Pregnancy…where do I begin?
Maybe I should start by qualifying my experience with pregnancy. I’m at that age where most of my friends fit into 3 categories:
- Trying to get pregnant
- Recently had a baby
Over the last year I’ve been watching many of my friends go through the ‘Oh my gosh, this isn’t what they tell you it will be like’ moments that I experienced with my pregnancy a year prior.
I personally only know two people who loved being pregnant and say wonderful things like “Oh, how I miss my pregnant belly” when they see others that are pregnant. I’m working on my reaction to those comments because at the moment, I still cannot help but go “You are kidding, right?!”
Good for them though. They were clearly made to make babies, while others, like me, just do not feel that way. It’s like anything right… some people are naturally good and enjoy sports, while others have to work for it and find something to enjoy about the sport to want to keep coming back.
I hate running and I’m not that good at it – always have been regardless how regular I do it. However, I used to run regardless of this hate because I liked the end result. It made me better at other sports like dance and tennis and gave me a flat stomach that looked good in my pageant bikini.
Pregnancy for me wasn’t much different than running… I didn’t feel good at it and regardless how long I was pregnant, it didn’t get any better. But I’m willing to do it again, because that end result is pretty cute and fun!
Let me summarise my pregnancy with Lilly for you:
- Couldn’t hold down meat, even in the third trimester
- Suffered back acne that felt like sand when you brushed your hand across my back
- Thrush… doctor’s words “the good news is, it can’t get any worse than it is now”
- Human oven! To add to the constant baking of my body, I also spent my third trimester in summer. That sucked!
- Weekly physio appointments. My hamstrings gave up at the end of the first trimester. I could hardly walk when I went to my first physio appointment.
- 3am wake ups because apparently babies don’t see the sun in there
- Acne… yep! You couldn’t see my pregnant glow due to the number of zits on my face
- Hangry + Pregnant = Prangry …it’s next level!
- Hiccups twice a day… not me, the kid. That is right, my vagina felt like it had hiccups twice, every day for a good 5-10min an episode
So as you can see… pregnancy for me was a walk in the park. Oh wait, I wasn’t allowed to walk in the park… so even that wasn’t easy.
Why am I telling you all this?
For one, I want to have something to show my friends when they tell me that “No one tells you it’s like this!” 😉 But more importantly to help you moms/mums/mothers/mummas know that you are so not alone if you found/find pregnancy hard, uncomfortable and full on.
If you have a good partner, don’t be afraid to lean on them, your friends or family for support. Baking a human is hard work but also, likely the most important job you will ever have. Trying to be Insta perfect while making a baby is not the priority. Taking care of you and your mental state is.
On that topic of mental state, I have a few tips for those of you who might be struggling to cope with the physical changes that happen throughout pregnancy and postpartum.
This is based off of my own experience and that of my friends who are open and honest with me. I am not a medical professional- just a mum, trying to help other mums through their journey.
1. STAY OFF THE SCALE
Stay off the scale if you can, or if your doctor wants regular weigh-ins, ask to jump on the scale backwards so you don’t have to see the number.
I’m not sure why obstetrician never weighed me, but I am so grateful she didn’t. I have heard so many friends say how much weight they have gained during their pregnancy and the fear in their eyes is horrifying as the words come out of their mouth. Even the girls that don’t look like they have gained a pound of water weight, look completely mortified by the number.
Pregnancy is for nine months… I’m confident if you try, you can make it nine months off the scale. What is the point of knowing your weight really? Let the doctors look after i if they want to, but when asked if you want to know the number just say “NO!” It won’t add any value to your mental health to know that number.
2. ACCEPT THAT YOU NEED FOOD
For the first trimester and a half, I woke up every day saying I was going to eat better. By the end of my first trimester, I had been told by my physio that I was to limit my exercise, so my eating habits was all I had to keep me ‘healthy.’
I was wrong, the healthiest I felt during my pregnancy was when I accepted that when I was hungry, I needed a burger, not an apple. Why? Because I stopped beating myself up and was mentally healthier for the shift in my mindset.
Yes, you need to do your best to eat healthy through pregnancy and have a variety of foods. However, if your body wants a pizza, eating an apple will probably just lead to a Prangry (Hungry + Pregnant) mum.
If I didn’t eat every second hour, I either turned into a bit of a monster or my brain seemed to stop working. I, all of the sudden, couldn’t think of people’s names that I see every day, or I was screaming their name because the Prangry had taken over.
I needed FOOD often and not always the healthiest food. Mentally accepting this made me a better pregnant person and mum, because if I needed food, my baby clearly needed it too.
