The Surprising Things No One Tells You About Pregnancy, by a Mum-to-Be

Jade Cottee

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I'm about to have my first baby, and boy—what a ride it's been. While there are countless books and apps designed to prepare you for pregnancy, there are some things that can only be learned first-hand. Scroll on for ten things I've learned over the past nine months. 

You'll stop feeling guilty about putting yourself first.

Perhaps one of the biggest lessons of pregnancy is learning how to be selfish—simply put, you need to be. From taking the last seat to excusing yourself from a meeting, if it's necessary for your health, you'll do it. And not feel one bit of guilt.

The nesting instinct doesn't just apply to the nursery. 

During the last few months, you'll start to reassess the decor of your whole house—and I'm not just referring to making it child-safe. In addition to preparing our home for the arrival of our little one, my 'must-do' list for maternity leave includes having our entire apartment painted, sourcing art for the lounge room, creating a garden wall in the dining room and replacing the plants on the balcony. Of course, that is on top of styling the nursery and shopping for my 'new mum' wardrobe.

Prenatal Pilates looks easy. It's not. 

From the outside, prenatal Pilates seems like a series of simple strengthening exercises and a lot of stretching. In reality, every teeny move will make your muscles ache for a week, despite your prior level of fitness. This challenged everything I thought I knew about my body—turns out, growing a human is more exerting than expected.

Gestational diabetes really can affect anyone. 

The risk factors for gestational diabetes include having a family history of type 2 diabetes, being overweight and having previously given birth to a large baby—none of these applied to me. That said, it affects between five and ten percent of women, so I shouldn't have felt surprised when I received the diagnosis at 28 weeks. After the initial guilt wore off (despite the fact that there was nothing I could have done—you either have it or you don't), I realised it's not actually that bad. Yes, it means following a strict eating plan and taking regular blood glucose tests, but it also means I won't find myself neck-deep in a tub of Nutella every second day. No Nutella binges will hopefully mean less time at Pilates once bub is finally here.

People can be unintentionally rude. 

Granted, if you're never been pregnant it may be hard to know what to say, but as a guide, it's best to steer on the polite side of conversation and wait until the pregnant person offers up personal information she's willing to share. When you're the one who's pregnant, be prepared to be offended on the reg. But don't stress, you'll soon become a pro at deflecting awkward questions and until then, using the excuse "Sorry, I need to pee... again," works a treat.

Birth stories don't have to be scary.

The closer you get to the end of your pregnancy, the more people will want to share what happened to their friend's sister's brother-in-law's wife when she gave birth. And guess what? It was horrific. Based on the stories I've heard, my expectations should be that every birth is awful and traumatic. But this isn't true—and thinking it is is not the best way to head into the delivery room. When we're scared, our bodies produce adrenaline which heightens our senses. When we're relaxed and happy, our bodies produce endorphins—a natural form of pain relief! For this reason, it's important to focus on the wonderful experiences of other women and remember that our bodies are magic and that they're designed to give birth. I'm reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth on the recommendation of two women who had beautiful experiences—it's full of positive birthing stories that I plan on channelling when the time comes.

People won't give up their seat just because you're pregnant. 

Pregnancy is not an illness, but it does take a toll on your body. Some days your legs will be so swollen and sore it hurts to walk, others you'll be so light-headed you'll feel like you're about to pass out—for no reason other than your hormones. Despite this, people on public transport will bury their heads in their phones and pretend they can't see you, even when your belly is partially obstructing their view. Sometimes, you'll need to simply ask if they would mind giving up their seat.

Finding a chic feeding chair is hard. 

After trawling furniture stores for a feeding chair that's chic, comfortable and practical (that matches the nursery and will easily transition into our lounge room post feeding age), I've come to the conclusion that I'm searching for a unicorn.

You'll question your own identity. 

Pre-pregnancy, I was Jade: Commercial editor, friend, lover of red wine and cheese. Ambitious. Passionate. Constantly searching for the perfect-cut jean. Whilst impending parenthood doesn't take any of this away, it has made me question the type of person I'll be post-birth. I've thought seriously about the type of parent I'll be, the values I want to instil in my child, how I'll approach my career as a mum. While I don't have the answers to everything yet, I do know that I'll be constantly learning and re-evaluating as my priorities shift. And I'm OK with that. 

Bodies are weird. But magical. 

No two pregnancies are the same, but no matter which weird symptom you're experiencing, someone else has likely had it. As much as I was expecting some changes, others had me floored...then amazed. It doesn't matter how much you read prior, at some point something strange will happen (and it will likely be gross), but you'll soon google and realise that yep, it's normal and yep, it's thanks to that little peanut taking residence in your uterus. 

Shop five chic feeding chairs for the most stylish nurseries. 

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