By: Anna Merezhko, January 29, 2017
First-time mamas, you will quickly come to understand that growing a human inside your body is more than the glamour shots you see all over Instagram. Behind the scenes, that mother that’s hugging her beautiful baby bump in a field of flowers is quickly adapting to a body that may not feel like her own.
Knowing what to expect helps us adapt to those changes and because every pregnancy is different, it’s kind of impossible to have one specific guide to what your pregnancy will be like. Here are a few things I learned during my first pregnancy.
1. Pregnancy brain
Pregnancy brain is this ridiculous phenomenon where you will forget everything. You will flip over to your back when your chiropractor tells you to lay on your stomach. You will wash the same load of dishes twice. Maybe forget to put detergent in the washing machine. Basically, you will feel like you just got out of a 10-year coma and need help adjusting to regular life. It’s natural and normal.
2. Cravings won’t make you want to jump out of a building
I, for some reason, was under the impression that cravings were very extreme. As in, if I don’t get popcorn and pickles within the next hour, I will die. They aren’t. Will it make you burst into tears if you can’t get that juicy burger on TV? Probably. As far as I know, you won’t be in any physical danger.
3. Morning sickness is horribly underrated
Morning sickness doesn’t necessarily mean you only throw up in the morning. I thought that you would throw up once or twice in the morning and continue with the rest of your day. HAHA. WRONG.
If you are the lucky few that don’t experience any nausea at all, keep scrolling. As for the rest of us, you may be throwing up all day. Certain smells might trigger it. You could even develop an aversion to a certain food that will last throughout your pregnancy and then some. You will probably have no appetite and throw up what little you manage to eat throughout the day. Don’t get too excited about not gaining any weight. The pounds will come.
4. Maternity clothes are a necessity
Maternity clothes are not just an option- you need them. BAD. If cravings and nausea don’t drive you over the edge, this will. You’re already about as uncomfortable as a person growing a life inside them can get. Even if what you are wearing is stretchy enough to fit over that growing bump, it will irritate you like crazy if it’s not about two sizes bigger than your usual size. Why? Because your belly might be super sensitive due to how much the skin is stretching.
5. Say hello to insomnia
You may find yourself wide awake at 3 a.m. No matter how badly you want to fall asleep, you won’t be able to. Good thing this gets easier with a newborn. You’ll fall asleep the second your head hits the pillow.
6. Don’t worry about maternal instincts kicking in
If you are worried that you don’t have a maternal instinct, don’t be. There’s a magical “mama bear” persona that awakens inside of us when we become mothers. Although you may not feel it kick in, you will know whether your baby is hungry, sleepy, comfortable, in pain, or in any distress.
The best way I can explain this phenomenon is that you will know exactly what your baby needs and you will have no idea how or why. It is simply an instinct and it will feel like an amazing superpower.
7. Knowing when to change and feed your baby isn’t rocket science
Throughout my pregnancy, I was so worried that I wouldn’t know when I need to change the baby’s diaper, or when to feed her. It seems like the simplest thing in the world now but I had very little experience with babies, so they were kind of a mystery to me. Upon my lovely daughter’s arrival, I quickly learned that there are diapers that tell you when they need to be changed.
Most hospitals use Pampers diapers that have a little yellow line on them that turns blue when wet. So you look out for that blue line or the smell of #2. Pretty easy.
Feeding is just as simple. When you give birth, the amazing doctors and nurses at the hospital will coach you through everything that you need to know, even if you’ve read it all in childcare books (they kind of have to.) They will give you pamphlets and various information about how much food your baby should be eating and how often.
In the beginning, you may be waking up 2-3 times a night for feedings. My newborn ate every 3 hours or so. You will set your own feeding schedule based on your baby’s needs.
8. Your mother’s easy/hard labor doesn’t guarantee anything
Doctors say that long labor could be hereditary but let me stress the could. Your mother’s, grandmother’s, and great-grandmother’s easy labor doesn’t guarantee you one. Although it could be an indicator to what to expect, mentally prepare yourself for the possibility that it may not be like what your mom said it would.
9. Don’t read too many labor horror stories
Labor is a scary thing especially for first-time moms. I found that reading labor stories hurt more than it helped. While it’s good to be informed on what happens to your body, it’s also important to stay calm. You could read dozens of books and articles on what stages of labor there are, but when you get down to it, you will most likely forget everything you read. So if you remember one thing throughout the labor process- remember to stay calm.
Finally, and most importantly,…
10. Trust your body
I wish I knew that I needed to trust my body- that it knew what it was doing and that it was made for bringing a baby into the world. I was scared out of my mind, worried that everything that I was feeling was not normal or natural, but it was. Trust the process. Breathe through it. You’ve brought yourself this far, and you will have the strength to do the rest.
Basically, the more you worry, the harder you make it for yourself. You can’t be fully prepared for something you have never experienced. That is why it’s a new experience.
All you can do is what feels right for you and your child. Trust that instinct.