For me – and, I suspect, for many other women – pregnancy was a confusing, and often terrifying time, made all the worse by the fact that all you ever seem to hear are horror stories about how absolutely awful it’s all going to be.

Which is cute, isn’t it?

For the last nine months, I’ve found myself frequently wishing that someone had told me some of the more reassuring things about pregnancy, too – some of which I thought I’d try to record today. First, though, I just want to really emphasise that this post relates entirely to my own personal experience of pregnancy, and isn’t intended to be taken as advice of any kind: I’m not a doctor, and don’t have any medical training whatsoever, so if you’re pregnant and worried about something, please, PLEASE seek proper medical advice, and don’t put your trust in the internet: it’s just not worth the risk!

And, with that said, here are some of the  things I wish I’d known before I got pregnant…

01.

Pregnancy symptoms can fluctuate, and some of them might disappear altogether by the time you reach the second trimester

Embarrassing confession coming up here, people who know me in real life, feel free to look away now…

So, one of my very first pregnancy symptoms was sore boobs, and because that was the only symptom I had at first (right up until the morning sickness kicked in, and made me WISH that was the only symptom I had…), I became absolutely OBSESSED with my own breasts, and would constantly monitor and prod them, to make sure they were still painful.

(This was kind of ironic, because, as a health anxiety sufferer, I’d spent my entire life up until that point monitoring my boobs to make sure they WEREN’T sore: oh pregnancy, you crack me up, you really do…)

This, however, turned out to be a fool’s errand, because, the thing is, pregnancy symptoms can fluctuate – or they did for me, anyway. Even in those very early days, there were times when even the pressure from the shower would be so painful I’d want to cry, followed by times when they felt absolutely normal, and I’d convince myself something terrible had happened.

(Ditto morning sickness: after weeks of barely being able to function from the nausea, it stopped abruptly in week 12 – 13, and I freaked out, thinking something was wrong: it wasn’t.)

I really wish I’d known that not everyone has ALL the symptoms, ALL the time, and that the symptoms you DO have can change from day to day – or even from hour to hour. By the middle of the second trimester, my boobs felt totally normal again, with no pain at all: luckily by that point I had other things to reassure me I was definitely still pregnant, otherwise I’m sure I’d have freaked out all over again!

(I know this is annoying, but I’m just going to re-iterate here that, although this was the case for ME, if your symptoms have stopped suddenly, or you’re worried about them for any reason, it’s always, always best to call your doctor, and get it checked out!)

02.

You can still do most of the things you did before you were pregnant

Before I got pregnant, I assumed that if and when I finally got those two blue lines, my life would instantly grind to a halt, and nothing would ever be the same again. In fact, I was so convinced that pregnancy would be a non-stop horror show that when Terry and I were discussing whether or not to start a family, one of my biggest fears was that I would essentially “lose” 9 months of my life, during which I assumed I would basically be unable to function, and would just lie helplessly in bed all day, while the world went on turning without me. Well, I DO like a bit of drama, don’t I?

Now, I’m not going to lie: the first trimester felt totally surreal to me, and because I had pretty bad morning sickness during it, I DID spend a lot of time in bed – that much is true. Once the second trimester hit, though, I was amazed by how “normal” I felt. I was able to meet up with friends, go out to dinner, get back into a semi-normal work routine – my life, in fact, went more or less back to “normal”, and although there were some changes to get used to (We didn’t go on holiday this year, for instance, and I was too tired to do much socialising, although, to be honest, that would probably have been the case anyway this year due to the situation with Terry’s mum), I didn’t really feel that I was “missing out” as such, because there was so much else to focus on instead. So my life changed, yes… but it didn’t END: and that’s the main thing, really, isn’t it?

03.

Yes, you can survive morning sickness

While I wouldn’t go so far as to say I have a phobia of vomiting, I DO find it pretty horrific (I mean, who doesn’t, really?) and will go to huge lengths to avoid throwing up. I actually put off pregnancy for years, partly because I felt sure I wouldn’t be able to cope with the morning sickness – I would literally lie awake at night, worrying about it.

As it turned out, I DID get pretty bad morning sickness (Although I was lucky, and only had it for a few weeks during the first trimester), and you know what? I somehow survived. I’m sure this probably won’t be all that helpful to those of you who have similar fears about it, because I know I just wouldn’t have believed anyone who’d told me this before I experienced it, but honestly, I’m an absolute princess about illness – I just don’t handle it well AT ALL, so I really believe that if I can cope? ANYONE can.*

(*Unless you’re one of the unlucky souls who gets hyperemesis gravidarum, obviously: I have NO IDEA how anyone survives that…)

04.

