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A Conversation with Dawn Dais

On creating a Mommy Registry, learning to pee with the door open, and other useful Sh!t No One Tells You About Pregnancy

Q: Why does the world need another pregnancy book?

A: When I was pregnant I bought every pregnancy book and piled them all up on my nightstand next to my bed. I guess I thought just being in close proximity to all of that information would somehow make my uterus smarter. I would try really hard to read through these pregnancy tomes, but inevitably I would doze off or switch over to US Weekly. In writing my own pregnancy book my goal was to entertain pregnant moms, and avoid boring them to sleep or US Weekly. I did this by including a lot of humor and some elements you don’t often find in pregnancy books.

Most pregnancy books focus solely on the pregnancy, but I see pregnancy as the ultimate countdown clock to parenthood, so I talk a lot about ways women and their partners can prepare for their upcoming Hurricane Baby. I share real advice as well as a series of humorous Pregnancy WODs, or workouts of the day (like CrossFit, but with more weeping). These workouts get women ready for the indignities and realities of parenthood, like getting used to peeing with the door open, and surviving Chuck E. Cheese.

I also spend a lot of time in the book addressing the experience partners have during pregnancy. I wanted to the book to be one that partners can read together and I hope it’ll spark some important conversations.

Q: How have Facebook and Pinterest raised the bar for pregnant women?

A: These days, if your pregnancy announcement doesn’t go viral, then you are a complete failure at parenting before you’ve even started. If you are only going to post a photo, then that photo had better be a professional one. But if you really want to compete in the pregnancy announcement game, you are going to need to move up to moving pictures. We’ve all seen the countless pregnancy announcement videos and we’ve all ooh-ed and aah-ed and cried along with them. Your pregnancy announcement needs to make people openly weep if it has any hope of success. It’s really that simple.

Q: What if you don’t view pregnancy as competitive sport?

A: Then you lose! Just kidding. One of my favorite responses to social media perfectionism is to post the most imperfect image of my life that I can find. Your pregnant friend posted a picture of herself at the finish line of her latest run? Counter that with a picture of your cankles. Her nursery design is featured in Perfect Mothers Monthly? Your nursery is just a pile of gift bags and one old rocker your mom bought at a garage sale. Post it. She’s “barely showing” at 30 weeks? You are constantly asked if you are having triplets at 23 weeks. Post it. Develop your mommy sarcasm early and it will serve you well as you wade deeper and deeper into these battlefields. And you know what you can do while developing sarcasm? Eat ice cream on the couch. Win, win.

Q: Please share a few thoughts about baby registries: consumerism gone wild, or useful preparation for new parenthood?

A: The truth is that all you really need is a bunch of diapers, onesies, and some Tupperware® (because for some reason babies are endlessly entertained by Tupperware.) But the other truth is that it’s pretty much impossible to convince an expectant mother to go easy on her baby registry, and I don’t want to begrudge anyone her duly earned excitement. So I say, register with abandon. But please also consider another kind of registry: one that include all the things you really need. I like to call this list The Mommy Registry, and it contains things like a larger purse, a tankini, a push up bra, dry shampoo, hair ties, and bladder leakage panty pads. Yes. Light bladder leakage (LBL) is a thing. It has an acronym. It happens to women who have given birth. And these pads will help curb potential embarrassment. You’re welcome.

Q: Why is it important for parents to set a post-baby game plan, determining who will be in charge of what before the baby arrives?

One of the biggest mistakes couples can make when heading into parenting is to blindly assume that the two of them are on the same page about everything regarding their new baby. So get together now and have a chat about what you are expecting of each other post-baby-barrel. This chat may go very smoothly because of course you are of one mind about how you’ll raise your impending spawn. Or this chat may reveal some appalling differences in expectations, because it turns out you two are actually different people with different points of view. In the case of the appalling differences, it is much better to have those differences exposed and discussed now, instead of discovering them at 3 am while holding a two-day-old screaming baby. Agreeing early on that you will share the baby load, especially in those endless nighttime hours, will cut down on resentment and will ensure that you both are equally exhausted, as it should be.

Q: What’s your best advice for partners supporting a pregnant loved one?

A: Never, I mean never, point out to a pregnant lady that she is being overly emotional. Just don’t. Don’t try to rationalize with her by explaining that her pregnancy is causing her mood swings. Even if she says something like, “This pregnancy is making me so crazy!” This is a trap; do not fall into it. Do not agree with that statement, because, as she just pointed out, she is not of sound mind. And if you agree with her, all she will hear is you calling her crazy. Don’t let her hear that. The proper response is, “Aw, no it’s not; you’re doing great! Do you want some ice cream or a foot rub?” Always err on the side of offering treats and relaxation. This is good advice for after the baby is born, too.

Q: What do you really need to bring to the hospital with you—and what should you be sure to take from the hospital when you leave?

Some people put a lot of thought into packing their hospital bag and if that kind of thing is calming for you, then go for it. But if you’re not excited about packing, I have good news:  You don’t actually need a whole lot at the hospital, and the more you bring, the more you have to lug around from room to room throughout your stay. If you forget something, you can always send your partner out to get a needed item, or ask a friend to bring it for you. One thing you definitely do need is an empty bag. You know when you go on vacation and sometimes you bring an extra bag to hold all the crap you are going to buy on vacation? This is kind of like that, except instead of tacky magnets you are going to want to bring home a ton of industrial-size maxi pads. And those things take up a lot of room. You also need to grab as many of the hospital nose-sucker things as you can get your hands on. Start on day one and take all the replacement ones they bring in to restock your room. Also grab diapers, hats, blankets, ladybit numbing spray, and perhaps a nurse or two.

Q: Is there anything women should know going into a second pregnancy?

Pregnancies are like little hormonal, bloated snowflakes—each one different from the other. One thing I can tell you for sure is that your first child will not be sympathetic about any fatigue or nausea you may be experiencing.

Q: What is the #1 thing no tells you about being pregnant?

A: Your birth story will be nothing like any that you’ve ever heard, because none of those stories involved your negotiating a person out of your own uterus. There’s no book or blog you can read that will tell you about your birth story, because it hasn’t been written yet. When it is written it will seem similar to other stories, yet somehow magnificently unique. Just like the baby it brings into the world.

Dawn Dais is the author of The Sh!t No One Tells You About Pregnancy.