Nancy O’Dell: 4 Things I Wish I Had Known BEFORE Getting Pregnant

Being a first time mom can be scary; there are so many pregnancy and parenting books out there, you can easily go into information overload! When I was pregnant with my daughter, Ashby, I was an avid “how-to” book reader on all things pregnancy. But after giving birth, I found that many of the books did not cover everything there is to know and what to expect. So, I decided to take my experience and write my book, Full of Life: Mom to Mom Tips I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was Pregnant, which incorporates all you go through during pregnancy and the time leading up to parenthood. I wanted to share it all in a simple, fun and straightforward book; I was read to dish the dirt on all those crazy, unexpected, sometimes disgusting, sometimes hilarious things that happen during pregnancy. Here are a few things I wish I had known while I was pregnant, so that you can know ahead of time!

Don’t Forget to Document

Start documenting everything now. Everybody thinks of making a baby album after the baby is born, but so many people don’t think of doing a pregnancy scrapbook. Trust me, I know firsthand how much your child will love it. My daughter, now 6, loves to look at the pregnancy scrapbooks I made and how my belly was growing, as she was growing inside. She asks me all kinds of cute questions and we share such a strong bonding moment when we talk about how she was in Mama’s belly all that time. Here are some ideas to include in your pregnancy album:

• A photo of your positive EPT test

• Ultrasound photos

• Swatches of the nursery fabric

• The cost of items the year your baby was born

• A family tree

• Reaction from relatives when they heard a baby would be coming in to the family

• Belly photos at regular intervals

• Advice from your girlfriends written in their handwriting

• Baby names you considered

• Photo of baby entering the home

Second Trimester Indiginities

Forgetfulness is one. I had heard about bouts of forgetfulness that women can experience during pregnancy, but I didn’t know just how intense those bouts would be. I’d be right in the middle of doing an interview, when I would just plain forget what I was talking about. My doctor told me forgetfulness happened with most all of his patients and to relax and just have a good laugh about it, so that’s what I did.

You may also experience wild dreams. These can range from scary dreams to crazy sex dreams. My friend told me she had the crazy sex dreams when pregnant. I mostly got scary dreams … which means I also got the short end of the stick.

Get ready for an insanely itchy belly. Obviously your skin is stretching, so I tried to head off the itchiness with lots of moisturizer. But you can enlist your partner to help, too. My hubby, Keith, would stand behind me, flip a towel over my belly and gently move the towel back and forth. It was heaven.

Pre-Baby Breast Leakage

In the third trimester, be aware that your colostrum may come in! So, you might want to switch to a thicker bra and buy yourself some nursing pads. The pads are tucked right inside your bra and no one will notice them. Otherwise, you will need to worry about surprise wet spots. Trust me, I learned this happens the hard way … while on TV!

Waterworks and Postpartum Elation

Be ready for all the tears that can happen after birth and understand where they are coming from. There is something that can happen which I now like to call postpartum elation. Every time I held my brand-new baby, I became very weepy. I would look down at her perfect little face and the next thing I knew, tears were flowing. One day my husband walked in to the room while I was nursing Ashby and saw that I was crying. He asked me what was wrong and I said “Absolutely nothing.” He asked me why I was crying and I said “I am just so happy.” I felt so blessed with this amazing addition to our family. Turns out it was the sweet, sentimental, loving, bonding thoughts that brought on the tears. It was at that point that my husband said, “Babe, I think you have postpartum elation.” And you know what, I still have postpartum elation to this day. Being a mom is just the best thing in the world to me!