The Broadly Guide to Pregnancy
A practical guide to the miracle of life.
Image by Alex Cook
This is your last chance to get out of this thing, but only if you're not living in one of the 75 different countries in the world that make it near impossible to obtain an abortion safely and legally—then you're up Shit Creek without a canoe, much less a paddle. Luckily, there is Women on Web, an online medical abortion service that helps women in countries where access to abortion is restricted.
Braxton Hicks contractions
Braxton Hicks are the Iggy Azalea of contractions: Despite how they act, they're not the realest.
Because pregnant women are 20 times more likely to become infected with Listeria than non-pregnant women, deli meats are to be avoided. Yep: no weed and no sandwiches. Are you still up for this?
While you're free of having to deal with the monthly nuisance that is menstruation, that doesn't mean that your vagina has stopped periodically leaking. Leukorrhea—which is just as beautiful and pleasant as it sounds—is a thick, whitish, booger-y, cum-like substance that oozes out of you throughout your pregnancy and increases in volume as you near labor. It's made up of a bunch of stuff that's been hanging around inside of you—cervix secretions, old cells from your vaginal walls, and bacterial flora. Meant to keep your birth canal clean and protect it from infection, it's like your vagina's version of a wholesale liquidation: Everything must go!
One of the grosser, unexpected aspects of early pregnancy is your body's increase in saliva production. It gets so bad for some women that their mouths are constantly filling up to the point that they need to keep a makeshift spittoon with them. Nobody really knows why this happens, although everybody blames it on the catchall of "hormones."
Here's something that'll fuck you up: A human's gestation period is 40 weeks. That's ten months. It's always been that way, so it's mystery why the whole "nine months" thing caught on so well.
There are only two exploitable experiences during pregnancy, but they are biggies:
1.) You will always get a seat on the subway.
2.) You can lay the kind of farts that could kill a houseplant, but everyone will still think it's kind of cute.
Human chorionic gonadotropin is a hormone that is only produced by pregnant women and is concentrated in their urine. It's a popular performance-enhancing drug for athletes, so if you have the right connections, you could probably make a killing on the black market with your pee.
For the first few weeks after an egg is fertilized, it's kind of just free-floating around in there, traveling down your fallopian tubes until it arrives in the uterus. It's not until the embryo attaches itself to the walls of the uterus—which can cause a light spotting in your undies—that it becomes reliant on its mother's body for nutrients and oxygen, so don't sweat it about that coke bender you had earlier in the month. Until implantation occurs, the first few weeks of pregnancy are like a freebie.
Are you feeling it yet?
About four or five months into this journey you'll start feeling some fetal movement. At first it's kind of fluttery, like a goldfish swimming around. It's at once exciting and weird. As the fetus begins to grow bigger and stronger, the little flutters turn into straight-up kicks and punches, and it can be really annoying, particularly because fetuses are nocturnal. They're lulled to sleep during the day from the swaying of your belly as you move around. The freaks come out at night, when you're relaxed and still, and you're suddenly transformed into an inverse piñata.
Linea nigra is a dark, vertical line that runs from the pubes to the top o' the abdomen that appears for many women about three-quarters of the way through a pregnancy. It doesn't seem to serve any purpose.
The mucus plug is what fills and seals the cervical canal during pregnancy. It's like a wine cork made entirely of thick, sticky, brownish snot of the type you'd normally produce into a tissue the day after indulging in a little too much booger sugar. As you near labor and your cervix begins to dilate, the cork pops and the lump comes out of you. This is known as the "bloody show," which, much like "mucus plug," sounds like the name of a British punk band, but is slightly less ugly in appearance.
You will truly understand the term "purple nurple" as your pregnancy progresses and your areolas cycle through shades of the color wheel, landing somewhere around "bruised eggplant."
If you didn't already have an outie belly button, then you eventually will, as that sucker will pop out of you like a turkey timer.
Just like with linea nigra and dark nips, pregnancy mask is caused by hormonal changes that can temporarily stimulate melanin production. This leaves some women with dark splotches all over their faces and jawlines, resembling a mask. It's cruel side effects like these that underscore the meaning and inequity of "male privilege."
"Morning sickness" is a total misnomer, because most women who suffer from nausea during pregnancy are on the verge of barfing all day long.
As the hormone with the chillest name, relaxin increases throughout pregnancy and is at its peak at delivery, when it helps loosen the ligaments that allow the pelvis to open up.
Here's some more bullshit: You can develop extra pieces of dangly skin in areas that rub against one another, like your boobs or your armpits.
Breast tenderness is one of the first symptoms of pregnancy and continues throughout, getting sorer and sorer as you near delivery. But this is just the opening act for the shit show that is breastfeeding.
Frequent urination is a plague of the first trimester as it causes a woman to wake up several times during the night just to pee. The interrupted sleep only adds to the fatigue pregnant women are already experiencing. People say that it's our body's way of preparing us for the lack of sleep we'll experience after the baby is born and crying for midnight feedings and changings. But those people are insensitive assholes who are fools to taunt already-exhausted women with the prospect that they will never sleep restfully again—even if they're totally correct.
Because of the increased blood supply carrying nutrients to the fetus, the veins in your body will become super visible beneath your skin, blue and crisscrossing all over. You'll look like a road map. This is different from varicose veins, which also frequently come up during pregnancy, particularly in the lower half of your body, like your legs—even in your butthole! That's actually what hemorrhoids are.
This doesn't just happen because you've become a big, fat lardo. Sure, your belly will shift your center of gravity, which will require you to adjust how you move, but mostly this is an effect of relaxin, that decidedly un-chill hormone that loosens ligaments. It spreads your pelvis, which widens your stance, as well as leaving your back unstable, causing a muscle strain that ultimately requires a waddle. Have you ever pooped in your bathroom without realizing that there's no toilet paper? And then you have to run out to the kitchen with your pants around your ankles and your ass out to grab some paper towels? It feels just like that.
It used to be that pregnant women weren't supposed to be X-rayed at all, but like most everything else, its danger has seemingly been overstated.
Every woman thinks she's going to do yoga when pregnant, probably because of the proliferation of stock photography of pregnant women doing yoga, but then reality sets in and you drop the remote control off the couch and you have to make some real decisions like: Do I strain to bend over and pick it up, or do I sit through the episode of Two and a Half Men that's about to come on next? See if you feel like doing yoga when you're in that place of inertia and desperation.
This is how we all start! And now this is where we'll end.