhonda Patricks research (YouTube her on brain health and Omegas and babies, she just had one – a baby) and I use Vital Choice packs as my ‘go-to’ omega source.
Teach yourself discipline with nutrition
The most common misconception I have ver (ever) heard told to pregnant women is: “Eat what you want! Enjoy!”
Ummm… No! That cannot be further from the truth. The reality is that everything you put into your body is now a literal building block for the baby. So if you eat junk, the quality of your and your babies tissue (organs, muscles, everything) will reflect that. Plus you’ll feel worth with your gut health (already challenged by a lack of space due to a going uterus) and you’ll also be more lethargic and exhausted.
Nutrition counts so very much – doing the research of what you should be eating (I have a full post on my top 10 foods for baby development here) and what you should stay away from.
Also – HOW MUCH you should be eating (its not as much as you think, and if you have a very balanced diet in your first three months you will not even need any added calories!). Because if you overeat you will gain unnecessary weight and feel lethargic, as well as experience challenges with your digestion.
So, if you were to invest in nay research in your first trimester – make it nutrition research for you and the baby!
Learn to like the foods you need
Having said this, the next thing you must do is LEARN (learn and condition yourself to like foods you will need). Avocados, Greek Yogurt, Cottage Cheese, Berries – if you don’t love these foods now figure out ways to cook or prepare them to your tastebuds.
Research the right doctor with an interview
Without going into detail, my doctor basically saved our lives with my first go at pregnancy. He is experienced and incredible and we just ‘got each other’ – if you are in NYC here is his contact. But no matter who you choose, it should be the first person you meet. Meet and discuss with doctors, figure out their approach and experience and if you like the hospital they are affiliated with (thats important and not always considered). Then, and only then make your choice.
Dulas, doctors, shamens… natural, more natural at home or C-section…
Look guys, where you give birth and how is your business. and yet once you get pregnant tales of heroic women giving birth at home or with our epidurals will flood your ears and inbox. Everyone will have an opinion of what you need and how you should…
The key is to stay focused and KNOW YOURSELF – you and only you know how you deal with stress, pain and excitement. You know if you like a ton of people fussing over you or one expert. You literally know what you need – you just need to listen to yourself, and NEVER allow anyone to judge your decisions.
Find an expert to help you with the baby registry
The BEST thing I did was get my sisters recommendations (she is the co-founder of heymama.com ) to have an expert help me with the baby registry. The truth is I work and I have a ton on my mind, so figuring out the very best baby stroller in my budget amid the 500 on the market is not possible for me.
I HIGHLY recommend a company called GuGuGuru (www.guguguru.com) they SAVED me a ton of stress and man hours of reasrch. Plus they educated me on everything baby in a simple one hour phone convo. I first went on their site and filled out the free quiz, which navigated me towards the type of mama I will be and the things I need (didn’t even know I need) and helped me create a list that I could later publish to a registry. The list was great because I could keep the small stuff I needed off the registry and put the big stuff on (whose going to buy you a 1.99 thermostat).
I also worked with their concierge for a more in-depth education on strollers, carriers, cribs. They saved me a ton of money by navigating me through the best products and features in my budget. CHECK OUT THEIR SITE! Plus the newsletters are super informative!
Don’t throw out your husbands old Nike & lululemon gear
In my rush to clear the house I was very close to disposing of the hubbies old hoodies and pants, then I decided to keep them for that 8 month term when all of my fashionable cute clothing was suffocating me. Guess what – I haven’t bought a single maternity pant or shirt – I wear his cool sweaters, pants and t-shirts (my husband is pretty stylish) and its working!
No matter how ‘ugh’ you feel, get the pregnancy photos
As you can see from above, we just got ours done, and despite how ‘non-sexy’ I felt in the last two months, the right photographer will guid you to feel sexy and reveal the best parts of yourself. So yes- take the photos (everyone I know that didn’t regretted it later) and enjoy them! Make it a date with you and your husband and get creative by using the fashion and styles most inherent to you. I’l do a separate post on this, but I wore my vintage kimonos from Japan and felt like a Goddess in them…
Work with your hair colorist (way before)
There are very safe ways to keep your hair color fresh; hair painting instead of foils for highlights and natural products. the key is to find the very best person to do this. An expert. So, do your research and prepare, try them out prior to getting pregnant. If in NYC I got to Pam at Cutler (she is an expert on not touching the roots in hair color).
Put meditation in your life
Just do it.
Plan (if you can) a babymoon
This was the very very best memory of this entire pregnancy. Besides my honeymoon, this was the most special trip we did (we went to Japan, which I wrote about here) , but I’ve had friends that just did a weekend in a hotel in their city. Whatever it is, if you can swing it, you will not regret it. I did it at month 4 – exactly when my energy was coming back and my nausea was leaving and when I wasn’t so big that i didn’t feel sexy or energetic.