To all you first-timers out there: If you have just fallen pregnant or are planning to have your first child, and you want to learn a bit about the business of making bubs, Tania shares her first pregnancy with you. Get it straight from the Mamma’s mouth – all the wonder and all the weirdness.
Tania explains how first-timers will always get a surprise – or maybe even a shock – even if you were planning a pregnancy. This is totally normal, so as the Hitchhiker’s Guide to Pregnancy might say: Don’t panic.
“It’s really hard to prepare yourself, even when you’re trying,” Tania says.
“We had expected it to take six months to a year, because that’s how long my sister had taken. But it happened straight away.”
While it’s rare for women not to find out they’re pregnant until they are sitting on the toilet and a baby pops out, it’s common that women don’t realise for quite a few weeks into the pregnancy.
In fact, Tania says she didn’t know she was pregnant until about six weeks.
“One of the first signs was when someone was smoking near me and I nearly threw up because the smell affected me so much. It was that strong, the feeling of being sick around smoke. I just started to think something was a bit off because I wasn’t unwell.
“I also had a metallic taste in my mouth and my breasts were quite tender, so I went to the chemist and took a test.
“One piece of advice I got for this stage was not to tell people about the pregnancy in the first three months, because miscarriages are unfortunately quite common and it makes it harder to manage if this does happen.”
1st trimester: Launching the baby business
Women experience many different kinds of strange and wonderful new things during this time, and it can vary radically from woman to woman. Some things, like nausea, are common. So if you’re in your first trimester now – grab your bucket.
Tania says her sister gave her a great piece of advice for handling the nausea.
“It goes hand in hand with the whole ‘waking up in the middle of the night’ because you always have to pee, which happens in the first trimester,” she says.
“When you get up, just nibble some dry crackers and drink a little water so your stomach isn’t empty in the morning.
“During this time, I was also really, really tired and I always had to take naps whenever I could, because the body is working really hard.”
Luckily, Tania says she didn’t experience any wild mood swings during this period, though she was aware of the importance of managing her mental health because she had suffered depression in the past.
“And because of this, I was right on top of it and prepared,” she says.
“I went straight to the doctor and talked about it, too. She told me that because of my past history I may be more susceptible, so she told me that as soon as I felt some of the signs or I felt teary, to talk about it straight away to decide whether medication was needed.
“I would absolutely recommend seeing a professional because even just knowing they are there makes you feel more secure.
“And for women who have experienced depression in the past, there is no reason they need to fear getting pregnant because of post-natal depression, as you can stay on top of it right from the start.”
This advice is vital because all the changes that pregnancy brings can affect women in ways you may not expect, so don’t feel bad about having a good whinge about symptoms and challenges.
Besides, if you can’t get a little demanding at this time, then when can you?
2nd trimester: Baby on board
Making a baby is like having a factory going at full-steam in your body, so it’s important to take care of yourself and your bub. Tania’s GP recommended she take a vitamin supplement.
Other, perhaps stranger changes, occur too.
“I had cravings for vegemite and chocolate, and I ate a lot of both – but not at the same time,” Tania says, smiling.
“I know that a lot of women crave unusual combinations, but I mostly wanted really salty foods like pickles and anchovies.
“And I’m not sure why, but in the second trimester I had a lot more energy. It was actually a really good time.
“I was doing a little bit of light exercise, swimming most mornings. You don’t need to tire yourself out, but leisurely exercise is great. I would probably recommend very light resistance training, too. This is really good because you don’t struggle as much with negative body images.”
Final trimester: When the going gets tough …
The tough get going! And women certainly are tough. So Tania worked right up to eight months pregnant, although all women are different and you can choose a way that works for you. Just talk to your boss.
“It was very uncomfortable and there are annoying things, like I could no longer sleep on my stomach and I would often get a sore tummy sitting at my desk.”
The bedroom saw some new moves too …
“My husband worried about hurting the baby and so he was reluctant to have sex – a couple of times I even had to talk him into it,” Tania laughs.
“In the final stages, your hormones are raging and I really felt like having sex, but sometimes men do worry about this. However, it’s totally safe right up to the birth.
“In fact, doctors even recommend using sex in the final weeks to stimulate the birth and get things moving along if the baby doesn’t seem to want to budge.”
For women experiencing this stage right now and wishing for a little nookie – just get some information on new positions and some facts for your hubby, if he’s worried like Tania’s husband was.
She shoots … she scores!
Tania also advises reading what you can, although she admits there is a lot out there and this can be overwhelming. So don’t feel bad if you’re getting flustered. Babies have been born for millennia – they seem to know what they are doing.