10 Things Nobody Tells You About Pregnancy (Part II)

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Now that I’m almost done with this pregnancy (we’re ready anytime now, baby!) I thought it’d be a good time to share a follow-up post to my original, ‘10 Things Nobody Tells You About Pregnancy.’ Since my first post of this series is one of my most-read blog posts, I figured it would be worthwhile to share more of my inside-scoop on pregnancy since it seems to be such a popular topic!

I’m currently 37 weeks pregnant, so truly in the home stretch. Baby’s official due date is July 30, so less than 3 weeks away, but he or she could come at any time now and be considered fully healthy and full-term. At this point, Dom and I are just waiting around, and I’m very ready to not be pregnant anymore haha.

I wrote my first post on this topic when I was half-way through this pregnancy, so for this post, I’ll focus on what I’ve learned in the second-half of pregnancy. This certainly doesn’t cover all of the unknowns, but it should certainly shed some light on some things you might not have known before, and at the very least encourage you to do some research when the time comes!

10 Things Nobody Tells You About Pregnancy (Part II):

  1. Stretch marks are hereditary. One thing that many women worry about when becoming pregnant – especially in the second half of pregnancy since that’s when your bump really pops – is stretch marks. I did tons of research on how to avoid getting stretch marks and while many sources will provide you with ‘tips’ on how to keep stretch marks at bay, the more scientific sources I stumbled upon broke the news that stretch marks are (fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your family history) hereditary. Some women say they did everything in their power to prevent stretch marks, but ended up with them anyway. Other women say they did absolutely nothing to prevent them and got by without a single one. I personally started moisturizing my belly on a daily basis (both morning and night) as soon as it started to grow and have yet to see any stretch marks {knock on wood}. Rubbing lotion or oil onto your belly will help your skin stay moisturized, which leads to greater elasticity, and can (apparently) decrease your chances of getting stretch marks. At some point along the way I asked my mom about her own pregnancies, and she informed me that she never got stretch marks. So now if I never get them, I won’t know if my precautionary measures helped, or if it is all due to genetics. But in my opinion, it certainly doesn’t hurt to throw in some of these measures just in case. In addition to keeping your skin regularly moisturized, some other tips include drinking water and staying hydrated, controlling your weight gain, and eating specific foods that are healthy for your skin (foods rich in vitamins C, D, E, zinc and protein).
  2. Stretch marks show up in places other than your belly and can arrive after the baby is born. This fact really threw me for a loop. I thought that once the baby came into the world that I no longer would have to worry about the dreaded stretch marks. Joke’s on me, apparently. Some women claim to have gotten stretch marks on their belly post-birth when their uterus was actually shrinking. Other women say that they had no stretch marks until one day they woke up and their milk had come in (this occurs several days after the baby is born) and their breasts were covered in stretch marks. Other places stretch marks can appear due to pregnancy are also the legs and butt. So unfortunately, just because you give birth and are officially done with pregnancy, that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Ugh.
  3. Your weight can hit a plateau during the second or third trimester. Soon after becoming pregnant, your body will slowly start to gain weight. While you don’t gain much during the first trimester, there are some inevitable changes that will tack on a few pounds, such as breast growth and, of course, all the internal changes taking place that aid in the growth of your baby. However, it is common that during the third trimester (and in my case, my second trimester), your weight can hit a plateau. While it might be somewhat alarming to stay the same weight for several weeks, as long as your doctor does not show concern, then it is completely normal. When this happened to me during my second trimester, I was partially happy that I was not gaining weight at a rapid speed, but also nervous that perhaps this meant the baby was not gaining enough weight. Those worries were put to rest when I inquired with my doctor and eventually the plateau ended and my weight continued to gradually increase.
  4. Rib pain is real. Y’all. I have had the most severe rib pain since sometime during my second trimester and it is frankly just a pain in my a$$. While most women apparently complain of back pain, sore feet, or swollen legs, I have had very minimal complaints when it comes to those symptoms, and have instead had a sharp knife stabbing pain underneath my right ribs for months. I do not know how common this pregnancy symptom is since there is not nearly as much information out there, but it’s common enough that my doctor was not worried about it and there are prenatal chiropractors that can try to adjust your spine to provide some relief. From what it feels like, it seems to be the result of a lack of space for all of my organs plus baby, which results in either the baby’s limbs or my organs be shoved underneath my ribs (lovely, I know). While I’ve tried a variety of relief tactics, including visiting a chiropractor, drinking apple cider vinegar, changing my posture, none of these tips have provided permanent relief. Unfortunately, this pain is something that won’t go away until after the baby is born. But the good news is, that moment is getting closer by the second! *FYI: pain under the right rib associated with other symptoms can be related to an issue with your liver or gallbladder, so always be sure to inquire with your doctor to rule out any potential health risks.
  5. Birthing classes are still a thing and are actually useful. Although we live in the era of Google and can find the answer to pretty much anything on the internet, birthing classes still exist and people still attend. While they’re of course not a mandatory requirement, my OBGYN’s office provides various classes and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to attend (especially since I was *literally* clueless about all things birth and baby). Both Dom and I attended the different classes (one on childbirth, another on baby basics once the child is born, and a third on breastfeeding) and both of us got something out of each class. While I definitely found them useful, I also was pretty shocked and unprepared for the birthing class. Our instructor went over literally every possible scenario (the good, the bad, the awful) and I walked away more knowledgeable but also somewhat terrified. Now that I’ve had time to reflect, I would say that knowledge is power, but to be prepared to learn about all of the things that could go potentially go wrong or change your vision/idea of birth.
