Wednesday, 30 January 2013

5 things they forgot to tell you about pregnancy

As you look at that thin blue line and prepare yourself for the next eight months you expect a little morning sickness, maybe a bit of exhaustion, but really you're looking forward to that pregnancy 'glow' everyone keeps talking about and the opportunity to put your feet up. But what of everything else? All the things everyone conveniently 'forgets' to tell you? I take a look at five things that might catch you by surprise as you prepare for your bundle of joy.

1. Suddenly EVERYONE is an expert
Even the ones that have never had children! They'll look at you, they size you up, they automatically know exactly how far along you are and whether you're too big or too small for your gestation. They'll ask how you are, but don't bother answering, they already know. If you say you're fine, they'll nod sympathetically as if to say 'It's ok dear, you don't need to put on a brave face.' They know whether you're having a boy or a girl, they know how big he'll be, they know exactly what method of pain relief you should use and they're also very keen to tell you how crap your local GP / Midwife / Labour Ward is. Avoid these people at ALL costs. They are mostly wrong and mostly annoying. Every pregnancy is different, learn to sift out the wise advice and discard the rest. And Google NOTHING, you'll only panic.

2. You will receive no professional help or advice whatsoever until you reach 20 weeks
As far as your GP or midwife is concerned, until you've had that all important 20 week scan you're pretty low down the priority list (unless you're medically high-risk). They don't understand that to you, this is the biggest deal in the history of the world. They also don't seem to understand that you have no idea what you're doing, what to expect or what is normal. I saw a midwife three times in the first 27 weeks of my pregnancy and at no point was I asked 'How are you feeling?' or 'Would you like to ask me anything?' So be pushy. If you have questions, make sure you push for answers. Those first few weeks when you have the most questions, when you're still getting used to things, write them down and whip out that list as soon as you sit down at your next appointment. Forget being polite and waiting for the opportunity. It won't come. Push for answers until you're reassured about everything that's worrying you.

3. Simple tasks will become increasingly difficult
Those things that you used to find so easy, that you never used to think about, will become incredibly hard. Think putting your socks on, talking on the phone whilst getting ready to go out, walking up stairs or trying to fit in a public toilet cubicle (we need those things the most and yet they are really not designed for bumps!). Suddenly you realise that daily tasks are not as easy any more. Think creatively, plan ahead. Our bedroom is on the second floor of our house, if I make it to the top, I have to sit down for half an hour before descending back down again. Consequently, in the morning I gather together everything I might need for the day and take it downstairs so that I don't have to make the trip more than necessary. If that's not possible, have a very accommodating husband on hand to run up and down for you.

4. You will need the toilet. Even you, bladder of steel!
I'm not normally one for needing the toilet. I'll go if the opportunity arises, but once every eight hours or so will suffice. I've even been known to fly trans-atlantic without using the facilities (ok, so I'm scared of aeroplane toilets). Pregnancy, however, will require more trips to the toilet. My husband has joked that pregnancy has turned me into a 'normal' person, who now has the urge to go every four hours (is that normal?). The point is, you will need the toilet. Plan your movements with public toilets in mind. Because once you need it, you'll really need it, and unless those pelvic floor muscles have been working overtime (you are doing your exercises right?) you will regret it. Plan. Plan. Plan.

5. Poo talk. Get used to it.
There was a time when you were capable of perfectly intelligent conversation. You're an intellectual, witty and interesting person and so are your friends, right? Of course, except those friends aren't the ones you'll be spending most of your time with. You'll be spending time with other parents, they're the ones who have all the free time like you. So, be prepared to discuss the contents of nappies, sleeping patterns, bottle brands and other baby related things of importance. A LOT. In between times you might get a chance to ask an adult question, but then someone's baby will cry and attention will revert back to them. It's all about them (and rightly so!). Get used to it. Once yours comes along you will appreciate all of that information and advice, and you'll find yourself doing exactly the same thing. In the mean time, nod and smile, and remember, 'You've got all of this to look forward to' (as everyone will keep telling you).

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