The Sh!t No One Tells You About Pregnancy

A Guide to Surviving Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Beyond


By Dawn Dais

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The fourth book in Dawn Dais's popular Sh!t No One Tells You series offers honest and “laugh out loud” (Parents) advice for expectant parents

Pregnancy is about more than scanning Pinterest for baby shower themes and registering for ironic onesies. Sometimes, the less flattering aspects of gestation can dim a bit of that so-called pregnancy glow. Not to worry! Dawn Dais is here, ready to shepherd readers through the experience of one human body taking on the task of growing another human body. (Spoiler alert: It’s not always pretty.)

Dawn covers it all, sharing expert lists, tips, warnings, and even a series of Parent-Training Workouts designed to increase readers' tolerance to the various indignities of parenthood, like peeing with an audience and surviving an afternoon in Chuck E. Cheese. The Sh!t No One Tells You About Pregnancy is a must-have guide for expectant moms (and their partners!) who are looking for some counsel, comedy, and camaraderie during their ultimate countdown to parenthood.



WHEN I FIRST found out I was pregnant, I panicked. Mine was about as far as you can get from an unplanned pregnancy (think a romantic encounter with a 65-year-old nurse practitioner wielding a vial of sperm), but I was still scared all the way shitless when faced with the reality of a positive pregnancy test.

As I sat on the floor of my bathroom, surrounded by peed-on pregnancy tests, my body was officially in the process of building another body. When that building was complete, my body was going to expel the new body through the most unfortunately small of exits. Then, after all those Discovery/Sci-Fi Channel shenanigans took place, I was going to be responsible for the well-being of this tiny human I made from scratch.

So I freaked out a little. Because I was officially in over my head.

To calm my panic I immediately bought every book I could find having to do with pregnancy. I piled them on my nightstand, as if being in close proximity to 3,000 pages of gestation facts would somehow make my uterus smarter.

Each night I would pick up one of these pregnancy tomes and begin to flip through it. I had such high hopes of learning all there was to know about my body and the baby it was growing. But I would usually only make it about three pages before falling asleep or swapping the book for a mindless celebrity magazine (sometimes there were pictures of pregnant celebrities in the magazines, so technically I was still doing research).

When I set out to write my own book about pregnancy, I had one clear goal in mind: Do not bore the pregnant women to sleep or to Us Weekly. This might seem like an easily attainable goal, but then you might not be taking into consideration exactly how tired pregnant women are or how inviting the pages of Us Weekly can be.

I’m not a doctor (as should have been apparent by the word Sh!t on the cover of this book). Absolutely nothing I share with you within these pages is in any way based on science or research into science (unless you count hours spent on WebMD as “research into science” [which you should, because I was able to diagnose myself with 35 extremely rare diseases while on there]). But methinks you didn’t pick up a book with the word Sh!t on the cover in hopes of discovering a detailed look into pregnancy on a molecular level.

What you were most likely hoping to find, and what I have aimed to provide, is an honest look at pregnancy from the point of view of someone who has made her way through two of them. Think of me as your (overly sarcastic) best friend who is not going to let you head into procreation without some advanced warning of what’s coming your way.

What do most friends do when you tell them you’re pregnant? They usually give you a wholehearted, “Yay!” (or maybe a less-hearted, “Yay?” if they are unclear as to the whether the pregnancy was planned). But I’m aiming to be the friend who immediately sits you down, hands you a pad of paper, and tells you to take some notes, because it’s not all going to be gender-reveal parties and funny onesies.

I’ve also brought along some of my own friends who have their additional notes to share (you might need a bigger pad of paper). I call these friends my “Moms on the Front Lines” (or MOFL) throughout the book. They have been out in the parenting battlefields for years and are reporting back with what they have learned. As you make your way through the various stages of parenthood you will soon realize that mom friends can be just as valuable as doctors (and not only because doctors never offer you wine). Moms are a great resource because they’ve been there, cleaned that, and are a reassuring reminder that we are all sorta making this up as we go along (with the help of WebMD).

In addition to my MOFL, I’ve asked some partners (dads and co-moms) to share their point of view. Partners sometimes get lost in the shuffle during pregnancy, but it’s a pretty big time in their lives too. So tell yours to grab another pad of paper and pull up a seat.

A big difference between this book and other pregnancy books is that this book not only focuses on your gestation, but also on what is waiting for you on the other side of your delivery, namely that tiny human we spoke of previously. I think pregnancy is a beautiful time in a woman’s life (if you don’t count all the gross stuff that happens), but more than that I think it is a very important time. Important not only in a “Circle of Life” sort of way, but also in a “Shit Is About to Get Real” sort of way.