  6. Your vision of how childbirth will go might completely change. The more you learn throughout the duration of pregnancy, the more you realize that what you’ve previously thought might be completely inaccurate, or just different than reality. While birth is the ultimate end of the long nine months of pregnancy, I never really thought much about it until it started getting closer. Therefore, I didn’t do much research on the various possibilities until I entered my third trimester. After learning about all of the birth scenarios in birthing class, my original plan of getting to the hospital and accepting all and any drug they would give me completely changed. Maybe it won’t for most people! This might just be me. But I’ve done a ton of research on my own and actually come up with what I think would be best for me mentally, physically, pain-wise, etc. and now not only feel more prepared but also more confident in my choices. That being said, your doctors and the hospital staff gladly welcome a ‘birth plan,’ but as patients we are told to be realistic since, obviously, not all things go according to plan, especially when you have very little say in what nature decides to do!
  7. You should expect to labor at home for several hours before heading to the hospital. Say what??? This was the first I had ever heard of this and was totally dumbfounded by this revelation. I also learned there are three stages of labor (more on that in the next point), and it is best to try and labor at home for the whole first stage of labor. This can last for several hours and although you’re aware that you’re in labor, doctors recommend that you stay at home for as long as you can before heading to the hospital (as long as you have a low-risk pregnancy and are not in severe pain, etc.). The reasoning behind this is because, as stated above, the first stage of labor can last for several hours. Staying at home will reduce your overall time in the hospital, keep you less stressed since you are in a comfortable setting, and possibly the most important, reduce your risk of an emergency c-section or other medical interventions. I won’t list all of the facts behind a lower c-section rate because, after all, I’m certainly not a doctor and do not have all of the answers. But this became super important information for me and is worth sharing for other mamas-to-be out there and those that are just curious!
  8. There are three stages of labor. The three stages are as follows: (1) early labor, (2) active labor, and (3) transitional labor. These ‘stages’ of labor are basically split up based on intensity. The first stage, early labor, lasts the longest and, as mentioned above, it’s encouraged to stay at home during this stage of labor because while your body is preparing for childbirth, it should not be super painful and as long as you are low-risk and otherwise feel fine, you should not need any medical attention at this point. This stage lasts approximately 8-12 hours as your cervix dilates up to 3 centimeters. The second stage, active labor, is when you should head to the hospital. Contractions become more frequent and more intense, and all doctors I’ve spoken to say that you should not be able to have a conversation during one of these contractions. This stage typically lasts 3-5 hours as your cervix dilates from 4 to 7 centimeters. The final stage, transitional labor, is the most intense stage of labor, but also the fastest. Typically lasting 30 minutes to two hours, this phase includes the most intense contractions (what they imitate in the movies), and your cervix dilates from 7 to 10 centimeters. Once dilated to 10 centimeters, you’re ready to have your baby! *Please note: again, this information is strictly research-based and what I’ve learned throughout classes, etc. Even these stages of labor can vary per person – for example, my mom never felt her contractions and showed up to the hospital acting normal but was already 8 cm dilated! So this is in no way expert medical advice, rather just the common knowledge of how labor progresses. Thank you for coming to my TED talk 😉
  9. There is something called Prodromal Labor which is essentially fake labor. LOL I know this because it happened to me. Prodromal Labor is when you have consistent contractions (not to be confused with Braxton Hicks contractions), anywhere from 5-10 minutes apart – or in my case 2-3 minutes apart, that last for hours but do not progress toward delivery. They can have the same symptoms as regular labor contractions but do not actually indicate that you are going into labor. Unfortunately if you are pre-term (earlier than 37 weeks), the only way to find out if it is true labor or not is to go to the hospital. Since it can be difficult to tell the difference, especially as a first-time mom, you’ll probably want to head to the hospital anyway! Long story short, I first felt these consistent contractions late at night at week 35 and they lasted for a couple of hours before the OB on-call told me to go to the hospital. Dom and I headed there (frantically, I must add, since we were very unprepared!) and they confirmed that I was having labor contractions and held me overnight for a total of 7 hours to make sure I did not go into true labor. They sent me home with a prescription to stop the contractions and essentially told me to come back if anything else happened (for example, if my water broke). When I asked my OB about it, she said that sometimes pre-term labor contractions can happen and it’s just a sign that your body is preparing for real labor, but that there should most likely be a difference between those contractions and real labor contractions (i.e. the contractions that occur once in stage two, active labor) because it’ll be pretty painful and hard to talk through.
  10. You’ll want to pack a hospital bag full of items for you and baby in preparation for the big day. Prior to becoming pregnant, I had seen bloggers and others on social media talk about their ‘hospital bags’ but I never had really thought much about it. Little did I know… this whole hospital bag phenomenon is actually a big deal – particularly for planners like myself. I like to be fully prepared before entering an unknown situation, or really just for things in life in general, so when Dom and I had our early labor ‘scare’ and had to rush to the hospital completely unprepared, I decided that I needed to get my hospital bag ready for whenever the real day might come! I might do a separate blog post with everything I packed in my hospital bag since it would be entirely too long to add onto here, but it’s definitely worth doing research on the best items to pack once you hit your third trimester. As I learned… better to be prepared early than to show up to the hospital empty-handed! Just to give you an idea, you’ll want to think about bringing everything from nursing bras, to your own blanket/pillow, to toiletries, and then even a couple going-home outfits for the baby (a few different sizes so you have one that fits!). Before reading other articles and blogs about packing a hospital bag, I never even knew this was a thing, since every other time I’ve been to the hospital has been an emergency and there’s obviously no point or purpose in packing a bag. However when it comes to having a baby, it’s a different situation since you know you’ll be there for a few days, and since it’s mostly an uncomfortable experience for the new mama, you want to bring what you can to ensure you’re as comfortable as possible for the circumstances.

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