10 Things I Didn’t Know About Pregnancy

10 Things I Didn't Know about Pregnancy

Even though I have two sisters with kids who supposedly tell me everything, it seems they kept suspiciously quiet about the details of their pregnancies… Whether this was my fault for not asking or their way of protecting me, I don’t know. All I know is that there is SO much I didn’t know about being pregnant!

Two Small Caveats

Before we start, I should probably point out that there may be an important reason for sparing the details in regards to what to expect.

Firstly, every woman’s experience is different. Like your first time, most people prefer to maintain some discretion, which is probably why my sisters decided to keep mum. But I’m not most people. I got pregnant, the end, is not a story. It’s the details that make our experiences unique and interesting!

Second caveat: in my effort to write an open and entertaining slash informative pregnancy blog post, the last thing I want to do is scare any women out there or put anyone off becoming pregnant. So please, remember the mantra: no pain, no gain!

But seriously, you never know what your experience will be like. You could be one of those women who don’t even realise they are pregnant; while even the toughest pregnancies are absolutely worth it. No risk, no reward! Ok I’ll stop.

Pregnancy Purgatory, The First Trimester

While it’s true that every pregnancy is somewhat unique, there is a spectrum from good to bad that most can relate to. On one end, there are the lucky, glowing, heaven-bound women who experience mild to no discomforts at all. Whereas on the other… There are women wondering what evil they committed or what dark curse has fallen upon them to deserve 9 months of torture. As for me, I seem to have landed in “pregnancy purgatory”, receiving an alternating taste of good and bad.

The first trimester of my pregnancy was at times unspeakable, but soon developed an unusual pattern. Weekdays were hellish, but come Friday, it was as if I got a weekend pass to heaven. I would joke that it was my baby giving me the weekends off, allowing me to feel myself again for just long enough before the spell would wear off…

Pregnancy Things I Didn't Know
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

“How are you?” became a difficult question to answer. From the day the stick turned blue (see post), I feel happier than I’ve ever felt in my life. Even as I spent most days crouched over a toilet dry-heaving the invisible puke that happens when there is nothing left to expel or crying over another bowl of rice, I was brimming! Although now that the worst is behind me, that sounds a lot like a pregnancy-hormone and vomit-induced endorphin high…

The way I describe my first trimester is this: imagine you’re on a ship that is caught in an endless, ravenous storm and you’re sea-sick as hell. At the same time, you’re also suffering from a bad bout of food poisoning, leaving your stomach feeling like a mixing bowl of acid, and you’re hungry, starving, but the idea of food is as appealing as eating your own vomit.

My sea voyage lasted approximately 10 weeks, docking to shore on the weekends before sailing back into the eye of the storm. Finally at 16 weeks pregnant, I threw up for the very last time, as I returned to land. Like the feeling of sand beneath your toes, I entered what I call, “the blissful second trimester,” with a noticeable yet manageable bump and the first signs of baby’s kicks getting stronger with each day.

I now have just 2 more weeks to go before I enter the unknown territory of the third and final trimester… So stay tuned! But enough rambling… As promised, here’s my list of 10 things I didn’t know (and probably should have known) about pregnancy!

10 Things You Should Know That I Didn’t

1. Start taking folic acid before you conceive

Even though our baby was planned, I didn’t realise that there was more to baby-making than, you know. However, doctors recommend you start taking 400 mcg of folic acid daily from 2 months before you start trying in order to ensure optimum development of your baby and help prevent birth defects. While I can’t wind back time, fortunately I already had a diet rich in folic acid i.e. leafy greens, citrus fruits, bread, rice, pasta. As soon as I found out, I immediately started taking Pregnacare Plus.

2. Early pregnancy kinda feels like PMS 

Nothing is true for all, but for some women, those early weeks might make you think that your period is imminent, as you experience the same cramping and discomfort sensations as you would before your period. This is partly why I was so surprised to discover that I was in fact pregnant!

3. It takes many months to “look pregnant”

There once was a time when, if a friend’s period was late, we’d look at her swollen abdomen and go, oh no, oh dear, that’s gotta be a baby! Of course, it never was, and that’s partly because it literally takes months for the belly to start to show! Although there is a lot of bloating at first for most, the belly only really starts to pop from around 20 weeks!

Pregnancy Body Changes
Photo by Charles Deluvio 🇵🇭🇨🇦 on Unsplash

4. Your boobs will change more than you know

While we all know that boobs get bigger during pregnancy, I didn’t expect it to happen from the get-go! Soon after realising I was pregnant, my boobs practically doubled in size overnight and for a couple of weeks, were too sore to touch. Thankfully, the sensitivity is only temporary. Boobs go through a lot of changes during and after pregnancy. But like smile wrinkles and stretch marks, your body’s journey is something to embrace and be proud of.

5. Foods you can’t eat vs what other people think

What I’ve learned so far is that nobody knows and nobody cares unless you yourself are pregnant. I knew there was a list of no-no foods, but I hadn’t realised how closely it would overlap with my favourite foods…

But what’s even worse than the actual no-no list, is the imaginary no-no list, which is a whole additional list of foods that people think you can’t have but are in fact safe to eat. There is nothing more annoying than someone who is misinformed telling you what you can and cannot eat or do. Welcome to pregnancy.

