What to Expect Before You’re Expecting: Moms Share What They Wish They Knew About Pregnancy
We’ve all heard the adage, “hindsight is 20/20,” and pregnancy is no different. If you are a woman who is planning to have a baby, there are a lot of things that you need to know. Pregnancy is an amazing experience, but it can also be challenging and confusing at times. That's why we've asked real moms to share what they wish they knew about being pregnant before they went through it themselves. Keep reading for some valuable advice from women who have been there!
Connect with other moms-to-be.
Of course, you can lean on the advice of the other moms in your life, but connecting with other moms-to-be can make your pregnancy journey that much more enjoyable. If you’re a first-time mom, it can be invaluable to spend time with others who are embarking on motherhood for the first time as well. Make the most out of your pregnancy by joining social groups with women of a similar due date, connecting with other women via sites like Peanut or Meetup, trying prenatal yoga, and making the most out of your prenatal classes.
Tap into your creativity.
While some argue that pregnancy and children zap your creative thinking abilities, others experience a surge of creative inspiration during pregnancy. According to Amy Jackson, Founder and CEO of TaleSplash, the second trimester is “an incredibly creative time,” and she recommends going with the flow and doing what feels right for you. This is a time when your biological and neurological chemistry is changing, which means you may have different thoughts and ideas than usual, despite whether or not you’d label this as “creativity.” Take to journaling or finding new ways to express yourself to make the most out of this experience.
Don’t push yourself too hard, especially in the third trimester.
It’s hard to slow down, especially when you’re mentally and physically preparing to start a new chapter, which includes unplugging from some of your daily priorities to tend to your new baby. That being said, we recommend enjoying the time you have by appreciating the present moment. For entrepreneur Amy Jackson, this couldn’t have been truer; she recalled, “I worked up until the last minute with my first pregnancy and my second baby arrived 3.5 weeks early so I missed that extra chance for rest and pampering.”
Sleep can be tough.
Due to a huge flux in hormones, you’re likely to feel more tired, exhausted, and even nauseous while you’re growing your little bun in the oven. That said, it can be hard to find a comfortable position to sleep in. According to the National Health Service in the UK, “the safest position to go to sleep is on your side, either left or right. Research suggests that, after 28 weeks, falling asleep on your back can double the risk of stillbirth.” Luckily, there are things you can do to help you sleep better while you’re pregnant. If you like sleeping on your tummy, Holistic Sleep Coach Nicole Ratcliffe recommends trying the Anna Pillow to enable you to make sleeping on your stomach safe. Dr. Christine Greves shared that sleeping with your knees bent with one or two pillows between them can help you feel stabilized. The Mayo Clinic also suggests curating the mood by turning off the lights and setting the room at a comfortable temperature to help you ease into sleep.
Baby blues and depression can start before you give birth.
According to the National Institutes of Health, perinatal depression is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, and isn’t the mother's fault or caused by anything she has or hasn’t done. Kate Tekurio, Founder of Mom with Anxiety, shared that she wishes she knew “that you can get perinatal anxiety and depression as a pregnant woman, it is not just after you give birth. That would have helped me to know that I was not alone and that there is help for my feelings while pregnant.” There is hope on the other side, however. Green makeup artist and Ouli’s Ointment Founder Stephanie G-M said that pregnancy “brings up fears and allows us to see them through and come out the other side looking at ourselves differently and even learn to love ourselves.”
Body image concerns are more common than you think.
While some embrace the baby bump, it leaves other moms-to-be with feelings of insecurity. US News reported that in a survey of 161 pregnant and postpartum women between the ages of 18 and 45, researchers found that 50% reported feelings of body dissatisfaction. More than 40% said being pregnant or having a baby had made them self-conscious about their appearance. It’s normal to have mixed feelings about all the changes your body is going through but remember, you’re creating a miracle. Be kind to yourself and show your body a little love for all
C-Sections are Common.
While interest in natural births is on the rise, C-Sections are fairly prevalent in the United States. In 2021, 32.1 percent of live births were cesarean deliveries. Don’t feel discouraged if your birth plan plays out exactly as you’d hoped. Katie Waldron shared her unexpected delivery story, saying “I had a c-section and never expected to go that route. I had planned for a natural childbirth and read books and endlessly studied what the experience would be like. I was lucky that everything worked out, the baby and I were healthy, it was planned and I had the time to consider it vs. having a traditional birth but it still bothers me that I wasn't able to do what my body was meant to do. Post-surgery my doctor shared the position my baby was in and how he would never have been able to be born traditionally which gave me comfort but the ah-ha moment which gave me peace was hearing from so many other moms that they had planned/unplanned c-sections too. It's so important to be flexible and not get too hung up on how things should be, just go with the flow as much as you can and remember: the unexpected helps prepare you for motherhood!”
Pregnancy is a beautiful experience, but it can come with some unexpected surprises. Remember, every journey is different. Be sure to speak up and ask for the help that you need whether it be a supportive community in the form of friends and family or medical attention from your physician.<