I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing some lovely ladies while creating an online course to help new mamas and mamas-to-be. I’ve drawn from those conversations and my personal experience to write this blog post. Some of these experiences also come from some initial survey results (please click here or fill it in below if you’re expecting, a new mum or thinking about having a baby, it shouldn’t take longer than ten minutes!). Anyhoo, if you experience any of these 70 things during pregnancy and postpartum, you’re not alone!
Normal things to experience while pregnant
- It’s normal to spend hours on the couch feeling nauseous during your first trimester (and beyond!).
- It’s normal to feel knackered from making a human being.
- It’s normal to experience heartburn.
- It’s normal to get nausea again during your third trimester.
- It’s normal to feel like there’s a long list of things you shouldn’t do, but not much about the positives of pregnancy.
- It’s normal to get overwhelmed with all the things “not to eat” and to just do your best.
- It’s normal to do exercise (e.g. swimming) because of the official pregnancy recommendations, and hate it.
- It’s normal to struggle to keep up with your exercise routine.
- It’s normal to have difficulties finding nice maternity clothes.
- It’s normal to not be clear on what to expect at medical appointments and on who is supposed to book them.
- It’s normal to find the appointments too medicalised.
- It’s normal to not understand everything and have to do research on acronyms for example.
- It’s normal to feel that doctors don’t really listen to your concerns.
- It’s normal to feel like a goddess and very excited.
- It’s normal to feel happier than usual and more in love.
- It’s normal that mental health issues manifest themselves as not coping very well during pregnancy.
- It’s normal to be worried about taking medication for mental health when pregnant.
- It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by the cruelty of the world you are bringing a baby into.
- It’s normal to just want to be done in the last few weeks.
Normal things to experience during childbirth
- It’s normal to have high expectations of yourself: wanting a medication-free natural birth, a home birth or a birth in a midwife-led unit.
- It’s normal to cling to unrealistic expectations rather than relaxing and enjoying the process.
- It’s normal to feel like you can’t trust your body when everyone is telling you to.
- It’s normal to experience childbirth as physically and/or psychologically traumatic.
- It’s normal for it to be the most difficult 48 hours of your life.
- It’s normal to suffer an injury (e.g. pelvic dislocation) during delivery and then be unable to sit or stand without assistance.
- It’s normal to wish for more time at the midwifery unit / hospital and to feel a bit abandoned when you have to leave with your newborn.
Normal things to experience postpartum
- It’s normal to experience pain from cuts and tears in the first month.
- It’s normal to bleed and wear massive pads that make you self-conscious for the first few weeks.
- It’s normal to feel pressure from family, official guidelines and your own high expectations to breastfeed.
- It’s normal to compare yourself to others and feel jealous of someone who is producing “too much” milk.
- It’s normal to have low supply that never “fixes” itself.
- It’s normal to feel like your concerns aren’t being heard or acted upon and wishing you had been more persistent with saying there’s a problem.
- It’s normal for your baby to have a bad latch or tongue tie or just not figure breastfeeding out instantly / ever.
- It’s also normal for your baby to hate being bottle fed and for you to struggle with not being able to have any independence.
- It’s normal to be worried about your baby being in the lowest or the highest percentiles for weight.
- It’s normal to change your mind about formula, dummies, etc. (etc., etc.!).
- It’s normal to find having lots of people telling you to try to breastfeed in different ways difficult and to lose your self-esteem.
- It’s normal to feel exhausted from breastfeeding, pumping and cleaning all the equipment, and to not be able to do much else.
- It’s normal that expressing gives you hope and then it doesn’t work.
- It’s normal that breastfeeding supplements don’t taste nice and don’t work.
- It’s normal to feel heartbroken, horrible and inadequate when struggling with breastfeeding.
- It’s normal to feel like your baby doesn’t like you when they’re upset about feeding too.
- It’s normal to be angry and in tears at a time you thought would be joyful.
- It’s normal to feel like it’s hard to process everything.
- It’s normal to wonder if it’s just you or if all mums go through this.
- It’s normal to need medication to deal with the problems brought on by hormonal imbalance + sleep deprivation + breastfeeding stress.
- It’s normal to want to be in bed for a month.
- It’s normal to feel pressure to go out.
- It’s normal that well-intentioned friends and family add stress by inviting you to gatherings.
- It’s normal to regret not being more firm with your boundaries.
- It’s normal that you feel you can’t sleep because you have too many visitors.
- It’s also normal to feel lonely and invisible.
- It’s normal to feel like everyone only cares about the baby now.
- It’s normal to feel that midwives and health visitors are intrusive.
- It’s also normal to want them to come more often and stay longer.
- It’s normal to want to shut the door: no more visits and no cleaning up.
- It’s normal to find it difficult to manage people’s comments when your choices aren’t what is “socially acceptable” to them.
- It’s normal to not trust your mum network initially and feel that everyone is putting on a brave face.
- It’s normal to compare yourself to other mums.
- It’s normal to feel even less prepared and knowledgeable when you hear what other parents are doing / already know.
- It’s normal to feel relieved to know that other mums are feeling frazzled.
- It’s normal to feel a sense of overwhelming responsibility.
- It’s normal to want your partner to at home for longer.
- It’s normal to get into fights with your partner about issues you hadn’t addressed.
- It’s normal to feel guilty and judged about any condition your baby gets.
- It’s normal to not “achieve” a sleeping routine for several months and feel exhausted.
- It’s normal to feel guilty about having a “good” baby that sleeps through the night when your friends don’t.
- It’s normal to struggle with scheduling work and following through with it.
- It’s normal to find the first months really hard.
- It’s normal to regret getting worked up, as it didn’t change anything and took away from the quality of the experience.
How to tap into your intuition and reduce pregnancy & postpartum overwhelm
While all these things are normal – as there’s no single prototypically perfect pregnancy and postpartum experience – some of them are not ideal. And realistically, while creating a little human is quite miraculous and wonderful, it can sometimes feel scary and weird. I didn’t share this long list to scare anyone, but these are some of the things the mums I talked to “wished they would have known”. It’s best to be armed with the possibilities of things being hmm unconfortable and then wonder at how well everything is going, than expect everything to be easy and natural, and “fall from high” as we see in French (tomber de haut)!
I have created a free online mini course to help you process your thoughts and feelings during this very different time: everything is new, even your body is doing things you’ve never experienced before! So join me anytime on your phone, computer or tablet and hopefully you’ll already be feeling a bit more clarity and control in a week’s time!
If you don’t happen to be pregnant or in the early stages of motherhood, please share the link with a friend or loved one who is!
Big hugs (from a distance)!