Compared to a lot of people I know, I was ahead of the curve when it came to being educated about what pregnancy and birth could look like, even before I got pregnant or was trying to get pregnant. As I noted in my last post, I had been highly skeptical about giving birth for a long time, so I was especially interested in knowing what I was potentially getting myself into and had been learning about pregnancy and birth, particularly how it can unfold in the US, for years before conceiving kid #1. Still, there were of course things I didn’t know about and that surprised me during this pregnancy. Here’s just a few:
1. Just how many changes there are to the physical body, and how extreme these changes can be
I think this one can be hard to truly understand until one feels it in their own body. In particular, I was shocked to realize just how huge my belly would get. I don’t think I really did comprehended this until mid-to-late second trimester.
I also experienced two very immense changes to my body that, of course, don’t happen to every pregnant woman, but are common and I think are under-discussed. These are:
1. (sometimes SUPER intense) restless leg syndrome, and
2. pubic symphysis dysfunction in the third trimester
(More on the pubic symphysis dysfunction later but for now I’ll direct the curious folks here.)
2. Just how many changes I have experienced outside the physical realm of my body
I have already experienced so many shifts in the mental and emotional realms, which has truly come as a surprise to me. This is part of why I say my matrescence began even before this babe was conceived - because my mindset and emotional state was already beginning the evolution.
One example: I have begun to completely question and even let go of many parts of the brand of feminism I have adopted since at least middle school but that was certainly solidified in my college years. My mindset has really evolved from a belief that feminism = females are the same as males and can do everything men can do in the exact same way - to - feminism = females and males do have inherent differences (something I consciously and subconsciously refuted in the past) that are very important, but females and males can still be afforded equal opportunities.
3. Just how many people really do think it’s fine to comment on my body and/or touch my body without asking
This one has truly amazed and truly annoyed me. Mostly the comments - luckily I haven’t had a ton of the unwanted touching. But as a person with a history of body image issues (like most women I know…), it has been very difficult for me to deal with all of the attention on my body and comments about my changing body. Comments like, “Wow, you’re getting big!” aren’t super helpful when you’re already super body aware and have a history of being self-conscious around your weight (and, I’m guessing, might not be super helpful even if that criteria didn’t apply).
Side note: my favorite advice for dealing with unwanted belly-touching during pregnancy is for the pregnant person to also put their hand on the other person’s belly! Cracks me up every time and illustrates to the person just how weird and socially unacceptable that is!
Are you or have you been pregnant? Experienced any of the above? Have some other experience that surprised you? Comment below!