I spent so long thinking about getting pregnant, trying to get pregnant, reading about prenatal and pregnancy needs, parenting guides and all of Ina May’s guides to childbirth, but still when it happened…when it actually happened, it was so surreal and I felt like I don’t know anything, nothing I read matters, what even is life, omg is this baby okay, omg how many stretch marks will I have, OMG I’M SO SICK, and the whole myriad of noise the erupts in your head. SO — if you’re like me, that’s the experience you’re living with while being pregnant!
Like….Oh shit you’re actually pregnant — now what? Now you will endure comments, advice and unsolicited opinions from everyone who’s alive from your great-grandmother down to strangers at the supermarket. And if you’re like me, you’re salty. And now, I’m salty for two. SO HOW DO YOU NAVIGATE UNDER THESE CONDITIONS? TBH, the mood swings can make it difficult, but I wanted to share some high level information on what I’ve learned through TTC and my first half of pregnancy. I hope it helps you too!
Everyone has an opinion — here’s how I’m navigating:
Look, everyone is coming from a good place when they give you advice about pregnancy or parenting, but that doesn’t mean you have to agree with it. It is nice to keep in mind that they are being kind, and that you are under no obligation to accept or use their advice (especially if you get some whack-a-doodle shit that is way off the mark from your life philosophies and plans).
Come up with a polite auto-response like you’re a fucking robot, otherwise your eyeballs might explode. Try “thanks for that advice, I’ll keep it in mind.” OR “Thanks, we’ll keep it in mind when deciding what’s best for our family.”
Where to have your baby?:
DID YOU KNOW YOU HAVE OPTIONS?! The most traditional option in recent US history is typical hospital — but know you have options when it comes to hospitals! Different OB’s service different facilities, so be sure to interview and check out your options if you choose to go that route.
Also, depending on where you live, there may be birthing centers available to you (often they come with an array of options and possibilities — so don’t assume you know what they will be like!). This is the route we are taking, and our insurance covers it! Amazing! I’m also doing Centering Pregnancy through my center, instead of typical prenatal visits, and I affectionately refer to this as “pregnancy group therapy” AND I LOVE IT.
Additionally, you can always have your baby at home with a midwife!
The point is, there’s more than one option and you should find out what you’re comfortable with and what feels right for your family!
Where to learn information?:
There are some obvious places to learn things, but just in case you’re feeling overwhelmed:
- Books (I liked Nurture, Expecting Better, What to Expect, and everything by Ina May Gaskin)
- Interwebs (literally so many sites — google everything!)
- Apps for tracking baby (I don’t have a specific recommendation, but these are fun!)
But guess what resources your parents consulted? Probably fucking nothing, and you turned out fine! Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to know the most information, or read every opinion or review. When your baby gets here, you will be the expert on your baby regardless. No one else will know what’s best for them, and YOU. FUCKING. GOT. THIS.
GET YOU A DOULA. It feels like extra money, but having a person hold your hand alongside your husband makes you feel like you’re the best throuple that ever lived! But, seriously, a doula is the only birthworker you will have who is 100% on your side, and has no other agenda except helping you have the best possible birth experience.
There are also a ton of classes available for you — I’ll be taking new-parenting/birthing classes, Hypno-birthing and possibly some other ones! Ask your provider for recommendations.
Make a birth plan (in hella pencil):
You need to start identifying the things you are comfortable with, learning about the alternatives to those things, finding peace with every scenario, and then put together a rough birth plan that is best case scenario for you. I have a lot of friends (often dads) who say “you don’t need a plan because nothing will go according to it!” And to that I say, if you knew from the start you were going to a hospital and going to implicitly accept all the doctors advice, no matter what: THEN THAT’S YOUR PLAN HOMIE! Nothing wrong with a plan in pencil, and it helps you learn about ALL the possible scenarios along the way.
Make a postpartum plan:
America is woefully under-preparing families for postpartum life. Our traditional systems focus on prenatal and delivery, but that fourth trimester demands a lot of attention and preparation. There is a lot of support needed during that time, and all moms should think a lot about what they might need to make that transition easier. Here are some recommendations I have received to make that time a little easier that I’m thinking about:
- Meal Train
- ”How to be helpful” document (i.e. here’s shit friends and fam can be in charge of for me….walking dogs, grocery shopping, doing laundry, etc.)
- Line up care (for kiddos and pets if needed!)
- Set boundaries before baby gets here (let people know what’s acceptable: Calling first, or just popping by, etc.)
- How to introduce pets to baby (think of what this transition will look like for the whole family!)
Also be looking at feeding options for baby: learn about breastfeeding, pumping and formula, and you’ll be able to do what works best for you and your family! (don’t let others put you down on this. You are your own person.)
Common pregnancy ailments & how I’m dealing with them:
- Nausea: Ginger, fizzy water, small/frequent meals, eating what you can (don’t be hard on yourself for diet choices!), getting plenty of sleep, taking it easy.
- Sleepless-ness: CALM powder, hot tea at night, taking moments for yourself before bed, building in a pillow fort of comfort, breathing exercises, legs up the wall & meditation.
- Back pain: daily stretches, standing up at work when possible, focusing on back alignment and core-exercises that are still possible.
- Constipation: CALM powder, varied diet.
- Anxiety: CALM powder, chamomile/mint tea, aromatherapy baths, yoga, breathing exercises, and getting rest/sleep.
- Leg Cramps: Daily stretches, potassium.
