With my first pregnancy, I was constantly reading pregnancy books. Week by week I read about my changing body, my baby’s development and all the things I couldn’t do (or eat). Before the birth of my daughter, I discovered that what to expect when I was expecting was….well….unexpected. Here are five of the most surprising tidbits of information I discovered while reading pregnancy books.
1. The Importance of Folic Acid Before you Conceive
I always knew that folic acid was important, especially in the early stages of my pregnancy. However, I didn’t know that you should start taking folic acid before you get pregnant. Luckily, I used to be a big orange juice drinker and was already taking a prenatal vitamin. However, with my second pregnancy, I made sure to up my folic acid intake while trying to conceive. According to Your Pregnancy Week By Week, “folic acid can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord.”
2. Pregnant for 40 Weeks?
Pregnancies last for nine months, right? However, many pregnancy books talk about your pregnancy in terms of weeks. When I saw that a pregnancy lasted for 40 weeks, I was confused. To me 40 weeks equated to 10 months. It turns out doctors consider the beginning of your last period as the start of your pregnancy. What? In other words, there is the “gestational age” which is typically “two weeks before you conceive” and your “ovulatory age” or the “day you conceive.” Personally this still confuses me but whatever you say doc!
3. A Long List of Don’ts
I had heard about refraining from eating sushi and limiting caffeine intake. However, I didn’t know fish such as swordfish could be dangerous. I also didn’t know I had to be careful about my “core temperature.” Furthermore, I didn’t realize that toxoplasmosis was a danger when cleaning out a cat’s litter box. According to Baby Center, “toxoplasmosis is an infection you can get from a microscopic parasite called Toxoplasma gondii.” Since I tried to follow all the pregnancy rules, I obliged. Believe me, I didn’t mind giving up my litter box duty.
4. Water Breaking…It’s Not like the Movies
In the movies, it seems that everyone’s water breaks before going into labor. Yet, according to most baby books I read, only a small percentage of women have that happen. In addition, not everyone has the giant gush of water that makes a puddle on the ground (that seems to be a movie thing too). The medical term for your water breaking is called “rupture of membranes” that contains the amniotic fluid. If your water breaks early, you need to call your doctor.
5. Weight Distribution
I think everyone expects to gain weight when they become pregnant. However, it is a little daunting to look at the scale and see your weight going up exponentially. Still, I was surprised to read (in my Your Pregnancy book) that pregnancy caused your uterus to weigh two pounds. In addition the amniotic fluid weighed another two pounds and the placenta weighed one and a half pounds. This was reassuring to me, especially when I ate some ice cream for dessert.
Pregnancy certainly has its little surprises. However, it’s the tiny bundle of joy that is the biggest surprise of all.