Mary Ellen Phipps is proof that you can have it all. She’s a doting mother of two, a loving wife, a registered dietitian (MPH, RDN, LD), type 1 diabetic, and the brains behind Milk & Honey Nutrition. When she’s not developing recipes that will literally blow your taste bud’s mind, she’s encouraging people to take a proactive approach to health and nutrition by sharing her thoughts on her blog.
Hindsight is 20/20, right? Well, that’s especially true when you’re pregnant. It seems I learned all the ins and outs of pregnancy only after I had that (not so) little nine-pound baby in my arms. Yes, my babies came out the size of toddlers.
Despite all the how-to books and top 10 lists out there on pregnancy, there are still a million things we as moms realize after that fact… Things that would have been incredibly useful to know while that little babe was still cooking on the inside. Some funny, some serious… some physical, some emotional.
So, here are 11 things I wish I’d known while I was pregnant. Some of these are from my first pregnancy, some from my second (because, no, you don’t learn everything there is to know after going through it once), and some from friends…
1. Pregnancy is Preparation. It’s preparation for life after baby is born. The number of times you get up to pee in the middle of the night is actually just training for sleepless nights with a newborn… except now they’re the one doing the peeing.
2. Tired Doesn’t Even Cut It. The level of fatigue that hits during the first trimester is really just training camp for the first 6 months of your child’s life. Something about waking up 6 times in the middle of the night is just a wee bit tiring.
3. Your Child Will Leave You Breathless. Getting out of breath doing normal day-to-day activities is totally normal while pregnant, but no one wants to admit it. Things like walking, eating, and sitting will all leave you gasping for air. I remember sitting at work eating lunch with a friend, and literally having to stop and just “take a breather”… you know… from all the eating and talking. No pregnancy book ever told me that.
4. You’ll Hate the Foods You Loved. Food aversion is a real thing and it will hit you. During my first pregnancy, I remember that I didn’t want to touch a vegetable for months. I counted on my prenatal vitamins doing the job and told myself that they were going to have to be enough. Tough luck, baby.
With my second daughter, my prenatal vitamins made me gag so much that I struggled to get them down. If only I’d known about SmartyPants Prenatal Formula…a great-tasting gummy would have been a lot easier to take than the mega pill I attempted to choke down each night.
5. You’ll Miss Being Kicked in the Stomach. Remember those little baby kicks that annoyed you while you slept? Well suddenly, you’ll miss them terribly. So cherish every jab in the rib or bounce on your bladder… they’re a constant reminder of what your body is capable of.
6. Thinking You’re Going Bald is Totally Normal. Seriously, enjoy that glorious, glossy mane while it lasts. It’ll be gone before you know it. I swear I thought I was going bald about 3 months after my oldest daughter was born. I was convinced I’d have to wear ponytails and hats the rest of my life. Well, I didn’t go bald, and I don’t have to wear hats all the time. Ponytails, though? Let’s just say that with two kids, 16 months apart, dry shampoo and the “messy bun” are go-to looks.
7. Pregnancy is No Walk in the Park. It’s ok to not be thrilled you’re pregnant every moment of every day. Personally, I hated it. Being diabetic and pregnant is no joke, and was incredibly draining both physically and emotionally. It’s not all rainbows, butterflies, and sweet dreams of baby booties and midnight kisses. Pregnancy is uncomfortable and just downright gross sometimes. The end result is totally worth it, yes… but you don’t have to be happy the entire time. I mean, you are growing a human, so you’re kind of entitled to your own opinion.
8. Pregnancy’s Got Nothing on Post-Partum. As if pregnancy wasn’t hard enough, somehow the post-partum period is even worse. Your body is incredibly fragile, physically and emotionally. You’re healing. Your hormones are all out of whack and desperately trying to get back to “normal.” Add suddenly being responsible for meeting every single need of another human being, and it will be incredibly overwhelming. It’s ok to ask for help. Both before and during. Most people want to help, it’s just up to us to accept it.
9. Give Yourself Time. Bringing a child into the world is a beautiful, beautiful thing. But it’s also incredibly taxing on your body. Your body after childbirth will look like you’re still five months pregnant and that’s normal and beautiful. Yet, we’re led to believe that if we aren’t back in our pre-pregnancy jeans by the time the baby is 3 weeks old, we’re not trying hard enough.
After my first daughter was born, I tried to squeeze back into my jeans far too soon. I ended up a crying hormonal mess on the floor of my bedroom all because my jeans didn’t fit when my daughter was only 3 ½ weeks old. The truth is that your body is swollen and needs time to heal. It still needs adequate, nutrient dense foods and quality prenatal vitamins. It needs sleep (good luck with that one.)
And most importantly, it needs grace and patience.
10. Nursing is Natural. Nursing is Hard. Anyone who tells you nursing is easy is lying. It will be hard. You and baby are just meeting for the first time on the outside and you should give yourself time to get to know each other. And if it doesn’t work out, that’s completely and 100% okay. Your emotional health and getting that baby fed are far more important than society’s pressures and expectations.
11. Reality is Relative. Everything that was your normal before that baby came will be different once they’re here. A baby will turn your life upside down. It’s a scary thought, yes, but, I promise, once that baby is here… you’ll wonder how you possibly lived for so long without them.
And you’ll realize that even though there’s a million things you wished you’d known ahead of time… you’ll figure it all out just fine.