6 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Pregnant With My First
Now I am not entirely sure that I would have listened to all of this advice when I was pregnant because some things you just have to experience for yourself, but now that I am on the other side, I do wish I had this prior knowledge.
1. Bring maternity clothes to wear home from the hospital.
Don’t be surprised if you go home still looking 8 months pregnant. I am not sure what planet I was living on when I was pregnant with my son but I know it was not earth. I look back and laugh at the items I packed in my hospital bag. I brought pre-pregnancy yoga pants and t-shirts. There was no way I was going to be able to fit in those clothes hours after delivery. I had no idea that it takes weeks and months for your uterus to contract and shrink back down to its normal size.
The entire time I was at the hospital I couldn’t even put pants on. I wore a nursing tank top and a bathrobe. The only thing I could wear on my lower half were the mesh panties they give you and let me tell you those things are a lifesaver. I snatched up as many as I could to take home with me.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
I suffered silently for months after I had my little one. I’m not sure why I felt like I needed to have it all together but it eventually it caught up to me. I started experiencing baby blues/postpartum symptoms when my little guy was 3 months old. My hormones were a mess and I felt like I was going crazy; Now those symptoms were probably there all along but I was just so exhausted and in zombie mode that I didn’t even notice. I was afraid to seek help or tell anyone what I was going through.
Eventually when I stopped pumping after 5 months, my hormones began to balance back out again, but it took me until my son was about 9 months old to start to feel like myself again. There were a few dark months of my life where I truly felt alone and that no one understood me.
Once things started getting better I reached out to a few people and let them know what was going on but I wish that I had reached out while I was going through this. If you don’t reach out there isn’t much that people can do to help you. I encourage you to talk to your loved ones about what you are feeling inside emotionally. Once it’s out then you can start working through everything, but keeping it bottled up inside does more harm then good.
Your friends and family want to help you, so let them.
3. Breastfeeding is hard and it’s not for everyone.
When I was pregnant people used to ask me all the time if I was going to breastfeed and I would think to myself “well duhhh of course I am! It’s natural so why wouldn’t I?” Yet I had no idea that breastfeeding doesn’t just come naturally; It’s something that is learned and it can be very difficult. While I was pregnant all I ever heard about were the joys of breastfeeding but no one talked about the struggles that come along with it.
Obviously breastfeeding is great but it’s not worth your sanity. Do not let those breastfeeding nazi nurses make you feel like a bad mom if breastfeeding doesn’t work out for you and your baby.
In my case, my son would only latch on to one side and as a result I had to pump and give him a bottle. At first I didn’t want to, but I was crying from pain every single time I nursed him and I just couldn’t handle it anymore. After 4 months I wasn’t producing enough milk to keep up with my little chunky monkey so I had to start supplementing with formula. By 5 months I stopped pumping all together and my little guy was a formula baby from that day forward.
I did not have a good experience with breastfeeding and the guilt ate me up. But I’ll share with you a little secret; my son has turned out just fine. He is two years old now and is as healthy as can be! And as far as our bonding is concerned, we are inseparable.
If you are having difficulty with breastfeeding and want to continue trying please do not be afraid to reach out for help (refer back to number 2). I wish that I would have called a lactation consultant to come to my house or gone to a breastfeeding support group, but I was just too emotional to deal with all of that so I did what I felt I could handle and I just pumped.
4. Not all of the information they give you in your birthing classes is accurate.
I felt lied to after my labor and delivery experience because it was NOTHING like what they said it would be in our class. For one thing how are you supposed to get up a move around like they show in the videos when you have a big strap around your belly monitoring the baby’s heartbeat? It was a feat just to make it to the bathroom and then back to the bed.
Remember that everyone’s birth story is unique!
So try not to get too caught up in what other people say or even what professionals say your birth should be like because no one will know, not even you, until it happens.
5. Throw out the parenting books and go with your parental instinct.
New information is always coming out about what is the best and safest for your baby. Now some of the information is helpful but other stuff is just ridiculous.
For example: Doctors used to say that you should not feed your child strawberries, peanut butter or other nuts because of potential food allergies. Now they say that you should feed your child everything and the reason that children have so many allergies nowadays is because parents are waiting longer to introduce certain foods. Professionals said that swaddling your baby is great because it reminds babies of when they were inside of your belly. Swaddling helps make them feel secure as they adjust to life outside the womb (which I have to agree with because it worked like a charm for our little guy). But now they say that you should never swaddle your baby and some hospitals actually forbid you to swaddle during your stay.
There are a ton of other examples of professionals changing their minds about what you should or should not do with your baby, but I won’t bore you with those details. All you need to know is that ultimately you know what is going to be best.
Find out what works for you and your baby and do it, even if it goes against the books.
6. Everyone is not an expert.
The first thing you will find out when you have your baby is everyone has an opinion on how you should raise your child. This is something that can be overwhelming when dealing with all the hormone changes and lack of sleep. Like I said in number 5, find out what works for you and your baby and do it, even if it goes against what everyone is saying.
Also, you will have to learn to just chew on the meat and spit out the bones. What I mean by this, is that people will always give you advice and just learn to take away from it what you need to and don’t worry about the rest.