If you missed part 1 of this blog, please see the post from Wednesday, February 20th.
6. Morning sickness and other stomach issues can happen anytime of day and can last more than the first trimester.
As I think back, I am pretty sure I knew that morning sickness could happen anytime of day, but I was not prepared to be sick all day, everyday for seven months. The other thing that surprised me was that I never actually got sick (vommitting), but was continuously nauseous during my first pregnancy. Not to get too graphic, but in my experience, I believe constipation was a leading cause for the nausea. Constipation is a normal symptom of pregnancy, but getting it under control can be a challenge. The cause is mainly pregnancy hormones slowing down the digestive process to allow more nutrients to be passed to your growing baby (What to Expect Website). Stool softeners are generally considered safe during pregnancy, but always check with your doctor before ingesting anything when pregnant. The best defense is likely changing some of your health and diet habits. Plenty of safe exercise, increasing your fiber intake through natural raw fruits and veggies, drinking lots of water and juices (especially prune juice- if you can’t stomach that, I found Plum juice very helpful and delicious), and eating smaller portions more often may reduce your symptoms. If you are not pregnant yet it would be helpful to start implementing these changes in your diet and exercise now in order to go into your pregnancy with a well functioning digestive system.
7. Breast feeding may be natural, but can also be very painful or difficult.
First things first, don’t dare miss the breast feeding class offered at your local hospital or through your healthcare provider. My husband and I learned so much during this class that we would have otherwise not known. However, even being as prepared as I could have by reading and attending an evening course on breast feeding, I was not even aware of or ready to face the pain that was to come. Not long after my son was born I realized nursing was not going to be a walk in the park. By the second or third day I was in so much pain I could hardly put him to my breast without crying in agony for the first 10-30 seconds. The lactation consultants were sure I was allowing him to latch wrong and that this was the reason for my pain. But, after having nursed three children now, all until they were one year old, I know the latching was not the problem. With each child it took nearly 8 weeks of nursing until I could finally feed my hungry little ones with no pain during the first 10-30 seconds of each feeding. I did find that using gel nursing pads would bring relief after the feedings as well as using a lot of Lansinoh (a nursing cream). In my case, my children were being fed and gaining weight, but I know many moms who could not get their babies to latch on or they were not getting enough milk. In either case, if you are not completely determined to continue breast feeding for a certain period of time, you may give up before you had planned. Just be prepared if you do experience problems with this natural process.
8. Sleeping (or non-sleeping) issues need to be decided on before the baby arrives.
How did the phrase “sleeping like a baby” become a common phrase? Someone without a newborn in their home must have coined it. Our first son didn’t sleep through the night until he was 9 months old, our daughter was closer to 13 months. After our third slept through the night at only 2 months, I was convinced that experience (and an answered prayer) helped significantly. If you are planning on your first child, though, experience is not an option, so the next best thing is reading and seeking advice from those who have experience. There are many great resources and many different methods on how to help your baby learn healthy sleep habits. Some of the more popular ones are Babywise by Gary Ezzo, The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley and Helpint Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Joanne Cuthbertson. It would be extremely beneficial to familiarize yourself with several methods you feel comfortable with because every family and baby is different and each may thrive on a different method. The main thing is to be determined that you will do your best to implement a plan to help train your baby into healthy sleep habits. As the baby gets older and starts to form routines, it is much harder to change them. Try out different options to see which method works for your family and then stick to it! Do it early before your child is trained in a routine that is disruptive to your family and unhealthy for them.
9. Postpartum depression happens to even the most stable and upbeat women.
I never thought I would suffer from postpartum depression or ‘the baby blues’ because I have always been very emotionally stable and generally upbeat. However, postpartum depression has nothing to do with mental health before a pregnancy, but the changes that occur during and after pregnancy. I was fortunate to only experience this once, with my second child, and it was very mild. Many women experience more severe postpartum depression as long as one year after delivery. The causes of the baby blues include a dramatic drop in estrogen and progesterone as well as other hormones that are produced by the thyroid gland. Changes in blood volume, blood pressure, immune system and metabolism can also cause mood swings (www.mayoclinic.com). Emotional factors such as sleep deprivation (see point 8 🙂 ) and being overwhelmed with caring for a newborn can also contribute to this depression. If you suspect postpartum depression is affecting your ability to function, let someone know immediately and ask your doctor for help. There is nothing to be ashamed of, and likely with help it will quickly pass!
10. Hair Loss is a delayed side effect of childbirth.
About three months after delivering my son, I started loosing chunks of hair and having small bald spots near the front of my forehead. I was scared to death! What was happening? Did I have the early signs of a terrible illness? Turns out it is completely normal. I would really have liked to know that before I was panicing in the shower as clumps of hair clogged the drain. According to babycenter.com, once again hormones are to blame for this strange phenomenon. Increased levels of estrogen prolong the growth stage of hair causing more hair to stay put on your head while pregnant. When you aren’t pregnant you loose about 100 strands of hair a day, but during pregnancy those hairs stay around longer. After childbirth, your estrogen levels fall and more hair follicles shed in a shorter period of time until your hair finally returns to its normal thickness about 12 months after delivery.
Was any of this new or insightful for you? I would love to hear your feedback!