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All my pregnancy advice in one thread

Dear friends, I wrote this a year ago. A YEAR. I just wasn't sure when to post it, kept adding stuff along the way, sorting it out, wondering if anyone cared... well, I figure I might as well get it out here before my ipad dies and eats it or something: All my pregnancy advice in one huge crazy post.

I am so nice to pregnancy communities, constantly spouting the same opinions over and over and over again to people, because you know my views are awesome and probably almost always right, correct? Well it occurred to me that unless you're in my community, you're missing out on all my awesome advice. So here it is. All my opinionated tips, stances on controversial issues, and general trolling, all rolled up into one gigantic thread.

Updated quick tip: If you're the kind of practical weirdo who finds these helpful, be sure to join the freshly launched spacefem.com pregnancy forum - we are definitely not your run of the mill group of ladies!

    First Trimester

  1. Wait until you're 3-4 months along to tell people you're pregnant. Not just because of the loss risks, but because people get really annoying when they know you're pregnant.
  2. Except, tell your mom. Or some woman who's had a baby, so you're not totally going through it alone. Husbands do not count.
  3. Early pregnancy freakouts are more common than you think. A lot of people, even people who planned for years to have a baby, wonder if they're really ready when they see that solid line on a test. It's okay.
  4. If you eat plenty of fruits and veggies and exercise, you are healthy. Don't look at your weight.
  5. WebMD will tell you that you and your baby are going to die, no matter what symptom you look up on it.
  6. Pick one good source (mine was Mayo Clinic) for your what to give up list. Otherwise you'll go crazy reading every magazine that tells you that last week's recommendation was ALL WRONG.
  7. You might not have any pregnancy symptoms in the beginning. I didn't. That's okay. Yes you are really pregnant.
  8. Schedule your 8-week prenatal appointment, but expect nothing to happen. Seriously, nothing. You'll take your vitamin samples and leave.
  9. Maternity clothes are worth it.
  10. Maternity pants are different and special, you cannot just sew a b-band onto your jeans and think they'll expand in the right places. Trust me, they will not expand in enough places.
  11. Just accept that anything happening to your boobs right now is within the spectrum of normal. Anything.
  12. Take extra good care of your teeth.
  13. Prenatal massages are so worth it.
  14. Extra boutique ultrasounds where they guess wrong on the baby's sex are not worth it (not to mention, only questionably safe)
  15. Heart rate reflects nothing about the sex of your baby.
  16. Any predictor of your baby's sex has a 50% chance of being right.
  17. That other pregnant woman you know who can't stop throwing up? Do not ask her if she's tried crackers.
  18. No one thinks you're a bad mom for not feeling "bonded" to a 9 week fetus. Heck I wasn't sure about this whole motherhood thing until my baby was like four months old.
  19. Genetic testing? So not worth it, unless you have a very special reason. There's a 1 in 10 chance that a test will give you bad news but only a 1 in 1000 chance that there actually IS bad news... they're an express train to unnecessary freak-out land. The tests suck, that's what you need to know!
  20. Pregnancy brain is a myth. You're distracted, sure, but hormones are not rendering your mind incapable of normal operation.
  21. Your brain is going through a lot though - and that means weird dreams. It's just trying to wrap itself around everything that's going on, don't take them too seriously. They will be weird. Like, I won't even say.

