I was the first in my group of friends to have a baby. Twice. They journeyed with me the whole way and supported me as best as they knew how. I'm sure it was hard for them to relate as they hadn't experienced pregnancy first hand. But they nodded along and smiled at the right cues regardless.
My friends have now reached that point in their lives where they are deciding to start families of their own and are calling on me for advice and support. I have noticed that they all approach me with similar concerns and I find myself repeating things over and over to each of them.
Here are 10 things all pregnant women need to hear on occasion to help them through.
1. I know you're grateful, but you can still complain to me
I know you love your baby. I know that you wouldn't trade being pregnant for anything in the world. But I also know that it kind of sucks. It's hard to get up. It's hard to hang the washing. It's hard to eat comfortably. It's hard to sleep. It's hard to do pretty much everything that involves anything.
Pregnancy is one of the most exhausting, life changing things you will ever do. And just because you have been lucky enough to experience it when a lot of people would do anything to be in your position doesn't mean that it sucks any less. It's okay. You can complain to me.
2. Take every comment as a compliment
I was asked if I was having twins during my second pregnancy. No, I wasn't … but thank you, woman I'd never met before, for subtly telling me that I was enormous.
It's not always easy to see the positive in people's remarks about what you look like, but unfortunately when you become pregnant society decides that your weight and width is up for discussion. If they say you are big … well, you have a big healthy baby in that belly of yours. If they say you're small, you have awesome abdominal strength holding that kid in. Well done either way!
3. Don't worry about the finer details
Don't worry if the nursery pictures aren't up yet and that you haven't stacked the baby clothes away in size and colour order. When your baby is born, all it will need is you. It's not going to care if the boxes of baby shower presents have been put away, I swear.
4. Don't worry about stretch marks
I'm just going to put it out there, but no amount of cream is going to ward of those stretch marks if you're destined to get them. I didn't get any during my first pregnancy. My belly was pretty perfect up until 30 weeks of my second pregnancy. I even body doubled a pregnant stomach for a TV show. 35 weeks though? BAM. Hello belly covered in stretch marks.
Honestly though, there is no point in worrying about them. When they appeared on me I was absolutely devastated. But now? I can put a face to those stretch marks. A beautiful 6 week old little girl's face. I don't have to like them, but I can appreciate that my body created life and that was the price. It simply comes down to the fact that she's worth it.
5. Slow down
Being pregnant is hard work. If you haven't been pregnant before, you see this women walking about with a belly and wonder why she complains so much – it's only a belly, right?
Oh, how wrong they are. There is SO much more going on than meets the eye. You can wake up in the morning exhausted before even starting the day. So don't push yourself to do as much as you did before pregnancy. Take a break and slow down, because when the baby arrives you won't be able to for a while.
6. Everyone has their breaking point
I don't know anyone who has made it through an entire pregnancy without losing the plot at least once. It happens to even the most cool, calm and collected individuals. It happens to me now and I'm not even pregnant! Don't feel guilty because of it. Just take some deep breaths, look at that belly and remember who you're doing it for.
7. You're glowing
You really do glow. Even with fluid retention, back acne and bags under your eyes.
8. You're not alone
When I was pregnant and having one of those days, people would tell me that I wasn't doing it alone. I had my husband, my family and my friends. As far as I could tell though, they weren't growing a human with me. I'd look down at my giant belly and knew that I was, in fact, doing it alone. But I understand what they meant.
Remember that there are people around you that want to help and want to feel like they had a part in growing that little person. Include them. Lean on them. They're there for you.
9. You will be a great mother
Every mum-to-be worries about what kind of mother she will be like. Some pregnancy baby-brain days I would forget to feed my dogs and then I'd panic about if I was even responsible enough to have a child. So far, I haven't forgotten to feed my kids(they have a tendency to remind you of the vital things like that).
You will grow into a multi-tasking, confident mother. You'll make mistakes. You'll judge yourself and that worry will stay with you. That in itself is part of what makes you a good mum. I know you'll be great.
10. You are amazing
It is as simple as that. You are truly amazing. To be able to create life, a little person who is part of your heart forever? It's indescribable and such an amazing thing to accomplish.