Before I got pregnant with Vivienne, I maybe had two girlfriends at the time who had children and a few that recently announced their pregnancies. One of my biggest fears was delivering and I grew intensely anxious when the pregnancy stick read, “pregnant.” I thought, “Omg, I’m going to go through giving birth.” At the time, I didn’t have a lot of people to ask questions to and remember frantically pouring myself into the book, “What to Expect when you’re Expecting” as I went through unfamiliar symptoms and constantly worried about the changes in my body that first trimester.
Now, with baby girl #2 around the corner, and a platform to share whatever I want, I have to ask… why aren’t we talking about this? Why aren’t we… as girlfriends, sharing all the good, bad, and ugly about the most natural and common experience that so many of us go through?
Of course, every woman experiences different symptoms during pregnancy, and not every pregnancy is the same each time. One may have the worst skin, while another may have that pregnancy “glow” that everyone talks so much about. Another woman may be bent over the toilet the majority of the first trimester (or entire pregnancy) and another woman never feels nauseous at all. I completely understand that we are all SO different in this journey, yet, why not share our stories or experiences with our friends and shed some light on this topic.
No one told me I’d have to wait 6-8 weeks before I could have my first ultrasound to confirm my pregnancy.
No one told me I’d feel normal cramping (implantation) during the 5thweek and worry that I could be experiencing a miscarriage.
No one told me not to read the comment section in my pregnancy app during the first trimester because it was FILLED with stories about miscarriages.
No one told me I’d get shooting pains in my vagina (aka called Lightning crotch) during my third trimester which didn’t mean I was in labor.
No one told me about the excess discharge and that it would be x10 with this second pregnancy. Hello, liners.
No one told me about the quantity of bleeding after giving birth and that it would last 6 weeks.
No one told me that I’ll cry for hours, for no reason at all, and that it didn’t mean I was having PPD.
No one told me… but I’m here to tell you everything! At least everything that I know (FYI, I’m not a nurse/doctor/etc. and do not have anyone else helping me on this post other than the information I received from YOU … so I am sure I am missing a lot)
Since we all have so many different experiences with pregnancy, labor, and postpartum …I took to Instagram to include you and get your feedback on the subject. Since I only have two personal experiences, I can only speak for myself and my own symptoms. So below, you will find feedback from so many different women about “what you wish you were told” before getting pregnant.
- Every doctor’s office and state are different regarding how many visits and when you can confirm a pregnancy. I didn’t realize you had to wait until you were 6-8 weeks before your first ultrasound. I thought the moment you peed on that stick you could officially confirm. What a tough couple of weeks worrying and wondering.
- Your first ultrasound is internal.
- Cramping is normal. You’ll find out that cramping around 5-6 weeks of pregnancy means you are going through the implantation phase, it doesn’t happen for everyone, but totally normal during the first couple of weeks. I remember finding out what it was and then worrying when the cramping stopped. You should only be worried and contact your doctor if you are experiencing bleeding during this time.
- It’s typical to have only 3 ultrasounds throughout your entire pregnancy. I thought I was going to be seeing her grow during every appointment, which was disappointing to say the least.
- It’s OK to not love being pregnant. No one will judge you for not blissfully announcing how happy you are every day. Some people love it, some don’t. It’s OK.
- You can get bad groin pain from all the stretching and growing, it can be a shocking feeling but typically goes away after a couple seconds. I had it more during my second pregnancy than with Vivienne.
- Morning sickness is not just in the morning and can last for some the entire pregnancy.
- Hormonal acne doesn’t mean you are using the wrong products, it’s going to happen whether you like it or not. It could subside after the first trimester or take you all the way through, but it won’t last forever. Don’t change your makeup or skincare routine to an extreme (other than no longer using anything harmful like retinol, etc.) just bring it to the basics and drink a lot of water.
- A lot of women experience really bad heartburn, who never experienced heartburn before pregnancy.
- Shooting vagina pains, aka called lightning crotch is the most shocking feeling and may instantly make you feel like you are in labor. This happened to me closer to the end of my first pregnancy and as early as second trimester with my second. It literally feels like someone is stabbing your vagina. Breathe!!!
- The glucose test for gestational diabetes is different for so many people. Some say don’t drink it with ice, some give it to you to drink at home, but you have to drink it in 5 minutes and be at the doctor’s office ready for a blood test in 30 minutes after you finish the drink. If you get sick from taking the test, the test is invalid.
- You no longer can sleep on your stomach at around 20 weeks, you could experience difficulty sleeping and leg cramping from sleeping on your side.
