Confession time, y’all. I am now almost 20 weeks pregnant with my second child. Yes, this is a joyous, momentous time in my life where I get to get fat and convince people that I couldn’t possibly lift anything heavier than my credit card. That being said, being pregnant again has reminded me of the all the, erm, experiences of pregnancy that simply no one warned me about. I read all the books and talked to my mommy friends but apparently some topics are too taboo even for a woman who has had a myriad of onlookers watch her squirt bebe out her vagina. And so, I’m here today to tell you about all these things that surprised me during pregnancy (and a little bit after), as a public service to you. You’re welcome.
- Your farts will become frequent and their aroma magnified by about 1000 %. Be prepared to clear a 5 block radius at any given moment. I recommend always finding a scapegoat wherever you go.
- One day tuna fish will the MOST DELICIOUS thing you’ve ever eaten. You will buy 17 cans in anticipation of the cravings to come. Mere hours later, even the thought of said tuna will send you racing toward the porcelain goddess. Repeat with chips, cookies, burgers, soup, etc.
- You will suddenly become a narcoleptic and be able to take a nap anywhere and everywhere. This is particularly true in your first trimester (maybe even before you know you’re pregnant) but will likely make an encore appearance in your third one as well.
- You will wake up with horrific leg and foot cramps and be convinced that your entire leg is literally about to fall off. There’s many suggestions on how to reduce the frequency of these, but often it’s simply baby’s position that causes them so you’re stuck until delivery.
- Sneezing/coughing/laughing/puking/jumping/running/baby moving requires a kegel prep. Getting caught unawares is cause for an underwear change. Don’t worry, after the first 10 times you learn that pee is sterile and it dries, so in a few minutes your underwear is as good as new. If this is your first pregnancy you may just escape this one until after delivery.
Ps. There’s been a lot of research recently to suggest that kegels are not the most effective way to ward this off. Do squats instead
- Vivid dreams. Usually women will tell you that they had more dreams during pregnancy. What they fail to tell you is they mean of the sexual variety. Be prepared to do the dreamland horizontal mambo with just about everyone you know. My suggestion? Don’t critique them on their technique when you see that at the office the next day.
- The chronic need to pee. Most people know that pregnant woman urinate a lot. For pregnant women, it always feels like you have to go even when you don’t (thank baby on your bladder for that one!). There were a few times that I went racing for the bathroom in red alert mode only to have nothing come out.
- That eating for two shouldn’t actually mean eating for two. It’s great to use your pregnancy as an excuse to satisfy your cravings (and really, it’s practically impossible to have any willpower under the influence of those hormones). However, it is easy to pack on way too many pounds during pregnancy and while you may not care now, you will once baby is born and you’re left still looking like your 30 weeks pregnant. Indulge your cravings, but try to control the portions.
- Speaking of eating… you may actually notice that in your 8th and 9th month that your maternity clothes won’t even fit you. Be prepared to re-wear the same shirt every day for weeks (or just steal your husband’s).
- Your vagina smells. Not badly (if it’s really horrific definitely get it checked out) but just differently than how it used to. I notice this every time I go pee (which, as noted above, is quite often). I don’t have the scientific explanation although I’m sure there is one but just know that it’s normal and will return to its usual (delightful, I’m sure) scent after you recover from delivery.
- Constipation. Or diarrhea. Or alternate.
- Hemorrhoids. All that pressure combined with the trauma of delivery may just cause some lovely hemorrhoids on your rear. They are uncomfortable and never truly go away. Buy stock in preparation H and call it a day.
- Milk. Most people do get their milk sometime after labour, but if you’re lucky like me you’ll get it long before your due date. I awoke at 17 weeks pregnant with my son and thought I had peed the bed. It turns out it was just my boobs. I had to wear a bra to bed for the next 1.5 years and was less than cordial about it.
- Indigestion. Some pretty random foods (sometimes even water) can cause heartburn in a preggo. If your triggers are unavoidable, then it’s best to keep Tums on hand.
