Illustration: Sam Island
1. "You miss a lot of work for appointments" —Hillary M.
2. "You will start seeing other pregnant women everywhere" —Raina D.
5. "The way your body becomes public property...like you're a vessel. And everyone feels like they can touch you without asking permission." —Lucy B.
6. "How annoying it is to be called 'cute.'" —Vieve V.
7. "Don't buy any shoes with laces. They have to be slip-on. Because once your bump gets big enough, you can't bend over, in any kind of graceful way, to tie them. Then once you have the baby and start using a carrier, the inevitable moment comes when you have FINALLY gotten all your sh*t together and the baby has stopped crying and you feel like Wonder Woman, ready to go out the door...and then you realize you don't have your shoes on and you can't bend down to tie them." —Jenn G.
8. "Be ready to answer the same series of questions multiple times a day." —Leah D.
9. "How real-life pregnancy (and parenting and kids!) is nothing like what your friends post on Instagram." —Britt L.
10. "Pregnancy made me out-of-my-mind lusty and in love with my husband, especially in the third trimester—even right after the birth (when sex was a no go). I actually gave him a blow job the day after my daughter was born—and it was my idea! I'm pretty sure that was one of the luckiest days of his life." —Rachel S.
11. "I was not prepared in the least for my husband to be 100 percent incapable of having sex with me while I was pregnant. Both times, he's been like, "CANNOT DO IT—IT'S WEIRD AND WRONG." Some guys are apparently super weirded out by having sex with their pregnant partners!" —Jess D.
12. 'That having sex on the day before your due date really does make you go into labour." —Emily K.
13. "Heartburn at night! I spent several restless hours burping and turning in bed." —Luxmi B.
14. "How hard it is to sleep!" —Vieve V.
15. "How much I needed to upsize my bras. I’d heard your breasts could increase somewhat during pregnancy but never really thought about having to shell out major coin on maternity bras. I’m normally a D or DD cup; during pregnancy, I went up to a G cup. By the end, I had to go to a specialty shop to find a bra that fit comfortably, and it was super expensive, so I made do with just one. I didn’t gain a lot of weight—maybe about 25 pounds total—and my legs, arms and face were pretty much the same size as pre-pregnancy, so the boob inflation was an unwelcome surprise.” —Tamar S.
16. "I started leaking colostrum at, like 25 weeks. I expected that closer to the end, not halfway through!" —Meghan B.
17. “How sore and hard and painful my boobs were, even before I knew I was pregnant. Just something grazing my nipple caused me to feel dizzy and nauseous. I had to temporarily abandon all underwire bras. (If you asked my husband about this, he’d say, ‘Your partner’s breasts will look fantastic, but you won’t be allowed to touch them because they are sore as hell.’) It passed as quickly and randomly as it appeared.” —Lauren F.
18. "Write your novel now. It's not happening on mat leave. Or probably ever."—Laura S.
19. "Nobody told me getting pregnant could be so easy. I was 37 and, due to being single well into my thirties, I spent a lot of mental energy fretting about running out of time. I also read far too much about infertility, egg freezing and ‘geriatric’ pregnancies, so by the time I finally met my partner, I assumed conceiving would be challenging. It was not—it took one try. My partner and I were both stunned when we saw the second pink line slowly appear on the test. We were very lucky.”—Rayna H.
20. “I didn’t know that the act of rolling over in bed would become a three-part miniseries on HBO.”—Kaitlyn C.
21. “That you’ll be so tired you’ll fall asleep on the couch at 5 p.m. And then with the second pregnancy, you’ll be so tired, of course, but you won’t be able to fall asleep on the couch (because you have a kid) and you’ll hate your child-free self for thinking you were tired then. You were not that tired.” —Vanessa M.
22. “That some of the womb activity carries on into regular life. I have always been a night owl, so I’d be awake at 2 a.m., watching TV, and the baby’s kicks would suddenly go into high gear! Like, Super-Awake Party Time! Then after he was born, yep, 2 a.m. was a very awake hour for him for a long time!” —Meghan B.
23. “That I wouldn’t have a cute little belly right away—instead, I would just feel lumpy and misshapen.” —Lauren F.
