When you’re pregnant, you’ll receive tips and advice from your family, friends, and even random strangers at the grocery store. With advice being hurled at you from all directions, you would think you know everything under the sun about pregnancy and childbirth.
In reality, there are plenty of things no one tells you about pregnancy. People like to cast pregnancy in glowing terms. And while much of it is downright miraculous, they’re not telling you the whole story.
Let’s take a truly honest look at pregnancy: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Here are 50 things no one told me about being pregnant.
1. You will be extremely gassy.
Yes, let’s start the list off with a little TMI. Maybe most women simply don’t want to discuss the fact that they felt a constant need to let one rip during pregnancy, but it’s the truth.
For me, it was one of the earliest symptoms too, seemingly starting around the time of conception. Maybe it has something to do with the frequent constipation—another fun pregnancy symptom.
2. You can leak milk before giving birth.
Don’t be alarmed if your breasts begin leaking milk during your pregnancy, even pretty early on. It’s perfectly normal, although it feels a bit strange.
If you leak heavily or it starts to bother you, you can put some tissue in your bra or purchase maternity breast pads.
3. As tempting as it is, don’t eat whatever you want.
“Don’t worry about it, you’re eating for two!” they say. It’s incredibly easy to give into temptation—and follow the well-meaning advice of others—when it comes to eating while pregnant.
But don’t indulge every craving, or you’ll eat entire cheese pizzas before you can stop yourself. Remember that your baby eats what you eat, and that the more weight you gain, the more difficult it is to lose after birth.
4. Google is not the answer.
You’ll have all kinds of questions about what’s okay to eat, what’s okay to do, and what’s normal during pregnancy. You may feel tempted to seek answers via a quick Google search. Don’t.
Not only is the Internet filled with information that isn’t exactly true, but you’ll likely come away from a Google search thinking that you’ve already made a terrible mistake. Just call your doctor, and don’t worry about being obnoxious—doctors are used to crazy pregnant ladies.
5. Fear of the unknown is the worst.
You may feel a sense of anxiety during pregnancy, like there are a million things to do and you have no idea how to do any of them. Seeking information and completing items on your checklist will make you feel much better.
Go to Lamaze class and/or read books about pregnancy and parenting, even if you don’t end up using all of the information. Doing literally anything to prepare for the baby will make you feel more capable and confident.
6. Watching childbirth videos is not a good idea.
On the other hand, there is some information you definitely shouldn’t seek. You may tell yourself you’re conducting research or getting mentally prepared, but don’t watch videos of childbirth.
You’ll end up being more scared or anxious than before. Plus, no matter how much you feel like you won’t know what to do during the birth, your body will. It all comes naturally, so there’s no need to torture yourself with unpleasant visuals.
7. Complete strangers now feel entitled to comment on your weight and appearance.
You may have heard this one before, but it’s crazy how true it is. People you’ve never seen before think it’s perfectly fine to tell you that you look huge, or alternatively that you’re tiny. Comments like, “Wow, you must be having twins!” or, “You don’t even look pregnant!” are the norm.
Try not to let the comments bother you, and keep in mind that only your doctor can tell you if your weight is within the normal range.
8. You won’t be able to roll onto your stomach, and it’s terrible.
If you asked me before I was pregnant, I would have said that I don’t sleep on my stomach often. But once the ability to do so was stripped from me, I found myself desperately wanting to lie on my stomach.
Sleep in general can get pretty uncomfortable during pregnancy, and it’s hard to find a decent position to get some rest. One of the best feelings after having your baby will be finally getting to roll onto your stomach again.
9. Still, sleep while you can.
People may tell you, “You can sleep when the baby sleeps,” but that’s not necessarily true. Usually while the baby sleeps, you’ll realize now is your chance to get some laundry or dishes done, spend time with your partner, or finally shower.
As hard as it is to sleep while you’re pregnant, it’s even harder once your baby arrives, so get as much sleep as humanly possible.
10. You don’t have to agonize over what is or isn’t good for the baby.
Your doctor will tell you the major dos and don’ts of pregnancy. Don’t agonize over whether it’s okay to eat soft cheese, have a tuna sandwich, or grab a coffee every now and then.
You’ll never find a clear consensus on these things anyway, and it’s stressful to find yourself constantly wondering if your every meal is hurting your baby. Follow your doctor’s advice, do what seems right to you, and don’t sweat the small stuff.
11. The man in your life isn’t going to understand your experience.
He’ll try to empathize and be as helpful and supportive as possible, but your partner can’t possibly understand what pregnancy feels like. This can be difficult to accept while the pregnancy hormones are raging, but try to communicate your feelings and needs with compassion.
