What I know now that I didn’t before …
Don’t rush your first ultrasound: I went to my first appointment full of excitement only to leave terribly worried. My OB gave me a concerning “hmm,” as she looked at a tiny yolk sac, noting that I only looked five weeks along when calculations were saying I should be eight. I had to do a repeat ultrasound in two weeks, at which point I somehow jumped to a healthy nine weeks. The more I shared this glitch with other women, the more I learned how common it is. The longer you wait for that first appointment, the more you’ll be able to see and the less worry you will endure. Let nature do its thing.
Don’t dismiss your body’s new demands: The onset of pregnancy symptoms have hit your body like a tidal wave, yet there is societal pressure to keep quiet and strut through your normal routine as if nothing has changed. But everything has, and don’t think for a second that just because you don’t “look pregnant” you should somehow toughen up and dismiss what you’re going through. Slow. Down. Nurture your body, unapologetically rest, learn to “say no” to extra stressors, and build your support network. Baby may be tiny, but he or she is undergoing major development, which is why you are rightfully exhausted.
Know your health care options. Don’t assume that your gynecologist who you’ve gone to since you were 21 has to be the person who delivers your baby, and don’t base your vision of childbirth on what you see in the movies or hear from others. We all experience labor differently. You have so many options in how you deliver and who delivers your baby; it is fascinating how much there is to learn about childbirth. The more you know, the more empowered you will be.
You’re in the calm before the storm: Hopefully by now you are not feeling as sick or tired as you were in the first trimester. If you want to travel and take that “baby moon,” do it now. If you want an elaborate themed nursery for your little one, start it now. If you are having a baby shower, build your registry now. Most women feel their best at this time, which makes tackling baby prep manageable and exciting.
Learn to filter outside advice: There are so many approaches to parenting, and best practices today are starkly different than they were even for our parents. As your baby bump begins to show, it signals family, friends and strangers to throw all kinds of input your way. Take from the advice what feels right to you and don’t ever doubt the motherly instinct you will uncover during your pregnancy.
Don’t overlook the fourth trimester: It’s easy to focus so much on the birth, but there is so much to consider for post partum. Do you want visitors right away, or do you want to recover in privacy? How about baby’s pediatrician – have you found one? If you’re breastfeeding, do you have resources at hand to help? Understand that the post partum period will be a major adjustment that deserves just as much attention and prep as the birth.
Love your bump. There will be unwarranted comments that offend you, but try to love your bump so much so that these comments don’t phase you. Take pictures even when you don’t feel photogenic, and give yourself credit for the amazing miracle your body is creating. Your little one can hear you and recognize when you are stressed, so consciously make an effort to welcome only positive vibes.
Accept that baby will come when baby is ready: We are a society obsessed with planning, which is probably why we rush to our OBs to begin with to “mark our calendars” with a due date that is wrong 90 percent of the time. When you reach your final trimester, your midwife or doctor will explain that you should give yourself a two-week cushion. So even though I’m measuring 35 weeks, for example, I could really be anywhere between 33 and 37 weeks. And when you’re at 37 weeks, you’re considered full-term. But guess what, when you hit 40 weeks, you might actually have another two to go. All you can do is pack that hospital bag, know the signs of labor and try to relax.