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What I wish I knew before the bump…

As a little girl, I was mesmerized by all the Disney fairy tales. I dreamed of a life played out as Cinderella – wearing the most exquisite dress, finding my Prince Charming, taking up residence in a mansion, and living the proverbial “Happily Ever After,” complete with my own bundle of joy. But, never once in these fairy tales does it show the princess’s pregnancy realities – somehow she just “magically” appears with a beautiful baby to shower with love. As the mother of three, let me tell you, I had a happy ending and I have three beautiful children, but my pregnancies were not the makings of a fairy-tale worthy narrative.

In these stories, you never see Cinderella gaining 40 “baby” pounds while she’s having morning sickness that lasts all day for the entire nine months (or is it 10 months?) of her pregnancy. You don’t see her lashing out at Prince Charming because of the hormones raging through her body; and you definitely do not see her in a dungy, dirty track suit eating Ben and Jerry’s out of the carton because she’s too tired and too hungry to make it to the cupboard for a bowl. Fairy tales are fun and fantastical, and we don’t really want to spoil them with the not-so-pretty details, but some truth about pregnancy helps us prepare. I’ve made a list of seven “realities” I wish I knew before my ever-expanding bump.

Eating for two

With my first pregnancy, I craved eggs. I could not get enough of them – boiled, fried, scrambled. More than just eggs, I ate whatever I felt like eating and I did not monitor portion size at all; after all, I was eating for two, and I put on 35 pounds to prove it.

When my friend Joan Todd was pregnant, she used to fill her plate with two portions – one huge and one small. She’d point to the big one and say, “This is for the baby.” Then, she’d point to the tiny one and say, “And, this is for me because I am on a diet.”

Gloria Torres, mother of three boys, says she wishes someone had dispelled this myth for her. “When people say pregnant women have to eat for two, it’s not meant literally. I gained 75 pounds with my first one.”

Registered dietician, Anne Scott, RD, CDE, of San Dimas Medical Group, says when you are pregnant, it’s not suggested that you eat for two. “You are eating healthy, but you can’t eat twice the calories,” she says. She recommends adding 300 calories per day with a single pregnancy, and 450 calories per day with twins, of healthy foods from all the main groups – dairy, vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and protein.

“You need to eat the right foods to get the nutrition you need for growth and health,” she says. “When you eat a variety of foods, you are more than likely to get all the nutrients you need.”

“Morning” sickness ALL day

One of the biggest shocks of my pregnancies was how sick I became and how long it lasted – all day, most days, during my entire pregnancy. I’d seen movies where morning sickness occurred, and the women would be nauseated for a scene or two, and then she’d go on with her day feeling fantastic. In reality, being sick all the time can greatly affect your life and daily tasks.

According the American Pregnancy Association (APA), more than half of pregnant women experience “morning” sickness with nausea and vomiting that can occur at any time of the day. However, it’s been termed “morning” sickness because most women feel the sickest in the morning due to an empty stomach. To ease some of the “a.m.” symptoms, APA suggests eating soda crackers 15 minutes before getting up in the morning. Some other recommendations include not cooking or eating spicy foods, not skipping meals, and getting plenty of rest. To find a complete list of tips and tricks, visit

You’re REALLY pregnant for 10 months!

Over and over again, you hear that pregnancy last nine months, but it’s not true, you are really pregnant for 10 months. My friend Janna Hart, mother of five, says, “I cannot tell you how many times I caught myself thinking, ‘How come nobody told me this?’ Pregnancy lasts 10 months, not nine!”

To get to the bottom of this “myth,” I called Marcia Lynch, Director of Maternal Child Services for Mercy Hospitals of Bakersfield. She says, “It’s true, you really are pregnant for 10 lunar months.”

Lynch says some of the confusion happens because people in the medical field count pregnancy in terms of weeks rather than months. Forty weeks is full term. Also, she says calculating pregnancy from your last cycle can be tricky to get an accurate due date. “People deliver all over the place – from 38 weeks to 41 weeks,” she says.

Space Invaders

Another one of the big shockers of my ever-expanding belly was that complete strangers or mere acquaintances lost the ability to distinguish social boundaries and etiquette, and they would feel compelled to touch my stomach. The first time it happened, I was shocked and horrified. I thought the person who did it was crazy.

As my pregnancy progressed, and then with babies numbering two and three, I learned it’s a social phenomenon. I guess people feel as if they are not invading your space because they are touching your baby via your swollen abdomen. Or, maybe your stomach sticks out so far it negates the personal space restriction and is considered part of public space? Whatever the reason, this is one thing during pregnancy that I never embraced.

Good-bye beautiful, blonde locks!

Up until my first pregnancy, I had always been blessed with a full head of thick, long, blonde hair. With my first child, my hair thinned out a little, with my next baby, I lost a little more, and by my third one, forget it! I no longer had the same hair that I had when I started. My hair is now considered fine and brittle. But, it’s still blonde thanks to chemical processing.

Lynch says when you’re pregnant not only does your physical appearance change with an expanding abdomen, but due to hormonal changes, your nails, hair, skin, and teeth can change too. Your hair can thin out, your nails can become brittle, your teeth can decay, and your once-soft skin can dry out.

She says, “The baby sucks a lot of calcium out of your body.” To combat this depletion, she recommends eating a healthy diet, exercising, and taking a prenatal vitamin. She suggests talking to your doctor about adding a calcium supplement, if needed.

All aboard the train to CRAZY-VILLE!!!

During my pregnancies, I definitely had heightened emotions, but I manifested them in terms of endearment - I became so much more sentimental. My friends can attest that I am not a “crier,” except when I am pregnant. I’ll never forget watching television and shedding tears at a Kodak commercial. I thought, “What is happening to me???”

Lynch says the culprit is pregnancy hormones. “You’re essentially in a premenstrual stage the whole pregnancy,” she says. “And, some people deal with these hormonal changes differently than others.”

What’s that smell?

During my pregnancies, I didn’t realize that with heightened emotions, would come a finely tuned sense of smell and taste. I had to stop wearing my favorite perfume during my first pregnancy because I no longer liked the scent. Lynch says hormones are to blame again for this phenomenon – we become more maternal. “We are in a heightened state of protection and preparation,” she says.

In fact, when Lynch herself was pregnant, she had to keep replacing her toothbrush each week because she could “smell” it. And, she had to keep trying different types of toothpastes because they all tasted “weird” to her.

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Tags: Featured Story, Maternity

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