When you become pregnant, almost everyone you know wants to tell you everything they know about having a baby. Then when your baby bump is obvious, people you don’t know (or barely know) unload even more information on you.
So we had to ask: How can there still be so many things that no one tells you? To try to solve this mystery, we asked every parent we know what they wished they had known before having their first baby. Of course, every pregnancy is different, and your experience will be uniquely your own. But the more you know, the better prepared you’ll be when something comes up.
14 Things No One Tells You
- The Breast Crawl. Immediately after birth, your new baby knows how to crawl to your breasts for their first meal. Many hospitals now place newborns on their parent’s stomach so they can crawl to the breasts themselves. Studies have shown that doing this right after birth can make breastfeeding easier in the future.
- Diapers Aren’t Just for Babies. Did you know that you may be bleeding for 4 to 6 weeks after your baby’s birth? This vaginal discharge, called lochia, is common. To help you stay clean during the heavy flow, most hospitals will give you pads, disposable mesh underwear, or even adult diapers to see what works best for you.
- Every Pregnancy Isn’t Awful. Some people actually feel pretty good while they’re pregnant. Call it good luck, good genes, or simply choosing to approach your pregnancy as a time of good health, motivation, excitement, and joy. As opposed to focusing your energy on the aches, pains, and inconveniences of being pregnant. It really is your choice.
- Lady Varts (Queefing). It’s no secret that pregnancy can cause indigestion, heartburn, constipation, and other gastrointestinal challenges. But when air gets trapped inside your vagina, your body may release it the same way you pass gas from your rectum — with “Oops, I just passed gas” sound effects. It’s called “queefing,” but “varting” also works.
- Lying to Loved Ones. Many people decide not to share their pregnancy news until after their first trimester, when the risk of miscarriage drops significantly. But one thing no one tells you is just how hard it can be to keep the news from your family, friends, and colleagues. You’ll probably have to tell a few lies and feel bad about doing it. But all lies will be forgiven when you finally share the good news!
- Loving Your Body Image. Nobody ever tells you that pregnancy may be the first time in your adult life when you actually love the way your body, belly, and curves look. Although the “pregnancy glow” is technically caused by increased blood flow and hormones, it may also be a reflection of the pride you feel as your body grows and shelters a new life.
- Nasty Night Sweats. Some people reported experiencing night sweats during the first 2 weeks after giving birth. But don’t worry if you wake up soaking wet in either warm or cold weather. It’s totally normal and caused by your body getting rid of excess estrogen.
- What’s That Smell? Hormonal changes can cause your sense of smell to become very intense, especially during your first trimester. Some parents reported not being able to stand the smell of their partner’s or children’s skin — not to mention the grocery store meat counter, garbage cans, or anything fishy. Of course, everyone is different. But if familiar smells suddenly make you want to hurl, blame it on your hormones.
- Pooping During Labor. As your baby descends deeply into your pelvis before birth, pushing on your bowels, you’ll probably feel like you have to poop. In some cases, you will poop on the delivery room table. It’s not fun, but it is normal as your body clears everything out of the way to make more room for baby.
- Pregnancy Sex. Not everyone wanted to share details, but what we did hear confirmed that everyone’s interest in pregnancy sex is very different. Some people admitted that their hormones made them feel lusty and ready for love, especially in the third trimester. On the other end of the spectrum, we heard from partners who were totally freaked out by even the thought of having sex with a pregnant person. So they didn’t.
- Say No to the (Hospital) Gown. Hospital gowns have their purpose, and most people will simply slip one on when asked. But you don’t have to wear a shapeless, stiff, ugly hospital gown for the birth of your beautiful baby. If looking really good makes you feel really good, you can find soft, pretty birthing gowns and accessories at many retail sites and stores. Or you can sew your own. Having a water birth? Remember to pack a 2-piece bathing suit.
- Shoes and Shaving. Once your baby bump gets big enough, you won’t be able to bend over gracefully to tie your shoes or shave your legs. That means buying some comfortable slip-on shoes that will still fit when your feet swell. As for shaving your legs, you can either go au naturel or see if you can persuade some nice person to shave them for you.
- Water Worries. As your due date gets closer, you may start to worry about when and where your water might break. Will it be in a crowded elevator? At a social event? In line at the grocery store? Here’s the good news: You only have a 15 to 20 percent chance of your water breaking before labor starts. With those odds, you can probably cross that one off the worry list.
- What’s in a Name? Some people have their new baby’s name picked out months in advance. Others need to spend some time with their baby before choosing a name. If you still haven’t picked a name when it’s time to go home from the hospital or birth center, some states allow you to leave without naming your baby first. You’ll see “Baby Girl” or “Baby Boy” on the birth certificate, and you’ll have a specified amount of time to update it.