Whenever I see a Facebook friend who is newly pregnant, I immediately think “ooh, another potential blog reader!” Then I think of all the intricacies and controversies and mom fights and I’m all like, “yeah… Let me just wait before pouncing on her.”
Hence this post. My cray cray obsession with parenting resources of course began as soon as I fell pregnant with my first. So I went back and looked at all the sites I bookmarked as a future new mom. I’ll provide that information with some pithy unsubstantiated and unsolicited advice (get used to that, by the way)
Most likely, you are going to start with a whole pile of pregnancy books. Be prepared to be overwhelmed. There aren’t any I can totally recommend because I’m of the generation that places more importance on the online crowdsourcing of parenting and medical advice than advice from the experts, but I can discuss some of the well-known ones.
- What to Expect When You Are Expecting: As I point out, this author is not an expert. She knows as much about pregnancy and parenting as I do (which isn’t much…wait, but don’t leave my site yet! Darn).
I didn’t have huge problems with the book, but other reviewers often refer to it as fear-mongering because of all the problems she brings up and all the things that can go wrong. Maybe I don’t love my children or something, but I didn’t worry too much about what could go wrong. Eh. By the way, the movie of the same name isn’t hilarious, but it was entertaining enough that it was worth the two hours I spent watching it. I’m glad it was on Netflix though. While we’re talking about movies, Knocked Up was raunchy and hilarious but didn’t really have much to do with pregnancy. Not recommended for those who don’t like foul language and bemoan the general breakdown of society.
- Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy: Another omnibus, but at least written by doctors.
- The Stress-Free Pregnancy Guide: A Doctor Tells You What to Really Expect :This was a very very comforting book for me. I recommend this one.
Humor: The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy and Belly Laughs: I enjoyed these at the time. Now if I read them again I probably wouldn’t as much, but I needed the relaxed attitude after all the freaked-out “dos and don’ts” of pregnancy. By the way, Belly Laughs is by Jenny McCarthy, so be warned if you don’t do raunchy.
I’ll get into those dos and don’ts later.
- The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips and Advice for Dads-to-Be, Second Edition
I think in general this is a pretty useful book for expectant fathers. However, I found myself rolling my eyes in some sections and I think my bias infected the husband. He much preferred a humorous look at fatherhood — found in:
- Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads: He really really liked that book, especially the section on baby weightlifting.
- My Boys Can Swim!: I don’t think this was out when I was pregnant, but it’s worth checking out.
Once you’ve OD’d on pregnancy books, you’re ready to devour the vast knowledge base of the internet. Random strangers all discussing stretch marks and bodily functions and their in-laws. Get ready for crazy.
When you get tired of comparing your baby to a fruit, check out Amalah’s calendar, Zero to Forty, on AlphaMom, and Pregnant Chicken‘s new calendar (click here to subscribe and here to view the calendar in its entirety.)
And because we can’t keep anything gender neutral, here’s a man’s version.
Want to know more about fetal development?
Start here: http://www.gehealthcare.com/usen/patient/ultrasound/obtimeline_new.html (note: this site seems to have changed; I will work on it)
This website shows ultrasounds of babies starting at 6 weeks gestational age. (Gestational age, which is how most of the universe counts it, starts with day 1 of a woman’s period. So it’s impossible for a woman to be 1 week pregnant! The other way is fetal age, which is how researchers would measure it but not healthcare providers.)
This is pretty cool too: Make Room for Baby
And this one goes through cellular development at fetal age, not gestational age: Interactive Prenatal Development Timeline
This is neat, using gestational age, i think (the rest of the site keeps using fetal age): Prenatal Image Gallery
And of course, Wikipedia is always helpful
Eat this, not that!!!!!
Some pregnant women follow the pregnancy ‘rules’ obsessively. Others don’t care. Still others had no idea there were certain rules and then completely freak out when they realize they’ve broken them.
Honey, there are no rules. There are risks. Are you risk averse, or risk tolerant? It’s up to you.
On my end, the first time around I thought most of the ‘rules’ were not really a big deal, based on my research, but because I was a first time mom I still freaked out whenever I tried to break one. So for my own sanity, I followed every recommendation. And even ones that weren’t recommendations. For example, exercise (running, etc) is perfectly safe and even recommended when pregnant. But I couldn’t handle the stress of worrying that I was hurting my baby, so I didn’t keep running in the first trimester. By the third trimester, because I was out of practice, running was too painful, but I did start going hard core on the power walking with a steep incline.