- Don’t scratch your stomach if it itches, this could cause stretch marks to form.
- You could be waking up multiple times a night to go to the bathroom. You also could pee your pants if you sneeze.
- If you are positive for gestational diabetes, don’t take it personal. It doesn’t mean that you did anything wrong. Your placenta can still be intolerant to carbs and sugar no matter how healthy you were.
- It doesn’t matter how small you were before you were pregnant, everyone’s body reacts differently. Don’t compare your weight gain or swelling to anyone else.
- Your entire body could swell up. Hands, feet, lips, nose, face…. Everything!
- Your nipples can get larger and darker throughout your pregnancy, naturally preparing them for breastfeeding.
- Your husband/partner is also going through many changes. PPD for men is also a thing. Communicate and ask for help!
- Your vagina can randomly get swollen BEFORE childbirth. It happened to me a few times in the first trimester of this pregnancy and I was SHOCKED.
- The more pregnancies you have, the more discharge you’ll have throughout your pregnancy. Panty liners! Panty liners! Panty liners! It can also cause awful itching and swelling from the amount of liquid in your pants. Change them and shower often.
- Research being a core blood donor or saving the core blood for your child. It isn’t mandatory to do, but you’ll need to make a decision in the second/third trimester.
- Braxton hick’s contractions can begin as early as the second trimester but are more likely in the third. When this happens, the muscles of the uterus tighten for approximately 30-60 seconds and sometimes a portion of your stomach raises.
- Having your cervix checked hurts and can sometimes result in bleeding.
- Prepare for people to comment about your weight. Whether that means, “you look so small” or “are you having twins?” … its more than likely going to happen to us all.
- Edema- water retention aka body swelling causes aren’t due to underlying diseases. It could be eating large amounts of salt, sitting or standing for long periods of time, and medication side effects.
- You can order a breast pump through insurance (depending on your insurance) about 30 days before you give birth. Find out through your insurance and make plans before you forget.
- Just because you gain weight quickly in the first trimester doesn’t mean you will be over your expected weight the rest of your pregnancy. Some gain quickly at the beginning and taper off at the end and others gain less to start (due to sickness perhaps) and make up for it in the later months.
- Pre-eclampsia affects the blood flow to the placenta, often leading to small or prematurely born babies.
- You won’t always get a huge gush of water coming out when your water breaks, it can slowly come out and for a while.
- You push during contractions
- All self-doubt goes out the window you’ll likely want to give birth naked
- Putting in an IV can be more painful than childbirth
- Make sure the nurse doesn’t put the IV on the crease of your hand and arm… you won’t be able to move your hand.
- Everyone goes in knowing everything about a vaginal birth but nothing about C sections. Research C-sections incase that becomes what you have to do. There are also other options (VBAC) to discuss.
- Getting an epidural is a WEIRD feeling. You have to arch your back in a C position and no one is advised to watch this process (husbands beware).
- Pushing is hard work! You feel like nothing is happening when you do.
- Even with an epidural, you still feel the pressure and could get pains in your legs.
- An epidural is different for everyone. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
- It doesn’t matter when you get an epidural, get it before it’s too late (if it’s a strong desire in your birth plan) or before you are screaming for it. There was only one person doing them at the hospital when I went in and it can take a little time to do. I remember a woman screaming for it while I was getting mine done.
- Your placenta comes out after baby- the nurses will push on your stomach to get it out.
- You have the option to use a mirror to watch yourself push.
- You could go to the bathroom while pushing, no one cares.
- You can’t eat or drink anything while you’re in labor, ice chips are your best friend.
- You could experience shaking and feeling cold after epidural, completely normal.
- I’d suggest not having a long list for your birth plan, it’s hard for everything to go as planned. You’ll feel less guilty and more go with the flow with how it’s supposed to be. The result for everyone is a healthy baby so take the doctor’s advice if they suggest drugs or c section.
- Vagina tears often occurs in your perineum- the area between your vagina and anus. Tears are more common in women having their first vaginal birth and range in size.
- Episiotomy is a surgical cut made during childbirth helps prevent rupture of tissues. This can be a long healing process and very painful after delivery.
- Don’t be afraid to be wheeled to the restroom after delivery. I wanted to be strong and walk and ended up almost fainting on the toilet.
- Your husbands/partners may also experience postpartum as it is also a big change for them.
- You could experience tailbone bruising after delivery.
- Stool softener could help you go to the restroom or you could also become constipated.
- The nurses push on your stomach multiple times after delivery to check your bleeding and push more blood out. They push on your stomach multiple times during your stay.
