In the movies, a woman becomes pregnant and adorably rounds out as she sends her hubby out for ice cream at 4 a.m. She gets to relax with her feet up as her adoring friends who naturally throw her a beautiful baby shower and giggle over the first kick she feels.
In real life, your pregnancy might be slightly less picturesque as you navigate the nine months of havoc wreaked on your bod. Don't be surprised when issues that are somewhat less desirable overshadow the picture-perfect pregnancy myth.
Expectation: "Oh honey, you're glowing!" Reality: "Um, should I pick you up some cleanser?" Much is made of that pregnancy glow that women are supposed to exude the moment they're with child. Of course, what looks like a glowing skin might be pure sweat—pregnancy spikes your core temperature so you feel hot all the time. And your supposedly gorgeous skin? It can be affected by hormonal acne and melasma—a hyperpigmentation that affects the upper lip and forehead.
Expectation: "I'm craving pickles and ice cream!" Reality: "Suddenly that rock looks delicious." Ah, pickles and ice cream—the old Hollywood standby to represent pregnancy cravings. And while pregnancy cravings are totally normal, some are a little outside the realm of a regular grocery store. A 1998 study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that a majority of pregnant women surveyed suffered from a condition called pica, which is craving substances that are non-nutritive. Sure, a pickle craving is cute—but what if you crave pavement, corn starch or baking soda, like 8.2 percent of pregnant women? Not so cute, is it?
Expectation: "Once the morning sickness is over, I can start my day." Reality: "I feel sick morning, noon and night." The person who created the label "morning sickness" must have been a man, because pregnant women know that pregnancy illness doesn't own a watch. That nauseous feeling can creep up any time during the day leaving you feeling both green and hungry at every mealtime.
Expectation: "My kicking baby is adorable." Reality: "Can I have my body back now?" That first kick—it's indescribable as far as pregnancy moments are concerned. But what started out as your own tiny miracle can become a huge nuisance as your pregnancy wears on. Suddenly, that foot under your ribs or in your bladder isn't as cute as it once was and you're wishing for your pregnancy to be over so you can get some personal space.
Expectation: "I'll definitely keep exercising so I lose weight quickly after the birth." Reality: "I'm tired. I can exercise after I give birth, right?" While a goal to continue low impact exercise throughout your pregnancy is definitely admirable, you might want to aim low. Staying fit and active can be seriously tough during the first trimester—when you're sick the entire time—and during the third trimester—when you feel like a house. Don't beat yourself up too much about skipping a few exercise days, since it's completely normal to need some rest.
Expectation: "The pregnant body is so cute." Reality: "What's that smell?" Sure, you'll get a certifiably adorable belly for your troubles—which complete strangers will want to touch—but you'll also have some gross stuff affect your body. Leaking nipples, spotting and discharge, gas and bloating and a myriad of other surprises mean your pregnant body, while healthy, is a little on the gross side. At least the prize at the end will be worth a few nose-wrinkling moments alone!
Expectation: "I can't wait to wear maternity clothes!" Reality: "I can't wait to change into sweatpants!" You could spend a small fortune on clothes that showcase your burgeoning bump, but put the credit card away! Having some cute staples can help boost your self confidence when you leave the house, but when you're at home, you'll be lounging in your favorite sweats. Since fabric can make your belly itch and snaps and buttons irritate your skin, you might find yourself dashing for your spouse’s hoodies more often that you think.
Expectation: "Pregnancy is a magical time." Reality: "Is this over yet?" The harsh realities of pregnancy aren’t always going to be fun. By the end of your third trimester, there's a good chance that you'll be begging your OB for it all to be over—and that’s okay! While there are amazing moments that change your life, there's also a lot of discomfort, moodiness and wishing that you could sleep on your belly again. Instead of feeling guilty or stressing over how you “should” be feeling, channel your energy into a pregnancy journal, and detail your ups and your downs. One day, it'll be fun to go back and see what pregnancy was really like for you.
Don't let the Hollywood gloss placed on the miracle of pregnancy fool you. While the creation of life is definitely a life-changing miracle, sometimes it can throw you for a serious loop. Luckily, it won't last for long and soon, you'll have a gorgeous baby to show for all of your hard work. Repeat after us: A few more months … a few more months!