What I Wish I Would Have Known My First Pregnancy (Contributor)

Contributor Julie Forbes is back with some great advice for pregnancy first-timers. She just welcomed her 3rd baby, so she’s kind of a pro now.

After 3 pregnancies in 4 years, I feel like I’m finally getting the hang of this baby-growing thing.

What I Wish I Would Have Known My First Pregnancy (Contributor)

Here’s what I wish I would’ve known from the beginning!

#1: Pass the cheese, please!

You’ve probably already read a million times that you can’t eat soft cheese during pregnancy. As a vegetarian, whose only source of flavor seems to come from cheese, I was devastated.  So, I read a lot, trying to get to the bottom of this. And, it turns out that it’s risky for you to eat cheese that’s made with unpasteurized milk. That cheese is typically soft cheese; hence the ban on all soft cheeses. But, the thing is, in the United States, it’s really hard to find cheeses that are made with unpasteurized milk.

Unless you’re in an import cheese shop, a fancy French restaurant or on a European vacation, you’re probably fine. Read the label: it will tell you if the cheese was made with pasteurized or unpasteurized milk. If you’re in a restaurant, ask the server (I was surprised at how many readily knew the answer).

#2: Free vitamins!

Don’t pay $10 a month for prenatal vitamins, if your insurance company will pay for them. Of course, every insurance company and plan is different, but I was shocked to find out (in my 3rd pregnancy, ugh) that my insurance company covered my prenatal vitamins with no co-pay.  Not only did they pay for the prenatal vitamins, but they paid for the good kind: the all-in-one pills with the DHA included. It’s not so bad choking down those horse pills when you don’t have to pay for them.

#3: The best all-nature medicine for morning sickness…

… is sleep! With my first two pregnancies, I was working the overnight shift and didn’t have the luxury of getting much sleep, so on the 3rd pregnancy, I fully indulged. During the first trimester, I put my two kids to bed at 7pm and did everything possible to get myself to bed by 8pm. Sure, I didn’t get to watch any TV, surf the internet, or get anything done, but I did get at least 10 hours of sleep each night! And, it ended up being the easiest pregnancy of the three. It’s amazing how much worse nausea is when you’re not getting enough sleep.

#4: Buy a powered toothbrush.

I knew gingivitis was a common ailment in pregnancy, so I thought nothing of the fact that I was spitting out mouthfuls of blood when I brushed. Gross, I know. The first two pregnancies, the dentist blew it off, and said it would go away once I was done breastfeeding. On the third pregnancy, a dental hygienist berated me about the permanent damage I was causing to my gums. She told me to spend $5 on a spin toothbrush because it massages the gums and reduces the excess blood and swelling in the mouth. Within a day of using a powered toothbrush, the bleeding was gone.

#5: Pregnancy pillows are worth every penny.

Enough said.

#6: Stock up on postpartum clothes.

Sure, you’ve already invested in a ton of maternity clothes, and you don’t want to waste any more money on temporary clothing. I get it. But, maternity clothes don’t look as cute when there’s not a round little belly in them. Before you deliver, stock up on a supply of bigger-than-normal clothes that you can fit into. Think: oversized button ups, baggy shirts, sweats etc.

I never realized how form-fitting all of my clothes were until I tried squeezing my postpartum belly back into them. If you’re not feeling great about yourself anyway, the last thing you want to do is wear tight or small clothing. While you’re at it, buy some bigger-than-normal full coverage underwear too.

#7: Pack lightly.

For my first baby, I honestly brought two huge suitcases to the hospital, complete with diapers, nursing pads, my own pillow, a breast-pump and tons of books. I didn’t read a page, and the hospital had everything else. Sure, you can bring it all with you, but in case there’s an emergency and you don’t get to bring your hospital bag with you, don’t panic. The hospital has you covered.

After 3 pregnancies, this momma's got some advice for first-timers | babyrabies.com

#8: Colace.