    Second Trimester

  22. (Week you're at) / 4.348 = (Months you're at)
  23. In your "fourth month of pregnancy" you are three months pregnant. Kinda like how in your first year of life, you're not one year old yet. Working on it.
  24. Diaper wipe warmers are a waste of money.
  25. A glass of wine is okay.
  26. Sushi might even be okay.
  27. Babies need very little clothing.
  28. Do not register for clothes, toys, lotion or bath stuff... people buy them anyway.
  29. Twilight turtle = worth it
  30. Diaper genie = not worth it
  31. Do not stock up on any one kind of bottle. You never know what will really work best for you.
  32. Used breastpumps are okay. I know it sounds weird, but when you go to a restaurant all they do is wash off the fork someone else used and then you eat off it, right? It's a food prep tool like anything else.
  33. Remember that non-pregnant people have problems too. Do not make every conversation about your pregnancy.
  34. Prenatal yoga = so worth it. Makes you feel like your totally different body is still yours!
  35. Breastfeeding class = worth it
  36. "Nesting" is the weird craziness that kicks in right before labor when you must clean, like, the underside of the toaster. It's not nursery shopping. That's just you loving to shop.
  37. Bedding set = not worth it. Purely decorative and so very expensive.
  38. Multi-packs of baby socks where every pair is different: bad idea. You will lose one of each.
  39. Baby monitors are a waste of money, unless your house is so huge and soundproofed you really can't hear that kid scream. But my baby had some powerful lungs that we did not need to amplify.
  40. Kegal exercises are great, but late in pregnancy those muscles have a lot going on no matter how much you've trained. It will come to the point where if you have to sneeze, all you can do is cross your legs and hope for the best.
  41. Gender is something a person chooses and expresses. Sex is what bits you're born with.
  42. Maybe consider not posting your fetus' crotch on facebook
  43. Do not buy all pink for your baby girl, or all blue for your baby boy. Kids learn very early what roles we "expect" of them, and will never venture outside the little boxes we put them in if we're determined to limit their minds that way.
  44. Nobody thinks you need a baby shower for your second kid.
  45. Crib bumpers are not that hard to figure out. A newborn doesn't move much, but needs airflow to reduce SIDS risk, take the bumpers out. A five month old isn't really at risk for SIDS, but is rolling around everywhere getting his tiny arms stuck in the crib slats, so put the bumpers in.
  46. All stretch mark creams are a scam. My marks faded away on their own like a lot of women's do. If yours don't, wear them with pride. The creams won't do anything but waste your money.

    Third Trimester

  47. No, your breech twin VBAC at 42 weeks is not a safe homebirth. Birth is not always safe, just because for thousands of years 90% of newborns made it. Medical technology got us to better than 90%.
  48. The average pregnancy lasts 40 weeks. This means half are less, half are more. And most babies are right around there, like within 4-5 days of it.
  49. Your due date is like the top of a hill, not the edge of a cliff.
  50. Do not look to change your due date by a day or two based on one ultrasound or other factor you find. That's like calling your friend to say "Oh I'm sorry, I said it'd take 25 minutes to get to the store but really it's 23 minutes, I was totally wrong!"
  51. I had a natural birth at a hospital and all the nurses were really helpful and cool, despite the scary "hospitals just want to cut you open!" rantings on "Business of being born" and other documentaries. You might want to read SkepticalOB.com for the other viewpoint. Update: and here's more of this debate, and my background
  52. I also had an epidural birth at a hospital and came to the dramatic conclusion that I have no idea whether or not you should get an epidural. That's my stance. The non-stance.
  53. Hospital food sucks. If you just had a baby, you deserve to have your family bring you whatever awesomeness you want.
  54. If you feel like reading, read baby and parenting books, because pregnancy books get really boring. Dr. Sears, Harvey Karp, and Elizabeth Pantley were my favorite authors.
  55. Private cord blood banking is a scam.
  56. Placenta encapsulation was literally invented by hippies in California, as was lotus birth, and whatever weirder stuff they've thought up that I haven't heard of yet. Anyway, none of that helps us get back to our roots. No primates eat their placentas. Tell the dirty hippies to go take showers.
  57. Dilation and effacement are checked so you have a reference point when you go into labor. They do not tell you anything about whether your labor is starting soon. Seriously, you can be dilated to 1 and have a baby tomorrow, or dilated to 3 and walk around pregnant for weeks.
  58. Let your family know in advance if you'd like to be the one to post up the first baby pic on facebook
  59. When you outgrow your bra, switch to nursing bras. They're stretchy and comfy, and you'll need them for practical reasons soon enough anyway.
  60. I've heard that designer hospital gowns are a thing now, or special labor outfits? Horrible idea ladies, you have no idea how much grossness is involved with this process. You will want to burn everything you wore. Or at least have hospital staff take it away. Far, far away.
  61. Shoutout to my June babies: If your baby is born on 6/6 for heavens sake don't name him Damien, haven't you seen The Omen?