You won’t always get along with your partner during pregnancy, but try to limit the amount of times you yell, “YOU DID THIS TO ME!” or, “I WANT ICE CREAM NOW!”
12. Some pregnancy symptoms are more extreme than people tell you.
People probably mention hormones, cravings, and nausea, but they tend to sugarcoat just how awful some of these symptoms can feel.
Cravings feel like absolute necessities, and the hormones make you cry like a baby about any and everything. (This is possibly to prepare your household for life with a frequently crying human.) Certain smells will make you want to vomit immediately.
13. The second trimester is the best.
It may be different for everyone, but the second trimester was definitely the sweet spot for me. The first trimester might make you think you’re dying, and the third trimester will have you questioning just how long nine months can be.
During the second trimester, I felt like the stereotypical “glowing” pregnant woman. In hindsight, I wish I would have appreciated the second trimester more, because the third felt like a limp to the finish line.
14. Pregnancy pants are complicated.
I could never really figure out the sizes on maternity pants, and then there’s the fact that your size will continue to change both during and after pregnancy.
To avoid spending excessive amounts of money on variously sized pants, I simply bought some loose-fitting, flowy dresses that I can still wear now. I basically lived in dresses and sweatpants for the entire pregnancy, and it was one of my best decisions as a pregnant woman.
15. It’s not necessary to spend a fortune on baby clothes.
Baby clothes are ridiculously adorable, and you’ll want to buy every cute ensemble you see. Indulge yourself a bit, but limit the amount of money you spend on newborn clothes.
Your baby grows out of newborn clothes very, very quickly. Plus, between poop, spit-up, and other messes, your baby is likely to destroy just about every item of clothing she owns. It’s best to buy a few outfits you absolutely love, along with some plain white onesies.
16. It’s important to make a childcare plan in advance.
Childcare can be extremely expensive. If your baby will eventually be in daycare, expect to spend at least $160 a week once you return to work. Make sure you have a plan in place for the added expense of daycare, diapers, formula if applicable, and other baby items.
Also, lock down a support system that can help you with your baby in case of an emergency. This same support system can hopefully make casseroles, help with laundry, or make sure you and your partner get some time to yourselves once the baby is born. This is crucial for your sanity!
17. It’s almost impossible to shave once you get big.
Shaving your legs, and especially shaving “down there,” becomes a challenging task once your belly is round and massive. You can’t really see what you’re doing or navigate around the baby bump.
I had my partner help out a couple of times, but I mostly accepted being both huge and hairy.
18. Being intimate gets weird and uncomfortable later in pregnancy.
Many women say they want to get intimate with their partners more often while they’re pregnant, but that wasn’t true for me, especially in the later months.
You may have increased sensitivity, and it’s difficult to find a position that doesn’t cause your belly to get in the way or otherwise feel uncomfortable.
19. Pregnancy brain is bizarre.
Pregnancy brain is an underrated pregnancy symptom that people don’t discuss much.
Aside from crying and otherwise acting crazy, you’ll also find yourself forgetting everything, leaving your car keys in odd places, and wandering into a room only to wonder why you’re there in the first place.
20. Your baby probably won’t look cute on the ultrasound.
Some mothers may claim their babies look adorable on ultrasound pictures, but the reality is that ultrasound photos make most babies look like aliens.
Although the ultrasound won’t really tell you what your baby will look like, it’s still really cool to see your little human moving around in there.
21. Your child’s father may be asked to hold your legs open during the delivery.
If you’re anything like me, you aren’t thrilled about the idea of the man in your life watching a human emerge from your body. In fact, I created a game plan for the delivery: he was going to stand by my head, hold my hand, and not look.
But the doctor had other plans.
“You’re going to have to hold her legs!” he immediately instructed. In the end, it was actually pretty cool to share the moment in such an intimate and involved way.
22. You may not poop during labor, but you’ll definitely feel like it’s going to happen.
When the baby begins pushing downward, it feels a lot like you really, really need to go #2. It doesn’t mean you actually will, although that is a possibility.
Don’t worry: anything potentially embarrassing or gross about childbirth has happened to millions of people before. Plus, you’re being amazing and delivering a little person, so there’s nothing to be ashamed about!
23. You might also vomit during labor.
I know, I’m giving you a lot of gross details, but childbirth is not glamorous. It’s normal to vomit during labor, so you may want to keep a bucket or bag handy.
You also might vomit a lot. I remember worrying that something was wrong, so keep in mind that this is perfectly fine. Of course, every labor is different, so you may get lucky and not vomit at all.
24. Your first labor isn’t always long.
The first labor is supposed to be the longest you’ll experience, but that doesn’t mean it has to last for hours and hours. The length of time varies, but my labor was only three hours.