As soon as that pregnancy test strikes positive, your countdown clock is started. In a matter of months you will be expected to take a newborn baby into your home and will be left responsible for its survival. I know, that seems more than a little alarming considering the fact that the contents of your fridge are currently 92 percent take-out containers and every plant in your house is 100 percent dead.

For your sake, and mostly the sake of your upcoming child, you need to spend these pregnancy months getting into prime parenting shape. This means less nursery planning, and more building up your tolerance to being in public with poop on your clothes. It’s important.

To that end I’ve littered this book with various ways that you can prepare yourself and your life for Hurricane Baby. There are lists and tips, warnings and advice to help you maximize these precious training months before you are going to need to be ready for action. I’ve even developed a series of Parenting WOD (Workout of the Day [like CrossFit, but my workouts involve more openly weeping]) to gradually build up your child-rearing reflexes.

Because I like to think of pregnancy as a countdown to parenthood, I’ve divided up the chapters of this book into quarters, like a sporting event. A sporting event that involves sprinting through Babies “R” Us, fighting through aches and pains, and catching a number of gifts that are going to be thrown your way by fans. Your team has a lot of work to do before that final buzzer goes off, and it’s time to get a game plan in order now.

Whether you are pregnant, thinking about getting pregnant, or weirdly hanging out in the pregnancy aisle of the bookstore, I’m here to make your journey a little more fun and fill it with a lot more truth. I’m going to encourage you through 40 weeks of pregnancy and send you into parenthood armed with everything you need to survive (a sense of humor, Post-it notes, and the ability to pick things up with your toes are three of the top necessities).

So many adventures await you on this journey. You’ll be horny yet bitchy, tired yet filled with the urge to reorganize every closet in your house, ecstatically happy yet able to uncontrollably sob at the drop of a sappy Internet video. And that’s just what an average Saturday night holds in store after that pregnancy stick gives you a thumbs-up.

Let’s make a baby!

Moms on the Front Lines

WHEN I FOUND out I was pregnant, I not only ransacked the pregnancy section of the bookstore, I also made efforts to ransack the brains of anyone who had ever grown a baby inside of them. I had questions and the tendency to send an alarming number of those questions via text message at all hours of the day and night.

My friends always answered my texts, no matter the time, and never failed to calm my nerves. They would offer me advice, an ear, and a little perspective. But more than anything they would offer a “You’re fine. Everything is going to be fine.”

Throughout pregnancy and parenting there is something uniquely comforting about hearing other moms’ stories from the front lines and knowing that they survived to tell the tale. Their advice comes from years of trial and (mostly) error, and their calm comes from having already worked their way through the freak-out portion of their parenting program.

I’ve asked some of my mom friends to join me in this book to offer their advice and their calm. They are my Moms on the Front Lines (or MOFL, as I call them throughout the book) and they’ve been deeply embedding in the parenting trenches for years. They have over 30 pregnancies to their credit and they are here to share all that they have learned (mostly they’ve just learned that they should have slept a lot more before having kids).

Pregnancies are like little hormonal, bloated snowflakes—each one different from the other. My MOFL are here to tell you about their unique experiences and hopefully you will be able to connect with bits and pieces of all of them (if nothing else, please connect to the pieces where they recommend you take lots of naps before the baby arrives).

There are a lot of different moms who pop up throughout the book, but these are the names you will see most often. I asked them to introduce themselves and share their favorite and least favorite parts about being pregnant.

ME, DAWN: My partner, Becky, and I have been together about nine years. We have two kids, Vivian, age 6, and Daniel, age 4. My favorite part of being pregnant was feeling their endless kicks. Both of my kids were doing advanced acrobatics in my womb for months leading up to their delivery. It was always a fun reminder that they were in there and this was all really happening. My least favorite part of both pregnancies was the first 20 weeks, when I felt like I was going to vomit 24 hours a day. As far as pregnancy reminders go, I much prefer the kicking over the nausea.

AMY: Married 15 years, we have two girls (8 & 5). I loved the feeling of being pregnant but didn’t enjoy it at the time because I kept waiting for the pregnancy to end like so many had previously (Debbie Downer). I also loved that with my first pregnancy I woke up on Mother’s Day (six months pregnant) and started leaking milk. The changes in the body are amazing and disgusting all at once! And how can anyone not say that the best part is feeling/seeing that baby move inside you?!

