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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Life :: 6 Things That Surprised Me About Pregnancy and Childbirth

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Life is full of surprises, and so is creating a life. As you've read, a lot of what I heard when I first found out I was pregnant wasn't very helpful. I also don't have any friends in LA who have kids, and even though B's mom GG has plenty of tips, it's been 25 years since her son was born. I didn't read any baby books (until recently) because I like to learn as I go, and that's exactly what ended up happening. So, here are 6 more things I've learned along the way that I wanted to share with you!

1) Your hair seems thicker, not longer. I'd always heard mythical legends of the long, luxurious locks that pregnant women would get. I was slightly disappointed when my thick Italian mane became bigger than ever, and even tougher to brush. According to babycenter.com, "you're not actually growing more hair (and the strands themselves aren't any thicker) -- you're just losing it more slowly than you usually do." Damn. For ladies with thin or fine hair, though, this is probably a pro. Also, "your facial and body hair may grow faster when you're pregnant, possibly because of an increase in hormones called androgens." Did I mention that I'm Italian? Needless to say, deep conditioners and ceramic tweezers are my BFFs.

2) You might get stretch marks in weird places. This is another point that may seem vain, but let's be honest -- a lot of changes can happen to your appearance while pregnant. I've mentioned before that I've been using cocoa butter lotion and oil from neck to knees since the week I found out I was with child, but I still managed to get stretch marks on my butt and thighs. I was moreso expecting them on my boobs and belly, but I ain't complaining; the thicker the better, I say! It turns out that these lovely little lines are hereditary -- confirmed by my mother, my Lamaze instructor, and many articles. I still swear by my Palmer's, though, especially since my skin has been dry and itchy. If anything, it makes me feel better and smell nicer. What could be wrong with that?

3) The average length of labor is higher than the movies make it seem. Up until my Lamaze classes began, the only things I knew about childbirth came from talking to my parents, reading birth stories on blogs, and watching movies like Knocked Up and What to Expect When You're Expecting. My mom was in labor with me for 24 hours, and that sounded super long to me. I was surprised when our instructor informed us that the average length is 14-26 hours for a woman's first pregnancy nowadays. But according to babycenter.com it can take 10-20 hours, and pregnancyandbaby.com says around 16 hours. Basically, you just don't know (which is why I've said birth plans are useless). The thing is, there are 3 stages of labor, and during the first stage you can barely feel your contractions -- you may not even know you're in labor yet. I think that's why it's probably difficult to gauge.

4) Speaking of which, the movies stressed me out more than the real thing. It might be too soon to say this seeing as I haven't experienced the real thing myself yet, but I've watched it -- a few times now. To be honest, I was really nervous to see videos of real births. I'm a total wuss when it comes to blood and guts (even though Nip/Tuck and Dexter were my two favorite TV shows of the past 10 years, but I digress). I wasn't surprised by the yuck factor, but what did surprise me was how calm the mothers were. They went through labor without an epidural, and you could tell they were in pain, but they all focused on breathing and didn't flip out all screaming and swearing like I thought. Honestly, the birth scenes at the end of the aforementioned movies were more stressful for me to watch than the actual births, even though they didn't show anything. But that's Hollywood for ya!

5) For the first two weeks, your baby will be constantly eating and pooping. This can be safely assumed, but my poor naive self thought that babies ate maybe one or two times more than an adult, and pooped every time they ate. Nope. They need to eat every two hours, and get their diapers changed about 10 times a day. You're probably thinking, well duh, their stomachs are smaller. But that's why I figured they didn't need to eat as much. I was wrong! (If you use formula, you're still feeding almost as often, taking away maybe one or two bottles.) Again, this was learned in Lamaze, as was my next point...

6) For the first six weeks, you will be bleeding. I'm not sure what it's like after you have a C-section, but after a vaginal birth, I assumed the Red Sea would be back for a few days as you recover. Actually, it ends up flowing for about six weeks. Remember how awesome it was to not have a period for nine months? I think this is to make up for that. I'm a little concerned about my iron level, but maybe that's why they suggest continuing to take prenatal vitamins. I'm glad I found out in advance!

PS: Here are some essentials that have gotten me through these first 8 months of pregnancy!


*Disclaimer: Every post on this blog (minus those by guests) are based on my personal experience, opinion and point of view. Your journey through pregnancy and parenting might be different, which doesn't make either of us wrong. Thank you for reading!
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