24. “That I would gain 60 freaking pounds! I didn’t think it’d be that much, and it’s been beyond difficult to lose the weight. Seven years later, I weigh more than I did right before giving birth.” —Meghan B.
25. “Nobody ever tells you that being pregnant is the first time in your adult life when you can actually love your body, love your curves and be proud rather than ashamed of your round belly and breasts.” —Andrea H.
26. “You might not look pregnant for a while. I’m tall, and I don’t gain much weight in my stomach area. (The fruit term used for my body shape is ‘pear.’) I really wanted that cute baby bump, but I got a bigger bum and bigger boobs, and I didn’t have anything resembling a baby bump until well after 20 weeks.” —Emily S.
27. “That, like driving a Cadillac, I would misjudge the length of my front end and run into things with my bump as I passed.” —Lauren F.
28. "That you won't be able to shave your legs!" —Ainsley M.
29. “To listen to your intuition. So many women I’ve spoken with had serious health complications that their doctor dismissed. If you think something is wrong, follow up and don’t feel bad about it. Pregnancy is your excuse to be as intense as you want, because sometimes it’s necessary.” —Kate D.
30. "People always let you have the last cookies or treat." —Leah D.
31. “That your registry is fun but not that necessary. You don’t really need that much stuff. Start out with a stroller, a bassinet and diapers, and you will be fine. Everyone else had these beautiful, elaborate nurseries, but our baby’s room was also our bike/storage room. Not pretty, but it had the basics we needed when she was really little. Plus, she didn’t even sleep in there for the first few months!” —Kate D.
32. “That a ‘dating ultrasound’ early on in the pregnancy is often, um, TRANSVAGINAL. That means internal: a big wand or probe covered in plastic and lube. This ultrasound was not the ‘aww’-inducing emotional moment I was picturing from what I’d seen in the movies, and I totally regretted inviting my husband to come to the appointment. Instead, it was the most awkward moment of my life, trying to act casual as the ultrasound guy wiggled a wand around inside my body, while my husband watched from the end of the exam bed.” —Ariel B.
34. “The biggest WTF for me was ‘morning sickness.’ It’s not just morning sickness when it’s all-goddamned-day-and-night sickness, and it’s all-encompassing. I have never felt worse in my entire life, for both pregnancies: like having the flu while enduring the worst hangover ever, and then someone puts you on a catamaran on rough seas after you’ve been doing MDMA for a week straight. Hell. For months!” —Jess D.
35. “I was not hungrier during pregnancy at all. But postpartum I was completely starving. I ate and drank so much more as a breastfeeding new mom than while pregnant.” —Youngna P.
36. “I was surprised by how intense my sense of smell was in the first trimester. I could not go in the butcher’s shop, had to get my husband to put the kitchen garbage outside at times and banned fish from the house. I could only prep meals with a lemon wedge close at hand so I could sniff as needed!” —Bonnie S.
37. “I didn’t know morning sickness or all-day nausea could last as long as it did—six months. Some people are sick their entire pregnancies. I thought I would feel better after 12 weeks, and it was depressing when I definitely didn’t.” —Youngna P.
38. “Maybe you pictured yourself eating homemade nutrition bowls for lunch every day, but really, you’ll be jamming french fries and chocolate bars down your throat because it’s all too much already, then crying with guilt over being a terrible mother before your child is even born.” —Laura S.
39. “Nobody ever told me you should be doing regular kick counts—I went through two whole pregnancies without knowing I was supposed to be doing them!” —Ariel B.
40. “Nobody told me my feet would grow half a size—and stay that way, permanently.” —Rayna H.
41. “Your belly button becomes an outie, not an innie. And that your ribs expand and change shape! —Jenifer N.
42. “I was lucky enough to avoid puking in my first trimester but had no idea how bloated I’d feel. I was taking bump selfies when I was just six weeks along because the gas made my belly pop. I had to retire my jeans and switch to sweats, leggings and maternity pants earlier than I expected.” —Luxmi B.
43. “Nobody told me pregnancy can change your hair colour. Not only was my wispy auburn hair luscious for the first time ever, it also turned quite blond. And the carpet matched the drapes, as well.” —Rayna H.
