Eight somewhat surprising facts about pregnancy and delivery that most women don’t seem to know.
Pregnancy and labor and delivery are two subjects that have been written and written about time and again. There is so much information out there (especially now with the internet)- which can be a great blessing, but it can also be very overwhelming. So, in light of the fact that I’m almost 40 weeks pregnant and therefore pregnancy, labor and delivery are at the fore-front of my mind right now, here are 6 pregnancy facts I wish I would have known before I went through this the first time.
1. Pregnancy is beautiful and awful at the same time.
Pregnancy is one of the most amazing experiences in the world. And especially when you’ve dealt with infertility, being able to experience pregnancy feels like even more of a miracle. But I have to be honest– it isn’t all roses, and there will be days when you will just be done with being pregnant (unless you are one of those amazingly blessed women who experience almost no pregnancy side affects).
With my first baby, I had anemia & gestational diabetes. With this pregnancy (#3), heartburn, insomnia and restless leg syndrome have plagued me. None of these is part of what I was expecting in pregnancy. They aren’t much fun to deal with.
Hormones may overtake you. That’s something I wasn’t really expecting. I found that I had to really try hard not to say mean things during pregnancy. I don’t usually even think as mean of things as I do when pregnant– let alone have the urge to say them.
I remember when my best friend got pregnant, and she was telling me how she kept saying such mean things to her husband, and she didn’t mean to say them, and she didn’t really even believe those things, they just kept slipping out of her mouth. At that time, I was aghast that she couldn’t filter her mouth better. After 3 pregnancies, I can attest to what she said.
The hormone issues don’t go away immediately after having your baby, either. It will take weeks to get back to feeling “normal” and even longer if you are breastfeeding. So remember to give yourself some grace after your baby is born, because you may go from laughing to bawling within seconds, for absolutely no reason at all.
2. Baby Kicking May Not Be What You Expect
When you first feel your baby kick, it’s an incredible, amazing feeling. It may take a couple of times for you to be sure that’s what you’re feeling, but when you do, you will be stirred by the feeling coupled with your pregnancy hormones, and you may cry at the wonder of it.
By the end of pregnancy, when your baby is kicking hard and all. night. long you will probably be crying for her to just stop! It’s a great reassurance that baby is alive and well, but it may no longer feel magical. In fact, there may be occasions where your baby kicks you so hard in the ribs or cervix that it nearly doubles you over in pain. Or if he kicks you in the bladder, you may wet your pants.
For some reason, no one ever told me this.
In fact, Lucy’s doctor told her that sometimes babies kick so hard they can break your ribs. So if you feel bad rib pain, you should let your provider know.
After feeling such amazingly painful kicks, you will be amazed at how tiny your baby’s foot is when he’s born!
3. Buy Pads
This is another one that I really wish I had been forewarned of, so I try to let other expectant moms know. It’s gross to have to talk about, but it’s just the way it is. After having your baby, you will be leaking lochia (a combination of blood, mucus and tissue) for a while. It’s basically like having your period, but much stronger.
Apparently, using tampons can introduce bacteria to the open wound where the placenta was attached to the uterine wall. This is the same reason you will be cautioned to not have sex until after your 6 week appointment (you may want to give your man a heads up on this so he isn’t grumpy). Because of the risk of introducing infection, you have to use pads. Even if you’ve never used pads before.
So I would recommend having pads at your home, since sending your husband to the store to buy pads will likely result in disaster. There are so many options available: scented, unscented, maxi, mini, long, thin, overnight, with or without wings…. you get the point. It’s hard enough for me to figure out what I’m buying.
Sending my husband might be embarrassing for him, and he would probably just buy the first package that said pads and bring it home. So then I’d be frustrated he didn’t get what I needed.
And trust me, you won’t be feeling up to heading to the grocery store for pads on the day you leave the hospital. So stock up beforehand.
4. Don’t Buy Shoes
During pregnancy, the increase in hormones causes your ligaments to stretch. This can cause widening of the hips that won’t reverse after delivery (I got back to my pre-pregnancy weight pretty fast after each kid, but I could never fit back into my old pants size). It can also cause the arches in your feet to flatten out, making your feet wider.
I was super bummed that a cute pair of hiking shoes I had splurged on just before getting pregnant were so tight and uncomfortable after having Miss Magoo. They never did fit, and I ended up having to sell them. This doesn’t affect everyone so badly, but on the off-chance it affects you like it did me, you may want to hold off on buying the spendy shoes.
5. You Get Bigger… Everywhere
If you’re the squeamish type, or if you don’t want to talk about privates, you should probably not read this. I was just grateful someone was frank enough to tell me about this, or I would have been a little freaked out. Your lady parts are going to get bigger. Yes, your boobs will get bigger- yay! But your other lady parts will too. So that’s pretty weird. And you definitely want to know that ahead of time, so you know that there’s nothing abnormal about it. It’s just something no one talks about, because it’s weird and freaky.
6. Measuring Dilation
I really thought that there was going to be some scientific way that dilation was measured. Like the use of calipers or something. So when I found out that the nurses/ doctors/ OBs/ midwives just check and measure with their fingers, I was a bit shocked. So just a little heads up… nothing scientific about it.
In light of the fact that my baby was just born, I was reminded of 2 more bonus facts for you all.
7. After delivery, you will still look pregnant.
That’s pretty much a huge bummer. You won’t look 9 months pregnant– more like a flabby 5 months pregnant. Just remind yourself that no one will be looking at you anyway, since your baby is now the star of the show!
8. After delivery, you will still have contractions.
They won’t hurt as bad as the previous contractions, and they mean that your uterus is going back to its normal shape, but they can still be painful. Especially when the nurses come in and massage your uterus. You may feel like punching them, but they’re trying to help you heal, and make sure you don’t hemorrhage.
Speaking of contractions, after pushing out your baby, you will still have to push again to expel the placenta (although obviously the placenta isn’t as hard to push out as a baby). This was very surprising to me (and my husband) the first time around.
So, these are the top things about pregnancy that were surprising to me. I hope that they help you to know that what you’re going through is normal, and to hopefully be prepared.
If you’ve gone through pregnancy before, what stood out to you as a very surprising pregnancy fact that no one warned you about?
If you’re a new mom or a soon-to-be mom, you might find these posts helpful as well!
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