No, you don’t have to wear Birkenstocks if you don’t want to

A vain one, I know, but, well, I AM pretty vain, I guess, and I was really disheartened by all of the people who gleefully told me I’d have to completely give up on style, and just wear Birkenstocks and an adult onesie for the entire duration of my pregnancy – and afterwards, too. (I was LITERALLY told that I’d be wearing an adult onesie by the end of the third trimester, because it would be the only thing that would fit me: ya gotta love the internet and its doom-mongering, don’t you?) Now, I’m not claiming to have been the most stylish pregnant woman ever, because I definitely wasn’t (By the last few weeks, I basically looked like the Goodyear Blimp in a dress…), but I was still able to walk in heels in my third trimester (Not saying you SHOULD do this, obviously, just that it’s not as impossible as some people want you to think it is), and didn’t really notice any difference in how they felt. Everyone will tell you that pregnancy will be so awful and uncomfortable that you’ll have no option but to completely change your style, but while I DID spend a lot more time in leggings than I ever have in my life, I honestly didn’t find that to be the case – or not ALL of the time, anyway!

05.

Not everyone feels the baby move at the same time, and the movements don’t feel the same for everyone

Baby movements were one of the biggest causes of stress for me during pregnancy. People started asking me if I could feel movement at around 10 weeks – which is WAY earlier than most people can feel something – and continued to ask every single time they saw me, which made me absolutely paranoid that I SHOULD be able to feel something, when I most definitely couldn’t. I also seemed to be surrounded by people who DID feel movement super-early, and all of those stories convinced me I was the odd one out, and an absolute freak for being so “late” to the party.

As it turned out, I didn’t feel definite movements until week 19 – 20 (Which actually isn’t “late” at all for a first baby), but I was still really confused, because everyone had told me it would feel “like a butterfly fluttering its wings”… and it didn’t. I wish I’d known that movements can feel totally different for different people, or different babies, and that the fact that mine weren’t remotely like a butterfly wasn’t actually a cause for concern – it would’ve saved me so much angst!

(Again, do speak to your doctor or midwife if you have concerns about movement, though – better to be safe than to just trust some random woman with a blog…)

06.

The “tried and tested”advice doesn’t necessarily work for everyone

Ginger biscuits didn’t stop my morning sickness. Cold or sugary drinks didn’t make my baby move. Actually, I don’t think ANY of the “tried and tested” remedies – the ones that people tell you over and over again will DEFINITELY work – ever had the slightest effect on me, which, again, made me sure I was either an absolute freak, or that there was something wrong with the baby.

The simple fact is, though, that everyone is different: what works for me might not work for you, and vice versa, and comparing yourself to other pregnant women is a really easy way to drive yourself mad with worry. I wish I’d known that it’s better to just focus on YOUR body and YOUR pregnancy, and forget what everyone else tells you you SHOULD be feeling: there’s no such thing as a “one size fits all” when it comes to pregnancy, and that’s possibly the most important lesson of all.

What do you wish you’d known before getting pregnant?

6 things I wish I'd known before getting pregnant

16 Comments
  1. No one’s pregnancy is exactly the same, so you’ve just got to do you. It must be so frustrating and difficult to try to phase out the million things that everyone is telling you that you “must”. (Haha- I do love my birkos though – and I’m not even pregnant! (They obviously aren’t for everyone)) Big hugs to you and just go along with what feels right to you! Xx

  2. I wish I’d known not to ‘feel’ anything. You read things about people ‘just knowing’ they were pregnant and ‘feeling different’. I’m 11 weeks now and I feel zero different. I’ve been extremely lucky in that I have not suffered from morning sickness or most other symptoms, but all that does it make me wonder if I am actually pregnant.
    Even the pregnancy test didn’t make it real, we had an early scan at 7 weeks and it was actually a shock to see something on the screen because I really didn’t ‘feel’ pregnant and it made me wonder if I was a bad person or really out of tune with my body that I didn’t ‘just know’

  3. chrisann_macleod_stewart@hotmail.co.uk. Having experienced hyperemesis gravidarum I can tell you surviving it is really REALLY tough. I started with the nausea in the first few weeks of pregnancy but from weeks 6 to 10 my vomiting started and got gradually worse with every passing week – I hardy left my bed. I eventually ended up in hospital just before Xmas and they had to give me medication to stop it. I’m still taking the meds but they’ve managed to keep the sickness under control and on the rare occasion I’ve been sick it’s only the once. It’s nice to feel more like myself again and enjoy food again.