That means you shouldn’t always listen when people say, “You have plenty of time to get to the hospital once the contractions start.” In fact, my labor was so fast that I didn’t even have the option of getting an epidural, which was not a pleasant surprise during the worst of my contractions.
25. The contractions are the worst part.
Opinions on this topic vary as well, but for me the contractions were far worse than the actual delivery, especially once the contractions were a minute apart or less.
On the other hand, at least for me, the pushing wasn’t extremely painful. Perhaps I was just desensitized by then, because I didn’t even feel it much when the doctor had to make a cut.
26. You aren’t guaranteed to have your OB-GYN for the actual delivery.
After spending nine months becoming comfortable with one particular doctor, I was surprised to have a doctor I had never met before deliver my baby.
I wish I had realized that this was a possibility in advance, so I would have been mentally prepared for the news that my doctor was at a Christmas party.
27. You will be probably be a jerk while you’re in labor.
Even if you’re normally the nicest person in the world, you’ll probably be rude to people while you’re in labor. I tried not to be, but I couldn’t stop myself from pushing away people’s hands or snapping angry comments.
I also swore a lot, although not directly at people. Expect to uncharacteristically scream and swear, but also expect people to be understanding and not hold it against you.
28. You are MUCH stronger than you think.
The idea of giving birth can be incredibly intimidating, and you might worry about your ability to handle the pain. Your body was made to do this, and you will surprise yourself with your own strength.
Despite not getting an epidural, the experience was less painful than I imagined, I recovered quickly, and I ended up feeling empowered and amazing as a result.
29. You will forget everything within a week or two.
Very quickly, the entire experience of labor and childbirth becomes a blur. Maybe it’s nature’s way of preparing you to one day willingly reproduce again, or maybe the pain is just outweighed by the beauty and joy of your child.
Either way, although the pain may be severe, it is temporary, and it will soon become a rapidly fading memory as you cuddle your new baby.
30. It may not be overwhelming love at first sight, and that’s okay.
You’ll probably immediately love your baby and think she’s a beautiful miracle, but you might not experience the epic motherly love that people rave about right away.
At first, you’re just exhausted and in pain, and then you’re focused on simply tending to your baby’s basic needs. It might not be until later, when your baby begins to open his eyes, smile, coo, and eventually talk, that an extremely strong, powerful, and loving bond will form.
31. You will see tons of doctors and nurses during your hospital stay.
It’s no secret that hospital bills stemming from childbirth are expensive. One reason is that you will interact with at least a dozen doctors and nurses during your stay, and all of them will need to be paid.
Someone will come by and examine your baby’s ears, multiple nurses will be in and out of your room checking your blood pressure, etc. Sometimes you’ll just want to be left alone. Still, you may miss having nurses on hand when you return home with your baby, who doesn’t come with an instruction manual.
32. The constant parade of nurses will make it hard to get a decent sleep.
After delivering your baby, you’ll want nothing more than a long, deep sleep. Unfortunately, it’s not going to happen right away.
Every couple of hours, including throughout the night, nurses will bustle into the room to poke you, check your blood pressure, give you pain medication, and make sure you and baby are doing well. Of course, these tasks are important, but you may feel that it’s a bit invasive and sleep depriving.
33. Your lady parts really will go back to normal.
It may be uncomfortable to discuss, but many women fear for the state of their vagina after it transports a 7-pound human into the world. You may wonder if sex will ever feel the same again.
It will, honestly. Your vagina is designed to stretch and then return to its normal state. Sex may feel slightly painful or uncomfortable at first. But eventually, everything will feel just as good as before, if not even better.
34. All babies have difficulty latching initially.
When you first try to breastfeed your baby, it may be a struggle. Don’t feel discouraged or think you’re doing something wrong; this happens to just about everyone.
Keep building a bond with your baby and continue practicing. You and your baby will get it eventually. (Or you won’t, which is also fine.)
35. Although your larger stomach may remain in place for a while, your larger breasts won’t.
Your breasts will be extra voluptuous during pregnancy and for a while after, but you won’t get to keep them forever.
Once you stop breast feeding, they will briefly be even more massive—and also rock hard—as your milk dries up. After that, you might actually be relieved when they return to normal.
36. Post-partum hormones can be brutal.
People tend to focus on the love and joy that comes with delivering a child, but it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. It’s important to remember that you aren’t a bad person if you aren’t always 100% thrilled after having a baby.
Your body feels different, you’re sleep deprived, and you’re embarking on the challenging task of caring for and raising a tiny person. Talk to your doctor or a therapist if you begin to feel too overwhelmed, and remember that you aren’t alone.
37. Cuddling your baby is the best feeling in the world.
Holding your soft, warm baby close is an incredibly blissful experience. Perhaps because she was formed in your body, your baby will seem to fit you perfectly.
