Advice, for real

There’s a whole section at the book store of pregnancy and baby related advice books. There are books about natural child birth, books about all the things that can go wrong, books that can’t wait to tell you about all the stuff “no one tells you”. Here’s the summary of all those books: labor’s going to hurt, your baby might have three arms and you will probably poop on the delivery table. Even knowing this, if you’re pregnant you’re still going to buy these books. You’re going to Google words that should never be Googled. I did it too. But even with the Girlfriend’s Guides and What to Expect and the crazy iVillage message boards and a dozen mommy friends ready to tell me about The Pooping, I still found ways to be surprised. So here is MY pregnancy advice.

1. When you’re ready to give up on normal pants, try on every single style of maternity jeans. Buy TWO pairs. Stop buying maternity jeans. My favorite were the ones with a stretchy band that goes under your belly. I hate the “roll panel” style. I hate the kind that goes over your belly even more. Buy all the maternity dresses and sweatpants and knitwear and leggings you want – but stop wasting your money on maternity jeans. If you live somewhere warm or you’re pregnant in the summer, skip the jeans altogether.

2. Yes, you should call your doctor. You’re right, it’s probably nothing. That pain is totally normal. Your body is supposed to be doing that. Call you’re doctor anyways. I suffered through fours days of a horrible UTI because I thought peeing fourteen times an hour was just part of pregnancy. I swear to you one of my hemorrhoids actually fell off before I was scared enough to make a phone call and by the time I saw the doctor she thought I was making it up. I only had one ER visit and one non-scheduled appointment the whole pregnancy. That was NOT ENOUGH. Doctors are wonderful people who want to give you things to make you feel better (i.e. DRUGS). Even if they’re secretly rolling their eyes at your silly pregnant woman question, they are also writing you a prescription or checking your baby’s heartbeat, both of which will allow you to sleep tonight.

3. Speaking of sleeping, go buy a giant bottle of Tylenol PM. If you don’t have the horrible kicked-in-the-crotch pain that I had, regular OTC sleep aids are good, but without the pain killers I would have been completely sleepless from month 5 on. My doctor said either kind of medication was fine (ask yours, of course) since being well resting and not homicidal was more important to my child’s development than being totally un-medicated. I found even just a half dose helped me fall asleep – and stay asleep – long enough to feel well rested even with a midnight bathroom break.

4. My worst heartburn wasn’t caused by weird, spicy, greasy food. It was caused by water. Plain old boring water, the kind everyone keeps reminding you to drink, the same water that you keep on the nightstand for when you wake up feeling like you’re going to die of dehydration. Instead of just switching to vodka (I heard that might be frowned upon) I tried to avoid drinking anything right before bed. Or before my morning nap. Or my noon nap. Or my afternoon nap. Tums also helped, so invest in a big bottle of those too.

5. Buy all the stretch-mark preventing creams and oils and lotions you want. They won’t help but you’ll feel better knowing you’ve done something. And no gloating about remaining stretch-mark free until you actually give birth. My stomach was smooth and unblemished right up until Baby E dropped (my hips and thighs not so much). Now I look like I’ve been attacked by wild badgers.

6. Although mathematically, 20 weeks is half way through a pregnancy, the first 20 fly by compared to the second 20. The real “half-way” point is more like 30 weeks, so count up to there and then count down. Do yourself a favor and line up work, plans, books, movies, projects, anything that can distract you from staring at your belly silently willing your baby to HURRY UP ALREADY. If you read or join a pregnancy message board, stop reading around 38 weeks – the number of people who have had their babies before you EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE NOT DUE YET will make you want to throw your computer across the room. And then you won’t have the internet to distract you.

7. People will buy you lots and lots of adorable, plush, super-soft baby blankets for you shower. Unless any of them have had a baby in the last ten minutes, they will have forgotten exactly how quickly a baby can pee/puke on these things. Go to Wal-Mart and buy at least a dozen cheap spit-up cloths. That will get you through the first three or four days until you can get out of the house for more.

