Girls grow up thinking that pregnancy is going to be one of the biggest highpoints in their lives. The reality, however, can be quite different. Weird body changes. One Google search after another. Yes, bringing a baby into this world is really darn cool, but the experience is full of surprises too.
Earlier this month, Reddit user u/BonkBoi_TacoFace submitted a question to r/AskReddit: "Pregnant women of Reddit, what is something you wish you knew before you got pregnant?" And their call was heard. Women immediately started sending in their answers, and as of today, the post has over 14,700 comments, many of which provide eye-opening insights into gestation.
Bored Panda also spoke with Vicki Broadbent, a writer, director, broadcaster, and founder of the parenting blog Honest Mum, to learn more about pregnancy and the challenges that come with it.
"The pressures on pregnant women and mothers is utterly palpable so please be kind to yourself," Broadbent, who also shares parenting advice and candid family moments on her Instagram account, said.
Continue scrolling and check out the full interview in between the entries!
Image credits: Vicki Broadbent / Honest Mum
Nobody talks enough about how difficult breastfeeding is. You’re told it’s the “best” for the baby but then people assume it’s always a choice when it doesn’t work out. It’s not as if baby or mother automatically know how to latch and it can cause so much stress, which affects milk supply as well. There are physiological things with baby and mom that can make it difficult... and it can be extremely painful. I bled and my first even gnawed off a piece of my nipple. It was more traumatic than childbirth for me but I felt guilty about quitting. Advice to my younger self or new moms: breast is not best, FED is best. Don’t beat yourself up and switch to formula if breastfeeding is too difficult.
"I'd personally hoped for the best but planned for the worst with my pregnancies, as I needed an emergency section with my first baby which was a world apart from the water birth I'd dreamed of," the author of The Working Mom: Your Guide to Surviving and Thriving at Work and at Home told Bored Panda.
"Now that I practice meditation, I know I would have leaned on that throughout my pregnancies and beyond to help center and soothe me. Free apps such as Insight Timer are perfect as they have over 80,000 free meditation exercises available, some only a few minutes long."
That no matter how much you planned and wanted your baby, postpartum depression can happen to you and it is very, very real.
It is not something you can control. Hormones are liars. Partners of new moms, please pay close attention. Get help. Do not try to tough it out.
A quick Google search would reveal there's plenty of information on pregnancy. Maybe too much. Not to some media 'filters', set in place to make this content appealing to a wider audience. Navigating such mazes can become really tricky. "I think parents and parents-to-be are discussing pregnancy more candidly than ever now thanks to social media but there are still barriers to information and education depending on where you live in the world and how much access you have to medical professionals," Broadbent said.
You do not have to enjoy EVERY minute of parenthood. It's ok to have bad days and days when you think your kids are jerks. You're not f**king this up - it's just THAT hard.
The Honest Mum, for example, had suffered from a pregnancy liver condition called ICP in 2010 which some studies have shown can result in stillbirth, and struggled to find enough information about it at the time. "Research was limited and I received opposing information from health professionals. Very few were openly discussing PND and birth trauma a decade ago, (I suffered from the latter) either in parenting groups or online (for fear of failure as a parent and perhaps fear their baby might be taken from them)."
Miscarriage is ridiculously common.
I say this as someone currently carrying a dead baby waiting for the NHS to give me a surgical removal.
Having a baby CAN destroy your body for many women. Forget the “women have been doing this for generations” bulls**t, which I think can dismiss the very real toll that pregnancy/childbirth can have on a body. Many women suffer long term incontinence after birth, much of the time this can be improved with therapy but maybe never fully healed—and some women it never heals for. Your stomach will never look the same. I had a small waist and flat stomach before kids and now I have an unbelievable fat sack on my stomach and so many deep red stretch marks that haven’t faded. I gained a lot of weight despite not eating much due to bad food aversions. I’m leaking poop after giving birth due to a third degree tear and pelvic floor issues, and I’m told that there’s a high chance that future pregnancies and births will only exacerbate my issue, especially if it doesn’t improve soon. And I’m a first time mom and only 27!! WTF!! I don’t hate my new baby, but I certainly don’t know if I would say it’s “worth it,” considering my body feels ravaged and will never be the same. I basically lost 9 months of my life due to being very sick most of my pregnancy, and now will lose many more months due to a difficult recovery.
Broadbent is happy that when blogging and social media really exploded, many writers such as herself found the courage to share their own experiences. "My piece on birth trauma has helped many women and many other similar pieces online are helping parents to feel less alone, and vitally able to reach the help they need to heal," she said.
Miscarriages are not spoken about enough. No-one tells you how much it's going to hurt nor how long your hormones will take ages to go back to 'normal' and how much it affects your mental health.
One study confirmed that pregnant women and those with young children place a high value on the information and support they receive from using online sources and apps. "They are accustomed to ready and immediate access to information using digital technologies and want better access to that offered by professionals," professor Deborah Lupton, the author of the research, concluded, adding that recognizing and finding ways to meet these needs should be included in planning healthcare provision and support for soon-to-be-parents.
You stop being able to sleep way before the baby gets here.
Everyone loves to tell me to 'sleep now while I can' but pregnancy leads to unexplained insomnia and I’m a total wreck already.
No one ever told me about the 'third delivery,' aka your first poop.
The first delivery is the baby, second is the placenta, and the third is the poop. I was struggling for so long to poop.
But this topic is relevant nowadays too. "Being pregnant during this crisis, however, has meant women are experiencing scans, losses, labor, and early parenthood in scenarios they would never have imagined. It has been an isolating, difficult time for most," Broadbent said.