    Fourth Trimester

  62. Take care of yourself post-partum. Have your tucks pads, colace, dermoplast, and witch hazel ready at home. Don't stage everything perfectly for baby and neglect researching your own needs.
  63. It's really pointless to diet like crazy right after your baby's born to lose weight. Your bones need 9-12 months (or maybe forever) to spring back and no diet will change that. Your clothes will not fit. Just relax and see what happens for at least six months.
  64. I got more sleep as a new mom than I did as a pregnant woman, even with the angriest newborn on the block. If anyone tells you that pregnancy insomnia is to "get you ready for baby!" just slap them.
  65. Wearing the Always menstrual pads for ten days straight post-partum gave me the worst rash I've ever had to deal with, in an area you do not want to hear about me having to deal with a rash. Cloth pads are nice. Or maybe just switch brands every few days.
  66. You might cry for two weeks. Or it might be worse than that. If it's a lot worse, take it seriously.
  67. Talk to people about what's good on TV. I don't watch TV much - better to read, or go outside, but I did during maternity leave. There aren't many things you can do while nursing a newborn, and they need you to sit and hold them all the time, so you will get to the end of Netflix, oh yes.
  68. If size 1 diapers are for 8-14 pounds, and size 2 diapers are for 12-18 pounds, be ready to use size 2 diapers as soon as your baby hits 12 pounds. Do not keep them in size 1s for the "overlap", a 14-pound bottom in a size 1 is practically asking for a diaper blowout.
  69. Breastfeeding is pretty awesome, especially if you're lazy like me and don't like to wash bottles.
  70. But if you can't breastfeed, that's okay too, plenty of brilliant humans were fed cow milk and corn syrup as babies. Formula is a step up.
  71. You might not ever need baby food, my baby pretty much went straight to the real stuff.
  72. Please vaccinate your child.
  73. Babies love to be outside.
  74. Cheap baby carriers are not worth it. If you want to wear your baby, splurge on the good stuff.
  75. When the baby's two weeks old, consider some bedtime strategies. Before that just let the crazy rule your life. And no matter what you do, that kid might not sleep for YEARS. It's okay. Love the bomb.
  76. You don't need a DVD or program for baby sign language. There's like four things they need to say, and you can google that for free. Any more communication you teach them just leads to them asking for more stuff, and trust me you do not want to start that.
  77. Take your baby to the dentist around their first birthday, even if your old-school family dentist says there's nothing to see until they're 3-4. Advice differs on this so be conservative, I wish I had.
  78. In the end though after all my advice, my last tip though is to take no advice. Or at least don't take any of it too seriously. Kids will be okay if you just love them. If you've got that, the rest of everything doesn't matter so much, in the grand scheme of a life.



( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 1st, 2014 09:02 pm (UTC)
Not pregnant, an dnot planning to become so in the near future, but I enjoyed reading your tips a lot.
Feb. 1st, 2014 09:46 pm (UTC)
i agree with 2/3 to 3/4 of this.

i dislike that you give information that sounds like facts on subjects you have no actual personal experience with. (encapsulation being one of them. even if its just placebo, if it helps with PPD, as many new studies show that self-reportedly, it does, who cares whether it has been double blind tested? you're not going to get hurt from doing it, honestly, even my skeptic MD father-in-law said, well, i guess you'd be a lot less likely to be anemic, which is totally true!)

and as far as you have a lovely natural hospital birth where no one tried to cut you open, that is fabulous, and definitely no one said every hospital is evil, but if you look at statistics, which is your favorite subject ever, the c-section rate in this country is hovering right around 33 percent, and the neonatal death rate is not going down since the c-section rate started climbing. other countries with lower c rates have better infant outcomes. especially countries that encourage healthy low risk women to birth at home with midwives.

that being said, i loved what you said about the double breech twin homebirth at 42 weeks. my midwife accepts twins and breech under the table and in some circumstances i might be ok with that but in most no. if i had a footling breech, i would probably choose a surgical birth if i could not get baby to move or turn before labor began. she says she would do a footling at home. i say no way! twins it would depend on their position, their gestation, and what kind of twins. there are many things about twins that make you high risk that can only be discovered via ultrasound.

if i went past 41 weeks, i might choose to have an nst. past 42, definitely.
Feb. 1st, 2014 11:20 pm (UTC)
You bring up some good points... but I'll probably post a new fresh post about each of my more controversial stances so I this threat doesn't get too debate-y, and so I can explain myself to everybody at once. Stay tuned!
Feb. 1st, 2014 10:00 pm (UTC)
Now I have to list everywhere I disagree with this!

1. Honestly I don't get waiting until the second trimester to tell people. First off, I was throwing up everywhere, so it was kind of hard to keep a secret. Plus I needed the support. Third trimester? No problem, I loved being fat and waddling everywhere. First trimester? Worst 3 months of my life.