My pregnancy cravings that I ate weekly included:
- Haloumi burgers
- Veggie pizza
- Fries from Tognini’s (local café)
- White toast with butter
- Eggs on toast
What made me sick during pregnancy:
- Letting myself get hungry (had to proactively eat 😂)
- Red meat
- Some fruit 🥴
What made me cry while pregnant:
- Walking up to Tognini’s at 3pm and being told that their kitchen is closed while suffering a french fries craving. 😆
3. BIRTHING HIPS ARE A THING
I went to get dressed one morning, slipped on my expensive and (usually) comfortable undies, only to find they were cutting into my hips like never before. I didn’t even have a bump yet, so this terrified me. “Have I gained that much weight already?”
That night, I spent an hour Googling the internet to find something about hips expanding overnight when pregnant. The only thing I really found was some mum blogger saying that “Pregnant women use their hips expanding during pregnancy as an excuse for their weight gain.” I spent the whole night staring at the ceiling in tears thinking ‘I had already put on so much weight my undies didn’t fit.’
Well mum blogger, I call BULL SH*T! The amount of my friends who experienced this same overnight experience gives me confidence that birthing hips are most certainly a thing! There is nothing wrong with needing to consistently buy new undies in bigger sizes to help bring you comfort through your pregnancy.
HOT TIP: Buy cheap undies, because like bras, you may need to buy a new set every few months.
Another reason I can confidently say that birthing hips are a thing, is because at one stage post baby, I weighed less than I did pre-pregnancy (thank you breastfeeding). At this weight, my hips were still wider than they were pre-pregnancy.
Side note: I decided I was too skinny and started eating more. The small size was compromising my breast milk supply so was not worth it. 😉
When I look at other mum’s I see the same shape in many of us. For some, our hips have a different shape to those who have not gone through the joy of pregnancy and labour. Regardless of their body size, this is something I see in many mums and I think it is a shape we should be proud of. It’s taken me eighteen months postpartum to get used to the new shape, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love my birthing hips! You should too!
4. HAVE A GOOD SHOPPING BUDDY
When my clothes no longer fit, but pregnancy clothes didn’t look right either, my friend Hannah took me shopping for clothes in larger sizes than I usually wear to help get me through that very awkward first trimester period.
I had been to a maternity store the weekend prior, tried on clothes and hated everything. The reason being, those clothes are made for a well-formed bump, and in trimester one, I didn’t have that. I just looked bloated.
Knowing how much stress I had been through on that shopping trip, Hannah offered to take me to the city for a look around for clothes in larger sizes that might be more comfortable than my usual size clothing.
I recall all too well, being in tears in the dressing room as Hannah ran around the store getting the next size up when something didn’t fit.
Was it easy on Hannah or me to go through this together? NO! Most certainly not.
Was it necessary? YES! It was.
The next six weeks I walked around with confidence because I had clothes that zipped without needing my husbands help. I was more comfortable physically and happier mentally.
If you are struggling to shop alone, ask a good friend or family member to come with you to push you into trying things you might not usually pick. That may be sizes your scared to take off the rack or styles of clothing that might not be your norm, but they can see will help you feel better with a bump.
As I said before, you are in the middle of doing the most important job you will probably ever do… baking a little human! It’s okay to ask for help to make sure you have what you need to execute this job as comfortably as possible.
Side note: Thank you Hannah for being my stylist and therapist that day.
5. FINALLY, PUT YOUR FEET UP
At the beginning of my pregnancy I downloaded so many apps full of workouts for pregnant women. I had the best of intentions to do them as well. I managed to work out every morning, even after my hamstring and glutes began to tire for several weeks into my first trimester.
I thought, I’ll work them harder to build strength… surely that is what they need.
At 6pm everyday (or by 3pm on more active weekends), I was on at home with my legs elevated not sure if I’d be able to walk tomorrow. Finally, I shared the news of this ongoing pain in my glutes and legs with my obstetrician who was quick to run a few tests before then referring me to a physio.
Turns out, an injury I had at 15 involving my hamstring had come back to haunt me. I was provided two leg exercises I was to do no more than twice a day, and instructions to limit my walking to no more than 10 minutes up the road as needed.
“But how will I post photos of being a super star pregnant woman on Instagram if I can’t work out.”
Well, I still managed to post photos of being a super star pregnant woman on Instagram, but it wasn’t photos of me working out (or eating healthy). I was a super star because I did what was best for my body and my baby.
- I followed doctor orders;
- I listened to my body;
- I did my best to love my body during a hard time;
- and most importantly, I got through it the best way I knew how!
Just like every child and body is different, so is every pregnancy journey. Just like anything, do your best not to get to bogged down in comparing your journey to someone else’s pregnancy. Especially because unlike me, most people won’t be so honest about their journey. 😉
I hope my next pregnancy has less thrush, better night sleeps and ideally no backne. But if the end result is a beautiful baby, I’ll tough it out.