- Hair. Your hair on your head will be thicker, which is totally a bonus. What they don’t tell you? It will also start growing in a myriad of other places. For me it was my neck. *Shudder*.
- The baby doesn’t come with a manual. No matter how many you already have, each baby is different. It takes time to learn the ebbs and flows of this new little one, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
- Breastfeeding is HARD. Oh, and it hurts. I know, I know, they tell you it shouldn’t hurt – and they’re right. It shouldn’t be the excruciating every single time you try (if it is, contact LaLecheLeague for some help). Be that as it may, there is still a little one chowing down on your nips every few hours and in the beginning they will get cracked, dry and extremely sore. This is normal and will subside soon if you persevere. The best medicine for those cracked and possible bleeding nipples is to express a bit of breastmilk and rub it in.
- Babies won’t starve themselves. Unless they have an underlying medical condition, babies will not sleep through hunger. Do not believe the hype that you must wake up or force your child to eat every 3 hours even throughout the night. Trust in your baby and its instincts to cue you for feeds.
- Is your baby peeing? Pooping? Gaining weight? Good. That’s really all you need. Again, unless there is an underlying medical condition I see absolutely no reason to track feed times or wet/dirty diapers. Stop stressing!
- Your vagina smells. Didn’t we already cover this? Well, unlike the pregnancy aroma ‘change’, postpartum vajayay smells more like your insides are rotting. Seriously, it is h-o-r-r-i-b-l-e. All that old blood and tissue and mucus excreting itself is enough to make you want to buy a nose plug for all bathroom visits. Be prepared for the bleeding and stench to last up to 6 entire weeks.
- The post-delivery poop. Your first bowel movement after delivery is a moment of celebration. It will also likely be a moment (or 20) of discomfort. Make sure you eat lots of fruit and veggies, drink lots of water and have plenty of fibre so as to not prolong the process.
- The sitz bottle. I didn’t realize that I wasn’t going to be able to wipe myself post-delivery. Truth is, everything is too swollen/bruised down there for that to even be remotely appealing. Get ready to squirt yourself with a sitz bottle after every pee instead of using the trusted TP. Also, urine can really burn your labia postpartum as well. Rub a little vaseline on the area before you go to curb the pain.
- For weeks, maybe months after, you will feel like another baby is about to fall out. This one really surprised me. Stand or sit too long and you’ll start to feel pressure down there just like when baby was inside. If you’re like me, you’ll actually run to check if another baby is indeed about to fall out. This will go away but may take months.
- Night sweats. Nobody warned me about this and I woke up in the middle of the day on day 4 of postpartum convinced I had peed the bed. I was also violently shaking, inconsolably cold and incredibly freaked out. All normal, as it would turn out. Your body will shed all that water you’ve retained somewhere between days 3-5 postpartum. Expect increased bathroom visits and perhaps a midnight wake up call (and shower).
- Afterbirth Pains. You think you did your job. You pooped out a baby, you survived the contractions, you earned that gold star goshdammit. Don’t expect the cramps to stop post delivery though, at least not for a few days. Your watermelon sized uterus needs to shrink back down to normal and it can’t do that without continuing to contract. Books will tell you this feels like a ‘mild’ labour contraction, but I call bullshit. It was more like a moderate one, particularly during a nursing session.
- You will feel alone. No matter what your support system, you will likely have feelings of isolation after you bring baby home. It’s probably the hormones. It’s best to try to get out, hang out with understanding friends and at least try to regain a sense of normalcy. While some emotional changes are guaranteed, if you find yourself chronically blue; unable to bond with your baby; lethargic; apathetic or just generally depressed please speak to your doctor or midwife. Postpartum depression is real and WAY more common than you think. It is nothing to be ashamed of, but getting the right support early on is crucial to your wellbeing.
- Everything you thought you knew was wrong. You’ll throw out all the books and plans you had out the window. It’s fabulous to be researched and prepared, but be too rigid with your expectations and you’ll likely be forced to change rather quickly. I had a lot of “I’ll never” moments before my son, but I learned all too quickly that you should NEVER say never.
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