Secondly, miscarriages are a fact of life. I think this notion that we believe they should be kept secret is part of the problem. Obviously it's up to you, but I felt this external pressure to keep it a secret when I didn't really want to.

16. No genetic testing is another one I really don't buy; knowledge is power. Ideally you both get tested before conceiving, like my husband and I, in the case of anything really bad like CF. It was not only very cool because it was interesting, but it was also helpful. We found out my husband had a rare blood type (Kell 1) which can cause Kell 1 disease- it's essentially like Rh disease and is now more common than Rh disease in first world countries.

22. Re: amount of clothes, not if you have a baby with reflux. Or one that leaks poo everywhere. I was doing laundry every day because we didn't have enough clothes. More clothes would have been nice.

23. No one bought me clothes, everyone bought stuff off the registry, which I deliberately left clothes-free for this reason because everyone told me this. I guess my friends/relatives were just awesome? Except for the whole naked baby issue.

44. Skeptical OB is a hugely biased source. She just posted something recently full of bad math. I loved my hospital too, the nurses were AMAZING, they gave me lots of time to try to give birth naturally, but I did get cut open- which is not relevant at all as it's just a personal experience. What is relevant is that hospitals have a very significantly higher C-section rate in pretty much all countries. It's a fact, and it is something to try and avoid.

45. The hospital food at my hospital was DELICIOUS. 2 years later, still raving about it. It might have been that I was totally starved by that point though, but man was it good. Even my parents and husband ate it even though there was also like a Subway and other commercial food was also available in the hospital. But in most hospitals I'm sure it sucks (go blue!) But this is probably true in general.

52. I gained exactly 50 lbs too! And I bounced right back to 107 lbs, which is exactly the weight I have been since I was 18 and I can't seem to make change. That said, it doesn't happen for everyone. I have a friend who gained 60 and still is hanging onto about 25 which she can't seem to get rid of.

Feb. 1st, 2014 10:03 pm (UTC)
That is awesome. Can I cross post it or something? This can easily go viral, it is funny and nearly all indiaputably true.
Feb. 1st, 2014 10:05 pm (UTC)
The one thing I would change is genetic testing. With the advance of ccffdna (Verifi or MaterniT21), we are in a completely new world here. You can get results as precise as amnio from a blood test that comes back before you are 12 weeks preg.
Feb. 2nd, 2014 12:07 am (UTC)
link away :) although clearly it's not indisputable, as everyone is lining up to debate me on 2/3 of the points, lol!
Feb. 2nd, 2014 12:36 am (UTC)
Feb. 1st, 2014 11:04 pm (UTC)
I'll play Devil's Advocate...

Wipe warmers= great for moody 2 year old in winter

Diaper genies= better than smelly alternatives

Hospital food = better than cooking

Hospital births= sometimes really suck

Feb. 1st, 2014 11:32 pm (UTC)
For me, pregnancy brain may be a myth, but pregnancy memory/language is definitely an issue. I know I'm still smart, but I forget basic words. Like the other day, I couldn't remember the word "shoulder" for 2 hours. I finally had to ask a grad student "What is the thing that hooks the arm to the torso called again?" while pointing at mine.

Oh, and I probably should say oh hi, I'm pregnant again (26 weeks) so this is not 3 and a half years residual from my daughter. (Pregnancy isn't internet official cause I can't deal with my friends right now haha)

Also, thanks for the skepticalob link, it's a nice foil to myobsaidwhat.com :)

and one more thing: Colase after delivery is your friend, that is my advice to every pregnant person I know, saved me even more than Tucks did.

Edited at 2014-02-01 11:33 pm (UTC)
Feb. 2nd, 2014 12:08 am (UTC)
oh gosh yes, I'll add Colase, I was on it for a long time!
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 2nd, 2014 02:34 am (UTC)
I don't think it should be called pregnancy brain though because I don't think it's substantially different from the brain farts people have at other times especially during times of stress or lack of sleep etc.
Feb. 2nd, 2014 03:10 am (UTC)
I agree, and calling it pregnancy brain leads to thinks like a friend of mine getting an eval from a student that her "pregnancy hormones made her awful". Which is bullshit; the student just didn't want to actually work/think. And it feeds into the idea that women are incompetent and they shouldn't be paid as much "just in case they get pregnant" etc.
Feb. 2nd, 2014 02:09 am (UTC)
We used our monitor for a long time, well after out of "baby" stage. Nothing like setting the kid down for a nap and then being able to wander down to the lakefront and enjoy a beer.

