Eco Parenting Pregnancy and Postpartum
Maria Martin  

7 Actual Important Things all Pregnant Women Need to Know…

I see a lot of posts about labour and postpartum that focus on the funny side, about how everyone will see your nakedness and you won’t care, about how you’ll get used to being puked on etc etc.  This post isn’t that, there are so many practical things nobody ever told me when I was pregnant and I never even thought to ask  – You don’t know what you don’t know, right? 

So, here is MY personal list of really important things that I should have been told, I’d love to hear yours in the comments!

1. Group B Strep during labour 

It’s strange, I was asked several times on the maternity ward whether I was Strep B Positive and I always assumed that I must have been tested or they wouldn’t be asking (after all, they nicked enough of my blood for testing over the course of my pregnancy) I also assumed I must have been all clear or they would have told me. WRONG. It wasn’t until Harriet got her results that I found out what it is and why it is so crucial for EVERY mother to be tested in EVERY pregnancy. (Read her story here)

2. Your labour and birth might not go according to plan

Okay, that’s a pretty obvious one and I guess on some level we all know that but what I mean is that no one told me exactly what it was that could go wrong and how that might be resolved. Nobody prepared me for emergency procedures in theatre. I suppose nobody wants to scare a pregnant woman, well, I’m gonna do it. You might have to have major abdominal surgery.Maybe you’ll have to have your perineum cut or snipped for an intervention like forceps. You might tear parts of your vulva – forwards or backwards from your vagina. There are quite a few things that could mean you lose a lot of blood, like Post Partum Haemorrhage

If you are pregnant I would strongly advise you to talk to your midwife (or relevant healthcare professional) about what you can expect if you need to have an emergency procedure. What the risks are, why they happen and what you have to sign when they thrust the surgical permission slip at you between contractions. It’s going to be easier to take that information on board when you aren’t 15 hours into labour and drifting in an out of consciousness.

3. Packing for Labour 

I see a lot of posts about hospital bag essentials. I disregarded most of them because they contain bluetooth speakers, tablets and essential oils. Mine was a small bag of actual essentials. Clothes for me, clothes for baby, nappies, sports drink, Vaseline, maternity pads, granny pants, phone charger, hospital notes. Those things would have been absolutely fine if my birth had gone smoothly and my son wasn’t crazy jaundiced. A week long hospital stay made my bag entirely insufficient. My poor husband was back and forth with clothes and supplies all week. He doesn’t drive so he was walking three miles to the hospital and three miles home (what a trooper). So, pack a bag for if things go to plan. Pack another, bigger bag for if they don’t. Oh, and hospitals don’t give you shampoo. 

4. Tongue tie (and other feeding issues)

This is a huge deal to me and I will be talking about it in more detail in another post soon. I did hear tongue ties mentioned when I was pregnant. ONCE. It was in the following context; “You can’t breastfeed a baby with tongue tie because they can’t latch to the breast”. This is possibly the single worst piece of misinformation I was given.

My son had a tongue tie and he latched and fed, just not very well. None of the midwives or health visitors picked up on it and I had no idea what to look for. I was supported by amazing local services which are now facing massive budget cuts (see their campaign here). I wish I had gone to see them when I was pregnant for some advice and again after my son was born before I was told that his behaviour was normal or that it was my fault.

5. Nappies

You are going to be changing a LOT of nappies. I decided to use cloth when I was pregnant but my dinky baby didn’t fit in them to start with. If I had realised just how many disposable nappies we’d get through in the first three months (around 900) I would have invested in some smaller sized cloth nappies. Obviously a lot of people told me that it would be a lot but the actual figures still startled me. If you’re in the UK you can find your local cloth nappy library here.

6. How and when to bathe a newborn 

This one was a source of panic for me from around 20 weeks. I asked at an antenatal class but they showed me with a rigid toy doll and no actual water so I felt ill prepared. When I was presented with a mucky baby fresh out of the womb I had no idea if I should be washing the gunk off of him and how I might go about that. I avoided it for a while and picked the crispy bits of womb lining out of his perfect hair as best I could.

He was eventually washed for first time at a week old by a lovely member of the maternity ward team who talked me through top and tailing. I still had no idea how to give him an actual bath so I just didn’t, for weeks. I’m still not 100% sure but if you’re concerned I hope you find comfort in the fact that it isn’t just you.

7. Dressing your baby 

How do you get those tiiiiny little vests over the head of a baby with zero muscle control? (Answer – you put the head hole under the back of their head and pull it gently over the top). As silly as it sounds, no one ever told me or showed me and I had not slept much so how was I to know? It took me a week to figure it out – luckily I have a summer baby. He lived in fully poppered sleepsuits most of the time. Also, everyone kept telling me I needed a going home outfit for him and that is a lie. After an 18 hour labour and a week in hospital all I needed a clean sleep suit for him to go home in. I did pack an outfit but he was too tiny and I didn’t care one bit, I just wanted to get home.

