S1:E36 10 Things You Wish You Knew Before Getting Pregnant
Updated: Jul 20, 2020
by: Maggie Alford
Like most little girls, I grew up playing with baby dolls and barbies. Every day, I pretended to care, nurture, and attempted to portray all the motherly instincts towards the plastic dolls my mom purchased at Toys-R-Us. As I got older, I would dream about having that little baby of my own.
When I got married I knew this dream would one day become a reality. As my husband and I started to think about this next step in our marriage, we quickly realized we were clueless! When I say clueless, I mean clueless. We are so excited to start growing our family but because the lack of knowledge we both have; it has been somewhat …well, terrifying.
Here’s some of the questions that ran through our minds :
1. What is a placenta?
2. Can we have sex while pregnant?
3. Does water actually leave your body when your “water breaks”?
4. When do your breast start to fill with milk?
This list goes on and on, but what I was most curious about was how can I get my body as prepared as possible for my first baby. Thankfully, that’s where Kristen came in! On top of answering some of our silly questions (mostly, my husbands), she answered all my nutrition questions in great detail, so I am able prepare for a happy and healthy first pregnancy.
Although there is no magic pill or magic food you can eat to guarantee a perfect pregnancy, Kristen and I discussed the Top 10 Things You Should Know Before Getting Pregnant for The First Time on her podcast, Holy Healthy Mama.
You should listen to the podcast episode, but here’s my take-away from our discussion:
1. What are the best ways to prepare for a pregnancy or for the process of trying to conceive?
Kristen made some specific nutrition recommendations that you should hear from her, but let me say that I’ve started taking a multivitamin with Folic Acid and Iron, added flax seed to my diet, and I’m more aware of my sugar and sodium intake. I like to mix the flax seed into Greek yogurt and add strawberries. Kristen also emphasized to ensure you are at a healthy weight for your height and age – If you are over or under weight it becomes harder to conceive . And lastly, Kristen recommended to ensure you are in a good mental space. If you need to talk to someone, do it! If you are military, it will be covered. If you aren’t military, many insurances will cover these types of appointments, but if not, talk to a friend, your husband, mom, sister, whoever. You can even journal. Whatever you are feeling get it out of your brain so you can be mentally prepared.
2. What are the steps you take as soon as you see a positive?
Nothing. Kristen explained that there is nothing you can do. You most likely won’t feel any different as soon as you see those two pink lines. You will start randomly googling, read some mom blogs, shop for baby stuff at Target, quickly realize how expensive babies are, panic a little, and begin spiraling down a major rabbit hole. Hah! Try to get over the threshold of saying “I’m pregnant.” Next you will want to schedule an appointment with your doctor for routine regular care. And lastly, if you haven’t already start taking that Multivitamin.
3. How do we care for ourselves differently throughout the pregnancy?
It is crucial to stay as active as possible. Give yourself grace and be at peace with your activity level and weight. Again, maintain healthy weight gain –Talk to your doctor to determine what this looks like for you. Kristen reminded us that we are NOT eating for two. You are eating for one plus a tiny person with very little energy requirements. Keep this in mind from the beginning of pregnancy and you’ll have a better chance of avoiding pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes during later trimesters….not sure what those are? I wasn’t either! Make sure you listen to the episode to hear all about these problems!
4. Miscarriages, is there a way to prevent this? What do you do if this does happen? Coping methods?
If there was a magical food, and a magical cure, someone would have figured it out by now. Kristen says that, “We’ll never understand God’s plan.” At the end of the day all we can is trust. God does a lot of things that we will never understand but we are all his children and he is going to throw us a lot of curveballs in life that we do not like or that are very painful. And talking to a therapist or maybe someone who has experienced a miscarriage, can help with coping and acceptance.
5. What do you do to prepare going into labor?
Kristen emphasized the importance to take any and all the classes that are offered at your hospital. You can never be too prepared. She also reminded us that Baby #1 is going to look totally different from the rest. Make sure you pack nipple cream, Dermoplast, the pads you like (for the healing process). You will also want to pack some snacks and Kristen recommends a Doula to help prepare you. If you don’t know what a Doula is, it is a birthing assistant to help you through the pregnancy and birthing process.
