When a woman announces her pregnancy, she is immediately flooded with advice from all angles. Family, friends, coworkers and strangers all have their opinions. Websites, books, blogs and apps feature infinite articles on various aspects of the journey to have a child. And of course, a woman receives the most important and valid instructions from her doctor.
Well, I’m here to throw my two cents in, since I’m basically an expert at this now (ha. ha. ha). After almost nine months of receiving advice, I want to share some of my own. It can get overwhelming, even annoying, to hear everyone’s opinions on pregnancy, but after going through this journey, I do feel a certain responsibility to share my “lessons learned” with future mamas. I think everyone likes to give advice and share stories because they’ve been there, whether through their own pregnancies or watching someone they loved, and know that it can be a confusing and intimidating time.
So here’s my select pieces of wisdom for the newly pregnant:
Remember that pregnancy is natural
It’s a simple concept that can get lost in all the doctor’s appointments, warnings of what to watch for, eating restrictions, blood tests and more. Women’s bodies were made to do this. Pregnancy is a natural thing. When you are pregnant, you are not sick (although it certainly might feel like it at some times). We are lucky to live in modern times, where pregnancies can be closely monitored and problems can be resolved before they affect the health of the mother and/or developing child. But don’t let all the tests, monitoring and warnings get to you – you will most likely have a normal, healthy pregnancy. Even if something does raise a red flag, most of the time it will turn out to be nothing.
That said, don’t be afraid to call the doctor if you do think something is wrong. I called my doctor several times in tears for one reason or another; every time things turned out to be perfectly normal and fine.
Read a pregnancy book
Those times I just mentioned where I called my doctor’s office in tears – if I would have opened my pregnancy book first, I would have found whatever was ailing me listed right there as a normal symptom. I learned so much from reading my pregnancy book. A pregnancy book can help you learn about what you should be expecting, what you should look out for, and why your body is feeling certain symptoms. I felt empowered knowing what was going on inside of me and why it was affecting me in certain ways. Not to mention some weird things can happen to your body and mind when you are pregnant, and if you don’t know it’s a normal symptom, you might get freaked out.
Take a good child birth class
My husband and I took two child birth classes, one at the hospital where I will deliver and one separate from the hospital. We got a lot out of both classes. As someone who has never spent the night in a hospital, I was extremely nervous about my hospital stay. At the hospital class, they walked us through what our stay will be like, what procedures I will go through and hospital policies. We got to tour the hospital and see the rooms where we will be staying. I’m still a little nervous about the hospital, but I’m definitely more confident now that I know what to expect.
Our other child birth class has been great for many reasons, the main one being it’s gotten us excited about the whole experience. A good child birth class should help you look forward to labor and delivery, not dread it. It also goes back to the whole “pregnancy is natural” concept – there were many things that scared me about labor and delivery, but now that I’ve been through this class I know what’s natural and expected.
Take everything with a grain of salt
We’ve all heard some of the crazy things people say to pregnant women. I thought most were exaggerations until people started saying them to me. On a bad day, it was (is) easy for me to get upset when someone asks if I am having twins or points out how huge I am. I found the best thing to do is just to laugh it off when someone makes me uncomfortable with an awkward question or a rude comment. Every. single. person. you encounter will say something or ask something about your pregnancy, but you’ll receive enough compliments and congratulations to make up for any hurtful comments.
Take advantage of this time
I’ll be frank – people are nicer to you. Not as much is expected of you. Take advantage of this! Let a stranger hold the door open for you; take up your coworker’s offer of help on a project; let your significant other fold the laundry or cook dinner. If you aren’t feeling up to snuff, take a sick day. You are growing a human being after all. Despite my above comments about people saying crazy things, I’ve really enjoyed the friendliness of strangers during this time. I like making people smile just by walking by. I learned to take people up on their offers of a seat or to skip line. I really believe people are just trying to be nice; so don’t take their gestures as them thinking you are weak or unable. And when people want to share, listen to their stories of their own children. It’s inspiring to hear the love in someone’s voice when they speak about when their children were born. Listen closely and let yourself be moved.