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September 06, 2016

Five things I wish I knew before my pregnancy

Living and learning as a first time expecting mother

Women's Health Katie's Baby
Katie_Gagnon_WishIKnew Ryan Gagnon /for PhillyVoice

With less than two weeks until her due date, Katie has learned a lot. Though she has enjoyed a beautiful, easy pregnancy there are some things she wished she knew before she was expecting.

It is hard to believe that I am less than two weeks away from my due date! As I reflect on the past 38 weeks of pregnancy as a first time expecting mother, there is very little I would change, but there are some things I wish I knew in advance. From the serious to the silly, here is my list of the five things I wish I knew before my pregnancy.

Pregnancy isn’t nine months, it’s ten!

Full term pregnancy is 40 weeks long, with labor and delivery usually happening between week 38 and 42. That means ten months of gestation for your baby. Why does everyone (myself previously included) think pregnancy is nine months? Who started this rumor?! Not only are expecting mothers counting down the days until we get to hold our beautiful little baby in our arms, but we also look forward to no more heartburn and back aches. While I have really enjoyed my first time expecting, nine months seems a lot more manageable than ten, especially once you are into the third trimester. This must be why many expecting mothers say they are so ready to deliver once they hit the last month.

Don’t let planning become neurosis

At the beginning of my pregnancy, I was overwhelmed by how much there was to learn. I researched about my body and its incredible ability to create human life. I read about how to care for myself and my growing baby: what to eat, how to behave, what to avoid. I looked up consumer reviews on baby products and created excel spreadsheets on things to purchase. 

By the second trimester, after I amassed some information and met a great obstetrician, I began to slow down my fever pitch planning pace. I decided to read a non-baby book. I shopped for things that weren’t baby related. I gave myself a little baby break. This does not mean that I started eating sushi and having an evening martini, just that I allowed myself to think about something other than baby for a part of each week. I prevented my desire to be prepared from becoming a neurosis and made sure to carve out some “me” time in the process.

Accept unwanted advice graciously

Part of pregnancy is receiving lots of unsolicited advice and comments. This is a pet peeve of many expecting mothers. I will never forget the random guy in the speedo at the pool, lecturing me on why I need to have a home delivery. In my head, I told him to focus more on his swimwear choice and less on my birth plan. Then there was the overweight man on the beach, saying I looked like I was ready to pop even though I still had months to go until my due date. My internal dialogue with him involved questioning if he was carrying twins in his beer gut. I wish someone had coached me to let the oddball comments slide without feeling a spike in my blood pressure. With these men and others, I swallowed my anger or hurt, smiled and said thank you. I may have wanted to snap, but I chose to be gracious. I am proud that I tempered my reactions during a highly emotional time because it was not always easy.

Don’t buy maternity clothes too soon

I was so excited to buy new clothes to fit my growing bod but I wish I waited a little longer to spend the money. When I had barely gained a pound, I started shopping for roomier yoga clothes, bigger jeans and larger pajamas. I bought some maxi dresses that I thought would last me the entire pregnancy. Many of the items I purchased early on became completely unwearable by the start of my second trimester. That clothing has not been worn since early spring and was a total waste of money. Instead of making the same mistake as I have advanced in my pregnancy, I have thoughtfully purchased a few key pieces that have carried me through my second and third trimesters and I can wear postpartum.

Enjoy the journey

During my first trimester, plagued with exhaustion and feeling fat, I could not wait for my September due date to arrive. I wanted to feel like myself again. Once I started to experience my son moving inside me however, that thinking changed. It did not matter that I was packing on the pounds, that I could not do my usual yoga practice, or that my body was experiencing some of the unpleasant side effects of pregnancy.

AMY WRIGHT GLENN: Preparing for birth with prenatal yoga

I found myself savoring the sensation of my little boy growing in my uterus and truly enjoying the experience of becoming a mother. It may seem cliché for me to encourage first time expecting mothers to enjoy the journey. But I wish that during my first trimester, instead of counting down the days, I embraced the wonder and joy of each moment. I am grateful that my perception shifted early enough that I now reflect on my pregnancy with the awe and pride that I wish for every pregnant woman. I am so excited to meet my son, but I am relishing these last couple weeks of pregnancy.


What do you wish you knew before you became pregnant? Share with me and other first time expecting mothers in the comments section below, or Tweet me @ThePhillyVoice and @KathleenEGagnon.

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