The one thing you should pack in your hospital bag: a stool softener, like Colace. The hospital will give this to you, but the nurses can be stingy handing it out. If you don’t need it at the hospital, you’ll need it once you get home. Trust me. If you thought contractions and labor were painful, just wait for your first postpartum bowel movement.

#9: Remember the nurses’ names.

Bring a notepad to write them down or save them in your phone. Once you get home, you’re going to feel like you owe those nurses the world. If you have their names, you can write them a simple thank you card or send a gift basket to the floor. After each of my deliveries, the hospital had a company call to do a follow-up survey. The caller always asked if there were any employees who I would like to mention who did an exceptional job, and I could never remember any of the nurses’ names.

Sleep deprivation kills your memory. If you encounter anyone who goes above and beyond for you, write their name down.

#10: Fresh face.

I wanted to look cute in the first photos of the baby’s life, so I did my hair and make-up before I left for the hospital. I’m embarrassed to admit this now. By the time the baby was born, that make-up was all over the pillow and my hair was matted against my head. Don’t bother. No one is looking at you anyway.

#11: Find a lactation consultant.

If breastfeeding is important to you, don’t leave the hospital without having a meeting with the hospital’s lactation consultant (if they have one). These women have seen it all, so they can answer just about any question you may have, and can help get the baby latched on properly, so that you’re not in a ton of pain. (Breastfeeding doesn’t come as naturally as you might think.) I’ve had friends hire lactation consultants once they get home, and they can be pretty pricey. Take care of it in the hospital while your insurance company is footing the bill.

#12: Breastfeeding doesn’t always help you lose weight.

I gained more weight than I should have with my first pregnancy, but I didn’t worry too much because I’d heard all of the stories about how breastfeeding melts the weight right off. For me, it was the exact opposite. Instead of the weight falling off, I felt like my body was doing everything in its power to hold on to it… no matter how much I dieted or exercised. I thought I was losing my mind, until I read a study that said in 70% of woman, the weight comes right off with breastfeeding. But, for an unlucky 30%, your body actually holds on to the weight until you’re done breastfeeding.

My doctor said she has seen those percentages play out in her own practice. She said there are two groups of women: 1) the ones who are skinnier than they were before they got pregnant at their 6 week appointment, and 2) the other women who hold on to an additional 10-15 pounds until they stop breastfeeding. Don’t let it discourage you from breastfeeding; just know you may need to be patient in getting that pre-baby body back.

What else would you add to this list?

A huge congrats to Julie on the birth of sweet Rowan!

After 3 pregnancies, this momma's got some advice for first-timers | babyrabies.com

50 Things to Do Before You Deliver: The First Time Moms Pregnancy Guide
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  1. Love the post and congrats on Rowan! My little Rowan is 9 months old. It is great to see another little girl with the name. 🙂

  2. I packed a small suitcase for the birth center because I knew they don’t provide all that a hospital does. There was stuff I packed I knew I’d use: diapers, baby clothes, stuff to shower afterwards. The stuff I packed as a precaution that I didn’t think I’d use but packed anyway: an extra change of clothes for me and for my husband. I’m really glad I packed them! After the birth, I was transferred to the hospital for hemorrhage and my husband couldn’t go home while I was admitted for the night (hospital rules that he was the baby’s caregiver and had to stay with her – I couldn’t be the only caregiver since I was a patient and baby was not). I thought it was great that I prepared my bag for one more night than I thought we’d need.

  3. I think the post covers everything. great list. I would only include one other thing in the hospital bag. some dress or something in case. I had an emergency csection (even though the first childbirth had no issues) and wasn’t even thinking about the possibility or that it would be too painful to wear pants. I had my husband bring something from home.
    so all that babbling for: a dress- something you can wear after a csection, even if you aren’t planning on one.

    • yes, an extra change of clothes for husband too- like Kate said.
      My husband got splashed when our first child was born. he needed a new shirt and pants, and didn’t have any.

    • I always tell new moms to be mentally prepared for the possibility of a c-section. Read that section of the books. Over 30% of pregnancies end in a c-section. I wasn’t prepared. When it happened to me I was in complete shook afterwards and extremely disappointed my labor had ended that way. I would have been better off emotionally if I’d been more prepared.

