It may have been close to 6 years since I was last pregnant but I can still remember it like it was yesterday. Whilst it's true what they say about forgetting the intensity of labour, I can vividly remember both of my pregnancies and how different they were from one another.
With Meg it took an absolute age before I had anything even close to a bump although I felt those first butterfly ticklings a lot earlier than my midwife told me to look out for them and Eli was just all bump from the word go. I am still surprised when I look at photos of myself pregnant with him; my bump was so big and so low I don't know how I got anything done!
Whilst I believe that pregnancy can be a very unique experience and there are no guarantees for everyone, I did want to share today five things which surprised me when I was pregnant for the first time. Remember that somethings which can (at first) seem completely strange are actually perfect normal during pregnancy but if you ever have any doubts, it's always worth checking it in with your midwife (as I well know that pregnancy can also be a worrying time for some too):-
Strange cravings are one of those things you hear talked about all the time in connection with pregnancy and you will find all kinds of women want to share their random stories about the things they wanted to (and sometimes did) consume. I'm sure I'm not alone in that I didn't have a single strange craving, or a craving for anything at all really (unless you count the one time I sent James out in the evening to hunt down a tuna Subway sandwich for me...). As I understand it, the craving is just your body shouting out for something it needs so if you are eating a balanced, healthy diet and taking the right vitamins and supplements then you may not get any cravings at all.
This was probably one of my favourite pregnancy symptoms; lucious thick and shiny hair. Seriously...before I got pregnant my hair was thin and a little lacklustre but during both my pregnancies it took on a life of its own and never ever looked so good. Post pregnancy it's not necessarily so great as it will begin to fall out, in some cases by the handful. This is nothing to worry about although there are options available if you are particularly concerned such as advanced tricho pigmentation treatment. In most cases however, and certainly in my own experience, my hair just returned to the way it was before I had been pregnant.
Painful Braxton Hicks
Until you have experienced actual labour it can be so hard to differentiate between Braxton Hicks and the real deal; especially when those Braxton Hicks can sometimes be quite uncomfortable. In technical terms, Braxton Hicks are a tightening of the uterus as your body begins to prepare for labour but when, and if, you get them can vary vastly between women. Mine were always quite painful and many a time we found ourselves timing them to see whether there was any pattern or regularity. Eventually they would always fade off but I have heard cases of some women having them pretty continuously.
Loss of inhibitions
Possibly the strangest thing that I found was how it quickly became second nature to have blood drawn, discuss intimate details with my midwife, have my bump measured and a whole host of others things which, until you become pregnant, seem like the weirdest things ever. This is all part and parcel of pregnancy though and you very quickly get used to it.
There is no right or wrong
I felt very strongly during my first pregnancy that I wanted my labour to go just so and I went as far as to write down on my birth plan that I didn't want an epidural, even if I asked for one! Now I look back and think how foolish I was. This is one of the main things I have carried with me and told friends who have asked me for advice when they have become pregnant: try to go into your labour with very little expectation. Every labour is different and you really have no idea how it will work out. It's fine to have wishes, such as water births or hypnotherapy but don't hold on to that so tightly that you can't accept when things need to change. My second labour went completely differently and I think it had a lot to do with my more relaxed attitude.
What advice would you offer to any first time pregnant women? I'd love to know!
*This is a collaborative post