I’m sure I’ve missed some because… well because my son is two and my brain is mush from all the parenting. As a bonus, I asked my husband what he wished he’d known. Apparently he’s quite traumatised. Here is his list:

Labour is terrifying

Seeing your partner in labour, in that much pain and not being able to help is awful. You might have to see them in theatre and hold it together when you’re worried you might lose the woman you love and your child is the scariest thing. 

Babies are terrifying

How do you hold them with out breaking them? How do you change nappies? Dress them? Undress them? Put them in the carseat? Pick them up? Put them down? HOW?

The weight of the world is terrifying

Your partner just made a small human. She is in no position to do anything much so you’ve just gone from being responsible for yourself to being responsible for you, your wife and your baby… and all of the cooking and cleaning. Two weeks in and you have to work again. It’s a massive adjustment to make and it can be a little overwhelming.

The soft spot is terrifying

Every time you touch the soft spot you think you’ve hurt your child. Absolutely. Terrifying. 

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24 thoughts on “7 Actual Important Things all Pregnant Women Need to Know…

  1. sophie

    A great list! Of course when you are pregnant for the first time you just cant foresee what may be around the corner! Some times reading too much can be scary but at least you know what could happen. My daughter had dislocated hips dues to a breech position and she had to wear a splint….not my ideal birth experience but it was mine and she was ok. Thank you for the list. #linkylist

  2. Nicole Arsiwala

    A very useful post. The group bB Strep is indeed a crucial test (my cousin had it so I was aware) and my little fellow just would not latch until we found out he had tongue tie. #TheListLinky

  3. Kasi Hopkins-Brashear

    No one told me my baby could die from the very thing giving her life, in labor at 39 weeks. Yes, I had seen it in movies “But that would never happen in real life. And sure as heck not to me.” WRONG! 1-in-160. It happens A LOT. I don’t know how many of those are cord accidents like my daughters but there are many reasons they done make it out alive.

  4. Maria Martin

    Kasi, I am so sad to hear you had to go through that, I cant even imagine the grief you have suffered. It takes a lot of strength, but if talking openly about the things that could go wrong and have gone wrong saves just one family from going through the same then it is time well spent.

  5. Maria Martin

    After seeing just some what Group B Strep can do I am so shocked I wasn't ever offered a test and so incredibly grateful that I was lucky enough not to carry it (or pass it on if i do carry it). As for tongue tie… awful business, so much stress because of something actually pretty simple 🙁

  6. Anonymous

    I think it actually supposed to be a good thing not to bathe your baby right away. I've read there are benefits to waiting a bit 🙂

  7. Anonymous

    No one told me about tongue tie either! In the hospital I felt like it was my fault that I couldn't breastfeed without being in pain. Still, they didn't catch it at the hospital, but rather I found out at the first pediatrician visit. By this point, I had tried so hard to breastfeed my baby that my nipples were cracking and bleeding from her harsh latch and power sucking. Would have been nice to hear about tongue tie while I was still pregnant or at least at the hospital after birth. A simple procedure and now things are all better!!

  8. Maria Martin

    There is so much conflict about it online (if you look) that you could spend hours reading about it and still not have an answer. I'm happy with the way it went for us now and I will do the same next time, just with more confidence.

  9. Maria Martin

    It's such a common thing that it makes no sense for it not to be a routine check!

  10. Tash

    I think one thing that gets over looked in pregnancy is a postnatal plan. I've just has my 3rd 3 weeks ago and a lot of new mums in pregnancy & birth club groups I have spoken to all say the same thing about focusing so much on the birth and not much on 4 trimester. #TheListLinky

  11. Crummy Mummy

    There's so much they don't tell you isn't there! Even after our 3rd I felt like that #bloggersbest

  12. Helen Gandy - Blogging Beautifully

    Aww this is very true! Thanks for linking up #BloggersBests

  13. Sarah Barber

    Oh gosh that sounds really scary! It can be worse sometimes not knowing what you're in for, can't it? Thanks for commenting!

  14. Sarah Barber

    Yes! I could not agree more. I had no idea how painful or debilitating it would be in the days and weeks postpartum! I had no plan for when my husband went back to work either and that was the scariest part! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  15. Sarah Barber

    There needs to be more information circulated during pregnancy I think! Thanks for commenting

  16. Sarah Barber

    Thank you for commenting!

  17. Karen Dennis

    I have a good friend who suffers with this condition, it took her several years to conceive, but she didn't give up hope and now has a gorgeous little girl #kcalcols@_karendennis

  18. Karen Dennis

    I have a good friend who suffers with this condition, it took her several years to conceive, but she didn't give up hope and now has a gorgeous little girl #kcalcols@_karendennis

  19. John

    Thank you so much for the information.This kind of information is important especially for someone who is having there first baby.My friend was pregnant and she has got pregnancy information fromfree pregnancy clinic in san antonio

  20. Rachel

    One thing no one ever told me was that you might poo whilst in labour. Happened to me with my 2nd and I was mortified but the midwife took it in her stride and said it was very common. When it happened again with my 5th I was more prepared but still embarrised

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