7 things I wish I knew about the first time I was pregnant (and one I wish I didn’t)

IMG_4788As I head into the end of this pregnancy, I’ve been thinking about the things I wish I’d known about the first time around. I can’t really call myself any kind of expert on being pregnant, but I’ve done it three times now and I’ve learned about so many tips and tricks from many wise women along the way.  Here are a couple of things I wish I had known about from the beginning that make pregnancy easier for me (or at least less uncomfortable).

  1. Ditch the saltines. Ok, so maybe I don’t even follow this one all the time when I’m feeling sick.  But during my second pregnancy, my midwife told me to combat morning sickness, I really should try to avoid just eating so many carbs (but… but… carbs!) and try to eat protein when I’m feeling nauseous. And the annoying thing is that she was totally right.  I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it cured me of morning/afternoon/evening sickness, but I really did feel better when I snacked on protein instead of crackers (or cold pizza. or donuts. or mall pretzels.)
  2. Lemongrass oil for Restless Leg Syndrome Who knew?  Apparently the awesome midwife I’ve been seeing with this pregnancy.  She suggested giving it a try after I complained about that tingly, uncomfortable feeling in my legs that was making it hard to fall asleep.  I dilute a couple drops in a carrier oil and rub it on my legs before bed and it seems to really help take the edge off.  I’m no essential oil expert, so don’t sue me or anything if it doesn’t work for you (you should consult and expert), but it worked for me.
  3. Epsom Salt Baths and Arnica for Aches and Pains Dude. Dude. Dude.  Epsom baths were a total game changer for me.  Towards the end of pregnancy I get so achey all over and really the only thing that can make me feel better is getting in a bath with Epsom salts.  As a bonus, the magnesium that you absorb through your skin can help with those pesky leg cramps that are so common in pregnancy.  And if a specific spot (i.e. my back, my neck or shoulders) are getting achey halfway through the day, rubbing a little arnica on the area helps immensely.IMG_4704(Why yes, that is Joey lovingly caressing my baby belly while Grace punches it.  It sums up so much, so perfectly, I think.)
  4. Chiropractic Care I put off going to see a chiropractor for a long time because I thought it was too expensive and looked at it like a luxury.  But after the first time I got adjusted when I was pregnant I changed my tune and was all, “Take all my money!” and “Can I just live in your office?” Not only did it help my aching back, but it eased the migraines that I often get and I’m convinced that it made my second labor a lot easier because I was so well-adjusted.  Another bonus is that if you find a chiro who is familiar with the Webster technique, they can help you get baby into a good position if they are breech or in a sub-optimal position. Chiropractors are my spirit animal.
  5. Papaya Enzyme Chewables for Heartburn I always get pretty nasty heartburn during pregnancy right from the get-go.  The first time I munched on Tums all. the. time.  But they didn’t help a ton, and I wasn’t crazy about all the sugar and food coloring I was consuming. The second time around someone told me about these Papaya enzyme chews and they were a game changer.  They actually worked and they don’t have the yucky stuff I objected to in the Tums.  And they taste pretty good!
  6. Witch hazel Men and children, cover your ears.  Ladies, if you’ve been pregnant, you know there’s just a lot going on down there, both before and after you give birth.  Whatever it is, just put some witch hazel on it. It doesn’t matter what.  Just put witch hazel on it.  You’re welcome.
  7. A Doula  Man, how I wish I’d have had a doula the first time around, I think it would have saved me a whole lot of grief.  I honestly didn’t even consider having one, because it was expensive (I’m SO cheap, y’all), and I kind of thought that doulas were only for hippies who didn’t want drugs. (Which I totally now am, probably as one of the side effects of my terrible first birth experience. Irony.) My experience with my second birth was a thousand times better and I think having a doula was a MAJOR part of that.  Seriously. Get one. If you’re in the Chicago area, look no further- Lindsey is the best. If you’re not, check out doulamatch.net so you can find someone in your area.

Ok, are you ready for the one thing I wish I hadn’t known about my first pregnancy?  This book.  It’s the worst.  It will tell you literally every. possible. thing. that can go wrong in pregnancy with both you and your baby and scare the crud out of you.  If you want the week-by-week of how your babe is growing and all the stuff you really should know, there are plenty of better books about that- or better yet, phone apps.  And if you really want to get excited about giving birth, I recommend reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. It’s encouraging and helpful, and you get to laugh at all the crazy hippie anecdotes along the way.  So worth a read. IMG_5269

So, what things did you discover on your second, third, fourth pregnancies that you wish you’d known about earlier?  What did I miss?  What do I need to know about? Hit me with your best stuff!


*Linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum because she rocks and it’s Friday.  Go check it out and see what everyone else is up to!*


21 thoughts on “7 things I wish I knew about the first time I was pregnant (and one I wish I didn’t)

  1. So behind the anti-What to Expect sentiment!
    The whole book felt like a giant fear-mongering thing. TONS of stuff that had NOTHING relevant to my pregnancy.

    And super second to the doula! My husband wasn’t converted to the idea until during our last birth. Then he was convinced they were the most amazing people ever.

    1. My husband was the same- he was very skeptical, but afterwards he was thanking me for sticking to my guns about hiring one. She was a lifesaver- for both of us!

