An honest discussion of the truths we should tell each other about pregnancy (that I wish I knew).
For those closest to me, you know being a mother was never top on my priority list.
It was one of those vague, “maybe one day”, goals. I’d be happy if it happened, but I’d be happy if it didn’t too.
It was somewhere on the list…but only after I helped millions of women get the health care testing they need to feel good every day of the month and bring pleasure back to the forefront of health and wellness. After disrupting the sexual health education system that leaves 1 in 2 women miserable, having pain and not desiring sex and 1 in 4 women on an antidepressant…
Maybe one day after I accomplished all of that…I would be a mom.
But the truth is…this baby chose me.
She chose me at time the world was in chaos. If you are one of my sisters that was also pregnant in a pandemic, I see you. We are and always will be connected in our shared experience of carrying a baby at a time that was so uncertain…so unclear of how we were even going to keep them safe.
At a time where we went alone and wore masks to our ultrasounds, while our partners waited, wondering in the parking lot.
We had less frequent doctor’s appointments. More time to wonder. We recorded the quick little heartbeat during our appointments to share with those that could not experience it in the moment.
We traded hugs, caring belly caresses and maternity photo shoots for drive by showers and ordering cribs online in our attempts to not leave the house.
Needless to say there were some benefits – time to slow down and rest, reassess what was important to me, no need to hide my growing belly from those that would question if I would return to work and put their needs above my own and my baby’s.
So many parts of my pregnancy have not been typical.
However, I feel there are some universal truths that I wish would have been shared with me. That I wish I knew before.
And a few that have been shared that gave me great comfort that I would like to pass onto you.
As someone who was always active, health conscious and comfortable with my body pregnancy brought up a lot of thoughts about body image.
I realized even more how much society celebrates being small, not taking up space…the exact opposite of growing a human inside you. The exact opposite of most women’s bodies. The exact thing I never had to think about before because I was never in opposition to it.
But here I was, noticing extra glances, happy to be able to hide away and not have to explain my “weight gain”.
And so many more…so many changes that we don’t talk about. And while the beauty and the love during pregnancy is unmatched, it comes with some nasty stuff too. Some stuff I wish I was better prepared for.
(By the way, I should have known I was pregnant right away because my nipples killed, my taste in music almost immediately changed and so did my vaginal discharge.)
So, here is a summary of the real. The stuff you don’t see in Instagram announcements and gender reveals…
The dark line that appears on your stomach because Melanocytes are stimulated by estrogen and progesterone and these darken the skin. I also got a lot of other spots on my arms and legs (sun exposed areas) called Chloasma
The increase in vaginal discharge during pregnancy is called leukorrhea. It is the result of increased blood flow to the vaginal tissues as well as hormonal effects on cervix. I have had several patients think they are having repeated yeast infections, however, this is a normal part of our body’s response to pregnancy! Discharge is whitish and sticky but does not irritate the vulva compared to the discharges caused by BV, Candida or Trich.
To learn more about these…read here.
They became larger, more sensitive, and darker. This is due to increased estrogen and progesterone that make your nipples grow. You may also begin to develop Montgomery Tubercles in the areola. These small, painless bumps have antiseptic and lubricating qualities, and help support breastfeeding.
These totally normally changes that we hide, don’t discuss and suffer in silence thinking something is wrong with us
Back and Foot Pain
This started far earlier on that I thought. Again, my baby was the size of a grape, how could my feet be hurting?
The answer, During pregnancy, your body makes a hormone called relaxin that allows ligaments in the pelvic area to relax and the joints to become looser in preparation for the birth process.
So, if you’re are reading this and your partner is pregnant, give her a foot rub!
The frequency at which I had to pee increased almost immediately. For many women this can be one of the first signs of pregnancy I thought this was in my head until I realized frequent urination is one of the most common early symptoms of pregnancy. Blame this new excessive urination on the pregnancy hormone hCG, which increases the blood flow to your pelvic area. (But silver lining, that blood flow can be good for increased sexual pleasure during pregnancy).
Also, my midwife explained that there is hope, because this can reverse in the second trimester when your uterus moves into your abdomen.
I was fortunate to not have morning sickness, although up to 80% of women do. I was taking lots of B vitamins before my pregnancy and a common anti-nausea medication given in pregnancy (Diclectin) is made of a combination of an antihistamine and B6. But smells however…they turned my stomach...Another thing you can blame on the increased estrogen you are producing!
Lucky me to have my hormonal acne return with my increase in hormone levels! Stay tuned for another blog on treating acne in pregnancy!
Mental Emotional Changes:
I can probably never be sure which of my new ride on the emotional rollercoaster was pandemic related or attributed to pregnancy hormonal changes – or some sick combination of both. But I felt much more anxious, tearful and worried. I was scared to go out of the house because there was a pandemic and I did not know if getting COVID would pass through the placenta to my baby. We did not have the data yet.
It was so overwhelming. I was learning to accept the facts - I was pregnant, committing to being a kick ass mother, re-evaluating my plan for my life and my business…and holy shit I really am going to be a mother and I really know nothing about how to do that.
My mood shifted a lot more frequently, kind of like I was PMSing, more sensitive the few days before my period, but all the time
This is what I learned. First and foremost – talk about it. Share with your girlfriends, check in with your pregnant ones, don’t forget what it felt like those first few months when your body was changing, and your mind was running wild. The best way I could find to approach this is to take care of yourself!! Even when you are pregnant, you still need to practice putting yourself first and letting pleasure into your life.
Ways my partner and I found to help support me that you can share with your own partners:
Your body and your mind is going to change. But please learn from me, these changes are normal. Feeling alone is normal – but it doesn’t have to be. We can share in our struggles, support each other during our ups and downs and still experience a hell of a lot of pleasure while we’re growing humans inside of us!
Sending love and pleasure,