There seems to be something of a code among mothers. When a woman gets pregnant, they coo, and ask all the right questions, but rarely will you find a mum who will tell you straight. The good, the bad and the ugly.
Those 40 weeks and beyond remains a secret, known only to The Motherhood Club, leaving expectant mothers somewhat bewildered by what’s happening to their bodies and brains. Hopefully, this will help…
1 The bizarre symptoms
Your beloved Dr Google goes into overdrive during pregnancy, with just about every ache, pain and a rash being chalked up to carrying a child. They might sound unusual, but symptoms including wind, skin tags, piles, snoring, sweating, varicose veins, bigger feet, bleeding gums and your nose getting bigger (yes, really) are all actually really common.
And, unfortunately, the scare stories about hair loss are real, though this tends to happen after the birth, rather than during pregnancy (when a lucky few actually experience thicker manes).
2 There’s rarely a glow
Between the first few months of throwing up and wanting to sleep 20 hours a day, and the last few months of being uncomfortably large and being unable to sleep, there might be a few weeks in the middle when you feel okay. All those photos on Instagram of a woman rubbing her bump, or wafting around in gorgeous maternity clothes? They were either taken at this magical time, or she’s feeling terrible and using all the filters.
3 Baby showers are weird
A relatively new concept for the UAE, baby showers are big news (and money). Most involve an overpriced afternoon tea, a random collection of people and awkward games to do with baby food or fake poo, then opening presents in front of everyone while the guests silently work out who spent the most.
You can, however, get your mates together for a pre-baby celebration, but make sure it’s somewhere you actually like, and that there’s a gift registry so you don’t end up with six Ewan the Sheep.
4 It’s okay to be afraid
Back to those Instagram women cradling their bumps. Guess what? They’re afraid too. Everything is going to change, you’re going to give birth, then actually take home a child and be responsible for it. One day it’s a bump, then the next a baby, and suddenly you’ll be the adult. You’ll need time to adjust to this identity shift, and give yourself a break.
5 You’ll cry a lot
Possibly all the time. And at strange things. Some examples might include: YouTube videos of new babies meeting their siblings, when your husband eats the chocolate bar you’ve been looking forward to all day, random acts of kindness, the news, not being to fit into your flip-flops… Stock up on waterproof mascara.
6 Don’t forget to take photos
While you might not feel (or think you look) your best, do try to take photos of your growing bump. You’ll regret it if you don’t, and your little one will love looking at them when they grow up. You look more beautiful than you think.
7 Treat yourself
When the baby arrives your time will be dedicated to a tiny human, so in the run up to the birth try to make time for you. That might mean solo cinema trips, napping, reading, cooking (fill the freezer with meals), massages, more naps, dinner with your husband, and lunch with friends when your food doesn’t get cold.
8 Stop comparing
No pregnancy, bump or birth is the same, so stop comparing. Madness lies that way. Some women fall in love with their babies immediately, for others it takes months or even years. Some find breastfeeding easy and could do it blindfolded with their hands behind their backs, while you might need to enlist help, spend weeks figuring out which position is for you both, and still find it painful or a struggle. As the yogis say, stay on your mat.
9 It’s too late now
That baby has to come out somehow, so stressing about the delivery won’t help. You can write all the birth plans, attend all the classes and pack your hospital bag again and again, but what happens will happen. Your doctor will be in charge, your husband (brief him to within an inch of his life) can help communicate your wishes, but in the end you have to trust in the experts, leave your dignity at the door, and look forward to holding that little nugget in your arms.
10 It’s worth it
Your swollen ankles will go down. Those stitches will heal. You’ll sleep again. Sure, at some stage you’ll get baby poop on your hand and wipe it on your face, and for a while you’ll live off the crusts from your kid’s toast and forgotten raisins found in the bottom of your handbag. But when you smell the sweet scent of their heads, see that first smile, and swell with pride as they take their first steps and say their first words, you’ll realise that it’s all worth it.