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As my due date quickly approaches I have been reflecting on all of the things that have surprised my about pregnancy. I am so excited to meet our baby but there are some things I wish I had been warned about! Hopefully this information will help others on their journey to mommyhood. Warning- I’m not holding back so read at your own risk!
1. All Day Nausea/Hyperemesis Gravidarum- I had heard of morning sickness but nobody prepared me for the hell that was Hyperemesis- and I got off relatively easy! Some women spend all nine months on a Zofran pump. I felt constant nausea and did my fair share of puking- morning, noon, and night all the way through the first trimester. My OB prescribed Zofran which helped but I traded one stomach ill for another- constipation (see next point). He also prescribed B6 every 4 hours which REALLY helped take the edge off as long as I took it every four hours like clockwork. I definitely recommend it and saving the Zofran for when you have to have it.
2. Constipation- Pregnancy slows down your bowels and if you have to take Zofran forget about going to the bathroom- seriously, nothing helped (except laying off the Zofran). Colace is safe for pregnancy and does help with regular (non-Zofran induced) constipation. I also found eating lots of raspberries to be helpful.
3. Skin Sensitivity- this one really came out of left field for me. I have always had a darker olive complexion and never had much trouble with sunburn. I sat on my grandmother’s porch for an hour (in March!) and burned everywhere that wasn’t covered by clothing, including the tops of my feet. I have to wear sunscreen all over now if I am going to be outside. The other thing that got incredibly sensitive was shaving. I had to cut back on shaving my underarms and legs because I was getting horrible razor burn even with a brand new razor. Every three days or so seemed to do the trick. Don’t worry, my hair growth slowed down with less frequent shaving and I didn’t feel like a wooly mammoth.
4. Heartburn– this is another one that I sort of heard of but did not fully appreciate. Third trimester heartburn is the pits. Basically, baby pushes all of your organs out of the way and there is no room for food. I have been taking A LOT of tums and avoiding eating anything after 7pm.
5. Insomnia- If one more person tells me to sleep before the baby comes I might rip their head off. Seriously. Not only can I not get comfortable at this point but for months I have had trouble falling asleep. My OB said I can take Benadryl which I have done when desperate for a few hours.
6. Incontinence- I knew that I would have to pee all of the time but I didn’t know that I wouldn’t be able to hold it! Sneezing, laughing, and coughing all induced bladder incontinence starting every early in my pregnancy. There’s nothing like sneezing in front of a room full of middle schoolers and realizing you just pissed your pants! I had to start wearing cloth pads to prevent leaks. Another great thrill is that vomiting also made me pee myself. There’s nothing quite like leaning over a toilet puking out of one end of your body while you pee yourself out of the other. I learned to lay down a towel in front of the toilet.
7. Round Ligament Pain– Somewhere around the second trimester you will feel like someone is stabbing you in the side and you will think you are dying. Don’t worry- this is actually normal! It’s your round ligament stretching to support your growing uterus. It sucks but a microwave heat pack did provide a little relief. Make sure to avoid putting it over where the baby is and don’t use it for too long.
8. Pelvic Girdle Pain- this is like Round Ligament Pain’s evil cousin. This hit me mid third trimester. For me it felt like what I imagine a Barbie doll would feel like when her legs were ripped off. I never did find anything that helped except rest.
9. Swelling- I guess people did warn me about this but I was still surprised by how big my feet and ankles are in third tri. Besides the obvious elevation and rest I found standing in a pool to be AMAZING. Seriously- it really helps to take the swelling down. I still can only wear flip flops but at least my feet don’t hurt when I walk afterwards.
10. Dehydration = Contractions- When I was about seven and a half months pregnant I came down with a bug. At first my stomach and back just hurt a little. By evening I was lying on the floor in tears. Then the vomiting started. I called the on call OB who sent me to Labor and Delivery. It turns out the stomach and back pain were contractions caused by dehydration from being sick. 4 hours of IV fluids helped calm them down. I continued to vomit up everything for 24 hours but at least the contractions had slowed down. After I recovered I took hydration VERY seriously. I can feel Braxton Hicks starting if I get even a little dehydrated now. Make sure to drink plenty of water and if you get a bug don’t hesitate to call your doc for fluids.
11. Difficulty Breathing When Lying Down– this one has been huge for me. I read that you aren’t supposed to lay on your back when pregnant but even laying on my side sometimes makes me feel like I’m suffocating. Keeping a pillow under my stomach helps a little and if it gets really bad I prop myself up on pillows. My doctor says it is caused my the increased blood volume and bothers some people more than others.
12. Heart Murmur- along with the increased blood volume you might discover that you develop a heart murmur. Apparently when the blood volume increases it expose previously undetected issues. Luckily, it’s usually harmless. I still had to have an echo cardiogram to make sure.
Hopefully this doesn’t scare anyone away from pregnancy. We struggled to conceive this baby and I have been grateful for every ache and pain- I just wish I had been prepared for some of it! My hope is that this might help some other mommies-to-be avoid a few of the panic attacks that I had.
What pregnancy symptoms surprised you? What do you wish you had known? What helped the most? Share in the comments below!