pregnancy

Just 10 things to know when you're pregnant for the first time.

Elevit
Thanks to our brand partner, Elevit

It is an emotional, joyful and challenging time after those two little lines appear on your pregnancy test for the first time. 

So, now you know you’re pregnant, what next?  

As your burgeoning bump grows week after week, there’s so much to learn about supporting your baby's development in their first 1000 days of life, as well as the emotional impact of realising you’re about to become a new parent.

To help you navigate your first pregnancy as best you can, here’s my list of 10 things I wish I knew back in 2010 when I was a first time mum-to-be. From the silly to the serious (and absolute essentials), it’s a list I hope gives you a bit of support and guidance during this crazy, beautiful time of your life.

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1. Sleep is going to get… weird. Invest in a maternity pillow.

At around 20 weeks pregnant when your bump is really beginning to pop, sleep positions become a bit limited. Recommendations from health professionals are to avoid sleeping on your back, so for front sleepers, that baby bump makes it tricky. Side sleeping is where it’s at, but you will need some under-bump support with a soft pillow. 

I loved my maternity pillow and often used it between my knees to get comfy or to cuddle and then to prop up my huge bump in the second and third trimester. Now’s the time to ask for recommendations from friends, or just use a spare pillow to make sure you can get as good a night sleep as possible.

2. Worries about being pregnant and becoming a parent are normal. Promise.

There is a lot to take in and think about when pregnant. Health-related worries and questions are completely normal. I remember lying awake during the night on many occasions worrying about becoming a mum and whether or not I could actually do it. Was I wise enough? Sensible enough? What about the lack of sleep coming my way?

"Life will change and you will worry, but remind yourself: you will figure this out" Image: Getty. 

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What I learnt later is that most women and parents feel all or most of these things, and it is completely normal. Life will change and you will worry, but remind yourself: you will figure this out, and you always have avenues of support to lean on. 

Talk to friends who have already been through pregnancy, birth and new motherhood, join an antenatal class online or in your local area and for any major concerns and worries, always consult your midwife or doctor. 

If you feel you could use some advice on mental health or managing stress while pregnant, Elevit also has a handy (free) Ask a Doctor online service that uses real, Australian qualified GPs.

3. The first 1000 days: nutrition and a healthy diet.

We all know we need to eat a balanced and healthy diet to support our baby’s development while pregnant, but something many women haven’t heard of (including me!) is just how important the first 1000 days are. This almost three-year period from conception to when your baby is 24-months-old, is when the brain, body and immune system develop significantly, in fact the baby develops from 1 cell to 500 trillion cells during the first 1000 days. 

Along with a balanced intake of food, a simple way to help ensure you’re getting the nutrients you and your growing baby need during this foundational period of development is by taking supplements.

Elevit’s Pre-conception & Pregnancy multivitamin can be taken throughout your entire pregnancy as it contains folic acid, iron, iodine and 16 other essential vitamins and minerals: all important to support your baby’s healthy growth and development.

You also may not have heard about the powerful omega 3 fatty acid DHA, but it plays an important role. During pregnancy, it’s an essential nutrient to support the healthy development of your baby’s brain and nervous system. Elevit DHA contains a plant-sourced DHA to include in your routine, especially if you are not getting enough of this nutrient through oily fish, seafood and seaweed. 

It may also be worth considering Elevit Probiotics: it contains billions of healthy bacteria to support your immunity, gut health and nutrient uptake at this important time. 

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Elevit DHA & Elevit Probiotics also may be taken in combination with the Elevit Pre-conception & Pregnancy multivitamin, too.

4. Prepare to miss sleep.

One of my biggest worries before I had a baby was how much I loved (and still love) my sleep. What you realise is that actually humans can survive on quite a small amount of sleep for a limited period. I’m not saying it’s much fun, but it is doable and you never know – your baby might be one of those chilled ones that only wakes for a feed every four hours. My fingers are crossed for you! 

If your baby is not one of those (mine weren’t, I’m sorry to say) then it can feel tough for parents and couples, but there are absolutely things you can do to prepare and get through it. 

Learn some safe and approved swaddling techniques before the baby arrives, get a baby monitor for temperature control, a good quality cot and a block-out blind to make the room baby will sleep in cosy. Also make sure your partner can tag team on naps when you can and to share the support needed during those long nights. 

If you are really struggling with limited sleep as and when the baby comes, consider chatting to a baby sleep consultant, and be sure to consult your healthcare professional. 

