Post-apocalyptic pregnancy: A basic primer

In the early post-apocalyptic days, it might seem ridiculous to think about having children. But you’re going to have to think about it at some point. If you don’t have kids, the human race is doomed anyway, so what would’ve been the point of surviving the apocalypse?
So. Babies. I’m going to skip over the mechanics of actually making them (pretty sure we all know how that works). Instead, I’m going to focus on the nine-month flu and the painful act of trying to rip a watermelon out of a peanut. Since there’s a lot of material to cover, I’ll split them into two posts. This week, I’ll be talking about the post-apocalyptic pregnancy.
Caveat: I am not a medical professional, midwife, or a doula. I am, however, the mother of two, for whatever that’s worth.
Ready? Let’s begin.

Morning sickness
This nine/ten-month adventure starts off with what I like to call the nine-month flu. I refer to it as the flu not because I think having a baby is sickening, but because I suffered through nine months of all-day sickness. (Whoever called it morning sickness has obviously never been pregnant.)
Nausea and “morning” sickness is something pregnant women have to deal with, even in the post apocalypse. Today, you can get prescription medication if your nausea is debilitating (I had to; if I hadn’t, I would’ve been lying down all day because moving my head made me want to throw up). But in the post apocalypse, medication like this will be a luxury. Lying around on your straw pallet all day will also be a luxury. So what’s a sick pregnant girl to do?
Study herbs. No, really. There are herbs out there that can help relieve nausea. Of course, there are also herbs out there that can induce miscarriage and/or kill you, so make sure you get the right herbs. One thing that worked for me was ginger. Ginger tea, ginger candies—they did help a bit (albeit later in my pregnancies). And peppermint tea helped soothe my stomach for very short bursts of time.
If ginger and peppermint survive the apocalypse, you’ve already got two herbs that can help with nausea. But if they don’t, make sure you’ve got a large bucket with you at all times. Puddles of vomit will give away your location, which is bad if you’d like to keep that a secret.
The giant belly
During pregnancy, your baby is going to grow. Typically, your baby is going to grow a lot. This means, of course, that your belly is going to grow, too. Eventually, you’re going to end up with a giant curled-up whale attached to the front of you. Will your clothes fit around it? I ask this not for fashion-conscious reasons, but because you’re still going to need to wear clothing, even when you’re nine months pregnant and waddling to the outhouse every thirty seconds.
The answer, of course, is no, your clothes probably won’t fit. (Unless you’re a walking twig. In which case, you’ve got different issues.) What’s the solution for this? Well, you’ve got a few options:

  1. Get pants with elasticized waists. Not pretty, but stretchiness will be important when you’re trying to get your pants around that whale that’s attached to you. Get stretchy tops while you’re at it. Your shirts have to stretch around your belly too, you know.
  2. Get clothes that are three or four or five times larger than you need. If your clothes are big enough, they might fit over your belly with no problems.
  3. Get tops in the stretchiest material you can find. Then get the BellaBand for your pants, to avoid those pesky elastic waists. (You might want a few BellaBands, just in case.)
  4. Buy maternity clothes now, and in every possible size. You never know what size you’ll be when you’re pregnant.
  5. Wear sarongs/curtains/sheets.
  6. Wear mu-mus.

The hollow leg (your appetite)
Growing a baby takes up energy. As a result, you may find yourself eating more. Or possibly eating everything in sight (please try not to eat dirt). You might have cravings. But during the post apocalypse, when food may be rationed, what are you going to do?
First, remember that you’ll actually only need an extra 300–500 calories per day during pregnancy (no really, that’s all you need). So technically, you’ll only need an extra muffin or two to get your necessary additional calories. Because of this, it may be easier than people think to re-ration food so the pregnant woman gets her extra calories. (This might become a problem if your survivor group has several pregnant women at the same time, though.)
However, I’m sorry to say that you’re not going to be able to eat everything in sight. And your cravings will go unfulfilled, so you’ll have to pretend that extra bowl of oatmeal you’re eating is really the banana split you’ve been craving for the past six weeks.
The shrinking bladder
You may have heard that a pregnant woman pees every couple of minutes. It’s true. It really is. Be prepared for this. Try not to get too far away from the bathroom/outhouse, because you may or may not have full control of those muscles. Just sayin’.
Pregnancy safety
Let’s not forget the need for safety. This is still the post apocalypse, after all. You never know which baddies are lurking around the corner, waiting for you or your eventual tiny human to make an appearance.
Pregnant women generally move slower than non-pregnant people. This is especially true later in pregnancy when you stop walking and start waddling. This makes you easy prey. For safety’s sake, I recommend staying inside your camp’s boundaries when your mobility slows, or when you get really paranoid about your (and your baby’s) safety.
However, if you really need to leave your camp, please make sure you travel with other people. Preferably people who aren’t pregnant, so they can protect you in case you’re attacked. If infertility becomes a post-apocalyptic epidemic, pregnant women will be a valuable commodity. That’s like painting a “kidnap me” or “kill me and steal my baby” sign on your back. So remember to stay safe.
Next week: post-apocalyptic childbirth.

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