This is not my first rodeo in the baby department, but there sure are things you can learn every time you have a new addition to the family. I wish that someone had told me all of the things I had to learn on my own, but even though they didn’t, I am doing great and want to share some of the things I wish I had known before hand with you.
Being pregnant can be an amazing experience for many women, and for some it can be very hard. It depends on many factors such as age, health, and where you are in life in general. For me, I have experienced a bit of every type of pregnancy.
I have had wonderful pregnancies, hard pregnancies, and a few that ended in tragedy. Your experiences will not be the same as mine, but you may deal with some of the same things, so here is my list of things I wish I had known before I conceived, and after I had my littles.
My list of things every expecting mom should know…
1. Make sure you are definitely pregnant!
There are tons of things that change in the body when you conceive. This could be a loss of your “monthly friend”, odd food cravings, a change in your weight, moods, and about a thousand other things that can give it away. The best way to be sure you are expecting is to buy an at home pregnancy test or to visit a doctor to have a blood or urine test done. This can help ease any doubts you may have or prevent you from going to your nearest department store and breaking the bank before you know if you just had a bad burrito, or if you really do have a magic bean sprouting in there!!
2. Prenatal appointments are important.
No matter how early or far along you are, getting good care is very important. You don’t want to miss any necessary testing as it could help to identify issues that can be prevented, or treated as soon as possible. Remember, your health is just as important as your baby’s health so these appointments can be critical and should not be missed. During each trimester (trimester explained in #4) there will be testing that can only be done in the specific trimester or at specific weeks. You also won’t want to miss those super cute ultrasound pictures of your growing bean!!
3. Try to know as much as possible about your family’s medical history.
Any time you visit a doctor, they will ask you about your family and any medical issues they have had. The same goes for prenatal appointments. This can help rule out things that could impact you, might affect you and your baby, or just help to be a preventative measure. For me, diabetes runs in my family, and until I got older, pregnancies were a piece of cake, but now, in my 30’s, it has proven to be more complicated, and I developed gestational diabetes with my last pregnancy. During this pregnancy, I have maintained it with diet, exercise, and basic common knowledge of the do’s and don’ts. You may not have to worry about this type of thing, but knowing about complications in your own family can definitely help to ease your mind, and know what could arise down the line.
4. Find your gestational age.
So now some of the fun stuff! Your gestational age can help you determine when baby is due, how big he/she is, and tons of other cool facts. Pregnancy is broken down into 3 trimesters, and those consist of 3 month intervals. The first three months would be the first trimester, the next three months would be the second trimester and the last 3 months would be the third trimester. Knowing what trimester you are in can help you keep track of milestones like first kicks, and help you to identify physiological changes in your own body like when the morning sickness ends, when heartburn begins, or if there are changes in your breathing, metabolism, etc. These are things you can discuss with your doctor if you have concerns. One of our favorite site to check gestational age is Your Due Date. They have lots of options to help you determine when your little will arrive, and have lots of great facts available in their personalized fact sheet! (Totally free to use and very informative.)
5. How much weight gain or loss is normal during pregnancy?
This completely depends on you! There is no right or wrong answer to this, but knowing could help you to be as healthy as possible. Personally, with this pregnancy, I have lost 23 lbs in about 5 months. Now, I was overweight, but changing my diet and habits helped alot. For many women, weight depends on BMI (Body Mass Index) before you conceive. You can check that at Smart BMI Calculator. Your doctor will also help you determine what is right for you and your baby during your pregnancy, and may send you to a nutritionist if they feel it is necessary to help keep you healthy.
6. Pregnancy can be uncomfortable!
No one ever told me how uncomfortable it would be to have a tiny person growing inside of my body! I sure wish they would have. It isn’t an easy job, but I promise, once you look into your baby’s eyes the first time, you will forget all the discomforts you experienced! You won’t be able to do many of the activities you could before pregnancy, you may experience constipation, morning sickness, heartburn, and dozens of other things. You may feel miserable for a short time, or maybe even through your whole pregnancy, but remember, it will only be for a short time, and the outcome is more than worth it! Learning new ways to deal with discomfort can help to reduce the anxiety that will come with wanting to do the things you once could.
7. You CAN have a birth plan, and you CAN choose what happens with your baby and your body!
This is one of the biggest things I wish I had known. My first child was born with me not having any guidance, or choices in how it happened. I was young, and didn’t know I could ask questions that I now know are ok. Being a first time mom is a huge milestone in a woman’s life and should be treated as a big deal! If your doctor tells you that you cannot make decisions on you or your baby’s behalf, then you should look for a new doctor. I didn’t know what a birth plan was, way back when, but now I do, and have had one with these last 2 pregnancies. A birth plan allows you to make arrangements for how you want to deliver, what medications are used if any, and letting the doctors and nurses know things such as; before anything happens (as long as your baby’s APGAR score is high enough) that you want skin-to-skin and a chance to try breastfeeding before they take your little away for testing and other stuff, that you don’t want medications used during labor and delivery, or no binkies or bottles because you want to solely breastfeed. Birth plans can change even at the last minute, but it is a great way to share your wishes and concerns with your doctors.
8. Parenting classes and mom groups are a must try.
Even as a mom who has done it all before, having parenting classes can help- a lot! It may have been a long time since you have had a baby in the home and the classes can help you learn new techniques for calming baby, or even stress relief for yourself. Mom groups are also a good way to stay social as a parent, and can allow you to socialize your baby early on. For me, I went to tons of them while I was pregnant, but did not take my son to any until after his 1 year shots (which include the MMR) for his safety as many parents these days do not vaccinate for their own reasons. I know chances are slim that he may have caught anything, but I would rather be safe than sorry.
9. Create a support system.
Having people in your corner, even if it is only one person, can help you to keep your sanity. Your baby WILL cry, and you will have moments you will just want to scream, but having people in your corner can really ease the stress of new parenting. Maybe you want a break from the crying, or need help getting the house cleaned up because you just have not had a chance to get it done… maybe you just need some sleep because you have been up going on 4 days straight and physically can’t function anymore. That is when you need reinforcement. Make a list of people you trust, and ask them in advance if they can be your support system. I promise you won’t regret it!!
10. Don’t be afraid to cry.
When all else fails and you are at the end of your rope, find a room, scream at the top of your lungs, and have a really good, hard cry. This is actually a huge stress reliever and has helped me more times than I can count. It is ok to feel defeated by a pint sized mini you! I promise EVERY mom has been there, and if she says she hasn’t then I am calling her bluff right now! Sometimes, you will feel like nothing’s going right, everything you do is wrong or making things worse, but remember your baby is probably as stressed as you are if they aren’t sleeping or crying all the time. There are many reasons your little will cry, colic being one of those reasons, but with love, attentions, and patience you will make it.
11. Have fun, learn as much as you can, and enjoy every second of your pregnancy!
Above all else, you should be enjoying that tiny miracle growing inside of you. It isn’t easy to make another human being, and it can definitely take a lot out of you. Take the time to learn as much as you can about your pregnancy, yourself, and being a mom once baby gets here. Nothing can substitute for experience, but having a good idea of what is to come is a great place to start. Take lots of pictures, get lots of rest (before baby is born) and enjoy the journey to motherhood.
I grew up in the country. Born and raised in NC. I am a mother to 2 amazing kids, wife to an awesome husband, and all around happy person who loves my babies, being a wife, shopping, and being a homeschooler!
I am curious about all things pertaining to parenting, and everyday becomes a brand new learning adventure for me and my family.
I hope to share my experiences, give advice, and help others to be as successful as possible!
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