As a Portland Birth Photographer I wanted to share somethings that I get asked a lot! What to expect when you are pregnant? While that is a hard question to answer, here is a good attempt:
The countdown is on – the final days are here! I’ve nested, prepped, packed, organized, re-organized, and been thinking and reflecting a lot. Over the last 40 weeks (and even some time before that) I received a lot of advice about being pregnant – some good, some terrible – but thought I would pay forward some of the most useful tidbits. So, here goes!
1. Find the right care provider for you. Just because you’ve been going to the same OB for the last 10 years doesn’t mean they are a good fit for you and your baby. For us, we found great midwives and a hypnobirthing coach. They have made this whole experience 10,000 times better than I ever could have imagined. So, explore your options… and don’t feel guilty about it!
2. Don’t read pregnancy books (or internet discussion boards) that cause you anxiety. Sorry, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, but you are kind of scary. And Google? You are way too quick to lead me to believe that there is something majorly wrong with the little cramp I just felt “down there.” There is such a thing as too much information, and it’s really hard to avoid but… try to stay away. If you really think something is wrong, call your care provider before trying to self-diagnose.
3. Buy a nightlight for your bathroom. During the first and third trimesters I’ve spent more time peeing in the middle of the night than I can count; the overhead light in the bathroom was too jarring and I found it hard enough to navigate my way there without stepping on the dog, any of his toys, or walking into the wall half asleep. That little beacon of light coming from the bathroom has saved me many times… best five dollars I’ve spent!
4. Go easy on the maternity clothes. I mean, maternity pants are kind of amazing and I never want to wear anything with a normal waistband again but… save some money this trimester. Pick up very few essentials that you really need (for me, it was a pair of black maternity slacks and a new bra) and wear the hell out of them until you have a better idea of how your body is changing as you go.
5. Find your support system. Find family, friends, a new mom group, La Leche League, whatever works for you! Make a point to stay engaged, ask questions, and meet new moms. Having the support as you go through pregnancy and beyond is invaluable. As one of the midwives at the birthing center said, “When you grow babies together, you form lifelong friendships.” Truth!
6. Go away – no, really! Whatever it is that will help you relax – time away with your partner, your friends, or just you… make a point to get away and enjoy it.
7. Cross major items off your to-do list. Get the nursery set, finish projects around the house, and tie up loose ends before third trimester exhaustion creeps up.
8. Take a childbirth class and learn about your rights as a patient and parent. The more you know, the better off you and your baby are during birthing and beyond. Decide what type of birth experience you want to have, learn everything you can about the procedures in place where you’re birthing (from what you can do during labor, what tools do they have available to help you, to what their procedures are for the baby after birth including tests, vaccines, etc.) and then decide if it’s a good fit for your family.
9. Sleep a lot (and write down your crazy dreams). Sleeping was one of my favorite parts of the second trimester – for me, I was still sleeping comfortably and wasn’t peeing as often as I was during the first or third trimester. And those crazy pregnancy dreams? Write them down and share them with people (if they aren’t too weird) because they are hilarious.
10. Back to those maternity clothes. It’s probably time to expand your wardrobe – see what you can borrow from friends or find second-hand; save your money to buy a really cute outfit for your shower or maternity photo shoot if you’re doing one. Other than the hand-me-downs I received, my go-to shopping spots for a few necessities (which I’ve worn to death) included the clearance racks at Macy’s, Target, and Kohl’s.
11. Start looking for a Maternity and Newborn Photographer. It’s probably time to start indulging in your glow. Your pregnant and you want the world to know! Finding a professional Maternity / Newborn Photographer is a worthy investment and requires some time and research. But don't overwhelm yourself. Call and speak with the photographer you have your eye on, and see if you click. Chemistry is very important. Also make sure he or she practices Newborn Photography safely. Make a list of who you like and don't like. Sleep on it. When you are ready, make the call! It is important to book early to ensure a smooth photo session and secure your booking.
12. Everything is harder on your body so celebrate the small victories – and ask for help. Honestly, I didn’t even feel that pregnant (other than my bout with morning sickness) until I hit the third trimester. All of a sudden everything was harder and I needed help with things… I hateasking for help. My low point came at the end of a long day at work when I found that I could not comfortably reach down to unclasp my sandals; I decided my small victory for the day was getting them on in the first place, and then sucked it up and asked my husband to reverse-Cinderella the shoes off my feet.
13. Time to BOOK that Photographer! Now that you have had some time to sleep on it, it's time to BOOK! Booking a Maternity or Newborn photographer should be done as early as possible. Many photographers offer "Belly to Baby" packages. These offer the most value because you are capturing the glow of your pregnancy, and your newborn baby all in one. Your session should take place between 30-36 weeks, so booking 2-3 months in advance should be sufficient. And your Newborn session should be done when the baby is 6-14 days old. But that's not a rule! Remember, professional photographers are an investment, and as those little tiny toes grow into huge feet, you will see that it's a worthy one!
14. Savor the time your baby is in your belly… it’s almost over! I have felt nothing but amazement every time I feel the baby move (OK, and a little bit of discomfort during those kicks and punches to the cervix) or wake up and see that my belly has grown. It’s just SO cool! As excited as I am to meet the little guy or girl, I’m a bit sad that pregnancy is almost over. Baby is safe and always with you when they’re in your belly. It’s a special time – so take every opportunity you can to soak it in.
15. Put a waterproof pad underneath your fitted sheet. Your body will continue to do things that are out of your control, and you will appreciate the waterproof pad saving your bedding if your boobs leak/you pee yourself/your water breaks at night/etc. at any given point in time from here on out. After baby comes, use it for any and all of the inevitable messes you’ll be dealing with.
16. Stock up! It’s helped me mentally prepare for a big change knowing that I have easy-to-eat-with-one-hand meals in the freezer, ready to go, and that I’ve stocked the house with necessities and recommendations from friends like:
- Post-birth goodies: chux pads, maxi pads (yes, like the ones you used in middle school), mesh underwear (the least sexy underwear you’ll ever put on, or so I hear), Preparation-H wipes (in case that happens, again)
- Baby essentials: diapers, wipes, shampoo, gentle laundry detergent, clothes
- Kitchen goods: paper towels, dish soap, napkins, dried & canned goods
- Bathroom supplies: toilet paper, shampoo, soap
- Other important stuff: bottles of wine, cheese, updated netflix queue for middle-of-the-night feedings
17. Make a wishlist – plenty of people (family and friends, near and far) will ask what they can help with. Be ready with an answer (or two). Don’t be afraid to take someone up on their offer of walking the dog, throwing in a load of laundry, or even picking up a few things for you at the store. People want to help, but sometimes don’t know what to do so… help them help you and be ready with that wishlist!
If nothing else… enjoy every minute of your pregnancy – the easy days and the hard ones. This is just the beginning of a fantastic journey so keep a journal, take pictures, and savor it.
What did I miss? I know there’s more great advice out there from moms and mom-to-bes! Leave your advice in the comments!