When Pregnancy Isn’t All Roses: Tips to Survive What No One Tells You


pregnancy tips and survival

Ok, let’s get real for a second. Regardless of what your Aunt Sally may have told you, or how great Beyonce looked in her maternity shoot, pregnancy is not all gumdrops and roses. There is so much information out there and so many misconceptions, it’s hard to know what to expect. Some women really do enjoy pregnancy, and others struggle with it.

If you’re one of the lucky few who love to be pregnant, cheers to you! I raise my mocktail glass in your honor. Truly. But, if we ever happen to cross paths, please, please just play along. Stories of your blissful nine months will make me weep–sob even–and I won’t even be able to blame the overactive pregnancy hormones.

If you’re feeling grumpy about a hard pregnancy day or a new symptom, and you’re looking for a little relief, then read on! I’ve compiled some tips from other IMB contributors on what helped us get through some of the difficult times in our pregnancies.*

Perception vs. Reality

The way grandmas, grandpas, in-laws, and family members see your pregnancy: glowing baby bumps, excuses to buy new adorable clothing, and another bundle to joy to love.

How strangers see your pregnancy: an excuse to ask awkward questions, ability tomake comments about how you must be due any second, and a free ticket to give unsolicited pregnancy and parenting advice.

How other moms see your pregnancy: adorable baby bumps and cute clothes. If they’re being honest, they may even commiserate on the miseries of heartburn, sympathy for a late summer due date, or difficulties sleeping. If you know them well, they may even giggle at the number of trips to the bathroom you take or volunteer to get a pedi with you when your toes become unreachable sausages.

Real Life

The way you see your pregnancy: some days, it’s GREAT! Other (read: most) days, subtract most of the positives, inject some horror stories, and you might just hit the nail on the head. No one prepared you for all the discomfort, the third trimester PUPPS breakout, insomnia, carpel tunnel, dark spots on your face suddenly showing up, the pregnancy migraines, all-day “morning sickness” that lasts well beyond your first trimester, and all those other not so pretty things that you’ve experienced. Interestingly enough, just about any symptom you think of can be linked to pregnancy. Me: Oh, I woke up feeling congested today. Quick google search: YES, pregnancy congestion is a thing! Face palm. 

My Pregnancy Advice

PUPPS – if you haven’t heard of this, you aren’t alone. I somehow pulled the short straw on this one and developed it with my son around 30 weeks. It’s essentially an itchy rash that doesn’t go away until delivery. If you’re like me, it’s torture and no prescription cream that is safe for pregnancy comes close to touching it. You can’t sleep, and you can’t ignore it. I tried everything, and I don’t say that lightly.

I had luck with one thing, and it seemed odd, but I was sleep deprived and desperate. Three words: Pine. Tar. Soap. You have to get it online or at an organic grocery store but it’s literally a miracle in brown bar soap form. Warning: it smells like a bonfire, but YOU GUYS, it worked! I showered about 5 times a day and the only relief I could find was when I completely covered myself in soap suds and just stood in the cool water (because, you know, warm water makes the itching worse). Relief doesn’t last more than 10-20 minutes after your shower but it’s worth it for a tiny slice of sanity.

Tips from Our Team

  1. Facial dark spots, sensitive skin to the sun: The key here is prevention. To avoid getting them, Candace suggests using the highest number of SPF you can. For spots that have already shown up, she recommends applying coco butter and/or Mederma daily.
  2. Carpal tunnel and insomnia: During her 2nd pregnancy, Meranda says she had issues sleeping because of both carpal tunnel and insomnia (not that having a 15 month old running around made it any easier). The only relief she could find was from taking Unisom and wearing an arm brace.
  3. Restless leg syndrome: This one is miserable. Throw in the second trimester leg and foot cramps and attempt to sleep (or sit still) for any length of time. Kait swears by taking magnesium supplements to help with restless legs. Make sure to talk with your doctor first!
  4. Headaches/Migraines: Regan recommends taking magnesium to help with headaches or at the start of a migraine.
  5. Acid Reflux: This is not one to take lightly. It’s a well known symptom, but getting relief sooner rather than later is key. To help with her acid reflux, Ashley said she took an OTC medication (doctor approved) during her third trimester. Combined with a pregnancy pillow, it was the only way she could get some sleep!

*Please know, my intention isn’t to diminish the pain and struggle that some women go through with seriously difficult pregnancies and/or the journey to becoming pregnant. My only goal is to make light of some unpleasant things we may experience that aren’t typically discussed. I wish you a happy, healthy pregnancy and baby, but I know this isn’t always the case. If you’re struggling with loss or depression, don’t brush it aside. Make sure you talk to someone and your doctor. We even have some posts on the IMB blog that you may find helpful.