Ask Elise

What Nobody Tells You About Pregnancy

Ask Elise

Elise Loehnen, goop’s Chief Content Officer, was raised by a doctor and a nurse. She doesn’t share the med degrees, just an endless curiosity about the mind and body (plus, spirit). We regularly consult her black book of M.D.’s, N.D.’s, Ph.D.’s, and all manner of healers—and she’s our go-to for really real pregnancy/parenting talk (mom of two). Now, you can send her your own q at [email protected].

Dear goop, I’m pregnant, and busy, and doing my best to take care of myself, but I’m sure there are things I’m missing. What are the things that nobody tells you about pregnancy? Is there anything I can do to make this easier on my body? —Virginia B.

Dear Virginia, I am not a doctor, but in my limited experience of being pregnant twice, and talking to a lot of women who have gone through the process, your body is going to respond to pregnancy in the way that it wants to respond. I, for one, broke 200 pounds during BOTH pregnancies—my wish for you is that that doesn’t happen to you! But it might! Don’t stress: You can bounce back.

Here’s what I wish someone had told me: That I would stop sleeping early on in pregnancy (invest in a really nice body pillow, it’s worth it), that I would bleed A LOT both during delivery and after, that you really won’t care if you poop on the table. Here’s what I really wish someone had told me: that a single prenatal pill probably isn’t enough, particularly if you are not an immaculate eater.

After my second kid, I felt pretty terrible, and was connected to Oscar Serrallach, a family care doctor who practices in the Australian bush. Serrallach had come to believe in a concept called postnatal depletion, which he was observing in his patients and also in his partner, Caroline, with whom he has three kids. He was noting that women were becoming increasingly rundown after having kids and felt like something was up—and he could find nothing in the published scientific literature to explain it. Some of this is social and cultural (we don’t have the support that we historically did, and certainly don’t depend on our neighbors for childcare and “alloparenting” like our ancestors did), and some of this, in his estimation, comes from not having optimal micronutrient levels. In short, babies are incredibly taxing on our systems—they take everything that they need from us to thrive in utero, including A LOT of fat. Without a proper diet before, during, and after, some of us don’t feel great.

I had taken a basic prenatal vitamin, which I now realize was probably inadequate (it didn’t have a separate capsule of DHA, for example, so I wasn’t taking fish oil throughout my pregnancy, which is key for supporting brain health), and my OB-GYN never told me to continue taking it after I had my baby. Dr. Serrallach put me on a vitamin and mineral regimen that ultimately became The Mother Load, the Rolls Royce of prenatal vitamins that is ideally taken throughout pregnancy and for a few months after. It includes six tablets to take every day, including DHA. It also has a multivitamin, a calcium and magnesium tablet, and a dose of choline. It is the jam. I took it to rebuild post-baby, but I wish I had taken it the whole time!

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.