The fact that we, as women, have bodies capable of growing a whole person inside of us is a miraculous thing. There’s nothing quite like seeing that line appear on the first pregnancy test, and then taking ten more tests just to be sure.
As amazing as our bodies are, the nine month process of making a baby doesn’t always feel amazing. Here are some ways to make the pregnancy as enjoyable as possible.
Carrying around 30 lbs of extra weight is not my idea of a good time. It’s hard on the joints, the back, and it can really affect sleep. Rest is so important, especially in the final few months, when fatigue really hits and relief can be so hard to find. A body pillow, like the Leachco Snoogle, can be a lifesaver to provide support for an aching, pregnant body. I even brought mine on vacation at 37 weeks pregnant! This pillow isn’t cheap, but it can also be used as a nursing pillow. And dogs seem to love it, so there is that.
As clothes start to feel tighter, it can be hard to justify buying maternity clothes. After all, who wants to buy clothes that can only be worn for a few months and are not cheap at all? If possible, look for second hand maternity clothes on local buy/sell sites. They are often in good condition and priced very reasonably.
Regardless of price, I would absolutely recommend investing in a wire free bra and a pair of full panel jeans/shorts. The underwire in your bra will start digging into your growing belly, and having a comfortable, wire free bra will make the biggest difference. Be sure to account for your growing breasts and size up if needed. For pants, I highly recommend the full panel style to fully support your growing belly. I tried using a belly band to extend the wear of my pre-pregnancy pants, but every time I bent over, my pants were on the verge of falling down, and that was not very attractive or convenient.
My favorite stores for maternity clothes are Motherhood Maternity, Old Navy, Target, and H&M. Wait for a sale to stock up on some cute pieces!
Be prepared, but not too prepared.
I am a researcher by nature. If I am traveling to a new city, trying out a new restaurant, or gearing up to have a new experience (i.e. having a baby), I like to be as prepared as possible. Everyone has probably heard about the book, What to Expect When You’re Expecting. It can be a very helpful resource for a new mom and provides a breakdown for every month of pregnancy. However, it is extremely dense, and not a very easy read, since much of the information won’t be relevant. It serves a better purpose as a textbook to reference when faced with a specific question, rather than a book to read cover to cover. Some of the dangers mentioned in the book can be overwhelming, so take in the scary-sounding information with a grain of salt and be sure to use other resources as well.
A book I found much more useful was Expecting Better by Emily Oster. Rather than accepting the rules at face value (no sushi, no alcohol, no caffeine), she delves into the research as to why pregnant women are told these seemingly random rules and the risks involved if these rules are not followed. Many of these guidelines are outdated and have no scientific basis.
For dads who feel unprepared, The Expectant Father by Armin A. Brott and Jennifer Ash, is a great option. The book answers a lot of questions that fathers-to-be may have on how to be a supportive partner during pregnancy and a father figure to the baby, without all of the specifics of physical changes that are included in books geared towards women.
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Try not to worry.
The moment you become pregnant, the worrying begins. And, I hate to tell you, it doesn’t ever go away. Starting with the first trimester, I constantly worried about having a miscarriage. I visited this website on a daily basis to see as the probability of having miscarriage decreased slowly as the weeks passed. I celebrated viability day at 24 weeks of pregnancy, where the baby has at least a 50% of survival from then on.
After I began to feel the baby move, I monitored the baby’s movement and did kick counts as if I had the sole responsibility for detecting if something may be wrong. On top of that, there’s the fear that I may fall and hurt the baby or get into a car accident.
There is SO MUCH pressure on the mother!
It’s more or less impossible to not worry about the little person inside of our bellies, but try not to be consumed with these thoughts, especially when so many things are out of our control. Instead, focus on the positives, such as getting the nursery ready, washing and putting away baby clothes, and taking full advantage of all the free time you still have. This is the perfect time to go on fun dates with your partner and to catch up with old friends.
Don’t let guilt get the best of you.
As I slowly stepped onto the scale at my monthly OB appointments, I found myself holding my breath, hoping that the weight that appeared had not jumped up too much from the previous time. The doctors and midwives had mentioned to me that the rate of my weight gain was above the ideal trajectory. To decrease the likelihood of having an oversized baby, they suggested increasing my level of physical activity, as well as avoiding the consumption of: white breads & pastas & potatoes, fats, sweets, sugary drinks, artificial sweeteners, and even fruits that are high in sugar!
I nodded in agreement but in reality, I wanted to say, “I didn’t avoid these things before I got pregnant. What makes you think I can avoid them now?”
It’s okay if you can’t always muster up the energy to exercise your tired, swollen body. It’s okay to use food as comfort when you’re having an especially bad day. It’s okay if these habits are causing you to gain more weight than you should. Growing a person is hard work, and you deserve a break every now and then!
Find a community
Going through pregnancy for the first time can be confusing and lonely. I had so many questions that I couldn’t always find answers to by Googling but that didn’t seem important enough to ask my doctor. Luckily, I was able to find an amazing community that I am still a part of, four months postpartum.
I joined the subreddit r/BabyBumps on Reddit, which is an awesome place for pregnant women to ask questions (What does an epidural feel like? What should I pack in my hospital bag?) or to share about their pregnancy excitement (first positive test, ultrasound pictures, nursery decor).
There are also offshoot subreddits based on the month and year of your due date. I joined the r/JuneBumpers2017 group, and I got connected to hundreds of women around the world who were going through the same thing at the same time. It was incredibly helpful to have so many people to turn to and commiserate with. At one point, one of the members of JuneBumpers2017 created a Facebook group, which was a lot more accessible and easier to navigate. The group is still extremely active, and we are continuing to figure out this motherhood thing together.
If you have friends who are also pregnant or have kids, connecting with them is a great way to form a community. But for those of us who don’t have that kind of support in our “real lives,” I would highly recommend seeking out one online.