Some notes on pregnancy: what I've learned

I'll do a second trimester follow up to my first pregnancy post (see here) soon, but for now I thought I'd jot down a few notes on some general things I've discovered throughout the pregnancy thus far. Hopefully those of you who've been through the whole thing will have a smile or two : )

You will worry. Whether for good reason, for 'feels like a' good reason or for no reason at all.

It's true. You'll worry about so many things - should I have eaten that, should I have run across the road instead of waiting for the lights, should I have told anyone I'm up the duff before the close of the first trimester - is that bad luck?

A good example of the whole worry thing is my reaction to stacking on extra pies. To start with, I worried I was putting on too much (am I eating too much, am I overloading the kid, did the scan miss the fact that there's three of 'em in there?). Then, when the weight gain stopped and I didn't put on any weight (not even a measly 100g) for 13 whole weeks of the pregnancy, I worried I wasn't gaining enough. Was something wrong?

There was no need to stress, the scans looked fine and the obstetrician was reassuring, but I went ahead and stressed anyway. Totally normal. I've always believed that worrying and love go hand in hand; I'd be worried if I wasn't worrying.

You will ignore the doctor.

Kind of related to the worry thing but developing on that - I first felt the little one kick at 16 weeks. My obstetrician warned me that there would be days when it didn't move around, and that didn't mean anything and I shouldn't worry. Sure enough, those days came and, sure enough, I worried. Normal again.

He also said that the fact I felt it kick so early on (apparently that's unusual for a first pregnancy) didn't mean my baby was any better than someone's who didn't kick until week 20 or later. Rubbish. The fact that I have an active kid means it's going to be a star tennis player and it has a massive brain. So there.

Even if you don't worry, others will do it for you.

'I'm worried that you're so tired'; 'I'm worried that you're not connecting to the baby as early as I did'; 'I'm worried that you're not stressed enough - you seem too relaxed.'

And so on. The world worries about your baby when you're pregnant. Everyone eyes what you're eating, what physical activity you're doing, and raises an eyebrow if you carry more than one grocery bag at a time. Bugger them. Listen to the doctor and your body - forget the rest.

This leads me to my next point:

Everyone has an opinion.

You know what I mean: 'you should eat that'; 'you shouldn't eat that'; 'you shouldn't be doing that kind of activity', and so on.

This shouldn't surprise anyone, and it certainly didn't surprise me. Valid opinions are fine; eg when the doctor says to forgo skydiving for the time being, or your Mum suggests winding down the physical activity towards the end of the pregnancy because there's a lot of repetitive movement once the baby arrives (lifting it, feeding it, changing it etc) and you need to look after your arms and back.

Listen to the opinions that make sense. Ignore your husband when he says 'no heavy lifting!' two seconds after you've peed on the stick. It's totally within your rights to tell others to stick their opinions up their proverbials.

Everyone has a horror story. Or five.

I know women who've had good pregnancies and god-awful ones. One lady I met said she'd been sick the whole time, and had vomited with such force that she once broke the bathroom taps (presumably because she'd been holding on to them for support during her projectile retching).

One dear friend of mine suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum, an extreme, persistent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. She had something like 16 hospital visits during that time, the poor thing.

I know women who've been bed-ridden for medical reasons from as early as week 17 and as late as 26 weeks, which reminds me that I'm not out of the woods yet and, while I've been lucky by comparison so far (touch wood), I should try to enjoy the good days while I can. Life can change in a day, in an instant. Use the moments you have.

I guess my point is: don't freak out and worry that the horrors will happen to you. If you're having a complicated pregnancy, my heart goes out to you. If you're not, make the most of the moments you're not vomiting/tired/feeling low - in my experience, you never know when the tides will turn.

You will become public property.

People you don't know very well will ask you intrusive questions and engage in similar behaviour. 'Can I see your belly; can I touch it?'; 'How old are you?'; 'Was the pregnancy planned?'; 'Are you married; is your husband a good man?'; 'Are you financially secure?'

While I was away in August, one lass who was staying at the same B&B wanted to follow me around and talk about children with me. I didn't want that and she soon got the message.

I guess all I'll say here is, deal with it as best you can but do keep your own lines. If you want people to leave you alone, either tell them so or make it obvious that this is what you want. You are not public property. You are your baby's property (ha) - at least for now.

Everyone becomes an expert.

Mothers are 'experts' on their own children/pregnancies but no one else's. You have to find your own way.

I've had women tell me I have to breastfeed because it's better for the baby; and one woman told me I shouldn't breastfeed because you can't see how much milk the baby is drinking (if any) and therefore bottles are better. (?!)

Speak to the experts. Follow your nose. Ignore everyone else.

90% of mothers say (or at least imply) that they followed the food rules to the absolute letter. Until you say that you occasionally bent them - then 95% will 'fess up to bending them too.

Ah, the old food rules. Ask yourself this: if you were pregnant, and someone laid out a gorgeous tuna carpaccio before you in a high-end restaurant; or if you were somewhere in the Yarra Valley and someone placed a few strips of rare beef with a pepper crust before you, to be sampled along with a sip or two of gorgeous shiraz, would you do it?

I would. Most women would, I reckon. If men were the ones carrying babies, they definitely would - although many of them, having selective memories, would pronounce they'd honestly forgotten they shouldn't eat it.

I wonder what they do in Japan - does no pregnant mother ever eat raw fish? And in France do women discriminate (based on colour) between what cheese they pick at after a meal?

I doubt it.

I don't want to 'give advice' here because I have no right to do that, though I will say that I've followed the food rules the vast majority of the time. But yes. I've eaten raw fish and rare meat. I've had some white cheese. I've also said no to things that are meant to be 'safe' because I haven't liked the look of them.

I've done my research on the food thing so I've felt safe to make the choices I've made. I did that for my own peace of mind. You will find your own balance.

Ignore everything I've said.

Here I am writing about ignoring others' opinions/advice, but I'm really doing the same thing with this post, aren't I? So feel free to ignore me completely.

It's your pregnancy. Not mine.

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