  4. 1) That pregnancy often halts migraines (because of the hormone shifts). That was actually a super exciting and positive side effect of pregnancy. Sadly, the hormonal drop postpartum can mean an uptick in migraines but….you can take medicine for it then, at least.

    2) Pregnancy can do weird things to you body. People can develop temporary allergies (which I did not, but thought I might have because) for example, my tongue went numb and tingly. Turns out my organs were being pressed into a nerve instead, lol. AND most of these changes are temporary.

    3) Being pregnant makes you a member of this secret society of mothers. Everyone who had been pregnant before was super nice and thoughtful and kind. Doors were held open and seats offered to me, because they remembered what that was like. Not that people who hadn’t been pregnant were kind but…. it was often those little things done to help ease minor (but real) aches or inconveniences of pregnancy that meant a lot to me.

    1. That’s really interesting: I hadn’t had a migraine for almost two years (had been pregnant 3x in that timeframe) then I had one within minutes of having Max and then another one the next week – I was assuming it was something to do with hormones, but good to have it confirmed!

  5. An easy pregnancy seems so much a matter of luck. I was pregnant in 2004/2005, so there was much less information on the internet. I was not prepared for SPD, and only when I suffered from it I found out it can get so bad some women spend the last weeks in wheelchairs, unable to walk. I didn’t know post-partum bleeding would last so long. I didn’t know melasma might never disappear. I was unlucky – my pregnancy was difficult and it was one reason why I have only one child.

  6. I wish I had known that sometimes you cannot keep your “normal” life when you are pregnant, that it can be medically forbidden to keep exercising and that it can actually harm the baby. I have always been surrounded by “Pregnancy is not a disease”, it’s not an excuse to be lazy, you don’t need to eat for 2 etc…Then BAM, midwife makes a funny face and you are sent to hospital immediately, and ordered to take it easy for 3-4 months.

    I wish I had known that the size of your bum is a huge source of worries. People mean so well when they says “you are tiny” or “you are huge” but it only gives sleepless nights and tears wondering if everything is ok with the baby.

    I am glad I didn’t know about the guilt and lack of knowledge about what to do with your baby. Whatever you do, someone will criticise anyway.

  7. I think checking medical things on the Internet is a bad idea and the massive amounts of information there are unnecessary, especially during pregnancy when anxiety is high for most women. I think my generation was better off in blissful ignorance. Every pregnancy is as different as every woman and no two people experience the same things, so asking your mum is more likely to get an answer that is going to be more akin to your experience than any stranger’s.

    Knowing what you know now, would you offer advice to a pregnant woman?

    1. No, I think unsolicited advice often comes across as condescending and rude (I felt very patronised throughout my pregnancy, and still do!) so I would only ever offer advice if it was asked for.

    2. Also, I never, ever check medical information on the internet: these are all things that people would say to me directly, either in person, or by commenting on my blog/social media!

  8. I wish I had known that no two pregnancies are alike even for the same woman. My second was SO different to my first in both good and bad ways.

    I also wish I had known that there are honestly very few “facts” or “truths” about pregnancy – it’s entirely fluid. As Lalie said, you’re surrounded by these well-known myths, and then suddenly you/your midwife/your consultant is telling you the exact opposite to everything you thought you knew. “There’s no need to eat for two (or three, in my case), you only need a couple of hundred extra calories a day,” suddenly becomes, “The babies aren’t growing well enough – you need to eat 3000 calories a day for them you know!”

    I wish I had known how difficult it is to eat 3000 calories a day and still eat a healthily diet! 🙂

  9. Any and every mom to be who feels like the weirdo just vecause her pregnancy is not how others say, I have just one thing to say – Screw them. Each woman is different and each pregnancy is different. My first one was absolute heaven, if I didn’t have swollen feet the last month and a huge bump, I wouldn’t say I’m pregnant. Two years later I’m pregnant with my second – I was throwing up 10 times a day until approx week 18, have severe heartburn from second month, can barely walk from the ligaments pain, etc, all “wrong” I could be, I am. Absolute opposite of the first one.

  10. It’s my first pregnancy on first trimester, I had one miscarriage and I should be anxious but surprisingly my hormones are helping me to be calmer. And thank god for that. But being said, at times it’s not, my worst symptom is having cramping pains, and pressure on the abdomen which worries me. But when it’s calmer, I do feel generally okay. I’m so glad to know that pregnancies are not the same. I can’t wait to have my first scan.

    1. Hello Katrina, the cramping pain is most likely the fetus nesting in your uterus, so that is a good thing 🙂 I remember having cramping pains as if I was to have a menstruation in the first weeks both of my pregnancies, and the doctor told me both times it is as it should be. good luck!

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