44. “That pregnancy affects the pigment in your skin. I wasn’t expecting new freckles to appear or existing marks to change colour.” —Youngna P.
45. “Queefing! (I loathe that word, but ‘vaginal flatulence’ is equally heinous. Varting? Vatooting?) I’d get up from my desk, and air would just tumble out of me. My colleagues were very gracious in pretending not to notice I’d expelled a balloon’s worth of air.” —Rayna H.
46. “Your mouth tasting like metal! In both cases, that was my body’s first sign of pregnancy.”—Youngna P.
47. “Chronic pregnancy cough. Rare, but a result of the hormone relaxin.” —Sabrina S.
48. “Not being able to breathe in that last trimester because the damn babe is taking up all your lung expansion space.” —Sarah M
49. “I didn’t know I would find myself googling ‘hemorrhoids versus rectal prolapse.’ Twice.” —Patricia K.
50. “That you should take full advantage of the time left before the baby arrives, when you can be selfish and focus solely on yourself and your partner: long, uninterrupted showers; spontaneous plans; late nights out; lazy mornings. I’m not saying this kind of stuff isn’t possible with a baby or kids, but sometimes I miss the ease with which I could do those things. I’m glad I took full advantage of the ‘me time’ in the nine months before my little guy came!” —Jessica S.
51. “Nobody told me that seated able-bodied men would pretend not to see me standing on crowded public transit, even at nine months pregnant—or that I would become a pro at politely but assertively asking them to get up.” —Rayna H.
52. “That pregnancy isn’t always a brutal shit show for everyone. I actually felt great when I was pregnant. I appreciate that I was incredibly lucky, but it would have been nice to know going into it that pregnancy isn’t always insufferable for everyone.”—Patricia K.
53. “I didn’t expect my husband would be like a deer in the headlights in the delivery room.”—Louise G.
54. “How gendered the pregnancy and parenting world is. It felt like a return to 1950s gender values.”—Emily D.
55. “I didn’t expect people to perceive me so differently. I feel like my boss took me more seriously and, in general, people were nicer to me! Oh, and people were so excited. Like, more excited than I was, which was strange.” —Simone O.
56. “That your relationship really changes, even before the baby arrives. Your otherwise cool and supportive partner might freak out. When I became pregnant, he basically shut down. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more lonely (and I had another human inside of me!). He’s now an awesome and involved dad to our kids, but there were some very dicey moments when I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I think men handle this life change very differently from women and don’t have the same outlets to discuss their feelings.” —Amy D.
57. “Nobody told me how hard it would be to keep the pregnancy quiet for the first 12 weeks. I lied awkwardly, elaborately and constantly to loved ones and colleagues. I felt so bad by week 12 that I fully expected everyone to be mad at me when I told them the news. Of course, nobody was.” —Rayna H.
58. “Before you have the baby, tell your partner that you love them with the gusto of an old-timey soldier going off to war. Maybe record it on video so you can play it back to them the first few weeks after the baby is born, when you’ll likely hate them for some reason.” —Laura S.
59. “One pregnancy is not like another. With my first, I breezed though the first trimester, woke up early for work, drank coffee and kept running. During my second pregnancy, I had no energy, napped for two hours every day when my toddler did and had weird food aversions. Coffee and anything meaty or green made me nauseous.” —Emily S.
60. “The terror one can feel at the sudden thought that the baby hasn’t moved in a while. (Then they move again, and you’re like, WHEW!)” —Meghan B.
61. “When you’re pregnant, you constantly think about what you’ll need for the baby—the nursery, the clothes, the fancy gadgets. (And everyone has a gazillion opinions.) But no one ever tells you to prepare yourself. Like, buy all the nipple cream in the world before the baby comes, because you don’t ever want to run out.” —Kristen V.
63. “The possibility of pooping myself during delivery.” —Sue K.
64. “No one ever tells you that it feels like your insides are going to fall out for at least a few days after giving birth.” —Ainsley M.
65. “That birth is like the one test you really can’t study for. You can study and prepare for a lot of different scenarios, but you don’t know what’s going to be on the quiz.” —Ariel B.
