For over 4 years I was a ‘boy mum’. To be honest, if you had asked me before if I wanted a daughter I would have shrugged (like I can choose the sex of the baby anyway) and said something along the lines of ‘baby girls are cute but they turn into teenage girls and they’re scary’. I loved being a ‘boy mum’. So when I found out I was having a baby girl I was excited and terrified all at once.
After looking past all the cute outfits and pink ruffled everything, I realised that one day my daughter may choose to have a baby and fall pregnant. I’m what you would call an overthinker, with a good dose of anxiety weaved through there too. So I started to think about what she might go through in pregnancy, including all the things I’ve been through, like debilitating Hyperemesis Gravidarum, and generally not liking pregnancy at all.
Which got me thinking – ‘What are some of the pieces of advice I will give my daughter about pregnancy?’ My mum told me things about her pregnancies, which were vastly different to mine. But she said often that she just didn’t remember some parts. I’ve written extensively about my pregnancies over the years but I’d never considered what I would actually want my daughter to know.
So I thought about it, and now I’m sharing it in the hopes it will help more women than just my daughter and might make you consider what advice you’d give your daughter too.
1 – Don’t Let Anyone (Myself Included) Tell You How To Handle Your Pregnancy
You’ll hear this over and over again – every pregnancy is different. Yet for some reason, everyone has an opinion on how you need to handle it. Don’t exercise too much, you’re not exercising enough, don’t eat too much, you’re not eating enough, only eat healthy food, eat whatever you’re craving, rest while you can, get things done while you can… the ‘advice’ is endless.
But here’s the thing, my darling girl, this is your pregnancy and you get to choose how you want to handle it. Sure, check with your midwife for some things and make sure that everything you’re doing is good for you and your babe, but other than that, you don’t have to answer to anyone.
Always know this, you are loved and supported. And there will probably be times when I question what you do, but I don’t mean this as a way of questioning you, more as a way of asking you to explain a little more. Because times change, things change. And during your pregnancy things are going to be incredibly different as they were during my pregnancy. Just like how during my pregnancy, things were very different to when my mum was pregnant (and believe me, your Nanny gave me many strange looks, with love of course).
2 – It’s Okay To Feel The Way You Feel
Pregnancy is blissful, or so we are led to believe. But I have to be completely honest with you. While I love you and your brother more than words could ever describe, and while I was so incredibly grateful to be pregnant with you, I did not like being pregnant. It was a struggle more days than not, but that’s a story for another day.
Here’s the thing, if you’re loving your pregnancy and you have that gorgeous pregnancy glow, that’s okay. Actually, that’s amazing and I am so happy for you. But don’t think for a second you have to downplay how much you love being pregnant ‘just in case’ you offend someone.
And it goes the other way too. If pregnancy is rough for you (it hurts my heart even writing these words) and the only pregnancy glow you have is more of a sweat shine from throwing up, it’s okay to say ‘this is so hard’. Don’t bottle those feelings up. You’re allowed to feel the way you feel. There will always be people around you who love you and support you no matter what.
3 – Use That Belly To Your Advantage
I have a little confession to make. On more than one occasion, I used my growing belly to score better seats at a cafe (all the comfy ones were taken, so the waitress asked a table of people to move for me!) and I also used being pregnant to leave events early (oh, I’m so tired, I have to go).
There’s no reason why you can’t have a little fun during your pregnancy and make the most of your baby bump. Get the upgrades, enjoy the people doting on you and use it as an excuse to go home, put your feet up and relax.
4 – Take Photos, Write Notes, Make Videos
As I sit here and write this it kind of blows my mind that I have fully grown two small humans inside my body. Time passes by so quickly, I know people say it all the time but it’s so true. I remember the day those two little lines showed up on my pregnancy test telling me you were going to be joining in on our family (it was my 30th Birthday). I remember the first time I felt you kick, the first time I looked into your eyes and the first time you said ‘Mum’.
I have so many photos of when I was pregnant with you, videos of you tumbling around in my belly and the most amazing photos of when you were born. I look at them often and relive those incredible moments.
When I look back on the photos of when I was pregnant with your brother and when he was a baby, it was only 6 years ago now but there are so many little things these photos and videos help me remember. And I cannot wait until I can share all of these memories with the two of you.
Take photos, write notes and make videos because it not only helps you process your emotions at the time, it helps you remember these amazing moments as time goes on.
5 – Always Put Your Husband First
Chances are I’ve already told you this, because it’s my number one piece of advice and something I wholeheartedly stand by. Always put your husband first. There will be many people who disagree with me on this, and that’s okay. They can live their lives however they want. But when you were a baby, I put your Dad before you. And there’s a good reason why.
When your Dad and I started our relationship, we stopped having to put ourselves first. Self care is incredibly important and you know I am a big beliver in putting yourself first. But as our relationship progressed, I didn’t have to make an effort to ensure my needs were being met physically, emotionally and mentally. I didn’t have to consciously ensure I was happy. Because he was doing it all for me. As was I for him.
He recognises when I need time out and need to take a break. He is there to support me and encourage me in all of my wild endeavours (even if he looks at me strange and wonders how on earth I’m going to achieve my goals). He encourages me to sleep in when I need it, sends me out to coffee with my friends (alone) to ensure I’m getting enough ‘me’ time. And I do the same for him too. It’s pretty darn amazing.
And by doing this, we keep our marriage healthy and thriving, but it also means we can be the best parents we possibly can be.
By putting your husband first, you are kind of inadvertently putting your family, and therefore your children, first.
You see, one doesn’t really take over the other. It’s not like a tree puts it’s leaves before it’s roots. The tree takes in moisture, sunlight and nutrients in it’s roots and in it’s leaves. But if you cut the roots off a tree, the tree cannot survive. Your marriage, your relationship, are the roots of your family. Be sure to keep them healthy.
I hope this advice helps my daughter when she is pregnant, but I also hope it has found it’s way to women in need and can help them to love their pregnancy a little more, feel a little more supported and perhaps even get them thinking about what they would tell their children about their pregnancy.