So what to do? Broadbent suggests that parents trust their gut. According to her, no one knows a mother's body or her baby as well as she does, so if you have any concerns, act on those. "I've never been wrong about any cause for concern with my own kids, now aged 8 and 11. I feel I have a special connection/maternal superpower when it comes to my children and many other mums say the same," she explained.
"I've been known to wake from a deep sleep with the urge to check on my sleeping child in the other room, only to discover he is unwell or has a fever. Learn to trust yourself."
Lochia, it’s basically the biggest “period” ever as your body expels the leftovers from carrying a baby, and it can go on for weeks. I will never forget being told that I might pass clots as big as a tennis ball and that was normal. So gross.
Also, babies in the womb can have hiccups. Hiccups are weird enough when they’re your own, it’s bizarre to feel someone else’s.
For some people, labor doesn't start with water breaking and 30 minutes later there's a baby. My water broke and 29 hours later the baby decided to show up.
That everyone has an opinion on what you do whilst pregnant and how you want to raise your child.
You can mess with them in utero.
When I was close to the end of both of my pregnancies one of my favorite things to do was, when he would push up against my rib cage I would pound back a glass of ice water or eat a bowl of ice cream and as soon as that coldness hit my stomach he would back down. Also, my first liked to push his butt up against the front wall of my stomach pretty hard, so that there was a tiny little bump that you couldn't see but I could feel, so I could sort of grab it and shake it around a little bit.
Baby kicks don’t feel like butterflies. They feel like something crawled across your skin quickly but from the inside.
How hard it can be to get and stay pregnant. Everyone imagines it will happen easily and quickly and, unfortunately, it's not the case for so many women.
And for women who've dealt with infertility or loss, how much anxiety you'll have throughout the pregnancy.
From my mom: I paralyzed her from the waist down for a few hours because I decided to take a nap on her spinal cord in the third trimester. The doctor's response was "yeah you'll be able to move again once they wake up." Pregnancy is pure body horror.
That not all gynecologists are competent. And if you have a feeling yours isn't, find a new one.
Mine was very personable, did my d&c for my miscarriage before my first born, didn't really give me any red flags until after I was pregnant again.
Long story short, he forgot (I guess?) to have me tested for gestational diabetes, and I had it. There were OBVIOUS signs that he didn't catch, that I didn't even know were signs until my new doctor told me. My son ended up having to be in NICU for 3 days after he was born because he couldn't regulate his own blood sugar.
Every doctor and nurse I talked to along the way was appalled I hadn't gotten tested. He also didn't catch that I was anemic the whole pregnancy either.
Thank God we're all healthy and happy now but looking back I should've changed doctors
Your body does not magically go back to normal once the baby is out. You have weeks of healing.
You either had your vagina rip or your stomach cut open, your boobs are still on baby mode, and you have a whole new set of problems now. Pooping will be terrifying and depression risks are higher.
If you lose 10% or more of your body weight due to nausea and vomiting, it is a BIG deal and could put you and the baby's life in danger. If your OB acts like it isn't, find another doctor!
written by a two time Hyperemesis Gravidarium survivor. Lost 42 lbs during one pregnancy and 35 with the other. And that was WITH constant zofran and IV's and a PIC line and hospital bed rest.
You’re going to need to pee ALL the time. And only a drop will come out. Then you need to pee again 15 mins later. The most annoying time is during the night when you should be sleeping, but instead you’re just getting up to pee every few hours.
That cravings aren't just food. I craved dirt, particularly beach sand. The smell of the beach was excruciating, I just wanted to shovel handfuls into my mouth. I never ate dirt or sand and the craving went away when baby was born.
A friend of a friend told me she craved freshly poured asphalt so in a way I'm glad my craving was just dirt.
Currently pregnant and due to have my first kid in about a month. Wish I’d known I would end up doing everything by myself. And I wish I’d known how difficult the 3rd trimester would be without a partner to help me. Or that the baby’s father would show up at the ninth hour with a new girlfriend demanding shared custody. I’ve always been a believer of “everything happens for a reason” but it’s getting very difficult to see the good in all of this.
Seeing a pregnant woman makes strangers:
Want to touch her and touch her belly. Which they often do without even asking.
Makes them tell their worst pregnancy and delivery stories. If they had a hard delivery, they'll tell instead the story of their friend who was even worse. It makes childbirth into a one-upmanship contest of horror stories, which is probably about the last thing any pregnant woman wants to hear, let alone hear it every time she's out in public.
Stuff stays with your body afterwards. I developed allergies after I had my second child, and my feet definitely got bigger. Hormones are no joke.
Everyone talks about pregnancy cravings.... no one tells you that the opposite can happen. During this pregnancy, my 2nd, I had aversions to most food until about 22/23 weeks. I’m 27.5 weeks now and finally starting to feel better about eating, but certainly don’t have cravings.
Pregnancy brain is REAL. It's not a joke. It's not exaggerated.
When you start forgetting, misplacing, and outright losing things, you can start feeling like you're also losing your mind.
How I'd get loads of random skin changes.
Skin tags, so many skin tags!
Moles growing into skin tags then dropping off, like WTF body
Sandpaper dry skin, which I still get from time to time, just this one patch on the back of my right hand
My facial skin changing from t-zone oily to t-zone flaky and never going back
My psoriasis on my scalp going away, this did come back but not as bad
Hair - so you stop shedding hair whilst pregnant and you get really thick lovely hair. A few weeks after birth you start to lose all that extra hair. Literally handfuls will come out in the shower and it's really freaky
Each pregnancy is different, even with the same person.
I have three kids. The first pregnancy was very typical and followed the normal timeline. The second pregnancy was awful. I was miserable and sick the entire time. The third pregnancy was easy peasy and I finally understood why some women liked being pregnant.
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