The second time around, I couldn’t care less. And he’s fine. Well, mostly.
Recommendations you may not be aware of right away:
– only about two cups of caffeine a day (some moms cut out caffeine totally.) I knew I would eventually fall off the wagon, so what I did was go cold turkey on coffee, then ‘slip’ and get some caffeinated tea, then ‘slip’ some more and get decaf coffees, then ‘slip’ and go to one cup, and by the 9th month I was back on 2 cups a day.
-Prohibitions on deli meat and using salad bars because of the fear of listeria, which isn’t harmful to healthy young adults but can be a very big deal for a fetus. This is the one the preggers freak out about the most. Do your research and decide.
-Lying on your back at a certain point in your pregnancy is not recommended because it can cut off the air flow to the baby. Lying on your left side is best. Personally, I would say, be comfy, but if you suddenly feel short of breath or you have a sense the baby is in distress, then go to your left side.
Here are some resources with the recommendations:
Here is a site that takes on some of the recommendations: Pregnant Chicken. And, there is a new book out called Expecting Better than really totally takes on some of these recommendations. I discuss the book and some other publications that are starting to discuss actual numbers and studies in this post.
Think you’re getting fat?
I can’t help too much with that, except to say, “Honey, you’re growing a human being. Give yourself some grace, and also, genetics is going to determine how much you gain and if you lose it after.”
The second thing I’d say is, “That being said, I obsessively compared my weight on this Weight Gain Calculator.” It happens to be some Indian site, which is okay I guess because I’m South Asian. I only mention that it’s Indian because their BMI calculations are screwy.
…and you had the 18-20 week ultrasound and it’s…a girl. You wanted a boy. But you should be thankful that you have a child at all. But really, a girl. Why can’t you stop crying?
Here, check out the in-gender Gender Disappointment forums. It’s a safe place to vent.
Yay, I got the girl I wanted and now I can register for a million pink onesies…and oh, those tutus! And ..what’s a wipes warmer? Wait, do I need a wipes warmer?
STOP! (BTW, my husband taught the 2 year old to yell “Hammertime!” every time he said ‘Stop’. Which brings to mind a favorite XKCD column)
Put that registry gun down. (Do people actually still go to the stores and register for things physically? I did all my registering via the internet.)
Do you remember, when/if you got married, registering for that awesome monogrammed KitchenAid stand mixer with the bazillion attachments and oh yeah, by the way, you’ve never set foot in a kitchen..yeah. Take a knee.
A few pieces of advice. Don’t register for clothes. People will buy you clothes. Even if you don’t want them to buy you clothes. Especially if you’re having a girl. Chill with the clothes.
The only luxury item I recommend you “need” is the Fisher Price Rock N Play sleeper. This thing deserves all the hype. Otherwise, you are going to see lots of disagreement on boppys vs. not, diaper pails, etc. Here’s what you do. Find two or three new moms. Make sure they’re not the “my way or the highway” type. Have them look over your registry.
I discuss registry in more detail in this post. For continued looks at product reviews on this site, bookmark the registry category. So far, if you need info on carseats, video monitors, and baby wearing, I’ve got you covered.
Labor: Like the Party, but Not
Even though I had been around pregnant women and babies for most of my life, I seriously had no idea what to expect labor- and postpartum-wise. And then, just a few weeks in, I started hearing about pooping on the table and ice diapers and taking colace and …just don’t. If you are only six weeks pregnant, bury your head in the sand and just leave it for awhile.
Once you begin the third trimester, commence freaking out. Have a drink (just don’t tell anyone else or you’ll be labeled a child abuser). Then take a deep breath and start learning.
I don’t even know where to start. Epidurals vs. natural birth, the different methods, the fights over elective inductions vs. going to 42 weeks — you are getting a taste of the Mommy Wars. And the wars and judgement won’t stop.
A few pieces of advice. First, ignore all the “You sure you’re going to make it to your due date?” comments. It’ll happen. Just visualize giving them a roundhouse kick in the crotch and move on. In fact, that might be a good visualization tool for labor.
Second: Even if you expect to have an epidural, learn some natural birth techniques. Things might not work out the way you expect, and even the early labor pains can suck (especially if you have back labor.)