6. Do you actually poop yourself? & Yes, Kristen did answer this one for me!
Kristen says that you should never know if you actually pooped yourself during labor!! Come to an understanding with your husband that you will NEVER speak of the things he seen or smelled during labor. When you’re early in labor you might be worried about the things that come out of you and who might see you down there. But Kristen said, “as intimidating as it might be, when you get into active labor you don’t even know if you’re naked, where you are, it’s unreal how you get lost in Laborland so you won’t even know. It won’t even matter at point.”
7. Do they walk you through how to get the baby to latch?
Hopefully you have already taken a breastfeeding class, but if not its okay. Kristen strongly encouraged to have the number of the lactation consultant on hand, because you’re probably going to need it. She also explained that the doctors most of the time aren’t too concerned with that aspect. They have other patients and they typically are in and out once you have given birth. Someone, whoever it might be, will help you latch, but the baby will instinctively move to your breast.
8. What do I need to expect from breastfeeding?
In the beginning, breastfeeding is very hard and can be very painful at times, and your nipples might get scabby, especially if your baby has a bad latch. If you have pain and scabs, talk to someone. Your baby might not be getting an adequate amount of milk, which means he or she isn’t getting the nutrition that is needed. However, breastfeeding provides the best food for the baby. You just have to push through those tough moments, and it will get easier. Kristen reminded us that it is so important to fuel ourselves with food. If you’re concerned about getting back to your pre-pregnancy size, you still have to eat, and you have to eat nutritious foods. If you don’t do this, you will set yourself up for struggles, particularly with breastfeeding and supply. There are calories and nutrition in your breastmilk essential for your baby. Listen to your body, eat what you need to, and don’t forget nutritious foods. Snacking is okay. Make it an apple with nut butter rather than Cheetos and you’ll be better off in both the immediate and long-run.
9. Can you feed your baby strictly from pumped breastmilk by the bottle?
You can. It is a very difficult journey to exclusively pump. You will have all the different parts that need to be sterilized, you will have tons of bottles and a lot of materials. On top of all of that, there is the time that goes into it. The time to clean everything, the time to pump, and the time to feed the baby. It’s a really hard cycle. Kristen said in our interview that, “It’s different for all women. Some can exclusively pump and rock it, while other’s do it for a little bit, and then switch to formula.” You can also give your baby breastmilk and formula. A reason many women do this is because they might have a low supply, so they supplement with formula. However, breastmilk is supply and demand, so supplementing is typically a slow start to shy away from breastfeeding. However, she believes that if you are feeding your baby, you are doing a good job, no matter what that looks like.
10. How do I cope with body image issues after birth?
There are two sides you can look at this from. The first side is, you roll with the punches. “God placed you in the role of being a mother and you will feel empowered by that; you will feel invincible because of this role you are now in. It won’t matter if your hips are wider or if you put on a few extra pounds that you can’t get off.” Additionally, there are so many physiological changes that will take place, but Kristen reminds us that “it’s okay, because you have this human being that YOUR body made and grew.”
The second side is us being women. We can be too hard on ourselves; we feel the pressures from society and social media to be perfect, and we constantly compare ourselves to others. Kristen says that you should get to a point where you’re comfortable with your body, because if you have a healthy pregnancy you most likely will be back to the weight you were at pre-pregnancy. You will have the new version of yourself, and you deserve to love yourself.
After interviewing with Kristen, I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. Getting pregnant with my first baby wasn’t a scary thought anymore. Because of those fears, I kept pushing our family planning timeline further and further back. But now, that I have a clear understanding of what to expect, I don’t need to shape our timeline out of fear. Thanks to Kristen, I now have the knowledge to prepare my body for a health pregnancy and my husband and I are so excited to prepare for our family’s next chapter.
If you have the same fears I had about pregnancy and how to get your body healthy and prepared for your first baby, talk to Kristen. She can get you on the right track for a healthy and happy pregnancy. You don’t have to be alone during this process. Talk to Kristen and start eating and preparing with intention today.
If you're wanting to optimize your nutrition for conception, pregnancy, breastfeeding, or postpartum, CLICK HERE to see how we can work together.