40 Things I Wish I Knew Before Pregnancy

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Today I turned 40, so I felt like it was fitting to share these 40 things that took me by surprise and that I didn’t fully understand about pregnancy and postpartum. The graphic below from Earthley is also helpful as you research and plan!

  1. Spend at least as much time preparing for postpartum as you do preparing for birth. I focused a lot on birth preparation, but not nearly enough on the 4th trimester.
  2. You might have a whole bunch of skin tags and moles appear out of nowhere. They may or may not disappear after birth.
  3. Getting adequate protein (typically a minimum of 80-100g per day) is one of the most crucial things to focus on for pregnancy nutrition.
  4. Try out different baby wraps and carriers ahead of time and practice with the ones you like so it’ll be easier when the baby comes. Babywearing is SO helpful for naps, taking walks, and getting things done around the house. I like the LILLEbaby carrier that can be worn 6 ways, and for 4+ months and on, the TushBaby is my favorite minimalist hip carrier that’s easy to put on!
  5. Walking is a wonderful thing for your mental health both during pregnancy and after birth.
  6. Pregnancy pillows are a waste of money. I just used a long body pillow for sleep.
  7. Take magnesium daily to avoid restless legs, eye twitching, headaches, constipation and charley horse leg cramps ( I had these wake me up shouting in pain before I started on magnesium). It truly is a panacea for so many pregnancy ailments. This is the brand that has been most effective for me.
  8. Pregnancy depression is a thing – it can affect you at any time, not just postpartum. Don’t feel guilty if you have these feelings.
  9. You can just buy a size or two up in clothes or use a pants extender instead of spending money on a whole new wardrobe of maternity clothes. I had a hard time finding maternity pants that were long enough, but thrift stores are a good option as well.
  10. Let your provider know if you have the MTHFR mutation as this will affect the type of anesthesia/pain relief that is safe for you (if needed).
  11. There is no federally mandated paid maternity leave. For many workplaces, if you don’t plan to work full time after pregnancy, you won’t get any leave. FMLA (up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave) may not always apply either, so consult with your HR professional to make sure you know specifics.
  12. You might not bond with your baby right away and that’s OK. It can take time!
  13. Prioritize electrolytes every day and avoid folic acid at all costs (most prenatals have it instead of the needed form of folate)
  14. Ask for pelvic floor therapy, lactation consultants, massages, postpartum supplies, money towards a postpartum doula, and gift cards for meals/grocery delivery on your registry. Babylist is the registry we used and liked.
  15. Your baby will outgrow clothes SO quickly, so take photos in the meaningful outfits as soon as you can before they get too small.
  16. Save money by buying used on everything for baby except the crib and stroller/car seat since those items often have safety updates. Also look in your local Buy Nothing group for baby items being given away.
  17. Adult diapers are much easier than wearing pads, postpartum. Take all the hospital supplies home, even if you don’t think you’ll need them all. They will likely come in handy and you’re being charged for them anyway.
  18. It’s helpful to go over your birth plan with your provider a few weeks before birth.
  19. You might poop (and vomit) during labor. Prepare yourself and your partner 😉
  20. Peri bottles and this cooling spray will be your best friend and aid in healing.
  21. You can put onesies on from the bottom up to avoid trying to squeeze it over baby’s head and upsetting them.
  22. A crib isn’t essential until later on so don’t stress if you don’t have one at the time of birth. A bassinet is more useful in the first 6 months.
  23. Having freezer meals prepared ahead of time is SO helpful along with any snacks you can eat with one hand. Nourishing soups and broths are wonderful for healing.
  24. “Sleep when baby sleeps” is annoying advice when the baby sleeps on you for naps when they’re little!
  25. Chiropractic care can help tremendously during pregnancy. I had adjustments twice a month and very minimal pain.
  26. Have an exercise ball on hand – it comes in handy to bounce your baby on it when they’re gassy and helps them fall asleep.
  27. You can and should interview your OB-GYN or midwife and you typically have the right to switch providers until around 35-37 weeks. If you’re not being treated well, don’t be afraid to make a change.
  28. There are SO many reasons that providers will try to get you to agree to induction, including just maternal age and convenience – make sure to do your research early on so you’ll be prepared. Look into natural ways to start labor like induction massage, red raspberry leaf tea, miles circuit, and curb walking.
  29. If you plan to breastfeed, have a lactation consultant set up to come to your home the day or two after birth. You will be glad to have their support. The ones in the hospital are often not enough.
  30. Pelvic rocking will help baby stay in a good position and help you stay limber as well. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth is my favorite birth prep book that details this and other exercises.
  31. If possible, sleep in shifts with your partner so that everyone can get some rest away from the baby for a while.
  32. They will tell you prenatal care is covered at 100% but that is definitely not always true. I paid out my $3400 deductible just for prenatal visits. I would start the visits later if you’re low risk (I started at 17 weeks and it still felt like a lot)
  33. Ultrasounds are not without risk – you can decline them.
  34. There are alternatives to the Glucola drink – look into the Fresh Test which is a healthier option.
  35. Weighted sleep sacks are a gimmick! They say babies sleep 12 hours straight in them but they never worked for us and some have safety concerns.
  36. Many of the standard practices after birth (Vitamin K shot, Hep B shot, eye ointment, circumcision, etc) come with risks and can be declined. Research before you agree to them.
  37. The childhood vaccine schedule is not mandated by all pediatricians. You can find vaccine friendly providers here. The “A shot in the dark” documentary by Candace Owens is a good starting point for researching.
  38. Swaddling can actually be detrimental to your baby. They take longer to lose the startle reflex when you swaddle.
  39. Pediatricians are not trained to diagnose tongue ties. Have an IBCLC booked to assess your baby in the first day or two following birth.
  40. Most importantly, remember that it’s your baby and YOUR birth, so labor is not the time to be a people pleaser. Advocate for your wishes and stand firm!

If you’ve been pregnant or given birth, what things would you add?

Thanks for reading!

Emily

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