BROOKE: I’ve been married six years. We have two kids, a 6-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy. I loved being pregnant both times! Feeling the baby moving/kicking/turning is incredible. My biggest concern was going into labor when my husband was traveling for work and him not making it back in time.

CARRIE: I have been married 10 years and have two boys, 5 and 7 years old. I loved the very different experiences each time I was pregnant. They were complete opposites in the womb and today they still are. Fascinating how their personalities shine right from the start. I loved the day I got to hold them in my arms and finally welcome them to the word. I love being mom to two rowdy boys (most days)!

DANA: I’ve been married 11 years. We have two kids (girl 6, boy 4). My pregnancies and deliveries were pretty drama free (which is why I’m a little sad we aren’t having any more), but the hormone changes are no joke. Especially postpartum… you aren’t really yourself again until you get to start sleeping consistently (which can vary depending on the child).

KAREN: I am a single mom. My pregnancy was complicated with weekly tests that ended up with me delivering three weeks early and staying in the NICU for two weeks. And my daughter required two blood transfusions. Best pregnancy memory: stretchy pants. Worst memory: knowing my blood was poisoning my daughter in the womb and every week she could get worse. My advice for pregnant women: Take the four weeks off work before the baby is here if you can. It’s the last real “me” time you will get for 18 years.

KAYSEE: I have been married 10 years and have three children; one boy and two girls who are now 9, 7, and 4 years old. Each time I am pregnant I love the day you feel the baby kick inside and the day the baby is born and placed in your arms! Being a mother to my three awesome children is the best thing in life!

JEN: I was married six years. My kiddos are now 8 and 6. With both pregnancies I loved the first ultrasound where I actually got to see them. I remember being in tears because it became real. Of course when I could start feeling them, it was the most amazing experience ever! I do have to say nothing beats the first time the doctor put the baby on my chest. Priceless!!!!!! Love my babies… they are my reason!!

MELANIE: I’ve been married 12 years. We have one boy, age 7. My least favorite part of pregnancy were all of the various tests that had results reflecting potential risks/issues. Favorite part was feeling him kick and watching my family react to him kicking, especially my husband and parents.

MICHELLE: I have been married 11 years and have two boys, ages 4 and 6. My favorite part of pregnancy was having a cute round belly. I called it my “belly with a purpose.” Only when pregnant is it acceptable to have a ginormous gut! My least favorite part of pregnancy was having gestational diabetes. But I would do it all again if only my husband would agree to a third.

MICHAELA: I’ve been married 6 years and we have two kids—a boy and girl, 4 and 2 years old, respectively. For sure the moving belly is the best, but I’d add to that announcing each pregnancy to our friends and family (and even my students) was fun. Probably the worst pregnancy memories I have involve going past my due date, gaining a shit-ton of weight, and feeling like there was no end in sight!

SARAH: Married 10 years and we have two boys, 4 and 7. I loved being pregnant. I loved that I was always warm when I was pregnant and I loved feeling them move. My least favorite part was when my water broke because I knew I wasn’t ready for them to come out.

STEPHANY: I’ve been married 11 years and we have one son who just turned 2. My favorite part of being pregnant was feeling Logan moving around so much. He was super active and it was fun to watch my belly bounce around. It also gave me peace of mind. I had a really easy pregnancy (which I feel was well deserved after everything we went through to get him here!), so I didn’t really have any least favorite parts. Well, I guess I didn’t like my water breaking suddenly because that was so unexpected and it freaked me out. I had been warned in one of my pregnancy classes about a prolapsed cord if your water breaks, and I remembered they told you to lay down if your water broke. So, I was laying on the floor until I realized that I had to get up to go to the hospital.

TARA: I’ve been married 9 years. We have three kids, a 4-year-old boy and 10-month-old boy/girl twins. My pregnancies were so different, I feel like I have to talk about them separately. The best part of my first pregnancy was feeling the baby move, and how much better ice cream tastes when you’re prego. The worst was the constant worry of all that could go wrong. (Maybe that was the special ed teacher in me.) With the twins, the best was seeing them interact with each other during ultrasounds. The worst? Where do I begin? I will have to say it was the last few months in general and being too miserable to enjoy the anticipation of the babies.

The Partners

BABY MAMAS GET a lot of the focus when it comes to pregnancy. Which is fair since, you know, their uteruses are doing a bulk of the heavy lifting (literally). But pregnancy is a very significant time in the life of partners as well. Partners (dads and co-moms) might not be growing the baby on the inside of their body, but once the child pops out, partners are going to be equally responsible for its well-being. Which means this is crunch time for co-parents as well.