Enjoy the feeling now before your baby becomes an independent toddler and starts to resist!
38. You might be scared to go #2 after birth, but you don’t need to be.
After having your baby, especially if you ended up getting stitches, you might be afraid to go #2. My nurses told me it’s normal not to go for a few days after, but not to be afraid to use the restroom if you feel the need.
Your stitches won’t rip, it won’t be horribly painful, and you’ll feel silly for worrying about it in the first place.
39. Your baby will literally sleep all the time at first.
If you can’t wait to play with your baby and talk to your baby when she’s first born, you may have to wait a little longer. The first week or more, your baby will basically just sleep all the time.
This can be a good opportunity to catch up on sleep, in preparation for the day when your baby decides sleep is not so great after all. The beginning is basically just feeding, burping, and changing diapers while ensuring that your baby stays healthy and safe.
40. You’re going to constantly worry about your baby’s health and safety.
You will probably be paranoid and anxious at the beginning, thinking every little thing your baby does could be a sign of something terrible. You may find yourself worrying about SIDs and standing over your baby’s crib, watching her breathe.
This isn’t unusual, but try not to freak yourself out. If you do have questions, call your baby’s doctor to ease your mind.
41. It feels strange not being pregnant for a while.
You couldn’t wait until your baby was delivered, but your empty belly feels odd for a while afterwards. You may even experience the odd sensation of phantom kicks.
Reaching a protective hand toward your baby bump may also be a reflex that persists for a couple of weeks, and your body’s lightness will feel weird until you adjust.
42. Adjusting to life with baby is not easy.
This seems like common sense, but it’s something people are hesitant to say. The time period right after your baby is born is difficult. You’re bleeding, hormonal, sore, exhausted, and popping pain pills, all while trying to keep a tiny human safe and healthy.
You won’t always feel delighted and overjoyed about your baby, but you’re not a bad mom. And if you are, then we all are—women just don’t talk about the difficult times for fear of being labeled as such.
43. It’s not only okay to take time for yourself, but vital.
“Mom guilt” is the worst. Any time you take a moment away from your baby or make any sort of trivial parenting mistake, you might find yourself wracked with feelings of guilt.
In reality, taking time for yourself is good for not only you, but your baby as well. Don’t become so focused on being a mom that you forget to be a person.
44. Fatherhood brings out unexpected things in your partner.
You will see a whole new side of your partner as he begins to experience fatherhood. You might not agree on every aspect of parenting, but it is wonderful to watch the man you love interact with the child the two of you have created.
One of my favorite parts of motherhood has been watching the father-daughter bond grow and develop.
45. Some of your friendships will change.
When you bring a child into the world, you won’t have the time for your friends that you once did. You’ll also now have different priorities and interests.
Eventually, you may notice your friends keeping in touch with you or inviting you places less. At the same time, your friendships with fellow mothers may deepen and become important sources of comfort and understanding.
46. Babies don’t always smell great.
I’ve always been puzzled by women who exclaim, “I love the smell of babies!” A freshly bathed baby has a lovely baby smell, but they produce plenty of foul odors too.
Your baby is going to spit up and poop a lot. He’ll also pass gas frequently, which can be funny and adorable coming from such a tiny and delicate creature, but still very smelly. And your baby’s breath may not smell fantastic either, especially since you can only brush with water initially.
47. Your clothes may never fit you quite the same again.
You may lose all of your pregnancy weight, but your hips and rear end are not likely to return to pre-baby size. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing; I encourage you to embrace your new curves!
However, this does mean that your jeans might not fit again. Of course, I’m only two years post-childbirth, so who knows? Maybe the third year is the magical time when you successfully wriggle into your pre-pregnancy jeans. I’m not holding my breath though—aside from when I periodically attempt to squeeze into said jeans.
48. Everyone will feel entitled to give you parenting advice.
Your mom, your mother-in-law, your neighbor, and random passerby will give their two cents about how to best raise, dress, and care for your baby.
Smile and nod, brush it off, and remember that only you can decide what is best for your baby.
49. The experience is different for everyone.
As much as people will give you advice and share their experiences—including me—your own experience may be completely unique.
Be prepared for the unexpected, and don’t take horror stories to heart, because what happened to someone else won’t necessarily happen to you.
50. Like pregnancy itself, the early days with your baby will soon be just a memory.
Despite some of the information I’ve shared here, pregnancy and motherhood truly are amazing experiences, and you will feel love beyond anything you ever imagined. Sadly, it all passes so fast.
It’s amazing to watch your baby learn and grow, but you may find yourself missing the early days too. Despite the ups and downs of pregnancy and childbirth, treasure the experience, because there’s nothing else like it.