Most women go for the pregnancy books when we’re expecting our first child. We try to learn as much as possible about pregnancy and all the associated strange things that are suddenly happening to our bodies. Being able to make sense of what we’re going through, and learning that some of what happens to us happens to most women, is reassuring. But some of things mentioned in pregnancy books were a little surprising.
1. Some women crave dirt.
When I was pregnant with my first (and only) child, pregnancy seemed strange. I felt a bit lost, but a friend gifted me with her used copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Learning that women crave certain foods didn’t shock me, learning about pica but finding out that some pregnant women have strong cravings for non-food items did. Dirt, for example, was mentioned as something some women crave — and eat. The cause for this craving is unknown, but it is thought to be possibly related to a mineral deficiency. During my pregnancy, my cravings seemed almost generic compared to that. All I wanted was pickles and ice cream. And not mixed together.
2. Some women have all-day morning sickness.
Finding out that some women had terrible morning sickness wasn’t exactly news. Everyone knows that. But finding out that some women’s morning sickness lasts all day was sort of shocking. I felt lucky, suddenly, that mine was mild, and also, limited to mornings.
3. Some women experience extreme gassiness.
Then, Belly Laughs, Jenny McCarthy’s book on her pregnancy, enlightened me on some topics I hadn’t thought about. I was surprised to learn how very gassy pregnancy can be for some people. I worked throughout my pregnancy, and luckily, excessive gas was not a problem for me. Turns out, that phenomenon may be related to drinking milk in people who develop mild lactose intolerance while they’re expecting.
4. Some people swear by the high and low myths.
Some books mentioned things that seemed like total myths. If you were carrying the baby high, it meant it was a boy. If you were carrying it low, it was a girl. I’m still convinced that this one’s a myth. I carried mine high in the womb, and the baby was a girl.
5. Certain women’s feet grow a full shoe size.
I was shocked to learn that feet can grow up to a full shoe size during pregnancy, and then not return to normal. I went up by half a shoe size, and still wear that size to this day.
I was young and inexperienced when I had my daughter, and probably more than a little naive. Reading pregnancy books while I was expecting was reassuring in several ways: I realized I was not alone in my experiences, I learned that no matter how awful my pregnancy sometimes seemed, someone out there had it way worse, and I also found that no matter how strange some of the things happening to me seemed, there was someone out there who was eating spoonfuls of dirt. And maybe even loving it.