66. “Finding out you need a C-section may be more emotional than you think.” —Laura S.
67. “I was totally unprepared for my aunt to tell me every last detail of her C-section from 31 years ago.” —Kaitlyn C.
69. “There was so much focus on giving birth, but it’s so short compared to the ‘labour’ of raising a kid. That moment when you get home from the hospital, and it’s just, ‘Oh! Oh. I have to keep this thing—forever?’” —Sarah I.
70. “That maaaybe I should ease up a bit on my birth fixation and spend a little time contemplating what actually happens when that baby is out.” —Lauren F.
71. “I didn’t know how scared I was to give birth until I was in labour, and then I was like, ‘Oh shit.’” —Kaitlyn C.
72. “I didn’t mentally prepare myself for not having an epidural. By the time I got to the hospital, it was too late, and going ‘natural’ wasn’t remotely part of my ‘plan.’” —Rebekah W.
73. “For nine months, you’re focused on the birth, but then once the baby is here, very few people want to hear your birth story. (This is especially true with your second.) Everyone’s fawning over the new creature, not the mom. Meanwhile, you still can’t sit down properly and need to squirt yourself with a water bottle every time you pee. It feels very unfair! At the same time, it’s a relief to be free of all the fretting about how the birth will go. It’s over, and everyone’s like, ‘Whatever, the baby’s here! Eeee!’” —Ariel B.
76. "Not to decline the NICU tour.” —Ashley W.
77. “That you may not like it! Pregnancy is often illustrated as this incredible experience: You feel feminine; you’re connecting with your baby; you’re revelling in the changes to your body. But not everyone feels that way. It’s hard work. Your body is in overdrive, you’re constantly tired, your boobs are out of control, and you’re sick and achy and don’t feel like yourself. That’s OK! And it’s OK to not love it. Doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby.” —Amanda G.
78. “That you will cry so much.” —Hillary M.
79. “The waves of insecurity about being a mother, as well as waves of incredible confidence and excitement.” —Leah D.
81. “Nobody tells you about losing yourself when you’re transforming into a parent. For me, motherhood was a hard transition. But then again, how do you explain that to someone?” —Zeeshan A.
82. “No one warned me about the great responsibility I would feel. Before getting pregnant, I commuted to work by bike, but at around eight weeks, I got into an accident when a car cut me off and I fell. No one was harmed, but it was a wake-up call. Throughout the pregnancy, I felt a tremendous amount of guilt and anxiety over everything I did. Some days it was overwhelming. Was I going to do something stupid and harm the baby? What if I ate something that made me sick? Should I still go to the gym? On a trip? I felt like the fate of this baby was completely in my hands, and I hadn’t expected to feel that level of responsibility—and guilt.” —Simone O.
83. “That the baby’s first kicks feel like a tap-tap-tap message from within, the start of the most intimate conversation I’d ever had. And that when she was born, I felt actual grief that I had to start sharing the baby, as if our private partnership was invaded after months of a wordless conversation between us.” —Andrea H.
84. “I felt like such an efficient multi-tasker, especially with my second. Going to work, getting it all done, taking care of a toddler, while ALSO GROWING ANOTHER HUMAN.” —Ariel B.
85. “I had never heard of prenatal depression, so I thought I was losing my mind. It was the darkest time of my life, but since having a baby was all I have ever wanted, I beat myself up further for my ‘lack of gratitude.’” —Sarah S.
86. “That having a baby is not like a Dove or Huggies commercial, and no one can prepare you for the first few weeks. You will be an unbathed animal whose first language is crying, and the sunlight streaming through the windows of your apartment will only highlight the filth on your coffee table. It’s not the slow-motion smiling dance you thought you’d be doing with your newborn, while wearing a flowy white blouse.” —Laura S.
87. “That you might lose friends who are struggling through their own journey and can’t handle watching yours.” —Laura A.
88. “How truly amazing moms are. I feel like I can conquer anything now. Also, how truly special and wonderful motherhood feels, and how no matter what shit (literally and figuratively) your day brings, seeing your little one smile just for you, or tell you he loves you, is the best feeling in the world, above all else.” —Michelle P.
This article was originally published online in April 2019.