The autumn season has us thinking about those transition periods in your life—full of excitement, anticipation, but also some nerves about embarking into the unknown. That’s why this month, we’re lifting the veil on some interesting experiences to share what no one tells you about them… until now. Today, Melinda Parrish, model, and #HealthyAtAnySize advocate, shares with us the things no one ever told her about pregnancy.
Pregnancy is a magical time. And while there’s a ton of information out there, I was surprised to discover these five things no one ever told me!
- You Can’t Get Anything Done
Real talk: pregnancy is exhausting. While some women start having difficulty sleeping later in their pregnancy due to their size, my sleep quality started declining much sooner than that due to hormone disruptions. I was super, super tired the entire time. Even the simplest tasks took an incredible amount of energy. I learned pretty quickly that I could not be as productive during pregnancy as I was before.
Where I may have accomplished 10 tasks in a day, I was lucky to do 5 or 6 during pregnancy. It’s harder to get things done, but not impossible. We renovated our kitchen and rearranged several rooms in the house. I organized and purged possessions. I kept up my social media presence and also took on freelance consulting work. I launched a podcast! But it took a lot longer to do everything than my usual speed. Double down on time management and list making so you don’t fall too far behind!
- It’s Really Important to Stay Active
This seems contradictory to item 1 because you’re super tired and moving slower when you’re pregnant. But childbirth, recovery, and early motherhood will be much, much easier on you and your body if you keep yourself moving during pregnancy!
In my case, I was on and off pelvic rest and eventually placed on modified bed rest throughout my pregnancy. This meant I couldn’t be very active because of the risks to my baby. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone! It makes the time go by very slowly, and it’s hard on your body for your muscles to atrophy during a time when you need your strength.
If you’re medically cleared to be active, then find gentle ways to move your body that bring your joy! You and your baby will be better off for it.
- Your Hormones. Are. Bananas.
I’d heard of crazy cravings, morning sickness, and mood swings. But I was totally shocked by how different I felt with pregnancy hormones surging through my body.
In my case, my skin went completely haywire. I had a rosacea/eczema outbreak on my face and a melasma mask. My skin was also about 5 shades darker all over my body by the time I delivered, due to a rise in melanin brought on by my hormones. I looked like I’d been laying on a beach for nine months, not laying around on modified bed rest!
I already mentioned difficulty sleeping due to hormones. You also may be more clumsy, have carpal tunnel, and the size of your feet can change (permanently, in some cases). Your joints become super limber as your body prepares for childbirth. You have a heightened sense of smell. Your boobs look…different. I could go on! Your hormones run the show during pregnancy, and it’s way more extreme than you may think!
- The Last Month of Pregnancy has 1,453 Days
Not literally, but it WILL feel that way. I thought delivery would never come! I tried every old wives tale in the book, from baking the baby a birthday cake to eating spicy food, to acupuncture, to walking around the block with one foot on the curb and one on the asphalt (a.k.a. the Miles Circuit).
My baby came at 41 weeks and two days, and I didn’t go into labor until one hour before I was scheduled to induce. Let me tell you, I felt EVERY second of those nine days overdue stretch out like an eternity. Keep your to-do list chock full of items to occupy your time during the final few weeks, because otherwise, you’ll go nuts waiting for any sign of labor!
- Not Every Pregnancy & Birth Experience Goes Smoothly
I don’t think the statistics really convey how risky pregnancy and childbirth can be. And when you find yourself one of the unlucky few who does encounter difficulty bringing your baby into this world, it’s way more painful than you ever expected. I had a very traumatic delivery, with an epidural failure, very long labor and an emergency episiotomy. Additionally, our baby was late term and ingested meconium, so she had to stay in the NICU for 10 days recovering.
I wish I could say every birth experience looks like a Pampers commercial. It doesn’t, so be sure you’re keeping an open dialogue with your OB/GYN about any and all risks that might impact your pregnancy, and read up on them. Even if it scares you a little, being prepared is better than being blindsided! Trust me on that.
It may not be as easy as you imagined, but no matter what you encounter during your pregnancy, here’s the biggest secret of all: You are so, so much more powerful and resilient than you think you are. You’re strong enough to handle anything that you may encounter. And one day, you will look back on it all and smile!