I wanted to bring partners into our pregnancy conversation and give them some advice straight from the mouths of others who have survived living with a pregnant woman (this is actually a much more difficult feat than surviving a baby, because pregnant women have much better aim).

I reached out to partners I know, some of them partners of my MOFL and some who I knew would play along with my mildly intrusive questioning. I wasn’t sure what to expect because most of the partners I contacted were men. It’s tremendously sexist of me that I didn’t think men would have much to say on this subject, and I was pleasantly surprised by the heartfelt answers they gave. I initially only asked a few questions, but once I heard what they had to say I asked more, and more.

I think their insight adds a great deal to this book, not only for other partners, but for pregnant moms as well. Sometimes partners feel like their main job is to support their Baby Mama, so they keep their own thoughts, concerns, and stresses to themselves. If you have a partner, the Partner Corners throughout the book could be a good starting point for some really important conversations the two of you should be having along this journey together.

Here is a breakdown of the partners you’ll be hearing from. I asked them each to complete the sentence “Pregnancy is…” There were mixed results with that exercise.

BECKY: Becky is my partner. We have two kids, ages 6 and 4.

“Pregnancy is the part of a roller-coaster ride where you’re ticking up, up, up. Being a parent starts at the top of that ride.”

JASON: Jason is divorced from his first Baby Mama and remarried. He has two boys (11 and 13) and a girl (20).

“Pregnancy is exciting, scary, long, short, difficult, and amazing.”

JEREMY: Jeremy has been married to my MOFL Michelle for 11 years. They have two boys, ages 4 and 6.

“Pregnancy is the gateway to a life filled with feces, urine, sleepless nights, and lifestyle terrorists.” He’s kidding. Sort of.

JONATHAN: Jonathan has been married to my MOFL Amy for 15 years. They have two girls, ages 8 and 5.

“Pregnancy is the most exciting/terrifying experience I’ve ever willfully signed up for.”

KEVIN: Kevin has been married for 17 years and has boy/girl twins, age 11.

“Pregnancy is the adventure of a lifetime, every time.”

KRISTA: Krista has been married for nine years. She has three sons, ages 6, 20, and 22.

“Pregnancy is an amazing experience. Brewing a human? Miraculous.”

MATT: Matt has been married 18 years and has four kids, ages 13, 11, 7.5, and 5. When I asked Matt to complete my “Pregnancy is…” sentence he said he was unable to answer, “This is not a good hour. Diarrhea and temper tantrums. Different kids.” So, although he didn’t answer what pregnancy is, he did a great job describing parenthood.

PETE: Pete is the winner with five kids, including two sets of twins that were born within two years of each other (his kids are ages 16, 16, 14, 14, and 11). He’s been married 22 years. I’m assuming he is very tired.

“Pregnancy is a miracle!” When I shared Jeremy’s thoughts with Pete he added, “I’m much more of an optimist now that I know we’re not having any more!!”



50 things you should do before getting pregnant

HAVING A BABY is an exciting and wonderful life event. It is also an unprecedented life-changing event. In fact, in the beginning it can feel a lot heavier on change than it does on excitement. This is not to say that change is a bad thing, but having it come on so quickly can be a bit startling.

One day you are free as a (very large, very pregnant) bird, and the next you are functioning on two hours’ sleep and responsible for the survival of a tiny human. And I’m not talking about the metaphorical “next day” that people always refer to when describing change that actually takes place over a long period of time. I mean literally you can be napping at 3 in the afternoon one day, having fallen asleep while watching a Golden Girls marathon, and the very next day you can find yourself holding a newborn baby, everything having gone ass over teakettle.

Again, this isn’t a bad thing; the baby is a dream come true! This is a change you (probably) wanted for years, and now it has finally happened! But before it happens I have some things you need to do. Bucket list items, if you will. It’s not that you are dying, per se, it’s just that your bucket list is soon going to be replaced by a diaper pail. And a lot of your freedoms are indeed passing over to the other side. Or, more accurately, you are passing over to the other side, to the parenthood side of your life. Before you pass, take some time to enjoy the view on this side of things.

Pre-pregnancy you are a lot like the free bird I spoke of earlier. You can fly where you want, when you want. Nothing is holding you back (and the things you think are holding you back are really just figments of your imagination). And then you have a baby, and all of a sudden you are nest-bound for the foreseeable future. It’s not that you don’t love your baby, or your nest, but you do miss the flying. And you realize that you didn’t truly appreciate the flying when it was so readily available to you.

