Firstly, I just want to make it clear I am by no means an expert when it comes to anything to do with pregnancy. At the time of writing this I am 27 weeks pregnant and this is my first pregnancy, so I think the term closest to what I am doing would be ‘winging it’ – but over the last 6 months I have learnt a lot of things, and if I was ever to do this again I would definitely cut myself a lot more slack in a lot areas, especially in the early days.
So with that in mind, I just wanted to share some of my own bits of advice – purely anecdotal, and hopefully if you are going through this journey too, it might help you, or make you feel less silly if you feel (or felt) the same way!
**Trigger Warning – I do briefly mention about baby loss in the post**
Do as many bloody pregnancy tests as you like!
When I did my first test and saw the ‘Positive’ result come up on the screen, I honestly couldn’t believe it, was there a mistake?! Within about 30 seconds I had messaged Danny to get him to call me (he was at work) and told him the news. He couldn’t believe it either and we both agreed I would do another test ‘just incase’ – and this too came up Positive! But it still didn’t feel real.
In those first two weeks I did a total of about 14 tests – and every time was just as nerve-racking! Sometimes the line wasn’t as strong, which freaked us out, then other times it took a little bit longer for the result to show. But as the days went on, and the lines got stronger it filled us with more confidence and eventually I got to the point where I felt like I didn’t need to do anymore.
At the time, the only person I had told about the pregnancy was my Mum, and when I told her how many tests we did she laughed and said we were being silly, as back when she was pregnant with me (almost 30 years ago, gulp!) that just wasn’t the norm, you did one test and that was that! But for us, in those first couple of weeks it really helped with my anxious feelings when we saw the positive result on each test.
I then did a post on Instagram a few months later with the story of how we found out, and asked other mums & mums to be to share theirs and SO many others did multiple tests like we did, and I realised how normal it was, and I didn’t need to feel silly at all!
So my advice would be to just do whatever makes you feel happiest & at ease! You might be happy to just do one test, but if you want to do 20, thats also fine. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
Stay away from pregnancy forums!
One of the hardest parts of when you just find out you are pregnant is that you will have a million and one questions, but probably not have many people to talk to about it (well unless you choose to tell people very early on).
When we first found out, my brain went into overdrive and I just wanted to know everything! I was downloading apps left, right and centre, including one that had a forum with various groups, including ones set up specifically for the month you are due. So of course, I joined straight away in the hopes that I would get all my questions answered and learn lots of other stuff too – but in fact the only real thing I got from joining a forum was stress & anxiety.
Unfortunately, miscarriage is very common (1 in 4 women will experience baby loss in the first trimester – for more information around this please click here) and when you are in a forum with hundreds of other women who are also in the early stages of pregnancy, unfortunately there were women who experience this and post about it in the group. Now I am not saying that women should not share their experience, or talk about their baby loss, but during this time I personally was so worried & anxious about miscarrying, that every time I saw a post about it, it made me think it was going to happen to me too and I would start to convince myself I had stomach cramps, or that something wasn’t right. This actually resulted in us attending the early pregnancy unit at the hospital when I was approx 10 weeks pregnant as I had got myself so worked up that something was wrong after reading some heartbreaking posts, and it was after that I deleted the app and haven’t looked on a forum since and it made such a difference overall my mental health surrounding the pregnancy.
So avoid the mum forums, especially during your first trimester and definitely if you are feeling anxious or nervous around your pregnancy.
It’s okay to have sh*tty days.
Being pregnant is wonderful, and for some people it can take a really long time to fall pregnant so it feels like even more of a blessing. But does that mean you need to feel happy every single day? Absolutely not.
Some days it’s just really bloody hard, and it can just make you feel a bit sh*it – it doesn’t mean you aren’t grateful or already have a lot of love for the little bean growing in your tummy, but it can be tough to feel over -the-moon when you are feeling constantly nauseas for the 50th day in row, or can’t sleep or just feel like you are going to burst into tears constantly.
I certainly had days early-on where I felt utterly crap & just felt sorry for myself, and part of that was missing things that I used to do – and in my case a lot of that linked back to running & training, something that has been a massive part of my life for the last few years. I just didn’t have the energy to do a lot in those first 12 weeks, so it felt like that had been taken away from me, and I felt like I was already losing a bit of myself & my identity… and it’s okay to feel that way! But I get it, you can feel really selfish & guilty for feeling like that (I certainly did!) but pregnancy & becoming a mum is a massive deal, and it will mean some big life changes that can take some time to adjust to.
