Veronica says: As the arrival of Brittany’s second baby grows near, we are frantically working to finish a number of projects before she takes her maternity leave. This leaves me with long list of to-dos, with not much time for blogging. We have had some wonderful women step forward to write some guest posts. Up first is Nell from Whole Parenting Family. We were honored to have Nell review our Better Breastfeeding class earlier this year.
How wonderful that you’re expecting, or expecting to expect! Welcome to the journey of motherhood. Your journey is unique to you, and your motherhood is a process, both exciting and challenging! As a second-time mama, I’m glad to share with you 5 things that I wish I had known my first time around.
1) You might not gain the expected weight, or you might gain much more.
Healthy guidelines set forth by the Mayo Clinic are 28-40 pounds if you are underweight, 25-35 pounds if you are normal weight, and 15-25 pounds if you are overweight. But sometimes, even if you’re considered “normal weight” you might gain way less, or way more. I’m considered “normal weight” and I gained 45 pounds with my first, and barely 20 with my second. Go figure. There are many factors at play. It is good to gain weight! And crucial for your baby’s development. In a culture that focuses on losing weight, it can be difficult to embrace your new shape. Love your changing body! You’re growing another person and that’s a special and difficult task.
2) There are many, many birth options.
The standard OBGYN. The up-and-coming standard hospital midwife. The out-of-hospital midwife. The doula present. Investigate, ask lots of questions, and question yourself about what you think you want. Waterbirth? Generally, only midwives do those. Epidural? You can still have a midwife even if you plan for pain medication. Pain med options? There are more options for medication than just an epidural (which has many potential side effects, so don’t think that means you’ll have a walk-in-the-park delivery).
And if you start from choosing your place of birth, that changes your options on care providers as well. If you’re birthing with an out-of-hospital midwife, where does she have hospital privileges, just in case? And if you’re in a hospital, do they have a NICU, or would your child have to be transported, just in case? What is the hospital cultural attitude toward birth? And what does your insurance cover? And who knows a good doula?
3) Trust your gut if something feels wrong.
Constipation? That’s normal. Pangs of discomfort? That’s normal. Heartburn? That’s normal. But what about the degrees of pain? What about if you aren’t sure if something’s normal? Don’t push those fears or concerns aside. If you think anything is wrong, talk to your healthcare provider. Don’t try to tough it out (I did during my first pregnancy and it turned out I had kidney stones and an infection simultaneously). They won’t think you’re a hypochondriac. If you have multiple pregnancies, there will be differences between them as well, so relying on your mama instincts if something feels off is the surest way to catch any abnormalities or reasons for concern for both your health and baby’s.
4) Maternity clothing does not have to look terrible.
Fashion and motherhood do meet nowadays. Yes, our moms were photographed in moo-moos. But there is a nice sliding scale of chic to classic, new to next-to-new in the clothing department now. Motherhood Maternity is an affordable line all the way up to Isabella Oliver, which is a less affordable line. Most box stores have maternity lines too, Gap, J.Crew, Old Navy, etc. And get creative, wearing non-maternity clothing that has ruched sides, or a nice movement to it. As soon as the tag says, “maternity,” the price tag goes up, so try to shop with a careful eye on the non-maternity rack. If you have a formal event, a local store in the Metro called Babies to Bellies rents high end formal wear so that you can wear it when pregnant, but not buy it!
5) Tune out the negative input.
As soon as the word is out that you’re expecting, expect a lot of unsolicited advice and story telling. It’s a beautiful thing to share motherhood with other women. This is why we have baby showers! But people may also take the opportunity to share about their traumas, or their negative experience or feelings about pregnancy, birth, and early parenthood. Comments like “get sleep now, because you never will again” or “get the epidural because my cousin had this terrible tearing and ripping” simply aren’t helpful to you in your journey as a new mom.
Ask for lots of love, support, and enthusiasm from those you know, and just don’t heed any negative input.
Nell Alt is a mother of two, attorney, crafter, and blogger. She can be found musing about parenthood, gardening, food, and classical music over at Whole Parenting Family or sewing and knitting at Whole Parenting Goods on Etsy.