Pregnancy by the Letters
There's one experience nothing else can touch, and that's the experience of nurturing a new life inside your own body. Let's break pregnancy down, letter by letter!
P is for Preparation
Finding out you’re pregnant is a bit like being proposed to. The moment that happens, you shift instantly into planning mode, becoming nearly unrecognizable to everyone around you in the process. And that’s just the first few weeks, before you really move into overdrive. Learning you’re pregnant can prove a similar catalyst, though most moms-to-be wait until the end of the first trimester (the traditional “safe period”) to start raiding the retail stores. Let us just say two things about preparing for the arrival of your baby: One, you have more time than you think. Two, you don’t have as much time as you think. Good luck!
R is for Reality
As in, yours is going to do a complete 180. Pregnancy is great training ground for being a live, honest-to-goodness parent, because after becoming pregnant you’ll quickly find that every decision you make involves the tiny creature growing inside you. This focus will only become more intense as you go, so don’t worry if you feel you might be over-anxious or unreasonably preoccupied with the baby or foolishly paranoid about
keeping it safe. You’re none of those things; you’re just becoming a mother. And what could be more wonderful than that?
E is for Exhaustion
Before you got pregnant, your body was accustomed to using everything it took in just for you. During the first weeks of pregnancy, it has to get used to supporting two systems: yours and your baby’s. And that’s draining. Extremely. You may find yourself becoming astonishingly sleepy at the drop of a hat throughout the first trimester. Don’t feel guilty; it’s your body’s way of preserving its energy so it can keep sustaining that little miracle growing inside. And the good news is that is E also stands for euphoria, energy and exhilaration, all things you’ll likely feel when that second-trimester high kicks in.
G is for Girth
Reading the charts that tell you how many calories you’re expected to accommodate so both you and your baby will be properly nourished, you imagine the people who designed them must have been crazy, or at least they must never have been pregnant. The fact is you do need to consume plenty, in the form of food and drink, because your baby demands it. And that translates to inevitable increases all over your body. Your breasts are going to balloon. Your waistline is going to expand. Your wrists and ankles may
swell to proportions you’d never have believed. But there’s a silver lining: Once the baby arrives, you can start taking off that baby weight and getting back to your former self. Is it hard? Sure. Is it impossible? Not in the least.
N is for Nesting
We’re not suggesting you didn’t like things orderly before being pregnant, but now that you are, you may be surprised at the sheer power of the impulse coursing through you to clean up and get organized. Maybe nesting is your body’s way of telling you that you’ll have far less time to tidy once the baby arrives. Maybe it’s an evolutionary instinct that still persists eons after it first took hold. Whatever the reason, this might be a good time to tell your partner that, even though you asked him to rearrange the furniture three days ago, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be asking him to do it again three days from now, too.
A is for Absentmindedness
Maybe you believe in
pregnancy brain and maybe you don’t. All we know is that many women tend to become about a zillion percent more scatterbrained when they’re with child. If you feel that your mind isn’t exactly firing on all cylinders while you’re pregnant, try not to feel bad about it. It happens to everyone. Plus, it’s pretty cute.
N is for Nether Regions
In the best-case scenario, your pregnancy will be easy, your delivery will be a breeze and your baby will be a perfectly cooperative angel. Of course, the best-case scenario doesn’t always happen, and your delivery in particular might leave you, shall we say, a mite
sore down south. In the first place, that area has expanded a lot more than it’s accustomed to doing. In the second place, though few people consider giving birth a form of
surgery, it is, and one’s body doesn’t bounce up off the operating table ready to run a marathon after surgery. Finally, small tears and rips can happen (sorry), and that can make for serious discomfort in the days, or even weeks, following the magical moment of birth. The good news (aren’t you happy there’s always good news? ) is that there are lots of products available today to help you through the recovery period, from simple creams to big rubber doughnuts.
C is for Contractions
All those breathing exercises you’re learning in your Lamaze classes? They’re effective in theory, but when the big contractions start walloping you like mini-earthquakes inside your body every two minutes, it’s more likely you’re going to be doubled over clutching at your partner’s chest hairs through his shirt than remembering what your instructor told you about breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Don’t feel bad; just do what you need to do to get through it. And you will get through it.
Y is for YOU
Some expectant mothers scale it back as soon as they discover they’re pregnant, preferring rest and relaxation to full-tilt prep. Others continue at their usual pace right up until the first signs of labor. Which approach is the right one? Either. That is, the one that’s right for you, your lifestyle, your career, your body, your partner, is the one that’s right. There’s only one guideline you need to keep in mind during the months of pregnancy: Take good care of yourself. Your body will tell you what that means.
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