Before I got pregnant with my first child, I think I had tunnel vision on what it was going to be like – during pregnancy and after. I read snippets of books and blogs about the miracle of birth and how the first time you hold your child, he or she would be the most precious thing you’ve ever set your eyes on. No one told me about some of the not-so-wonderful part of it all.
Don’t get me wrong. Being a mother has been such a great experience for me and I would not trade it for anything else. I just wish I knew about everything else that came along with the pregnancy and right after it, so I wasn’t so much “deer in headlights” and overwhelmed with things I didn’t know would happen.
So here it goes. Pull up a chair and sit back and relax. This is gonna be a long one!
During pregnancy, it’s expected that your stomach will get larger and maybe even your breasts. But ladies, like for real, there are other changes that can happen. Everyone is different of course, so this may not happen to you. So just consider these fair warnings.
Swollen legs and feet – when I got pregnant for the first time, I was a practicing physical therapist in an outpatient orthopedic clinic. I was on my feet all the time but at the end of the day, I would stand in one place to do my paperwork. My circulation wasn’t great to begin with, so my legs and feet were huge by the time I went home – I mean major cankles ladies!
Don’t worry: I found that walking around helped to increase circulation which helped bring fluids back to the heart and decrease swelling. I also found that drinking a ton of water helped to decrease swelling. I know that sounds weird, but drinking water will flush out your body and decrease fluid retention – yes girl, you will pee a lot! It’s ok though! It’s a good thing!
Back, Hip, and Pelvic Pain – to account for a growing belly, ligaments tend to loosen up in your pelvic area. This can cause you to have pain in the hips, pelvis, and low back.
Don’t worry: Core and Kegel exercises helps increase support. It’s important to keep working on the muscles that are holding you together because your ligaments are like “bye felicia” at this time. So work on tightening the core and pelvic muscles to help give you extra support at this time.
Hemorrhoids – ok, so this is embarrassing but it has to be said. Sometimes, it happens ok? I am 5’1 and some change and my first baby weighed in at 9 lbs 11 oz when she was born. There was a lot of pressure down there while she was still in my belly. Couple that with the constipation that pregnancy can bring about (yay hormones, thanks you’re awesome….), hemorrhoids are sure to happen!
Don’t worry: eat foods with lots of fiber to help decrease constipation. Fair warning that that can bring about gas. So yeah, farting or swollen veins coming out of your anus? You pick. I picked farts. Also, if hemorrhoids do still occur as in my case, Preparation H helps with the itching and could help decrease the size of the hemorrhoids.
Emotional changes – as if women didn’t already have the monthly emotional changes to deal with when we are not pregnant, let’s just go ahead and make it unpredictable during pregnancy. Because why not?!
Don’t worry: It really helps to surround yourself with people who can encourage you and be there for you during this time. Lean on them for support and they’ll help you get through the tough times. Oh and chocolates, lots and lots of chocolates!
I don’t know about the other moms out there, but when Ella came out into the world, I was a little more drugged up than usual because I had to get a C-section (she would not come down the canal people!), so I wouldn’t say that I looked into her eyes and it was love at first sight. Here are some things I did not know could happen after the baby is born.
It Could Take A While to Feel Joy of Motherhood – is this bad that I’m writing this? Like legit, when I first saw Ella I was like “whose baby is that?” in my head. For some reason, I imagined a perfectly bathed newborn who was not swollen or red, thank you very much. Ella was swollen, and red, and hairy! Is that mean? Sorry, but for real, I was like “whoa.”
Don’t worry: some people don’t experience this at all and has the whole “love at first sight” type of thing. But don’t worry if you do experience this. Hormones plus drugs can make the brain and emotions get all wonky. It’ll get better and you’ll be that mama bear in no time!
“Sleep Like A Baby” is a false statement – I don’t know what baby they were talking about in that saying, but not my baby. Nope. For the first week, every hour, you can be sure Ella was up. Then maybe every two hours for two weeks after that. The first month is pretty much a blur because there was no sleep involved. Cat naps maybe. But sleep? what is that?!
Don’t worry: After the first month, unless you have a colicky baby, you can get maybe 3-4 hour stretches at a time. Just keep going and hopefully their sleep duration will get longer and longer. By 6-8 months, both my kids were finally able to sleep 10-12 hours at night. So there’s a light at the end of the tunnel! You can do it!
Post “baby blues” is a real thing: yes, I knew that post-partum depression could be a real thing. The doctor defines that as no good days. But what if I had a good day every 2-3 days. They don’t necessarily count that as “depression.” But it’s real. If hormones were crazy before pregnancy, they’re even crazier after pregnancy. Couple that with no sleep, then it’s just the time of your life isn’t it.
Don’t worry: I think by Ella’s third month, my hormones finally settled and I was getting longer stretches of sleep. This is when I finally felt the “joy of motherhood” as they say. Just hang in there ok? One, you got no choice, you got a baby. And two, with support from people who you trust and love, it’ll get better!
Bleeding Right After Pregnancy: I don’t know about others, but I kept bleeding for weeks after Ella was born. I’m talking like “oh yay my period is lasting like 4 weeks” type of bleeding.
Don’t worry: it’s normal. The doctor explained it in this way: I had 10 months of building up the lining in my uterus, so the body will take time to clear out that lining as well. It’ll eventually stop and your period won’t come back for a while. Unless you’re like my friend whose period would still come monthly during and after pregnancy. No break for her.
Physical Changes: Ok so yeah, your boobs get real big… and hard. Like you need to pump that milk out because no joke, it hurts when it builds up. Not only that, but sometimes the ducts in your breasts can get clogged. And wooooooo it will huuuuurrrrtttt. There’s also a chance of mastitis, where your breast tissue gets inflamed and infected because of a clogged duct.
Don’t worry: If it’s not infected, massaging your breasts while breastfeeding or pumping will help unclog the duct. Heat compress and warm showers can also help. Frozen cabbage leaves right on the boobies can help decrease inflammation and engorgement. But ummm, you will smell like cabbages. Just wanted to warn you. Do you want engorged boobies or smell like a cabbage? Slap that cabbage right on there! Ok be gentle, cuz it hurts!
If infected, you’ll have to probably get antibiotics to help get rid of the infection. But it works real fast so you’ll feel better within a day or two.
More physical changes: The shape of your breasts/nipples may also change. I mean let’s be real, if it’s getting sucked on/pumped every hour of every day, yeah it’s gonna change! And it may hurt! I saw my friend breastfeed her baby and no lie there was a small piece missing from her nipple. No joke. Ouch.
Don’t worry: They have creams for your nips to help decrease chaffing and pain.
Even more physical changes: My feet got half a size bigger. I don’t know if my swelling just never went down or what, but my feet definitely is a half size bigger after Ella.
Don’t worry: Shoe shopping heeeyyyyyy!! After all that, you deserve it mama! Have. At. It!
So there is it folks! Just wanted to make sure you were well-read on what could happen during and after pregnancy. Again, everyone is different, so you may not experience any of these. If so, good for you! If not, just wanted to let you know that it’s ok! You’re not alone! Surround yourself with good, supportive family and friends. I promise that will help the most during the tough times.
And lastly, please don’t take this article the wrong way. I love my babies! They are my life. But pregnancy is just not for me and just thought I’d share some of my experiences to let you know it’s ok! You’re not alone! And to hang in there, because you will get through the tough times.
Thanks for reading and have an awesome rest of the day!
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