I was having one of my better mornings…smooth a.m. routine, everyone on time and in a decent mood, and then it happened – a song came on the radio and I was sobbing my eyes out. Normally this happens once in a blue moon but the past 7+ months I have had to allow for hormones <insert eye roll here> and the reactions they cause. During my first pregnancy, I’d have thought “Oh eMm Gee! I am clinically depressed, something must be wrong with the baby” etc etc. Now I give myself a mini-eye roll, reach for the tissues, and let it pass.

There’s something hard about adjusting your “normal” even if it’s temporary, and even if it’s to allow for a happy event. (If you’re me, there’s also some anxiety, worry that I am doing something wrong, and difficulty accepting that not-like-unpregnant-me is okay for a while.) With all of that said, I wanted to make a list of tips and advice that I wish someone had offered me. Actually, I suppose these are tips and tricks that I have collected over the past 4+ years, but it’s nice to have them all in one place. Ready? (and then you can add yours as “comments” below!)

Let the dog go first
Even the most well-behaved dog will not be aware of your new sense of balance…and you may not be either. Before I had a baby, I was never a clumsy person. I was a gymnast, for goodness sake. Now, any little nudge or wobble will throw me completely off kilter. I also have the drop-sies…I NEVER drop anything, and now that I am expecting, it’s almost constant. (My husband will not let me put away pots and pans anymore, if that tells you anything.) Brace yourself, and know that it’s normal and it mostly goes away. And let the dog go first down the stairs so it doesn’t trip you up. This is actually not a bad rule at all times, but during pregnancy, it’s a must.

Wardrobe secrets
A friend of mine said to me during her first pregnancy “Did you know they make maternity SPANX? Yay!” I made a polite reply while thinking in my head “you are so vain, what is WRONG with you – what kind of person wears slimming garments while pregnant?” The answer is now “me” thank you very much. For some reason this second pregnancy has felt a lot heavier than the first even though the weight gain is about the same, and the shapewear actually provides support (in addition to shaping, which honestly – who cares at this point).

In general, I’d say:

  • Don’t knock SPANX or other maternity shape/support wear til you try it…and don’t be scared to try it.
  • Find staples in your size and buy them – you can always consign or donate them later.
  • Shop seasonal sales…Local Consignment Sales and Gap Maternity has some amazing deals on seasonal merchandise, for example, and you will be able to wear it at some point. Remember, pregnancy spans 2-3 seasons. (Whew.)
  • Find a group of moms to swap and share with! My girlfriends have almost completely provided my maternity wardrobe this time around.
  • If you are working outside the home, invest in some good staples. My personal favorite are Japanese Weekend flat-front, no-pocket pants, but try some different options to see what works best on your frame. You may also want to consider sizing up or not-trying some of the items that fit well when you buy them.
  • Get used to wearing layer upon layer – often you’ll have high-belly pants on, as well as a tank under whatever top you choose daily.
  • Tanks – get several of these. They are great in case your shirts end up being more sheer than you’d like, and they also help smooth out the lines from the belly pants. In winter, they are also warm!
  • If you have a formal event or two, or even just dressy (wedding, business function, etc) and don’t want to invest in maternity wear just for that, consider renting an outfit. I know it sounds bizarre, but it’s actually a very cool concept!

Step away from google
Especially for first time moms! You will become more aware of what your body is up to than you ever wanted to be. There are all kinds of twinges, pains, discomforts, and just plain weird things going on during the 40 weeks of pregnancy, and if you’re like me, you’ll be tempted to google “lower abdominal pain, pregnancy” for example. DON’T DO IT.

Find a site you like and stick to it – webmd.com, whattoexpect.com, americanpregnancy.org, or one of many others – and use that as your go-to resource. And remember – while websites and friends can answer most of your questions, you should always feel free to voice your concerns to a health care provider. Many of them have dedicated nurse lines to take calls, and no question is a dumb question. Trust me on this.

If you are more of a book person, What to Expect When You’re Expecting is probably the most-recommended pregnancy guide ever. A newer option is The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy but be warned: this one keeps no secrets, and discusses many things you may not want to discuss! On the flip side, there are very few questions left unanswered. For men, one quick and funny read is called My Boys Can Swim and it helps your husband understand the changes that your body (and mind) are going through, mainly so he will not think you’ve gone off the deep end.