- You’ll still look pregnant after having a baby.
- You’ll experience a cramping feeling when you breastfeed.
- You could feel too bonded to baby and not allow anyone to help you.
- Drink a lot of water and make sure you are eating a lot of good calories. Have someone make sure you are drinking water and eating if you can’t make it yourself. Don’t be afraid to allow people to bring you food.
- Your body odor may change during pregnancy and especially after birth. It’s not forever.
- Don’t be afraid to get support for breastfeeding. It is so much harder than you think. I saw a consultant a week in and even the smallest tips were so helpful in the process.
- Some women highly suggest using a belly band. I never did, but was mind blown when laying on the couch and watching my stomach feel and look like a waterbed.
- You can bleed for weeks after giving birth. It’s different for everyone.
- You could experience major hair loss after birth. Could be slowly and some come out in chunks… for months.
- Wear compression garments or fitted clothes after.
- Your milk doesn’t come in right away and could be days before it does.
- Night sweats/sweating is very normal. You may need to change your sheets often.
- The babies second night is the hardest. Your baby will typically go through a cluster feeding… all night long… and may not want to be anywhere else but your arms once they’ve realized they are not in the womb anymore.
- Your vagina/butt is going to be in pain. Major pain. Give your husband diaper duty in the hospital and even when you are at home have them bring your baby to you, so you can recover quicker.
- No one talks about all the things you’ll need after baby to allow your vagina to heal. Pads, dermoplast, squirt bottle, tucks, or even creating your own cold pad (freezing pads in witch hazel or other) to help soothe.
- Adult diapers, hospital gauze panties, etc. are your best friend. I personally liked the gauze panties, but others prefer just going full in with diapers.
- Tell your husband before you give birth to monitor you and make sure you are not showing symptoms of PPD. If you are, they shouldn’t ask you if you are feeling anything… they should just get you help immediately. It could be very difficult to admit you are having these feelings.
- Baby blues is different than PPD. Baby blues is sudden mood swings after giving birth: from happy to sad and crying for no apparent reason and PPD is a combo of hormonal/psychological adjustment to motherhood and fatigue.
- You may have the feeling of “what did we do” with lack of sleep and life adjustment that just took place. Completely normal feeling.
- It could take time to connect with your baby, it doesn’t mean it won’t happen. I’ve known people who have taken over a month to feel the love that everyone talks about.
- Friends can disappear out of nowhere after you have a baby, especially if they aren’t parents themselves. Look into local mom groups for support.
- When you first get your milk in, your boobs will become HUGE. They will eventually calm down but can often leak.
- Blood clots can be huge
- Vagina prolapse- condition which structures such as the uterus, rectum, bladder, urethra, small bowel, or the vagina itself may begin to prolapse, or fall out of their normal positions.
- Clogged ducts/mastitis is common with breastfeeding moms, especially the beginning months. Don’t be afraid to use your resources and ask for help.
- Determine your leave time and what you plan to do with work, there is nothing more stressful than trying to figure it out during those 6-12 weeks after baby is here. It’s the last thing you need to think about. You’re already a hormonal mess, don’t bring more into it.
- Breastmilk isn’t always fatty enough to fill up your baby. The first milk that comes out of your breast during a pumping or feeding session is called “foremilk.” Foremilk is mostly water. It contains protein and other nutrients, but it is low in calories and fat. As the breast is emptied, the amount of fat in the milk gets higher and the milk has more calories.
- Your nipples will be sore, cracked, in pain, leaking, bleeding… and all the above when you first breastfeed. It took me about a month to not feel the pain. The Lansinoh nipple cream they give you at the hospital was not helpful to me at all, I would highly suggest getting a prescription or even better balm.
- I had shooting pains in my back because I wasn’t sitting properly while breastfeeding Vivienne. I would hunch over and move my body toward her when I should have brought her to me in a more comfortable position. So many little things that I learned to help our breastfeeding journey was from the lactation meeting.
- Varicose veins in the labia
- Sleep deprivation is a form of torture
- Hemorrhoids can occur after childbirth as a result from painful swelling of a vein in the rectum. This is very common after a vaginal delivery and some symptoms of this are bleeding after having a bowel movement, rectal itching, pain, or swollen area around the anus.
- Especially if you plan to return to work after 6-12 weeks, start collecting milk and storing in the freezer.
I hope some of the information above was helpful to women going through pregnancy for the first time or thinking about being pregnant in the future. I didn’t want to write this to scare you, but to inform you and hopefully ease your mind on any symptoms that may come as a surprise to you. Google can be a scary place, so talk to your girlfriends.