As my co-worker Danielle mentioned previously, our daily team meetings are extremely educational. We hit on food, alien conspiracies, and lots and lots of pregnancy talk due to our co-worker Ben, who is about to be a first-time father. Don’t worry, we taught him what NOT to say to his pregnant wife.
Naturally, as a woman, I felt I knew quite a bit about pregnancy. You know—it’s nine months long, you can’t consume alcohol, contractions means the baby is coming, and always opt for epidural because that shit hurts. Don’t make this mistake:
It wasn’t until I began talking to parents that many other (much more detailed) truths were revealed. As requested, my co-workers promised not to sugarcoat the facts… and now I’m unsure of whether I actually appreciate knowing a little too much about pregnancy or that I am simply scared sh**less.
Here’s a few of the dirty details that I’ve learned over the past few weeks:
The Water Breaking
I knew that a woman’s “water breaking” was a sign of labor, but what I didn’t know was that it rarely happens like the movies. Many women don’t realize that their water broke because it’s often more of a slow trickle rather than a gushing waterfall scene. Oh, and when it does break, it doesn’t always mean imminent labor. Don’t get too excited, you could have 48 more hours before that little creature climbs out of the womb.
You might be saying, “What is that?” The cervical mucus plug forms in the cervix as early as seven weeks into pregnancy, sealing the opening and creating a natural barrier to protect the baby from injury or bacteria. As a woman approaches labor, the cervix will widen and the mucus plug will discharge (anywhere from weeks to days before labor). This releases a thick, glob of mucus similar to a GIANT booger that often bears traces of blood. (Yes, I know… I, too, was cringing as I wrote this.)
Stripping the Membrane
“Yep, we’re getting close. She’s going in to get her membrane stripped.” Umm… WTF? That doesn’t sound good.
The membrane refers to the amniotic sac, the thing that ruptures when a woman’s water breaks. Stripping the membrane therefore refers to the process often used to induce labor where the doctor or midwife uses a whole-fist-several-finger-swipe to detach the amniotic sac from the walls of the uterus. Think of it this way, you’re attempting to detach the paper mache off of a balloon in one fluid motion. #NoEffingWay
Belly Button Stump
Everyone knows about the umbilical cord. Some fathers claim their Certificate of Manhood by cutting the cord, while others are too queasy to try. My coworkers informed me that sometimes that ugly stump takes forever to fall off (like a month), and before it does, it’s often hard and gross… and sometimes bleeds. While doctors, nurses, and virtually every parenting website discourages “unnatural detachment,” more often than not, parents are tired of looking at it—and being grossed out by it—that they end up “helping” that scabby thing fall off.
All About the Placenta
I learned that a woman delivers more than just her baby. Apparently, if it doesn’t come out with the baby (or the doctor doesn’t pull it out), there is the chance that you’ll be delivering the placenta, too. This mass looks like a large, fleshy lump of brain/liver with a cord attached—a.k.a. the home of your infant for the past nine months. Good news is, once you’ve delivered the placenta, you can eat it for dinner. Kourtney Kardashian and eight other celebs have. #JoinInTheFun
Birth Smells Bad
According to some fathers I know, the birthing process doesn’t smell like roses. Maybe it’s the combination of mucus, blood, and stale baby. (Harsh? I think not. They’ve been festering in there for over nine months!)
The “Now What?” Moments
It still amazes me that we are required to obtain a license to drive, get married, carry a gun, and even sell houses, but there isn’t even a certificate required to bring another human into the world. One of the weirdest things, according to first-time parents, is when they first return home from the hospital. Wide-eyed, they stare at the baby, then turn to one another with a terrified “Now what?” look on their faces. We weren’t taught this.
He Sees It All
Say goodbye to privacy. Not only will your nurse get all up in your junk, the first-time father (if present) will be seeing more of you than he ever cared to… and then you might poop. Yes, poop. But can he blame you? You’re pushing soooo hard. Needless to say, seeing all of this might put a damper on your sex life for a bit. (And if it doesn’t, it’s likely that the crying, screaming, poop-factory across the hall will.)
What Babies Can’t Eat or Drink
I knew that there were some things that babies couldn’t have before they were a year old, but I didn’t realize what was included on the comprehensive list. Here’s a few items you might be unaware of:
- Strawberries. I knew peanut allergies were common among children, but strawberry allergies were news to me. Hold off on these.
- Salt. Apparently salt and baby kidneys don’t mix. This is why adult ready-meals are also discouraged; they are high in sodium.
- Honey. Honey can contain a botulism that is toxic to babies and their intestines.
- Certain fish. For the same reason a mother should avoid seafood during pregnancy, a baby should not have shark, swordfish, or marlin, which may contain mercury.
- Tea or coffee. Tea contains tannin that prevents a baby from properly absorbing food. Caffeinated drinks, in general, should be avoided.
What Mothers Can’t Eat or Drink
I knew seafood and alcohol were a no-go for pregnancy, but I didn’t know about all the other insane things women couldn’t have. Jeesh. Is the list of things women can have shorter? Here’s some of the surprising things soon-to-be-mothers must avoid:
- Deli meat. Listeria, a bacteria found in contaminated foods, can be found in deli meat. It is known to cause miscarriages.
- Caffeine. Studies show that an excess of caffeine in the first trimester can increase the chances of miscarriage as well.
- Soft cheeses. These include brie, feta, and bleu cheese to name a few. Because these imported cheeses are often made with unpasteurized milk, the risk of listeria is, again, higher.
I’ll be honest, after hearing all of this, I thought to myself, I am totally going to be an unfit mother someday. How on earth are we supposed to know all of this? Good news is, everyone feels that way. That’s why God made doctors and fellow mothers to guide us. And if those facts didn’t catch you off guard, maybe these “10 Weird Pregnancy Facts No One Tells You About” will.
Featured photo via movieclips.com