Real Pregnancy: 5 Lesser Known Truths

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There are so many birth and parenting books out there that it seems silly to imagine that anything about pregnancy is "lesser known" at this point, but alas, it's true.  Trends change, research is updated, and now it's you who are looking!  Here are some things about pregnancy that you may not have known, and could be helpful!

1. Swelling happens for all sorts of reasons - some harmful, and some not.  

Swelling, or edema, can be one sign that you are pre-eclamptic, which is a severe condition that needs attention from your medical provider.  There are other symptoms as well, like high blood pressure, and protein in your urine, but those are hard to know on your own.  Swelling is then an indication that something might be up.  

But swelling is normal in pregnancy and can happen from diet, exertion, and from the fact that your body is literally filled with more blood and fluid when pregnant.  

Some ways to find relief is to:

  • use cold compresses on the swollen area

  • use compression garments, for feet and wrists

  • elevate the swollen area and rest

  • drink more water

2.  Provider Appointments

If you were like me, when you found out you were pregnant, you didn't know what to do next.  So I called my mom.  And then I called my doctor to schedule an appointment.  At this appointment, you will be asked about the dates of your last menstrual cycle, and you may have a transvaginal ultrasound to confirm the age of the baby.  From there with a normal pregnancy, you will have appointments every month up until your 28th week, twice a month until 36 weeks, and then they will happen weekly until you deliver.

In addition to these appointments, there will be other appointments for routine ultrasound near 20 weeks, and a glucose test between 24-28 weeks.  

There are a lot of appointments!  Usually, the time you have with your provider is 15-20 minutes, and it can feel like a whirlwind.  However, prenatal appointments are your opportunity to learn about your provider's standard practices, discuss your birth preferences, and have any questions addressed.  Writing down your concerns before your meeting can help ensure you are getting all the information you need to feel prepared going into labor. 

3. Dressing Your Pregnant Body

Pregnancy trends have fluctuated dramatically from loose-fitting gowns to closely cut stretch everything.  There is no wrong way to dress.  Some items may seem more practical, but practical may not be your style.  Do you! Regardless of when you have your baby, you will be moving through 9 months of weather, and each comes with its pros and cons: 

Pro: Mild temperatures and light layers
Con: Wild fluctuation possible as spring storms roll through and you may be caught unawares

Pro: No need for bulky jackets and extra garments
Con: Sweat, Swelling, and Possible Sunburns (Your pregnant skin is more sensitive!) 

Pro: Back to light layers and the most fashion-forward of the pregnancy seasons (as is the case for all fashion)
Con: The beginning of carrying more stuff to be equipped for cold spells

Pro: Many pregnant people appreciate the colder weather because they feel hot most of their pregnancy
Con: Finding an outer layer that fits over your bump, watching out for ice on the ground

4. A new relationship with your bladder

There are so many jokes about pregnant people needing to pee all the time, that it is probably one part of pregnancy you knew was coming.  But the reality of it is something hard to plan for until you have experienced it.  

The reason you are running to the restroom more often is two fold - you need to drink more liquid during pregnancy, and your bladder is being compressed by your growing baby (and uterus.)  There simply is not as much room for your bladder to fill up.  

And when you can take the opportunity to void your bladder's contents, there is a new struggle as you may not be able to empty it completely.  The same reason your bladder can't fill as full is also pressing down on your urethra.  So when you are there, take a deep breath, and try to relax to loosen the muscles in your pelvic floor fully. 

5. The Stuff

When you become pregnant, you unknowingly have become the target market of a whole new industry.  The adds in your Facebook feed will change.  The adds on your browser will do the same.  

Many gadgets and products can be handy, and you get to choose if you want them or not.  Having an awareness that you are in a very short, and very impressional part of the retail market may help you find tools that will help you solve a problem (sleeping unwell, swelling, or supporting your back), instead of collecting the newest craze.  Go to town if you want to, or don't.  It's totally up to you!