    1. Ooooh, great tip! So few people think about their health postpartum- we’re all focused on being healthy while pregnant, understandably, that I think a lot of us don’t take the best care of ourselves afterwards, which is just as important, especially for exhausted, nursing mamas! Thanks for the recommendation!

    1. Now that I think about it, those are basically my lifesavers ALL the time, not just while pregnant. Oh, and obviously… coconut oil. LOL.

  2. To defend “What to Expect…”, it answers a lot of questions, it deals with many things in easy to understand terms, and offers good resources for many situations. It was the firs t pregnancy book that I found that seemed sensible to me. I’ve had a copy for over 20 years, and in my 20 years of having kids consulted it a lot. Twenty years ago, there weren’t all those apps – and many current books have adapted the format of what to expect. So I think the value you will find in any pregnancy book with depend on your personal mindset ( I’m a linear, science-y kind of person – some of the other popular pregnancy books are way too crunchy or perky for me).

    In my first pregnancy, I wish I had known to ask more questions – esp in the hospital. My husband and I got better at advocating for me and the baby as we went along.

    1. I can understand that, and for some it can obviously be very useful. Although I still think it’s super overwhelming for first time moms, especially- I actually think that the Mayo Clinic pregnancy book offers good info if you’re more on the mainstream medical care side of the spectrum without being so overwhelming. Just my opinion, though… I know that “What to Expect” has been a mainstay for new moms for a long time! And YES to asking lots of questions… it’s good to be “go with the flow” but so many women don’t realize that they have the right to ask questions about what’s going on and the right to make decisions based on good info. I sure wish I had asked more questions the first time around, too- great point!

    1. You’re so sweet! Most of these picks are from a couple months ago… I’m a “bit” bigger now. LOL.

  3. Great list! I’ve never heard that about lemongrass so I definitely need to note it for the possible future (or remind me when I start whining, k?). Yes, doulas make a huge difference…not that I’m biased 😉 I’m glad your second birth was so much better.

  4. Great tips, Christina! Definitely agree with you about the witch hazel ☺️ but didn’t know about the lemongrass oil. I get really bad restless leg.
    As far as tip sharing goes…Jolly Ranchers for morning sickness but those might be lacking in protein. Oh and Trader Joe’s Ginger Mints!
    Good luck in your last few weeks!

    1. Ugh, RLS is one of those things that you’re like, “Doesn’t sound that bad!” until you get it. LOL. I’ve heard jolly ranchers are good- I’ve heard starbursts, too! And I bought some of those ginger mints at Trader Joes, but my kids kept stealing them. Good luck to you, too! Can’t wait to see pics of the new little nugget!

    2. I second the (sour) jolly ranchers! My second pregnancy they kept the nausea at bay until I could get some protein food in. Of course, then I had FIVE cavities at my next dentist appointment…

      I wish I had known about comfortable maternity dresses instead of droopy maternity jeans. And about how being really careful not to overeat or lift anything in third trimester would help with heartburn and back pain, respectively.

  5. Love the bump shot! I’ve been following you on instagram but I just found your blog through Kelly’s link up. I wish I had known about the chewables for heartburn! I only had one night of really bad heartburn but oh man it was awful. I basically pulled an all-nighter drinking cup after cup of hot water steeped with ginger because lying down was unbearable. And yes to the doula! My husband definitely needed help knowing how to help me best during labor and among other things, she was great for that!

    I’ve only been through pregnancy once, but I loved Mary Helen Bower’s Ballet Baby workout series. Workout dvds are the easiest way for me to get exercise in and it was the only thing that got me out of my bloated funk. Also, drinking homemade bone broth to help with stretchmarks because of the collagen in the bones. Neither my maternal grandmother or my mother got stretch marks (both had four pregnancies and both had twins) and they drank bone broth daily (not for the stretchmark protection but just because that’s what Slovaks do). I’m sure genetics played a part but I like to think that’s why. I did get stretchmarks and I only drank bone broth every now and then and didn’t limit my sugar/caffeine intake too much so next time I’ll put my theory to the test.

    1. Ugh, isn’t heartburn the worst?! In the beginning I do ok if I remember to stay away from certain foods and don’t eat within a few hours of laying down, but at the end, even a glass of water before bed sets it off. Brutal! So interesting you say that about bone broth… I hadn’t thought about it! I make bone broth a lot and use it when I cook and make soups mostly, but I didn’t think about it helping with stretch marks! But I’m sure it would because it’s so good for your skin in general! I’m glad you mentioned it!

  6. Great quick takes, thanks for sharing your tips!!
    Yes yes to the protein instead of carbs. The only thing that sounds good at the beginning is super bland food, so it leads me to a lot of carbs. But I find I feel much better with more substantial food.

    Also, when I feel sick all the time, but I am getting enough sleep, I find staying in bed dosent help me. If I try to work on a project and interact with others I normal can distract myself and feel a tad better.

    1. I have yet to find a ton of protein options that are as appealing as carbs when I’m feeling sick, but I DO feel better when I force myself to eat it. Mostly kind bars, cheese sticks, and sometimes hummus or something. And totally- laying in bed just makes me focus on it- it’s almost always better with distractions! Thanks for stopping by!

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