5. Enjoy all the moments you can. Own the goddess vibe.

I see pregnant people now and think they look beautiful, but at the time I often personally felt like an exhausted walrus. That was mostly with my second pregnancy when I was trying to juggle work commitments and parenting our five-year-old. 

During my first pregnancy though I look back and wish I basked more in that beautiful glowing fertile goddess phase that Rihanna is now really owning. I do remember thinking that my hair was absolutely lush and thick, which I adored. While you might not always feel glowy and life is busy, make sure you take some time for yourself and your bump in ways that fill your cup.

"Make sure you take some time for yourself and your bump in ways that fill your cup." Image: Canva. 

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Book that pregnancy yoga course or photo shoot if that’s your thing, have all the pregnancy spa treatments your budget can afford, or have a fun baby shower with your nearest and dearest. You will only do this first pregnancy once so wallow in it and treat yourself like the wonderful baby-growing goddess that you are.

6. Your senses are on fire and you will get some weird food cravings. Just go with it.

One of the first things I remember about being pregnant was suddenly having a strong aversion to barbequed meat and lamb. And my sense of smell was elevated to the point I felt like a wolf.

Watch Mamamia Confessions: Strangest Pregnancy Cravings. Post continues after video.


Video via Mamamia

I have heard of women who just craved fruit for their whole pregnancy but mine was more carbohydrate and specifically, potato-based food. I tried to eat a healthy and balanced diet as well as making sure I took my Elevit Preconception and Pregnancy multivitamins daily, but I did also enjoy quite a few big old plates of hot chips. It’s all about balance!

7. Think about a birth plan… but accept it might not go according to plan.

Something I didn’t really think about when I was pregnant was the type of birth I wanted. After speaking to many women over the years about their birth stories, I have really come to respect the ones that took firm ownership of the birth they wished for – even if it all fell apart at the end. 

Have a think about what matters to you most and speak to your doctor about your options. Keep a flexible mindset as birth doesn’t always go to plan (I ended up with an emergency C-section for my first birth) but if you have always dreamed of a water birth or having a certain song playing during labour, write that stuff down and let your care provider know your wishes. 

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8. Find a book/website/podcast/app to keep you company throughout the pregnancy.

Back in 2010 when I was pregnant with my eldest son, apps weren’t really a thing and I had a not-very-smart-phone that I just used to make calls. Weird I know. I did however, love to consult my pregnancy book called Up The Duff by Kaz Cooke that had a week-by-week guide to how you might be feeling and what you need to do and be aware of. 

It had an exciting fruit comparison guide, “your 20 week baby is now roughly the size of a mandarin” type statements and plenty of great illustrations and humorous real life stories from Kaz. All highly relatable and informative.

I remember reading ahead to the later stages of pregnancy and being a bit affronted by the things Kaz said would happen during birth such as the appearance of the ‘mucus plug’. But when the time came and my waters broke, I felt well informed and smug that I knew what the mucus plug actually even… was. 

9. Everyone has opinions, and you don’t have to listen to any of them.

Something you will learn quite quickly is that everyone (who is not a healthcare professional) has an opinion on what you should or shouldn’t do while pregnant. How you should look and feel and maybe even how you should deliver your baby. 

While many people are trying to be helpful, others just want to tell you what worked for them – not you. A reminder here that you don’t have to take anyone’s anecdotal advice, and thinking “Great for her, not for me.” is completely okay! 

You do you and make the choices that are right for your pregnancy. Don’t worry about what Jan from your antenatal class has to say. 

10. Elastic waisted pants are your friends.

I remember being given some maternity jeans by a friend and naively imagining I would never get ‘that pregnant’, but I did and oh boy, did I love them. 

There’s the under-the-bump variety and for winter I loved my over-the-bump stretchy leggings. There are some truly great maternity ranges out there now from budget to boujee and I suggest stocking up on a few classic elastic waisted basics for the later part of your pregnancy when the last thing you want to do is go trudging around the shops.

Pregnancy can be such a wonderful unique time of life, especially the first time around. Get the basics in place with a good pregnancy book, pillow, some maternity clothes and your multivitamins and probiotics and then try to relax and enjoy as much of the rest of it as you can.

Always read the label and follow the directions for use.

Feature Image: Mamamia/Canva.

Elevit
Elevit supports your baby's healthy development at every stage of the pregnancy journey with a range of nutritional supplements including Elevit DHA to support your baby's brain and nervous system development and Elevit Probiotics to support your immunity and gut health at this important time. Click here to learn more about Elevit products. Always read the label and follow the directions for use.