I have heard over and over again how pregnancies are all so different – and it is true – but there are pregnancy questions or “preparation” I wish I would’ve known about in advance. It’s only after running into certain things, that I observed that there is quite a lack of support and communication around these things that could make pregnancy and postpartum much easier.
It’s easy to feel alone or just not supported if there are things that are not going how they are “supposed to” according to society. Somehow, going through pregnancy without a mother was truly challenging beyond the emotional aspect, it was especially hard physically as I had so MANY questions and not many people to ask.
OBGYN & PEDIATRIC DOCTOR:
In the beginning, I had this awesome doctor who was all around so patient, informative, caring and funny! Because of the awesome health insurance system in America, I wasn’t able to keep him as it was not covering the hospital costs (and needless to say….it’s very expensive) My next doctor was monotone and just to the point, barely. My checkups just began to be checkups. I actually didn’t have him deliver Oliver because towards the end of it, with reality setting in, I started having anxiety at the idea of him delivering my son. The hospital of choice through my insurance was also not making me comfortable.
For a pediatric doctor, you can also “audit” your doctor during pregnancy, which again, I didn’t know. I didn’t even know that you had to bring your baby to the pediatrician very soon after giving birth. Luckily we had a great source of referrals, but we didn’t look for our doctor prior and we got lucky.
The insurance system is a little tricky to understand, and this is one of the questions I should’ve asked in-depth:
HOW DOES INSURANCE WORK? HOW COULD I HAVE BEEN MORE PREPARED?
Through your insurance, you get to pick your doctor, who has an assigned hospital. If you have good insurance, you have more and better options, perhaps. While other insurance requires a little more research and is more limited
#1 – I should’ve done more research. Shop around!
#2 – Don’t assume where your doctor can birth your baby, always ask. While my doctor’s office was located at Cedars, he wasn’t able to practice at that hospital. I didn’t know that was even a possibility.
#3 – If you are planning ahead to have a baby, look into your insurance and change your plan if you can. Or just see what is available to you.
4. Audit pediatricians. Get to know how they work and do your own research for what you want and how to move forward based on your preferences and beliefs. Like vaccines, more naturopathic, take time to listen, availability, the process if you need to see them right away etc…
If I would’ve kept my other doctor, he would’ve been way more informative about my weight gain and what I was doing wrong or how to make sure it’s handled. I mean it is obvious that it went very wrong….and every time I asked my doctor, he was nonchalant: “You’re fine.”
Either way, my point is the weight doesn’t just come off depending on how much you gain. 25 to 30 pounds is manageable to lose, but I had gained 65. Not everyone gains as much as I did, due to a lot of factors.
One was that I was very thin, which can contribute to gaining twice as much weight.
Two, everyone told me to eat whatever I want and since I had a gnarly almost 9 months morning sickness…Carbs were my best friend.
Three, I was depleted of most minerals and vitamins before pregnancy which we found out after. I couldn’t lose weight no matter what I tried for over a year. My doctor looked at me as if everything was super normal. I look back and I believe that my body handled pregnancy differently and if I were guided in the right direction, I wouldn’t struggle so hard to lose my pregnancy weight.
Takeaway: Here’s how I would’ve managed my pregnancy when it came to weight gain:
#1 – Nutrition Planning: Ask my doctor to guide me on what to eat or refer me to a nutritionist that can provide lists of what to eat for each trimester.
#2 – Have more of an idea of how much weight is ok and not ok. Have a plan to stick with a goal.
#3 – Monitor my health: Ask for blood tests during pregnancy to look at my vitamins, minerals levels and overall health.
I wasn’t informed until later that you should start using stretch marks products when you’re two months pregnant or even before, to prevent or just hydrate your skin as much as possible. Stretch marks are passed down so either you get them or you don’t but applying clean oils and cream ASAP is a good idea. Again we’re all different so it’s just a recommendation.
I wish I had used products earlier on, as I only started using products when my skin started to itch which is the absolute worst! I’ve always had really good skin and in my head, I thought I’d just be fine…If my mom was still alive, she probably would’ve gotten me a cream as soon as I would’ve broken the news to her.
My takeaway for stretch marks: I would’ve applied some oil right away. Everything changes so much while you’re pregnant that taking extra care of your skin is super important. Changing your beauty products for skin health and make-up to non-chemical is also super important.
1 in 7 women suffer from postpartum depression, anxiety psychosis. There’s very little support, sadly. There’s more awareness, finally but it can take a tremendous amount of courage, work and time for a new mother to come forward. Just even, “self-diagnosing” ourselves can be very hard. I suffered from mild PPD & anxiety. It was hard because I didn’t know much about it or even what to do with it. While we focus so much on the pregnancy, we also have to focus on the “fourth trimester” which is that month after you give birth. Not only does a mother need a lot of help during that time, but there are also precautions to take during the pregnancy to lower the risks of PPD.
Key takeaways: Creating a postpartum plan the same way you’d create your birth plan should be a must! Finding resources in case you need help, what doctors to see, how to communicate to your loved ones and what to look for as symptoms. Especially during a “hormonal crash” that happens after birth or after breastfeeding is over. Some women can go through depression months after giving birth and support is key.
LEARNING TO BE A MOM:
Ha! This one now that I think about it, seems pretty obvious doesn’t it!? Well, here’s the thing, I was so obsessed with the pregnancy and making sure that everything went well, that I didn’t inform myself at all on how to be a mom. Of course, there are things that just need to be confronted by you for a learning process but I realized that when I got home with the baby (which was surreal) I was like “now what?” and it hit me that I didn’t know anything about breastfeeding for example.
My advice? Ask moms and follow moms on social media for an idea of what is to be expected! I spoke to only pregnant women during my pregnancy (in my defence I didn’t have a lot of mom friends) and as soon as I had Oliver, I realized “oh my! where are my mom lady friends at?” It is definitely helpful to surround yourself with other moms for advice, talks, encouragement and just feeling supported by someone who knows how it feels! Motherhood can be a lonely process and that’s why I find such relief connecting with moms and even writing this blog!!! Which by the way if you made it this far, thank you so much for reading!
EMBRACING YOUR BODY AND LIFE CHANGES
Pregnancy was amazing but also stressful. My body was changing so much, my hormones were real and within all this, your everyday life becomes drastically different. It’s a process that was difficult for me to go through. The stressful idea of how to handle all of it and also make sure you’re doing everything right can be a lot on one person. Your partner can relate but it’s also hard for them to really put themselves in your shoes, I mean I don’t blame them! I had to embrace my body and be at peace with how things were going. my relationships all around were starting to change. I think that working on yourself to salvage your identity and accept the changes is part of the growth that needs to be done for a stronger you and to your loved ones and your baby.
Taking your time with your baby is key. You will perhaps not be able to shower for a few days and that’s a conversation I would’ve loved to have had. Like, details. I wanted details.
Ask your mom friends their best advice, how their life changed and what is the most common misconception they went through.
Be prepared to not be prepared.
Take even 5 min for small self-care rituals. A little lotion, a little mascara or just changing your shirt can switch your mood and make you feel a little bit like yourself.
Less time doesn’t mean that you’re less than or a mess. You will find a rhythm.
Love your body, trust it and don’t put yourself through expectations. Slowly come up with a comfortable efficient plan that works for you.
Here’s another post to explore what I didn’t know about babies!