I’m nearing the end of my second full-term pregnancy, and wanted to share a few things I’ve learned along the way with both. Obviously, please take this post with several grains of salt, as it reflects my experience. That said, hopefully there are some helpful nuggets in here!
So here we go, in no particular order…
- Try not to go into pregnancy assuming how it will make you feel.
This one’s tricky, because I think all of us have these preconceived ideas of what pregnancy will be like. This might come from a combination of pop culture (thanks a lot, 90s sitcoms) and stories from friends and family. You know the typical stuff: Ugh, the morning sickness! The cravings! I’m going to cry at the drop of a hat! I’m going to gain tons of weight! Giving birth is the worst and most painful thing ever! I’d encourage you to wait and see what your pregnancy ends up being like. Pregnancy symptoms and experiences can range in a big way, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that many of the typical symptoms didn’t apply to me. (That’s not to say pregnancy is easy, but I think going into it with an open mind is really helpful.)
2. Do your research when it comes to your provider.
This is something I definitely didn’t realize until midway through my pregnancy with Maggie. Sure, I was going to an OB practice that had a good reputation in our city, but I hadn’t given much thought at all to what I wanted my pregnancy and birth experience to look like. Once I did (thanks to a Bradley Method birth class Kevin and I took), I realized a midwife practice would be a much better fit for me to help me have the kind of experience I was going for. (Another resource that helped me come to this conclusion was the podcast The Birth Hour, which chronicles birth stories from women around the world. It was so helpful to hear these stories — which truly ran the gamut — to get a feel for what I wanted my birth to look like.)
3. Maternity clothes are overrated.
It’s funny, because when I found out I was pregnant with Baby Boy, I bought a few maternity pieces from Old Navy (a fleece, a long-sleeved tee, some tanks, etc.) and a couple of maternity dresses from Target. I should have known better by this point! Not only did I already have a few maternity pieces from my pregnancy with Maggie, I’d learned during that pregnancy that, generally speaking, you don’t need a ton of maternity clothes in order to make it through a pregnancy comfortably.
The first caveat here is that both with Maggie and Baby Boy, the point of my pregnancy where I’ve really needed maternity clothes has fallen during the fall and winter, so I’m not really sure about summer maternity wear (although I imagine I’d go with lots of dresses…). The second caveat is that although I was working in an office during my pregnancy with Maggie, I was able to wear leggings (which I’d often pair with a tank top and long cardigan), so business wear wasn’t much of a consideration for me, and this time I’m working from home. That said, here’s what I think is worth investing in maternity clothes wise:
-A good pair of non-workout maternity leggings: I love the maternity Spanx faux leather leggings, personally!
-A few pair of NON-MATERNITY workout leggings that you’ll be able to wear during and after pregnancy: In my experience, lululemon’s Align leggings are the best option here because you can wear your original size throughout your pregnancy, making it a good long-term investment. You’ll be able to wear these for workouts, of course, but also in everyday life.
-A pair of maternity PJs: The over-the-belly fit is so comfy for me at night, particularly toward the end of pregnancy.
-A handful of maternity tank tops in solid colors that can be paired with open cardigans, layered under sweaters, etc.: Old Navy and Target have great affordable options for these!
-Two maternity dresses you love and feel really good in: These are great to have for maternity photos as well as baby showers/events.
And really, these would be my main suggestions. When I think about what I’ve worn during pregnancy, these mostly cover it. (Again, my experience could be different from yours, but I guess what I’m saying is don’t necessarily assume you’ll have to get a whole new maternity wardrobe. LOTS of your non-maternity pieces will work just fine and will remain comfortable to wear!)
4. Document your pregnancy experience.
As with so many things in life, it’s something you think you’ll remember well (because it’s so ever-present at the time), but you’ll start to forget details as time goes by. Whether you blog about your pregnancy, share updates on social media, or keep a journal where you jot down notes throughout, make a point to keep track of this time.
5. Move as much as you can.
This doesn’t mean, of course, to push yourself too hard or to not also prioritize rest (which is especially needed, in my experience, during the first trimester and again in the third), but I’ve found that I definitely feel my best during pregnancy when I’m incorporating regular movement. For me, that could mean taking a Pure Barre class, walking around the neighborhood, or doing a prenatal MIRROR workout. The times I’ve had during my pregnancies where I felt most low energy or unlike myself are also the times I haven’t done a good job of making movement part of my regular routine.
6. Prioritize hydration, and know there are things that can help you on that front.
Hydration is, of course, important all the time, but you’ll need to drink even more water while you’re pregnant. As I got more and more pregnant, drinking enough started being challenging because my stomach could only handle so much food and liquid once it was so compressed by the baby. I have loved adding Liquid IV to my water during this pregnancy to help keep my hydration high when it’s gotten hard to drink as much as I should. Being mindful of eating lots of water-filled foods (fruits, veggies, soups, etc.) can also help!
7. Try not to compare your experience to the others’ experiences.
This advice applies to life rather than just during pregnancy, but I want to call it out here because pregnancy can be an especially vulnerable time when it comes to comparison. I’ve often said pregnancy is extremely humbling, because no matter how smooth it is or how healthy and active you remain, things change to some degree in your overall comfort, in what you’re able to do, and in how your body looks and feels. Try your best to remain focused on your pregnancy, which is uniquely YOUR experience, rather than comparing it to what you see other pregnant women doing.
8. Connect with other pregnant women.
This is a bit more challenging in COVID times, but I’ve found it to be so helpful both with this pregnancy and my pregnancy with Maggie. Whether you find friends through a birth class, a prenatal yoga class, have friends who happen to be pregnant at the same time as you, etc., sharing this experience with other women in the same boat — and allowing yourself to be open and vulnerable with those women — can be so very powerful.
9. Ask for help if you need it.
Like I said, pregnancy can be very humbling, and it can absolutely throw some curveballs your way. Don’t hesitate to ask for help during this important part of your life! For me, with this pregnancy, that meant reaching out to a therapist when I was dealing with some big hormonal and emotional challenges in my first trimester. It’s helped a great deal to have support like that throughout this pregnancy.
If you’ve been pregnant before, what are some pieces of advice you’d share with someone about your pregnancy experience? Did my advice resonate with you at all? I’d love to hear either way!