During pregnancy, the body goes through an amazing transformation that most people are not prepared for. Even if you’ve been pregnant before, you will likely find that pregnancy brings about unexpected changes to your body and your life. If you’re pregnant right now, here are nine things I learned from my most recent pregnancy, which I hope will help you have an easier time adjusting to all the changes and challenges of pregnancy this time around!

1) You will be tired

Constantly. A lot of exhaustion is normal, but if you’re tired to a point where it’s affecting your day-to-day life and you’re not sure what else could be causing it (maybe it’s a lack of sleep or overexertion), ask your doctor for an examination. Sleep is essential to stay healthy and retain energy during pregnancy. Lack of rest can also lead to depression, which is never a good thing.

2) Everything hurts

Oh my word! Everything hurts. It’s not just me who thinks so, it’s pretty much everyone else who has been pregnant. There is a pretty reasonable explanation for all that pain – your uterus is expanding and stretching to make room for your baby. All that growth requires plenty of oxygen, which ends up being depleted in parts of your body, leaving you feeling like you’ve run a marathon even when you haven’t left bed.

3) Everyone will tell you to take it easy

Your doctor, your partner, your friends—they’ll all tell you to take it easy. And they mean well. But while they might have an excellent point, taking it easy isn’t actually good advice when you’re pregnant. In fact, taking it easy during pregnancy is what can really slow down your recovery and ultimately lead to a less healthy body for both you and your baby. What does that mean?

4) Rest when you can

If you’re experiencing discomfort during pregnancy, it’s important to take time out of your day to rest. Allowing yourself to sit down, relax and have a cup of tea is something you need to do. Your health and happiness are more important than anything else at that moment in time. Don’t let anyone or anything bring you down!

5) The advice is worth listening to

When you’re pregnant, there’s a long list of things that you should—and shouldn’t—do. It can feel daunting to know where to start when your belly suddenly takes over your entire body. Everyone wants you to be healthy and safe during pregnancy, but every experience is different. The best thing that you can do for yourself and your baby is listen to yourself above all else.

6) The first few months are crucial

Although a healthy pregnancy is certainly possible, it’s better to be prepared. This means not only staying away from tobacco, alcohol and drugs during pregnancy, but also taking a multivitamin supplement every day (folic acid in particular has been shown to reduce risk of neural tube defects).

7) Eat a lot of cake – but healthily

Cake is high in sugar, which we’re told is bad for us. But cake isn’t all that bad. Cake doesn’t have to be that unhealthy, either. Most cakes you see at a store are filled with preservatives, trans fats and other chemicals that only exist to make them look good at a distance.

8) Go ahead and splurge, too

During pregnancy, you’re going to want to focus on eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, but there will be times when your cravings get stronger than your willpower. Whether it’s for something salty or sweet, give yourself a little treat. Small indulgences like dark chocolate and ice cream are fine so long as they don’t become daily habits.

9) It really will get easier!

When my wife got pregnant with our first child, she experienced morning sickness that lasted all day. It was brutal, but in retrospect she said it really will get easier. She was right! It’s completely normal to feel like your life is going to be nothing but spit-up and crying—the hormones will balance out, you’ll feel less tired, and most importantly: You’ll have a little person to love.

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