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Pretty much every conversation you have with new mothers starts off with, “They NEVER tell you about that, do they?”

And it’s true – they don’t. The utter, utter bastards.*

And so it struck me that I’d really like to compile a decent list of those things that happen during pregnancy, birth and beyond that don’t necessarily crop up in What To Expect.

My experience is a teensy bit limited: ie, I’ve only had one baby. But that experience is about to expand by 100% in five weeks’ time (ish). And I’ve been secretly taking notes when pregnant and babyfied friends have complained about something happening to their bodies and lives that they weren’t expecting, which makes me two things: a massive snoop of Daily Mail proportions (boo), and yet also Incredibly Qualified for the task in hand (yay!). So, for once, this isn’t all about me. But some of it might be. And just to be quite clear: anything I write about that happens in Downstairs Departments has happened to Friends Of Mine and definitely not me. If you don’t believe me, I’ll name them and link to their Facebook page. You can rest assured, nothing untoward has happened to my nethers.

1. Sleeping on your left makes your ear hurt.

You are told that, once pregnant, you must do all you can to sleep on your left-hand side at all times. I’m not entirely sure why. The only thing it definitely does do is result in a slow form of torture. Over the course of 9 months (ish) your left ear becomes increasingly sensitive until it really really hurts when you lie on it. And then shifting from lying on your left to, say, lying on your right is not only a monumental effort, but it’ll also wake up the incumbent baby, so once you’re there she’ll kick the living wotsits out of you. You can’t sleep on your back because your lungs get flattened that way, and whichever way you do sleep, your nose is constantly blocked – so staying alive in general can be an issue. After a while, you’ll turn back to your left-hand side, and your bloody ear will be in agony. Newly pregnant people, hear me roar: forget taking vitamins, moisturising your bump, and learning breathing techniques – just remember to buy a really soft pillow.

2. You have no money but you can’t stop shopping.

I have no money. I literally have NO money. And yet, every night before bed, I scroll through Gumtree and Ebay trying to find that elusive extra thing that I need to have. And everyone does. If you’re having one baby, it’s understandable: you buy up all of Boots and Kiddicare and that’s the way of the world. If you’ve decided to have two or more whippersnappers, you really should know better. For the record, second-timers, can I just add here that you don’t need the following:

  • New storage, because you also don’t need:
  • New clothes (SHOCK announcement: girls can wear blue things and boys can wear pink things and the world will not implode)
  • New toys (come on, people, don’t you remember that the first baby didn’t even like toys until they were 13 or something?)
  • New muslins (you already have 478 – I know you do. Check under the bed for another 231)

From my extensive research on the matter, you also don’t need the following (this is absolutely 100% not based on personal experience, you understand, I wouldn’t possibly be this foolish):

  • New books (you won’t read)
  • New eyebrow tinting kits (no-one will be looking at you)
  • New glamorous pyjamas (honestly – no-one will be looking at you)
  • New sandals (it’s September, you cretin)

3. Free prescriptions are not fun.

Woohoo! Free prescriptions! I’m going to load up on all the essentials! But just what are those essentials? Because it’s not lavender scented pillow mist, that’s for sure. ‘The Essentials’ turns out to be 37 litres of Gaviscon and 435 tubes of Canesten. And before you’re able to get these, you have to go to a doctor to explain your raging heartburn and unitchable itch, and they will roll their eyes at you. And then you have to go to a chemist, and proffer your prescription to a Saturday Girl who has never seen Canesten in that volume before and, while the chemist is sticking 30 large address labels over it to make sure that everyone knows it’s definitely yours, she’ll try vainly to find a bag big enough to contain it while looking you up and down, eyes widening slowly with the utter terror of the reality of pregnancy, and silently offering herself up to a life of chastity. She’ll heave the monstrous tube over to you with a Superdrug bag stuck listlessly to one end to prove that you’ve not stolen it, even though it just looks like a window prop and not an actual ointment. And off you pop. (You have to send a Man with a Van to pick up the Gaviscon separately). Yay, free things. Yay yay.

In the next scintillating edition of The Things That People Never Told You About: Stuff That Comes Out Of You and underwired bras – the gritty truth. Tune in!

*Okay, so chances are, one of ‘them’ has said something about whatever it is, it’s just that among the bazillions of books and tradillions of web pages, you didn’t happen to read it.

**There’s a prize for deciphering the picture puzzle, by the way. (It’s definitely worth writing in for that half-squeezed tube of Boeing-sized Canesten. Which you’ll probably need if you’ve worked it out.)