8 Things I Wish I'd Known About Being Pregnant

Photo by JGI/Jamie Grill
Key facts to know when expecting your first child.

Motherhood. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the whole thing, along with the fact that I have two children (2 and 1-year-old boys). When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I did the best thing I know how to do: study. I read every book on what to expect, all the things moms-to-be should do before baby comes, and everything in between. I figured that stuffing my mind with as much "mommy knowledge" as possible would somehow make me prepared. Well, let's just say I could've saved a ton of money and sleepless nights. If I could travel back in time to speak to myself while pregnant, here's what I would say.

Put the Books Down. Seriously, chillax. While it's great to stay up to date on general knowledge, there's no point of beating yourself up over things you didn't memorize or learn. In fact, focusing so much on what you still need to learn can actually rob you from the moment, from the fact that you're going to be a mom. It's okay to discover things on your own.

Stop Worrying. Am I going to be a good mother? Will I mess up my kid's life? Should I have eaten that? It's so easy to think about all the "what ifs" and ways you're going to fail as a parent. Don't. You will literally make yourself sick and add unnecessary stress. Just try your best to soak in the present, and allow tomorrow to take care of itself. Spoiler alert: With two tots at home, I still don't have it all figured out. But guess what? They're alive and happy. (You'll survive.)

Maternity Clothes Are Okay. Real talk: It's not uncommon for some expectant mothers to puff out their feathers should they not need maternity clothes. (It will likely become a series of Facebook statuses over the course of the pregnancy that can get super annoying.) So many women, who loved the fact that they didn't need maternity clothes, told me to skip buying anything "big." I would love to tell my former self that it's okay. You aren't a loser for purchasing maternity clothes, you're freaking pregnant -- that's what they're there for! Even if you're still the same size, there's a good chance that baby bump will push on your pre-baby clothes that will make you replace the whole thing sooner than later anyway.

Stay Active, it Pays Off. While I'm not a personal trainer, I know my way around the free weights and machines at the gym and can remember feeling a bit timid about working out so much while pregnant. With my doctor's blessing, I continued to run, lift, take Zumba classes, and even box (no contact), in moderation, of course. I wish I could tell my former expectant self how much it pays off. Your joints aren't achy, you're more energized (as much as a pregnant lady can be), and it makes a TON of difference during labor. (I worked out during both of my pregnancies and was fortunate to have fast labors and natural deliveries.) No matter how much you want to kick your feet up and eat around the clock, keep on trucking. You can have your cake (and eat it too) at times, but stay active.

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It's Okay to Slow Down, You're Pregnant. Yeah, staying active is great, but that doesn't mean you operate on Energizer Bunny mode 24/7. Nesting is real; you're going to want to be a handyman, a decorator, a gardener, and an organizer all at the same time. I laugh at all the things I tried to do -- including move a couch -- while I was expecting. I wish I slowed down a bit and really took in some extra time to myself. Once baby comes, there is no slowing down.

Don't Let The Horror Stories of Other Moms Freak You Out. Let me tell you something (or my former self): Your journey is and will always be unique to you. That doesn't mean there won't be any similarities, but still try to block out the background noise of those who tell you any and everything that will go wrong. "Labor will feel like straight torture." "Being pregnant is so horrible." As much as women want to try to help, don't get worked up over someone else's pregnancy. There's no guarantee you'll experience the same thing -- plus, you don't need that stress.

Don't Be Afraid of Labor and Delivery. This one might sound super weird, but is very true. When I was getting closer to my first "D-Day," I had no idea what to expect (except for pain, of course). I wanted to try and have a natural childbirth and found myself watching endless vagine deliveries on YouTube, war movies, and having pep talks with myself in the mirror. You know what I should've been doing so close to giving birth? Resting. No matter how much labor and delivery seems terrifying, don't let the fear of it consume you. The pain of birth is inevitable, but doesn't last forever. You will survive. And once you're able to hold your baby in your arms, all of the fighting and screaming you did starts to fade into the background.

Listen to Your Body. Oh man, this one is a biggie. I truly can't complain about my experience giving birth twice. Both were natural (something I wanted, but not required), and didn't take a ton of time. (I labored for seven hours with my first son, and a little under three with my second.) That didn't mean that I sometimes felt rushed in the delivery room. Unless there's a medical situation happening (there wasn't in my case), trust your body. You know how we have that female intuition thing? Yeah, it comes on during labor and delivery, too. Listen to your body, so you can work with it instead of against it.

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Filed under: Lifestyle, Parenting