And don’t forget the Pregnancy category on TMoM here!

Prepare for people to get stupid
When people hear that you are pregnant, they will say and do things without thinking. Beware of belly rubbers, close talkers, and especially the people who want to identify with you immediately and therefore will say whatever thought comes to mind. During my first pregnancy, I got more questions than comments. This time around, people continue to point out bad or scary possibilities. For example, when you announce your pregnancy, and the first thing you hear is “Oh, you’re 12 weeks? That’s so great…my cousin lost her baby around 12 weeks” (or whatever week you are). Another is “When are you due? Oh that’s great, even though my sister has a friend who lost a baby at <whatever week you are.> It was the weirdest thing…”

According to my doctor, for the most part, the chances of miscarriage after 12 weeks are extraordinarily low overall, and the same with pregnancy loss after the first trimester. If you are doing everything you can to be healthful and cautious, there’s no reason to think that you will have anything but a happy, healthy baby at the end of all this. (And this is the way you must think during your pregnancy because you will worry yourself to death with the possibilities.) Just take things as they come, and try to stay positive.

Expect “crazy” and give yourself a break
I remember saying to a friend of mine “When you break up with her, there’s going to be *crazy* so just be ready for that.” Pregnancy is the same way. Take my example above about the radio song/boo-hooing…it’s actually totally normal. Allow yourself to feel how you feel, and expect a roller coaster of emotions – love, hate, unhappy, bliss, and more. One important note, though: If you suspect you are depressed or if it’s all too much, or even if you are just overly worried or anxious, PLEASE talk to your health care provider. There are many methods to help alleviate negative feelings during pregnancy, and there is no reason to go through it alone.

After you deliver your perfect and beautiful bundle of joy, you’ll actually go through a very tricky adjustment period post-partum. Baby blues are normal; post-partum depression is more severe. If your symptoms persist more than 2-3 weeks – or if you are overly anxious, terribly upset, or even a bit distant or disengaged – mention it to your health care provider. It’s probably normal but if not, you’ll want to consider treatment options right away so you can get back to being a mom. Post-partum depression is relatively common and very treatable, so don’t suffer. I had it myself, and basically missed the first 5 months of my daughter’s life because I was unable to do much more than just go through the motions. Take care of yourself, discuss the possibilities with your doctor, and enjoy that baby!

Find your faith
I am a worrier, so pregnancy is not a glowing and sunny time for me. Quite honestly, I found pregnancy to be difficult both physically and mentally, both times around. when I confessed to my doctor, this is what she said:

“You know more than you think you know, and you know how to take care of yourself. You are doing it right; worrying will not change the outcome. Listen to your gut, ask questions, and stay hydrated.” Practical there at the end, but you get the message.

If you believe in a higher power and can find comfort there, now’s the time. Faith is important no matter what but can be especially comforting during pregnancy…and remember to have faith in yourself too. You know the right things to do. A little caffeine is ok! Your doctor will tell you what is appropriate and what is not – follow these guidelines and try to let it ride.

Make a list (or 3)
If you thought the pregnancy stupids were a myth, let me correct you – pregnancy does indeed make you forgetful! I keep a pen and paper everywhere – in my purse, by the bed, in the kitchen drawer, in the car…and I jot down to-do’s and thoughts as they show up. Even if your bag ends up looking like a trashcan, at least you won’t lose the idea.

Ask for help!
I am the worst at this, and then I get so frustrated I end up yelling at someone (anyone!) to vent. The truth is, people want to help. They are dying to help. Desperate, even! So take them up on it. Make a list of what you would never ask anyone to do – bring dinner, keep the baby for an hour so you can nap, recommend a cleaning service, vacuum the den, take your older child for an hour…almost anything – and keep it handy. That way when people call and ask what you need, you can choose something. Then you get help, and they get to pitch in (as well as visit with the new baby, which is all anyone cares about at this point anyway).

And that, friends, is my list of advice, tips and tricks…sorry it’s a little long-winded. What other info would you share with expectant moms?