8. DON’T BUY TOO MUCH STUFF. OK, so that one was in all the baby books. I didn’t listen – and I know you won’t either – but it really is good advice. Newborn babies don’t need swings and exersaucers and toys and high chairs. They actually don’t even need cribs. My baby sleeps best in his car seat, so my pack’n’play sits lonely in the corner and I just trip on my co-sleeper on the way out of bed. If you want to register for all those things or if people want to hand them down to you right away, that’s fantastic. But the checklist for things you actually need right away is much much shorter than the baby stores want you to think. If you do buy stuff ahead of time, try to resist tearing off the tags or throwing away the boxes and be sure to keep the receipts.

9. All advice is not created equal. Even without discussing parenting styles or serious debate topics, you can get totally different information on the same issues. The amount of caffeine one book says is ok is different from the one in a pregnancy magazine. 99% of the time you should just listen to your doctor, but don’t hesitate to get a qualified second opinion. No, the internet is not qualified. But be prepared, it actually gets worse once you have the baby.

10. Bring a pillow, slippers, mini toiletries and  pair of pajamas to the hospital. Bonus if the pajamas are dark colored, stain resistant and have easy access to your boobs. I brought a huge bag of STUFF but those are the things that really made days two and three bearable. I also got a cute pedicure right before my due date and wore fun socks during labor. I felt it was a nice distraction from The Vagina Show and all the nurses agreed.

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No Responses to “Advice, for real”

  1. brigidkeely says:

    My APN was all about the Benedryl. That was her answer to everything. Can’t sleep? Benedry. Allergies? Benedryl. Skin infection? Benedryl. oh, and Keflex. That was the second answer to everything.

    We registered for larger sized clothing (3-6 month and higher) and older baby activity stuff solely so we wouldn’t have to buy it later on when we were stressed out and maybe didn’t have money.

  2. afteriris says:

    Ooh, ooh! I have some advice too! If someone offers to help then don’t feel guilty about pointing them towards a big pile of washing up or a mountain of ironing. They’re all going to offer their unsolicitied opinions on your parenting and what your doing wrong with your baby, at least this way you feel like you gained something helpful from them too! (Yes I’m both mercenary and bitter, so what?)

  3. h_a_l says:

    WORD on the maternity jeans. The first pair I bought from Old Navy ripped after wearing them for like a month (the elastic band separated itself from the jeans) I got a pair from JC Penny (that you recommended!) and then got another pair in a big bag of maternity hand me downs and thats enough. I have spent the most $ on spring/summer stuff and things that I can actually look nice in at my job since I know I am going to spend all the hot months in maternity cloths even though I’m due in June. I found the best place to buy maternity stuff is Burlington Coat Factory. their stuff is cheap (but not in the fall apart way like Old Navy jeans!). I also lucked out b.c one of my sisters co workers gave me 2 huge bags of stuff, so there’s that.

  4. Erin (i dont have a fake name :( ) says:

    I wanted to also agree on the maternity pants things! The first pair, that I bought because I am stupid, came from target and they are the kind that is supposed to look nicer because they dont have that big blue elastic band and are supposed to just sit under your belly. Who thought that was a good idea!!!!?!??! The elastic band is the only thing that holds the pants up!!!!! So I have two pairs of the big elastic band kind so that I can rotate them in the laundry and the MINUTE I get back to the house I take them off and where pajama pants. Because no matter how comfortable, maternity jeans are just not very comfortable!!! (fyi – I did get a bella band and that thing is worth its wait in gold! For those that dont know its an elastic band of fabric that is supposed to look like a layered tank under your shirt but it holds your pants up like a belt and keeps your stomach from hanging out! Its wonderful!!! I need more cause I keep spilling food on it). Wow, that was just about the longest comment ever :)

  5. Erin (i dont have a fake name :( ) says:

    Oh and I also want to comment that I would like to slap the next person who tells me that they didn’t get any stretch marks cause they used some cocoa butter. I feel your pain!

  6. Other Erin says:

    Just to clarify, if I get advice from you via the internet, does that count as legit advice? Because that’s my plan for about 80% of my questions. I figure you’ll have 3 or 4 kids by the time I pop my first one out. :)

    Miss you hon.

  7. Spaceman Bill Leah says:

    Along the jeans topic: Maternity corduroys are the stupidest things ever. Unless you WANT everyone to know you are coming from 100 yards away.

  8. h_a_l says:

    @ Erin – yes the bella band is seriously one of the best maternity inventions ever.

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