When you find out you’re pregnant for the first time, there’s no doubt it’s a moment and a feeling you will never forget. That little blue stick stares back up at you with ‘two lines’ and in that split second, everything changes.
For some it’s a shock, an expected twist in an unfolding story. For some, it happens quickly and is all part of the plan. And for others, it’s something that they’ve been seeking for years to complete their life, going through an exhausting and painful journey to reach the one thing they’ve been endlessly hoping for…
It’s safe to say that whatever your situation is, navigating pregnancy for the first time is a fairly haphazard experience. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the information and advice that’s thrown at you, the moment you tell people you’re expecting a baby.
I am currently 29 weeks pregnant, and so far the best piece of advice I’ve had is that every single person and (not only that) every single pregnancy you have, will be different. So the truth is, you’ve just gotta ride the uncertain wave of each pregnancy with an open mind.
Saying that, I wanted to share some tips that have personally helped me in navigating my first pregnancy. I really hope that some of them can help you -but the trick is- you should take from it what works for you (and leave the rest), just like every other piece of advice you will inevitably be offered… don’t be afraid to do things your own way.
Try to avoid spending hours on apps and forums
After the initial shock and/or excitement of finding out you are going to have a baby, it’s followed up by the eerily uncertain first trimester (that no one seems to talk about). All of the unsavoury pregnancy symptoms are kicking in and you’re faced with the daily questions and doubts that the pregnancy will even amount to anything. It’s tempting to scroll through pregnancy apps and forums, reading about conditions and problems that other people have experienced. But this doesn’t do you any good and just fills you with unnecessary worry.
Try to trust your body and focus on getting as much rest as possible, you need to look after yourself and your little growing bump!
Get an awesome pregnancy pillow
This one is an absolute must. Don’t be afraid to invest in a really good pregnancy pillow and don’t wait too long either. I got my ‘bbhugme’ pillow when I was about 12 weeks and it has truly transformed the way I sleep, especially now my bump is bigger. I’m going to struggle to sleep without it now after the baby is born, it is so comfortable! Having a pregnancy pillow early on also helps with starting to get used to sleeping on your side, which is what is recommended by doctors to protect you and your baby later on in pregnancy.
I can’t say this enough, nap whenever you are able to – and don’t feel guilty about it. That baby is truly taking all of your energy to grow and you will function far better if you listen to your body.
Find out the gender
This one is definitely a personal choice. For me, not knowing whether I was having a boy or a girl would be an uncertainty I couldn’t handle! It really helped me knowing the gender of our baby so I could get organised and buy specific items, meaning overall I have been a lot less stressed. We’re having a boy by the way!.
Don't tell people your chosen name
As soon as you tell people the name you have chosen for your baby, you will be met with opinions and stories of a friend’s friend, someone from school, an ex boyfriend or your cousin’s neighbour that wasn’t liked. People will always have something negative to say.
If you reveal the name after the baby is born, they have no choice but to love that little bundle and probably won’t even care what their name is anyway!
On that note: make sure when you do choose a name you research it, keep saying it out loud, check initials and go over any nicknames that could stem from it to make sure you’re not making any choices you’ll regret in future.
Educate yourself and work out your birth preferences
And I say ‘preferences’ instead of ‘plan’ because of course we have to expect the unexpected when it comes to labour and delivery. The truth is, we are such a long way from ‘lying on your back and pushing’ (which by the way is actually one of the hardest ways to give birth from an anatomy perspective- who knew!).
I thought that as soon as I got pregnant I’d be terrified of giving birth and labour. But when you really think about it, our bodies were made to do this. I’ve started to read birth stories and watch birth videos, which has only empowered me to educate myself. I can’t stress enough that everything you see in the movies is such an exaggeration of how birth normally unfolds. There’s lots of information out there about things you can do to help your labour go more smoothly and have a positive birth experience.
Whether you want to take a hypnobirthing class, hire a doula or do all the research yourself. You can practice breathing techniques, labour positions and learn about pain relief and the stages of labour so you can make informed decisions, when the time comes. Women want different things, and the perfect birth looks different to every single one of us. There’s options to have all the pain relief available, book yourself in for a c-section, or try for an unmedicated water birth. It’s important to figure out beforehand what sounds good to you, and reading and researching is all part of the process.
On top of that, once you’ve worked it out, make sure you choose a health provider with a doctor and midwives that support the type of birth you’d ideally like to have- as this will only increase your chances of achieving it. But the best part of all, is you can actually change your mind at any point about what you want- even if you are in the middle of labour! So get to know your options and be prepared.
Build a mum community
Put yourself out there and speak to other mums. We live in a world where the internet connects us all and it’s so incredibly easy to reach out to people for advice and support. In Dubai, there are lots of pregnancy events and mums groups that happen round the clock and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can meet people – which is especially important if you’re an expat like me, and don’t have your usual network of family and friends from back home.
What you will delightfully find is that more often than not, ‘Mums’ are awesome humans who welcome you with open arms, look out for you and are there to support you at every stage of your pregnancy and early motherhood. And who knows, you might end up making some of your closest friends!