  4. Anne Patterson on

    I tell every pregnant woman in my life that the pain during labour stops the instant the baby is born. I wish I had known that. All other pain we experience in life (like if you fall over and skin your knee for example), it hurts when you do it but then the pain lingers, hurting for some time and sometimes the pain after is worse. Until I experienced it I did not realise that the pain stops instantly – had I known that I might have had a quicker labour to work towards that moment!

  5. Working on the same timeline as you, three kids under four, your list is about as comprehensive as it can get. The only other thing I would add is to not fall prey to buying too much gear, the pillows, bottles, cups, noise machines, etc.. borrow from friends if you can till you figure out what works for you. Love this post! Congrats on your little ones!

  6. Great list Julie! I have to add one tip: you don’t have to drink the orange stuff at the diabetes test! With my first pregnancy, I drank it and proceeded to vomit for the next 24 hours. So the next two times, I opted for the much nicer, less publicized “brach jelly bean” test. I’ve heard there’s a Hershey bar option – I plan to investigate that next time. 🙂 But for now, just wanted to throw out that there are options other than the gross glucose drink.

  7. Cassiopia Kennedy Bernreuter on

    You really don’t need much. A car seat, some diapers and clothes, and a place for baby to sleep. I had one of those freak, TV show style labors where my water breaks and 10 minutes later I am in transition and am ready to push by the time I got to the hospital. I was also a few weeks early… so we hadn’t gotten all of the extra ‘stuff’ for baby and it was perfectly fine. We actually rushed out of the house and left the hospital bag.

  8. Great post! The big thing I would add to your hospital packing list: an extra tote bag to load up with all the freebies and supplies from the hospital, both for you and baby. Diapers, clothing, washcloths, pads, you bame it!

    • Whoops! Posted too soon. Also be sure to ask both day and night nurses for supplies! They’re happy to oblige. And the Sitz bath, plus ask them how to use it 🙂

  9. Great info! I have a 21 month girl whose name is Rowan too!
    To add to Christina’s comment: I got wise with my second pregnancy when it came to the diabetes test as I refused to ingest that orange dye drink– the ingredients are terrible! My midwife called the lab to let them know I would be drinking organic grape juice (10 oz equals the 50g of sugar)
    Some people do orange juice you just need to let your OB or midwife know you won’t drink the other stuff. I figured with all the good food I was eating, why would I drink something with bromeated oil and preservatives if I could avoid it?
    I would also mention to be patient with your milk coming in if you plan to breastfeed and not be alarmed with the menstrual like cramps that comes with breastfeeding the first few days after baby is born as your uterus contracts. This caught me totally off guard with my first.
    Also take home as many of the netted panties and giant pads from the hospital so your own “granny panties” are salvaged. You will likely be bleeding for several weekend post partum. I loved the earth mama Angel baby spray for comfort “down there” and would use it every time I went to the bathroom as well as the peri bottle. A little bit of relief goes a long way!

  10. I don’t know why this type of information is not shared more through family and friends and must be experienced online! Wish on my first pregnancy I had seen more blogs, sites like this one. So many things I wish I had known about like the postpartum clothing in a larger size than prepregnancy, naive me thought I’d shrink back right after! And especially the Colace, that would have saved me so much stress! Other things like showering for the first time after breastfeeding, ouch! and soaking in baths for episiotomy care. Just take baths or use an attachable showerhead with soft setting.
    Another big one is postpartum depression or blues. If you are having difficulty with your emotions to the point you can’t function, talk with your husband/relatives and doctor, there is medication that can help. None of my female relatives had experienced it so they had no idea what I was going through.

  11. Hayley Rowland McWeeney on

    A lot of women don’t realize that babies are so well nourished in their uterus that sometimes they’re not even hungry until two days after birth. Many women give up breastfeeding in the first two days because it seems to be a struggle but hang in there because it takes time for baby to build up an appetite.

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