Just get one with great range. ;)
Feb. 2nd, 2014 02:30 am (UTC)
*takes notes*

I have friends whose minds were entirely unchanged during pregnancy, at least two whose mental health improved, and one who went flamingly insane. People are fascinating.
Feb. 2nd, 2014 11:49 pm (UTC)
I'd move "get nursing bras" to first trimester list, not third. :)
Mine went up a size every 10 weeks, from department-store 34D (where band size formula is ribcage +4") to specialty-brand 34J/K (don't add inches to band). And over the 2.5 years I nursed I went back down through the same sizes.

Other small disagreements, but mostly: Oh yeah!
Feb. 3rd, 2014 02:34 am (UTC)
That was a really good post. I appreciate it and will memorise it for future reference. :)
Feb. 4th, 2014 01:23 am (UTC)
Great compilation, and I agree with 2/3 of it.

- Diaper genie was great. Kept the smell in, much more than a trash can.
- I avoided the baby monitor until I realized that a whimpering baby goes back to sleep much faster than one what is in a full-blown screaming fit. If you have a monitor, when they first start fussing, you can rush to the crib and put them back to sleep. By the time they go into full-blown meltdown, it takes much longer!
- While I lost all my pregnancy weight via breastfeeding too, I know moms who breastfed 100% and did not lose their pregnancy weight, so it can be disconcerting for them.
Feb. 4th, 2014 02:24 am (UTC)
Can you underline, highlight, italicize, and tattoo on your forehead "Vaccinate your kids!!!" because if I see one more ridiculous anti herd immunity diatribe from some hippy crunchy natural parenting board I will literally sob tears of sad.
Feb. 4th, 2014 05:32 pm (UTC)
1. yes!!!
5. I love Expecting 411 (and the rest of the series for a good source)
7. My doc won't see anyone unless you're high risk for some reason until you're 10 weeks and then you hear the heartbeat which is very nice
17. I disagree here - it gave me a lot of peace of mind in moments of panic to know that at least the known bad things were unlikely
25. I wish people bought what I registered for. it kind of majorely annoyed me that people decided that they knew better that my little girl needed pink jeans and not a dinosaur footie.
27. disagree - we have a diaper deckor and it way cuts down on the smell
35. shrug, nothing wrong with the baby wearing not matching socks. I think it's kind of fun in fact.
50. my hospital had goat cheese salad and other really awesome things, so this may not be true everywhere
55. yes... my SIL decided to announce to everyone on facebook before us. not cool
59. I think this really depends on your metabolism going into this. I have a crappy one, always have. I gained only 25 lbs and am working very very hard on loosing that last 10 lbs (grr) even though I'm exclusively breastfeeding and am already 8 months pp.
63. yes yes yes
Feb. 6th, 2014 03:24 am (UTC)
book recommendation: Placenta, the gift of life

Encapsulation may have come from hippies, but there are many traditions of eating it that go a long way back in other cultures.

Edited at 2014-02-06 03:27 am (UTC)
Jul. 10th, 2014 05:59 pm (UTC)
You know that horrible rash you mentioned may have been from the Dermoplast and not the pads. I used Dermoplast on a burn and while it did numb the pain, after a couple of uses I got a horrible rash on top of the burn. Once I stopped using Dermoplast the rash went away.
Sara Fleming
Jul. 14th, 2014 03:56 am (UTC)
I am pretty sure all of these, except maybe a few, are opinions, not facts. Sorry.
Rebecca Presto
Dec. 2nd, 2014 06:37 pm (UTC)
I have one child, and am working on number 2! I loved the post. Funny, and insightful.
I want to thank you for your candor.

On a side note, I think if someone didn't like what you had to say, they should eat their words, and get a real hobby. Not just read blogs all day and write senseless prattle to make themselves feel important and self righteous.

Anyway- once again, great post, totally relate-able, and fun.
Jan. 13th, 2015 02:27 am (UTC)
You said it!
As a midwife, mother and MOMS Club member, everything you said hit a cord with me. You say the things that go unspoken in motherland so I admire you! And did I mention that I'm doing a Masters degree with my dissertation in placentophagia - yes eating your placenta even has a name! Wish me luck!
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )

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