7 Things to Know Before Having Your First Child
As a former baby-illiterate woman, I admit that there was a ton I used to have no clue about when it came to pregnancy and the aftermath. I had a lot of assumptions, but I really had no idea. So, if you’re as clueless as I was, here are a few things I really think you should know, whether you’re pregnant or you hope to be one day.
1. It’s Okay to Gain Weight During Your Pregnancy
Now, I went into pregnancy fully convinced that if I watched what I ate that I wouldn’t gain tons of weight. This was true for the first few months as my weight came on slow and even the doctors were quite impressed. It was looking good – I thought I was in the clear.
Then riiight about midway through my pregnancy I started packing on what seemed like every calorie I ate. But the strange thing was, I was eating good! It wasn’t like I was stuffing down donuts for breakfast, pudding for lunch and cheesecake for dinner. Not that I was the healthiest of healthies, but I ate good. I had my protein, my veggies, my fruits, tons of water. Yet… like some kind of sick joke, the pounds stuck to me like a magnet.
I learned in this that… though there are those women who make it full-term looking like they didn’t gain a pound anywhere but their belly, I wasn’t one of those. I was different – my body wasn’t like theirs and did things differently. And you know what? That’s okay. You’re just as beautiful as you ever were. Make it work in your own skin.
2. Lotion EVERYWHERE, Not Just Your Belly Girl!
Talking about skin… the moment I found out I was pregnant, this mama started lathering her belly up in coco butter creams and all kinds of deep therapy moisturizers in hopes to come out of my pregnancy stretchmark free! I put lotion on at least three times a day for the most part. Then like a thief in the night, I woke up one morning with the dreaded, unwelcome stretchmarks!
Ugh! What kind of sorcery was this!!!
Well, silly me, I failed to lotion my sides, annnd my legs. I was so focused on getting my belly (assuming if stretchmarks did come due to a growing belly that’d be where), that I didn’t even think twice about my sides or my legs. -__- Needless to say, that’s where they appeared with a vengeance.
Ladies, most of you are going to get stretchmarks. They don’t make you less attractive, and truly they’re something to be unashamed of. Though they fade, they’re a forever reminder that your baby was knitted inside of you.
I used this lotion during my pregs:
3. Treat Yourself – Buy Maternity Clothes Early on
Call me cheap, but I refused to buy maternity clothes (they’re overpriced cause they know we have no choice – how sick!). But I was convinced that I would be able to make it full-term wearing the clothes I already had in my closet. With this goal in mind, I did just that. Minus a few shirts/pants my mom and mother-in-law got me, this lady squeezed her way into every non-maternity shirt she had for as long as she could.
As my pregnancy progressed, my options for clothes rapidly decreased. It got to the point where I literally had less than a week’s worth of shirts left and two pairs of pants (1 pair of slacks and 1 pair of maternity jeans). Let’s just say doing laundry almost became a daily activity. Looking back at pictures now post-pregnancy, I can’t help but think… give it up, Vanessa. You seriously were that stubborn that you preferred to walk around in a shirt that looked like it was ready to explode into pieces instead of spend a few bucks on some shirts?! Really?!
Now, I can’t say I really regret not buying maternity clothes, but I will say, don’t do what I did, you will look ridiculous. So, go on and treat yourself to a few maternity-friendly pants and shirts – it 100% helps you feel more comfortable!
4. What to Expect of Your Belly After Childbirth
Had it not been for a good few women in my life who warned me ahead of time, I think I may have been absolutely surprised and depressed looking at myself in the mirror after giving birth. We’ve all seen full-term pregnant bellies, they’re huge, so what did I expect? I expected that after giving birth to our son, that my stomach would go back to normal. Well, I was wrong.
After giving birth, whether you’re one of the women who looks like you gained weight or not, your stomach will resemble a bowl of jelly. It will be loose. It will be jiggly. It will have a mind of its own. I mean after-all, one moment your belly’s got a baby in it and the next it doesn’t. Though our skin can eventually bounce back, it doesn’t go back immediately. And to some extent, for some women, it never goes back to normal. Even if we get a flat stomach again, our skin can still be loose. Whatever the case may be for you in the long-run, work it sister!
If you’re interested in using a postpartum belly band, I’ve heard great things about this one.
5. Adult Diapers – They’ll be Your Best Friend for Weeks
Now something I didn’t know is that you will be in what feels like a diaper for weeks. It might sound terrible, but after pushing a human being out of your body, it will be glorious!
This might sound a little graphic (but it’s the way God made it), pushing a big baby out of a small space = swelling. You will swell. Because of the swelling you can’t just wear any old underpants – sister you gotta sport underwear that are oh so comfortable, but are diaper-esk. My advice to you? Stock up on them suckers! Ask your nurse for a few packets of them so you have plenty when you go home. Trust me.. you will thank me later.
If you left the hospital already and are in desperate need of postpartum undies, these are a great option!
6. The First Weeks are the Hardest, But It Gets Better
Once you get home with baby, I can guarantee you that it will be hard for awhile. You’ve got this new little person in your life, you know practically nothing about them besides their sex and name, yet they need you for everything. The only way they can communicate to you is through cries and tears. This can be stressful – especially with postpartum depression hanging around. Naturally, us mamas want to fill their need, comfort them and make things better, but in the beginning its hard to do that when we have no idea what they’re saying!
As time moves forward you’ll learn your baby’s language. You’ll know what this and that cry means, you’ll get their cues and you’ll even know all their likes and dislikes. You’ll come to see that sometimes when all their needs are met, they want to cry anyway. And that’s okay. Just hold them, comfort them how you can, and
let baby let it out. You just gotta stick with it, pay attention, don’t get frustrated with yourself, have patience and in due time you’ll be a pro at being that baby’s mama!
7. Take All the Help You Can Get, Woman!
When I was pregnant I was determined to do things on my own when my son was born. I had tons of offers of help from my mom and mother-in-law, but a part of me wanted to manage on my own, figure things out myself you know? ……….psssht! Very funny Vanessa!
Ladies, if you have the option to get help from some trustworthy women in your life, take it. Not everyone has this option, and taking it doesn’t make you any less of a mama and it doesn’t make your love for your baby any less either. At times, for your own sanity you just need a break. It’s good for you. Even if for just 15-minutes. Trust me, I was and I still am so thankful for my husband, mom and mom-in-law! They are lifesaverrrs!
In the End…
I am glad to say that despite all of the highs and lows that come along with being a mom, it truly is one of the best things in this life. As long as we are privileged of being our babies mamas, we will be learning. And I’m sure that there are plenty of things I have yet to discover, but I’ll figure it out when I get there 😛
In All Honesty,
For a look into my labor journey read What to Expect When You’re Expecting: My Labor Journey
Looking for insight on bonding with your newborn? Read Postpartum: “Does My Baby Hate Me?”