Stuff I didn’t learn from TV

As the good little pop culture consumer that I am, I had naively assumed that television and movies had taught me pretty much all I needed to know about being pregnant – you have morning sickness, you get moody to the point of being irrational, you have to pee a lot and then you end up pretty fat with huge boobs. Okay, so I’m distilling things down a bit, but aren’t these supposed to be the biggies? Below is a brief list of symptoms that caught me completely by surprised when experiencing them or reading about how I should expect them per one of the many pregnancy books I now leaf through on a regular basis.

NOTE: Pretty much all of these fall under the category of over-sharing, so read on with caution. But then again this is a pregnancy blog, so what were you expecting? Lame diary entries about how excited I am to meet my baby and bad poetry about how beautiful it is to create life? You must be reading the wrong blog, ‘cause I’m not that chick.

1. Constipation: Yes folks, I’m starting with the most unpleasant and least talked about symptom, and other than a brief line in the movie Juno (when she’s telling her dad and step mom she’s pregnant, she says “if it is any consolation I have heartburn that is radiating in my knee caps and I haven’t taken a dump since like Wednesday… morning”), this is one the Writers Guild hasn’t tap for it’s comic potential. I can tell you if I’m going to have a good day or not based on my successes or failures on the can each morning. And what’s worse – trying to force the issue can result in hemorrhoids, something I simply refuse to entertain. So just call me two bowel movements a week Sally and don’t be surprised if I look a little bloated – it’s not a baby bump so much as gas at this point.

And the medical explanation? During pregnancy, your metabolism and general digestion slows down so that your body can extract the maximum amount of nutrients from your food. This pretty much turns your guts into a fermentation tank. What adds to the problem is that iron-rich prenatal vitamins cause constipation in and of themselves, before your lower intestine begins working at glacial speed. What can you do about it? Eat lots of fiber, drink lots of water and exercise (read: so basically not much).

2. Exhaustion: Sure, everybody knows that you’re tired in your third trimester. How couldn’t you be with all that extra weight to lug around and the impending sense of doom that results from having everyone you know says things like “enjoy the quiet time now, because once the baby comes…” But first trimester? This one came as a complete shock to me and in particular my husband. I was all ready to barf my brains out and cry at hallmark commercials, but I did not expect nearly falling asleep at my desk at 2 PM each day or wanting desperately to just go to bed around 9 each night. My poor husband became convinced that it would only get worse and began moping around the house convinced he was going to have half a wife for the next nine months, despite my constantly reading him exerts from the books about how things get better come second trimester.

And the medical explanation? Let’s defer to HealthSource.com on this one; “The ensuing fatigue is often particularly strong during the first trimester, when you’re building the placenta that feeds and nourishes your baby until birth. Also, the additional hormones circulating during pregnancy — particularly progesterone — can make you feel sleepy and less energetic. Your metabolism is also affected. Many women have low blood pressure while pregnant because their blood is circulating through two systems — mom’s and the baby’s — and that can cause fatigue.” What can you do about it? Get a good night’s sleep, take naps when you can and exercise (so again, not much). And remember, preggos need to cut back on caffeine so you can’t turn to an afternoon cup of coffee to get you through the day.

3. Acne: That’s right, folks. Despite always hearing pregnant women referred to as glowing, we actually get quite zitty the first few months. And I’m not just talking a blemish or two, I’m talking full body breakouts the likes of which you haven’t seen since the middle school locker room. I have zits on my chest and back as if I had a mild case of chicken pocks and let’s just say I am not a fan. Granted, the whole ordeal is mostly cleared up at this point, but I was certainly hoping that my last few weeks in the land of the skinny was going to look a bit more glamorous, especially as I am now reading the ingredients label of all my makeup to be sure that my vanity isn’t costing the small one too many IQ points.

And the medical explanation? Hormones, of course. But the good news is that I should have excellent skin once I get past month four or so (just in time to counter-balance the weight gain). Because just like being a teenager, hormone fluctuations are terrible for the skin, but just like being on birth control, steady and high levels of estrogen could kick the ass of Proactive. What can you do about it? Not much. You certainly can’t use any of the over the counter acne products, as Retin A and salicylic acid are no no’s for preggos. Just use a gentle face wash and buy some mineral-based cover up.

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One Response to “Stuff I didn’t learn from TV”

  1. Malena Says:

    During my first pregnancy, I learned about the Bradley Birthing method, which includes a comprehensive diet plan (http://www.bradleybirth.com/PD.aspx). I followed the diet, and took pregnancy vitamins without iron, but not so many because I knew that my diet was rich in nutrients. I also took the classes, which I highly recommend. Both babies were born naturally and easily. The first weighed 9’6 and the second 10’10, topping the weight and length charts!

    It is important to know that though you may take vitamins, that is no guarantee that your digestive system will assimilate them so that they are useful to your body. The vitamins in food are actually the most easily assimilated, though that does not include the vitamins in “fortified” food, like cereal.

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