And for ALL these: STAY. HYDRATED. I try to drink 1-gallon of water a day. It’s hard, but it makes a difference. Helps your skin prevent or bounce back from stretch marks better too!
What has surprised me the most?:
Cramping — so much. For many months you are already so worried and anxious that every cramp had me scared and nervous.
Along with this, you feel a lot of sensations. For me, I didn’t expect periodic pelvic floor pain, so that’s been different.
Peeing SO MUCH so early. I thought this came when you are super pregnant, but it hits quick.
Breast Pain in first trimester was a surprise too. Like, my boobs were SO SORE that putting on and taking off bras would bring tears to my eyes! It’s gotten better, but they have never quite being sore.
And now as I move further along I’ve discovered Lightning Crotch! I won’t bother explaining this. It’s self explanatory. You’ll know when you got it.
Don’t compare your journey or your body to anyone else:
Look, even though it took me forever to get pregnant, and I am a 31 year old woman, it feels like women all around me are pregnant! Not to mention the 12 women in my Centered Pregnancy group are all having a baby within weeks of my due date….it opens a lot of avenues for comparing yourself, your journey and your body to others: BUT DON’T!
Not only do our bodies all work differently, but we all carry differently, react differently: as it turns out, we all really are the unique unicorns that our parents said we were! Now, embrace that shit and fuck all to whats happening to, with and for other people: YOU ARE A LIVING BREATHING MIRACLE. And so are your stretch marks, or lack of, and growing boobs, and weird shaped belly, and cankles, and varicose veins, and acne (which i fully have in pregnancy and if one more mom tells me my vitamins will clear that right up, I’m going to crush all my vitamins and mix them in their food for the next 5 months!), and weight gain and everything else in between!
Building a baby registry:
Turns out you should start thinking about this soon. Up to you where you want shit from, but we’re using the BabyList because you can list stuff from multiple sites! There’s a lot of checklists out there to get you started. Start early, and then widdle down. Show your list to some friends with kids, and they might also be able to help you know what you might not need that you think you do!
Also turns out that you can get free shit from companies slinging baby stuff, and also your community! Hit up some of the below to find out what you can check off your list:
- Amazon registry
- Target Registry
- Buy nothing facebook groups
- Friends and family!
Low cost shit:
Let’s also not forget cheap shit you can find at second hand/thrift stores! Some things you’ll want new or certified (car seats!), but we’re getting so much from thrift stores, especially clothes.
Sign up for childcare:
So, here’s the scoop of childcare. If you aren’t able to pull together childcare between you & your fam, you’re going to be looking at all the available options out there. You can choose to do anything from paying for in-home childcare, going to a center or doing some under the table cash payments to a local nanny that your friend knows. There are a lot of pros and cons to these different options — but know that depending on your income bracket, cost of childcare (at accredited facilities) can be a tax ride-off! (like I really know what that means, but it’s true!)
For me, I am in that bracket of new moms who can’t afford to not work, and is going the route of an accredited facility to take on the care of my sweet tiny baby (which brings me great distress and makes me over-emotional BUT IT’S FINE!). NAC/NAECY accreditations are the big ones in Texas (which is where I live), so if you want to find the “best quality” centers, look out for those ratings! Find out the big ones where you live if you want some official-expert opinion on “quality”.
In Austin, TX I am finding the average cost of newborn care at “accredited” child care centers to be between $1100 – $1800/per month. Yeah, that top end is more $$ than my mortgage. I am also finding the waiting lists to be extensive. Some centers don’t have openings for a year, but some can graciously make room for us when baby is around 6 months old. So, jump on waiting lists now (sometimes there is a fee to join the list, I’ve seen it cost between $100 up to having to put down a full month payment to hold a spot — credited towards your first month of care, of course).
A transition plan from work, and back to work:
Depending on your life/work situation, you might be faced with having to plan for leaving work for baby, and re-entering work for baby. Learn the facts about what you’re entitled to through the state you work in, and also the company you work for. In Texas FMLA allows you to take up to 12 weeks (unpaid) off of work without risk of losing your job. You need to start a dialogue early with your boss and your HR department, to ensure you are all on the same page about the best case scenario for you. For me, I drafted a “best-case-scenario” plan and submitted it.
Also be preparing for FMLA paperwork you may to fill out/submit within a certain time-frame, and any insurance paperwork you might be responsible for. I was lucky enough to be signed up before baby for Short Term Disability — so if you’re still TTC this might be a good option for you to get some money while you’re out of work.
Best case scenario for you is YOUR JOB HAS A MATERNITY/PATERNITY PLAN! YOU DID IT! YOU WORK FOR A DECENT COMPANY WITH BENEFITS EVERYONE SHOULD RECEIVE!
But, this is America.
We’ve been saving for a while to plan for our lack of income, and I’m still pretty nervous about making ends meet — SO BE THINKING EARLY ON THIS!
So, to sum it all up: you’re pregnant, there’s too much information out there, but the truth is you’re the expert on you and your family, AND YOU FUCKING GOT THIS!
Morgan Messick is a Pop-Culture fanatic, Podcast Host, Marketing Maven & total #BookBabe living in Austin, TX with her Husband and two dogs — Eleanor & Charles Barkley. She aspires to grow her #TBR pile, do all of the hiking, travel as often as possible and make a joke at every turn. She utilizes laughter and yoga for daily medicine, thinks that Harry Potter is magic for all ages, and truly believes Die Hard is a great Christmas movie (SO DEAL WITH IT.)
Catch her musings here, and around the web — links in the “about” page!