I’m now a pro at reciting the list and basically it’s this: all hard cheeses are ok, but eat only pasteurised soft cheeses and no mould-ripened or blue-vein cheese except for Stilton. No liver or pate of any kind. No raw or uncooked meats, eggs or fish, which includes cured meats such as charcuterie, unless previously frozen rendering said no-no foods A-OK; avoid all fish high in mercury; and apply some common sense. Done.

6. The Myth of Morning Sickness

“Morning” sickness is a downright lie. It doesn’t always start in the morning and it almost never stops before lunchtime. It comes in different forms, from mild to extreme nausea to bent over the toilet seat expulsions to possession-like exorcisms. For those that are plagued by the all-day sickness, it usually ceases sometime during the second trimester. My advice, try eating foods that will be pleasant to bring back up, such as strawberry yoghurt, and speak to your doctor about nausea medicine.

7. The opposite of food cravings

I had actually never heard of food aversions in pregnancy before. What people mostly talk about are the crazy cravings. A whole jar of pickles dipped in Nutella. A sudden, unstoppable desire for anchovies on everything. Banana pancakes for dinner…

During my first trimester, I experienced food aversions to nearly everything. Eating became a real struggle. My stomach was so acidic and sore I quickly learned that the simpler the foods, the better. My first trimester diet consisted of things like plain buttered toast, a pot of baked beans, a bowl of rice, broth soups, bananas, yoghurt, rice crackers and other dry foods.

Pregnancy Exhaustion and Tiredness
Photo by Minnie Zhou on Unsplash

8. The staying-awake challenge 

It seems you can’t talk about babies without talking about sleep, or lack thereof. Everyone who’s already a parent appears to get some level of sick enjoyment out of warning you about how little you’re going to sleep once baby comes. So sleep now, they say, smirking, get plenty of rest now. But what they don’t tell you is that, for pregnant women at least, rest is not always optional.

My first trimester felt like I was reliving the day after a week of exams or a 3 day music festival every day for 10 weeks. I felt so unbelievably exhausted I can barely put it into words. So I slept around 10 hours each night, and napped for as long and as many times as necessary. I was also not drinking any coffee during this time, which made me feel like my body and brain were in on it together and had decided to mutiny.

9. Pregnancy brain 

I was in the kitchen talking about different things when all of a sudden, mid-speech, I drew a blank. It was as embarrassing as forgetting your own name or phone number. I was saying something about the author of Harry Potter… but could not remember her name. Of course I know her name! And that was the first time that pregnant brain happened. I suppose it’s a lot like being stoned.

Unlike “morning” sickness, pregnant brain is for real. It’s a fascinating phenomenon, which happens when your mind, body, priorities, everything, are going through all these incredibly fast changes, and your brain is so busy reconfiguring itself from woman to mother that you start to (temporarily) forget things. It could be anything from that Harry Potter woman to where you left your engagement ring. My advice, keep all your valuables in a very safe place until after pregnant brain has well and truly passed.

10. Aches and pains in the butt

The last but not least thing I didn’t know about pregnancy is that all those aches and pains you hear about actually start right from the beginning, too. I thought they only happened towards the end, when you’re carrying a baby the size of two watermelons, and the weight puts a strain on your back. But no, I was wrong.

Right from the very start, you may feel one, some, or all of the following: shooting “growing pains” in your groin and thighs; abdominal cramping as your uterus starts to stretch; indigestion and heartburn; aching limbs and hips, as your pelvic bones and joints soften to make way for baby; to name a few. All perfectly normal!

During most of my first and second trimester, it feels as if I have fallen and bruised my tailbone. Literally, a pain in the butt, and that’s without mentioning the constipation… Tailbone and sciatic pain is fairly common, and relieved somewhat by exercise, such as swimming or pilates, and a good pregnancy pillow. But for anything more serious, always see a doctor.

For more pregnancy-related posts, click here!

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Lara Olivia
Lara Olivia

Freelance writer and blogger obsessed with food, travel and good stories.

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7 Comments

  1. 17 January 2019 / 8:41 am

    This brought back some memories! So, I started showing with all 3 pregnancies straight away. I was a big hot balloon by the end of it! Enjoy the beautiful journey, lucky lady. You have the biggest, squishiest, most awesome present on its way.

    • 17 January 2019 / 11:39 am

      Thank you so much 🙂 I am counting down the days! I stopped wearing my jeans right from the beginning but I think it was more psychological than necessary. Just didn’t like the idea of that region being squeezed in any way, even though it took time to really show. x

  2. 16 January 2019 / 5:03 pm

    I love your honestly and you know when you hold that baby in your arms, all the above will be forgotten! x

  3. 15 January 2019 / 1:13 pm

    At least you know it will be worth it in the end!

    • 15 January 2019 / 1:31 pm

      Yes and I’d do it all again (and hope to do it all again) in a heartbeat! 😉

  4. 15 January 2019 / 7:25 am

    Oh godess ! I love the honesty !

    • 15 January 2019 / 12:01 pm

      Aw thank you for reading 🙂 x

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