So give yourself permission to have those down days, let yourself have a cry and don’t ever let anyone make you feel bad for not being happy 24/7!
Give yourself a break!
This is sort of linked to the point above – but just a reminder to make sure you go easy on yourself, and not just during the first trimester, but through your whole pregnancy.
In this day and age, it’s hard to not think you need to do everything, and social media has a big part to play in this!
You will always be following or know of someone who is doing more than you, or at least making it look easier.
You will probably know someone who didn’t gain much weight when they were pregnant and just had the perfect bump.
You will probably know someone who ran a marathon when they were expecting and made it look easy.
So I get it, it’s hard not to compare. And again this is something I have been (and still can be) guilty of. I personally put weight on quite easily, and I did put on weight really early in my pregnancy, in fact I stopped being able to fit into my jeans from about 8 weeks! And it was something I felt really conscious about, and I found myself looking at other women on Instagram and feeling ashamed I hadn’t stayed as slim for as long as they did! I also gave myself a hard time about running, I was getting slower as the weeks went on, but rather than being proud of myself that I was still able to run, I kept comparing myself to other pregnant runners, and then being annoyed I was slower, or not running as far as them.
It took a while to get out of the habit of putting myself down, but I really think it started to change once I had a couple of scans and saw my little baby growing away nicely inside my tummy. It felt like it was only then I realised that this was my pregnancy, and nobody else’s so I can’t compare myself to anyone else! Just like every baby is different, so is every pregnancy!
So as much as social media can be good for meeting people & getting nursery inspiration, please don’t compare yourself to other pregnant women & what they may or may not be doing!
There is no such thing as a stupid question.
Seriously, there isn’t! You don’t get taught how to grow a baby, you don’t automatically know all the things you should or shouldn’t be doing, and you don’t always know what is normal.
I have googled lots of things over this last 6 months – from whether I am allowed to eat a certain type of cheese, trying to find at least one study that shows a glass of wine a day is actually good for you (chill, that was a joke!) or even just what fruit or vegetable my baby is shaped like that week. But honestly, if you don’t know something – just ask! You wouldn’t go into a brand new job and just be expected to not know everything or just crack-on without asking a few things first.
Your midwives also will not mind if you ask them questions, so if something is playing on your mind, or you aren’t sure about something, it’s always best to ask! Either at one of your appointments, or if its a bit more urgent you can always call your midwives for advice.
This is where it can also be really handy to have pregnant friends, especially those that are a little bit ahead of you! I have been very lucky that I have had two friends that have pretty much been my go to source of information since I was about 8 weeks pregnant (yep, I caved early and told them as I wanted to join in their pregnancy gang!) and honestly it has been so invaluable just having them their to talk to, and also reassuring to know that they had the same questions & worries too!
Get yourself a support network.
This continues nicely from my last point, and that is having a group of pregnant friends! I feel very lucky that I have a small group of women that I speak to on a pretty much daily basis – and none of whom I was particularly close to before we were pregnant, and one I didn’t even know at all but just met through Instagram after I announced I was expecting!
But it really has been a blessing, and especially with lockdown/COVID it has been great to be able to talk to people going through the same thing as me. I totally get that pregnancy can feel like an isolating time, especially now more than ever but I have honestly never felt like that even though I haven’t been able to meet up with many people, so if you are expecting, I really would try and make those connections if you can.
I also wanted to share some advice I was given following a post on Instagram the other day. I asked all the mums out there what advice they would give to first time mums and I was completely overwhelmed with the responses! The advice is more for once you are nearing the end of your pregnancy or have had your baby, but it might be worth keeping these in mind for when you need them!
‘Always go with your gut. You might have to make decisions with regards to your birth and feeding you never thought you’d have to make, but you know your body and baby better than anyone else’ – Leah
‘Batch cook loads of healthy meals for the freezer. The last thing either of you will want to do when exhausted is stand and cook homemade meals’ – Kelly
‘Don’t wish the time away, the baby will arrive when it’s ready, enjoy your last true weeks of freedom as your life will never be the same again! (In a good way obviously) – Kathryn
‘Rest, rest, rest! Don’t ever feel guilty for that lazy afternoon on the sofa or for that lay in, it’s SO precious!’ – Tanya
I hope you found this useful, and if you are pregnant I wish you all the best for the rest of your pregnancy!