My MOFL (Moms on the Front Lines) are baffled at the amount of free time they wasted before their kids arrived: “I laugh that I used to say I didn’t have time for the gym or to take up a hobby or read a book. What was I doing that I thought I was so busy? I had nothing but time!”

Jen recommends appreciating your free time at restaurants: “Eat out at restaurants… and linger!”

Ah, to linger.

When I asked my MOFL to pass along their advice to people who have yet to have children, they all collectively screamed “travel!” and “sleep!” at the same time.

“Travel, travel, travel.”

“Definitely travel more. Overseas, if you can swing it.”

“Travel, even if it is just for the quick weekend trip. And when you do, enjoy only packing a small suitcase.”

“S L E E P.”

“Go on vacation and sleep.”

Might I recommend sleeping through an entire vacation?

Dana, mom of two, wishes she traveled more, but didn’t think they had enough money at the time. Amy thought she was broke too, but had no idea how much disposable income she was sitting on, “I thought I didn’t have any money to travel, but then we somehow managed to come up with $1,000 a month for daycare?!”

Sarah seconded that motion, “Seriously, Amy!! Think of all the places you could go with the money we spend on daycare, diapers, and food!!!”

My MOFL would like you to know that, pre-children, you are flush with freedom and cash, apparently.

Now, I’m not saying that traveling the world or embarking on the ambitious goal of incorporating siestas into your daily routine pre-kids is going to make your time as a parent a delightful exercise in peace and contentment. In fact, all that bucket-listing might just make you acutely aware of what you are missing once that child puts an end to all things adventure.

For instance, I knew I wanted to have kids in my early thirties. Therefore I made it my mission to have as many exploits as possible before that time. Among other things, I rode my bike across Europe, took an eight-week road trip throughout the United States, drove a car around Cuba with no map (or Spanish), led Habitat for Humanity trips to New Orleans, and jumped off questionable cliffs in Honduras. I saw theater on Broadway, quit a safe job and took a chance on new career, trained for a marathon, and ate the majority of my meals in nice restaurants. Oh, and I slept a hell of a lot too.

Even with those deliberate attempts to fit everything in before having kids, I still regularly feel the tinge of missing all the freedom (and rest) I once had. But I’m so glad I had all those adventures, and I love telling my kids about them, hopefully planting seeds for their own future bucket lists. And as I get older I realize that there are few truer quotes than “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” And also, you know, nap.

And so I’ve created a list of things you should do before you even get pregnant, when you are still in full bird of freedom mode. If you didn’t pick up this book until you became a pregnant bird, that’s okay; a lot of this stuff can be done with a child in your uterus. I’ve marked a (p) next to the line items that are probably off-limits once you’re with child, but conveniently most of those will come back into play a little while after the kid makes an appearance, so don’t get too worked up over them.

I’ve also allowed space at the bottom of the list for you to fill in a few bucket items of your own. So you can add that thing or place or nap location you’ve always wanted to try.

Happy flying, little birds!

50 Things to Do Before Getting Pregnant

1.    Nap at 2 PM on a Sunday

2.    Or any day, really

3.    Do absolutely nothing when you get home from work. Nothing.

4.    Order an appetizer at dinner

5.    Travel alone

6.    Stay out past midnight drinking (p)

7.    Do nothing the next day to recover from your hangover (p)

8.    Read a book

9.    Eat raw cookie dough (p)

10.  Order dessert at dinner

11.  Travel someplace that requires getting shots (p)

12.  Watch lots of TV shows and movies with cuss words and gratuitous sex/violence

13.  Sleep on your stomach (p)

14.  DRINK! (p)

15.  Tell your waiter there is no rush

16.  Read a magazine from cover to cover in one sitting


  • "Moms with kids will laugh out loud at Dais's quirky insights and strong opinions."
  • "From poop to postpartum depression, [Dais] presents a no-holds-barred look at all of the changes and challenges that new moms and dads can face, along with the three little words every infant-toting parent wants to hear: It gets better."

  • "If ignorance is bliss, this may not be the best book to read."—Fit Pregnancy

On Sale
Nov 7, 2017
Page Count
256 pages
Seal Press

Dawn Dais

About the Author

Dawn Dais is the author of The Sh!t No One Tells You… series, The Nonrunner's Marathon Guide for Women, and more. She has been featured by countless TV and print media sources. She lives in Roseville, California, with her two kids, one dog, four chickens, two cats, and the occasional mouse brought into the home by said cats. She is tired. 

Learn more about this author