Third (this is advice from an acquaintance who said it’s the one piece of advice she gives all pregnant women): Prepare for the fact that you might have a C-section. She said she is short and her husband is tall so when they built their house they compromised with higher beds and a step-up into a shower (but not so tall that she couldn’t reach it). Well, post C-section, she couldn’t get into bed or take a shower. Prepare. I’ve heard satin sheets on your bed can be helpful for sliding out of bed so you don’t have to use your ab muscles.
Here are some things I enjoyed when nearing week 40:
Labor nurse blogs: This is a defunct one but absolutely hilarious. A quick google search led me to this one, which also seems awesome. Apparently there are even more out there. Read them while you’re waiting for your mucus plug to fall out. But don’t laugh too hard, because you’ll pee.
Random facts about holistic laboring: Here.
Fetal weight calculator:
Birth weight (g) = gestational age (days) x (9.38 + 0.264 x fetal sex + 0.000233 x maternal height [cm] x maternal weight at 26.0 weeks [kg] + 4.62 x 3rd-trimester maternal weight gain rate [kg/d]] x [number of previous births + 1]).
If baby is a boy then A = 0.264
If baby is a girl then A = -0.264
If you don’t know the gender then A = 0
B = 0.000233 x (maternal height in cms) x (maternal weight at 26.0 weeks in kgs)
C = 3rd-trimester maternal weight gain rate = (# of kilograms you’ve gained since you hit 26 weeks) divided by (# days since you hit 26 weeks)
D = C x 4.62 x (number of previous births + 1)
E = A + B + D + 9.38
F = E x (gestational age in days)
F is baby’s estimated current weight in grams
Moving on. Whew. I discuss stats about first time moms here.
I discuss postpartum here. Note: Placenta eating is a thing. And not so gross if you encapsulate it.
YAY! NOW I HAVE A BABY! NOW WHAT????
You will never sleep again.
Hubby says the one piece of advice he would like to give to new parents is that sleep is not linear. So you might have a newborn that sleeps through the night, then at four months she is up partying at 2am, then at 6 months you do a little cry-it-out and it works and you get the best sleep of your life, then at 18 months she refuses to go to bed EVER. It changes every five minutes.
Ok. I need advice. And I really am tired of hearing it from grandma.
What in tarnation is a ‘Mommy War’?
Women are judgy judgersons who judge. So you’re going to get a lot of radically different opinions on everything. Here are the basics (not covering pregnancy wars, such as drink vs. teetotalar, epi vs. natural, and induction vs. give it time):
- Loving Your Kids vs. Having a Brain (aka work vs. stay at home)
This is the war the uninitiated believe is the big mommy war. The uninitiated include anyone who has never had a baby or anyone whose kids are older than 5 years.
Bottom line: Look. If anyone says to you, “Why would you have kids if you weren’t going to raise them?” or its opposite, “Way to set back the women’s movement 50 years,” tell them to get their head out of the 1980s. We’ve moved on.
- Fake Wonder Juice vs. Evil Poison (aka the Breastfeeding Wars) Ahem. This is the real mommy war. And I’m not touching it in this column. Check out my Infant Feeding Basics and my Infant Feeding Controversies. The only random things I will say is 1.) it’s not do or do not. Consider combo feeding if you are on the fence. Yes, I wrote a love note to combo feeding. 2.) Check out Jack Newman’s All Purpose Nipple OIntment. Thank me later.
Oh, and one more piece of advice to nursing mommas:
- Endless Snuggles vs. Not Crushing Your Kid (aka Cosleeping)We aren’t official cosleepers, but it happens. A lot.
- Throwing Away Poop vs. Deal with It, It’s Just Poop (aka Cloth Diapers)
Haven’t done a basics post on cloth diapers yet, but here is some laundry detergent.
- 2 Hearts Beating as One vs. No, I’m A Person in My Own Right and Want to Put the Kid Down (aka Baby Wearing).
I discuss some baby wearing resources here.
- Sleep, Glorious Sleep vs. Not Being an Evil Neglectful Monster (aka Sleep Training)
I’ve already linked you to my sleep posts, but here’s the cry-it-out controversies post.
Now hush, dear pregnant woman. Just put your feet up and relax. After all, you’re in a delicate condition.
But for goodness’s sake, put that deli meat sandwich down, you baby killer.