Fun With Pregnancy

The other day, I came across an old file on my desktop that had tips for your baby registry and things you need for after the birth. I got all nostalgic for that early time, when I didn’t know anything, when every little ache and itch was a mystery to be solved. So I thought I’d write a guide of sorts to staying comfortable and feeling good while pregnant. I just realized this sounds like a joke but it’s not!

APPEARANCE:

Everyone says you don’t show for a while if it’s your first pregnancy. There’s supposed to be a reason for this: your uterus has only just started to stretch. But that doesn’t mean your clothes still fit! If you really can’t button your pants, don’t go around feeling disgusting and uncomfortable just because you feel guilty about shopping so soon or you’re afraid of jinxing the pregnancy. Go buy some maternity pants and feel comfortable! I recommend sticking with the full panel because I felt more comfortable with my stomach a bit protected. I had a pair of Old Navy maternity full panel jeans that I literally wore from week 9 to week 39.

Go ahead and get 2 of those Be Band things. You can’t really use them to keep your too-small pants on (I tried it once and it was very uncomfortable and I still had to keep pulling them up), but you can use them to keep your new, slightly-too-big maternity pants up.

You might find your bras are tight early on. Don’t hesitate to get 2 or 3 new ones. I got a few when I was around 13 or 14 weeks and I wore them throughout the pregnancy and still wear them now. Go to an outlet store or Kohls if they’re having a deal. Try on a few diffferent sizes if you don’t go to a place that will measure. I thought my cup size would get huge but my band size expanded first.

All those cute empire waist tops and dresses you used to joke made you look pregnant? You probably won’t be able to wear them during your actual pregnancy because your boobs will be too big. But don’t discount all your regular clothes. Anything with a button is obviously not going to work, but I got some good use out of some knit items that I didn’t wear too much pre-pregnancy except in a laundry or fat-emergency. It was sometimes fun to shop my closet when I got much bigger. This was the number 1 fun thing: as a girl who carries most of her fat in her tummy, it was so much fun to have all that tummy fat get stretched out so I could wear tight shirts. So.Much.Fun.

You don’t need any maternity underpants. Wear your regular ones and maybe get some cute new ones  in a bigger size. They will take a hell of a beating, but you can still wear cute ones as long as they’re cotton and comfy. These are super cute and won’t give you a wedgie. I found them for buy one, get one free in lots of nice colors.

For maternity clothes that will last you the entire pregnancy, I recommend Gap and Old Navy. Again, full-panel for bottoms. When you get really big, you will probably want some coverage. Target and H&M were also good and quite reasonably priced. If you have a fancy event to go to, look at Ebay. I found a lot of the stuff at Destination Maternity ugly and overpriced, but I had one comfy pair of full panel cords that I got 50% off and wore a lot. Destination Maternity also had a really annoying constant deal on nursing bras: buy 3, get a fourth free. When you’re not sure of your size or how much bigger you will get, this is a pretty irritating “deal.” I bought some nursing bras in my 3rd trimester because I wanted to be prepared (and they were comfortable). I was lucky that the size I got worked pretty well for when I actually ended up nursing. If you’re curious, (and since I clearly have no shame): I had been a 38 D pre-pregnancy but I quickly switched to 40 D and my nursing bras were 40 E.

Your feet may or may not get bigger. Mine didn’t really get much bigger, but I still caved to suburban peer pressure to get Uggs (fake ones) and I wore them almost every single day because they were so comfy and easy to put on.

Your skin will be really pretty, so take advantage of that and have fun with your make up every day. Same with your hair. You can’t color it but it will still be nice all the time.

In general, once you start to really show, enjoy it and enjoy the attention. Rub your belly in public whenever possible. Show it off with clothes.

COMFORT:

Get some Preparation H early on and get it over with. Don’t be embarrassed. It would be much more embarrassing to find yourself absentmindedly scratching your anus in the middle of your office, wouldn’t it?

Ditto, Colace. Don’t be embarrassed. It would be much more embarrassing to have your husband knocking on the bathroom door asking if you’re ok because you’ve been in there grunting for 45 minutes.

Consider getting some incontinence pads. I accidentally got some Poise pads post-partum and they are just like the giant menstrual pads I used when I was 11. If I have another pregnancy, I will definitely consider getting some of these to cut down on visits to a toilet. It gets pretty annoying running to the bathroom every 30 minutes and emitting a fine, thin stream of ALMOST NOTHING. I might just be talking out of my ass here, but really. The peeing issue was the WORST. It was truly agonizing, so I would definitely consider  a pad. Not a diaper! A pad.

Your skin will probably get pretty itchy as it stretches, but I don’t think the Aveeno anti-itch cream I bought did too much to relieve it. So, just moisturize your itchy skin with whatever lotion you really, really love. Except for the tummy. For the tummy, I’ve heard sweet almond oil will prevent stretch marks. I didn’t use it, preferring to slather myself in Palmer’s Cocoa Butter. I was very smug about not having any stretch marks until they appeared literally overnight, sometime early in the 3rd trimester.

If you have other physical issues and are not happy with your practitioner’s solution (or lack thereof), go ahead and seek an alternative. I had sciatic pain quite early on. My midwife suggested I get a pregnancy band and it helped a little bit. But I found out much later that I could’ve seen an osteopath, or an accupuncturist, or SOMETHING. It just never occurred to me.

The heartburn is bad. My midwife recommended lemonade and I drank it dutifully until my diabetes diagnosis. She also said one of her patients took tablespoons of heavy cream. I tried that, occasionally, and it helped. I say, commit yourself to a daily bedtime dose of Edy’s Slow Churned Vanilla ice cream. It will help the heartburn without too much excess fat and calories and it will be a pleasant way to end your day.

Get a wedge pillow for a place to put your tummy when it starts to grow. I think I started using one early in my 2nd trimester. Then, later on, (in the 3rd trimester, or earlier if you want it), invest in a body pillow.

Get a little rolling foot massager unless you want to depend on your partner to massage your feet all the time. I didn’t have that one I linked, but I wish I did.

SANITY:

You will probably be inundated with unsolicited advice. If people are really rude and judgemental, please put them in their place. But remember that the giving of the unsolicited advice is an important right of passage. Once you’ve experienced everything, you will delight in passing on your own unsolicited advice to others. Look forward to it and enjoy it!

Be aware that the only people who will ever offer you a seat on the subway or bus are middle aged or elderly women. But don’t accept that. If you are standing in front of a young man, go ahead and ask him for his seat and don’t feel embarrassed or guilty. You need to rest your feet and he is either an asshole for deliberately ignoring you or for being so oblivious to his surroundings. Frankly, don’t feel embarrassed or guilty for doing ANYTHING that helps ease your comfort level. And don’t feel embarrassed or guilty for indulging in the emotions that might be involved in such pursuits. I once refused to turn right on red when the car behind me was honking. There were cars coming! Why should I pull out into oncoming traffic because some random jerk is late for his golf game? You might feel tempted to get out of the car and show them your belly. I resisted this urge for months, but when I finally did it, it felt just as good as I thought it would. The people in the honking car (so confident just moments before), refused to look at me and slowly swerved around me as I threw my maternity coat open, cradled my belly and yelled, “You got a problem with this?” It was worth it.

If you are the type of person who likes to have all the facts about childbirth, then educate yourself. If you are an anxious type and you start to freak out a bit, do persevere. I freaked out at the beginning of  one of my attempts to get information and I wish I had kept reading. You’re going to be a nervous wreck anyway, you might as well be a knowledgable nervous wreck. And maybe if you read the right things, you won’t be so nervous! If I do it again, I want to read more about a natural approach and more about the Bradley method. If I do it again, I want to make an effort to change the way I approach the birthing experience. But I was too terrified the first time to even begin to do that.

When you hit your 3rd trimester, take a birthing class. Ask your practitioner if they can recommend one, but I think a lot of hospitals offer them. It’s just fun. The nurse who taught our class gave us some really valuable information and a few good anecdotes. If you’re worried about caring for an infant, take a class in that, too.

The Internet will probably make you a bit nuts. Please commit to believing only what keeps you happy and calm. I used to read every website’s guide to what the fetus is supposed to be doing each week. The fetus was always bigger at my sonograms than what the Internet said. He turned out fine. He’s still not even particularly huge even now. But the sonogram tech always acted like he was huge and he was always bigger than every website’s approximate measurements.

Read Bringing Up Bebe. Just do it! It’s really good and will give you valuable information to help you enjoy your pregnancy and for how to approach the early days of parenthood. Leave it in the bathroom so you can keep re-reading your favorite parts. Make your partner read it, too.

When you’re nearing the end of your 2nd trimester, you will probably start thinking about your nursery and having a baby shower. I strongly recommend the book Baby Bargains. This is another book you should keep in your bathroom. It was my bible and I still peruse it occasionally to look up advice for baby-proofing and high chairs and potty-training.

That’s all I can think of for now.

Oh, this is random, but designate a safe spot for the piles of sonogram pics you will accumulate. I actually did get around to putting them all in an album and I really look forward to showing baby what he looked like in my belly.

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